Jewish governor of Washington Territory Edward Salomon takes office in the spring of 1870.

  • By Lee Micklin
  • Posted 2/19/2003
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 5243

In the spring of 1870, Edward S. Salomon (1836-1913) takes office as governor of Washington Territory.  He serves from the spring of 1870 to the spring of 1872. As of 2003, he has been Washington's only Jewish governor.  A civil war hero who rose to the rank of brigadier general, Salomon was appointed by U.S. President Grant in 1869.

Edward Selig Salomon was born in Schleswig, at the time a duchy of Denmark, in 1836.  He immigrated to the United States at age 17. He settled in Chicago and became a successful businessman, attorney, and the city's youngest Alderman.

Hero at Gettysburg

Salomon enlisted early in the Civil War and quickly rose to the rank of Captain. In 1862, he joined with other officers to organize the 82nd Illinois regiment chiefly made up of Jews and European immigrant volunteers and commanded it at the battle of Gettysburg. Salomon was brevetted brigadier general for "distinguished gallantry and meritorious service" at the end of the war.

Salomon returned to Chicago after the war and served as County Clerk until 1869, when President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him governor of Washington Territory. He served two years and then relocated to San Francisco, where he built a new career in California law, politics, and military affairs. He died in 1913.


Sources:

“The Governor of Washington Territory, Edward O. Salomon,” Western States Jewish History Vol. 17, No. 3 (April 1985), 214-215; Seymour Brody, Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America (Hollywood, FL: Lifetime Books, 1996); (www.politicalgraveyard.com/bio); 82nd Illinois Regiment history at (www.geocities.com/Athens/Parthenon/7419/).
Note: This essay was corrected to note that Schleswig was part of Denmark at the time of Salomon's birth. It was lost to Prussia and Autria in the war of 1864, became part of Prussia in 1867, and thus part of Germany in 1871.


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