During the Mexican–American War of 1846-48, he served in the US Army. After his regiment arrived in San Francisco, California in 1847, Gilbert was discharged from service and chose to remain in California.
In September 1849, Gilbert became the youngest delegate to the Constitutional Convention, winning the San Francisco delegate position with 1,512 out of the 1,519 votes cast. He was elected in November 1849 at-large as one of California's first two Representatives in the 31st Congress, and served from September 11, 1850 until March 3, 1851.
In 1852, Gilbert wrote an article that charged General James W. Denver with "negligence and gross mismanagement" in an expedition to aid destitute immigrants, and the increasing conflict between Gilbert and Denver finally led Gilbert to challenge him to a duel. After several missed shots from both men, Denver shot Gilbert in the abdomen, killing him.
Gilbert was interred in Laurel Hill Cemetery, San Francisco. Later, after the city banned cemeteries within city-limits, his remains were removed and buried in the Laurel Hill Mound mass grave of Cyprus Lawn Memorial Park in Colma.
- "GILBERT, Edward - Biographical Information". bioguide.congress.gov. Retrieved 2017-05-15.
- Vassar, Alexander C. (2011). Legislators of California (PDF). Retrieved 23 November 2016.
- "Edward Gilbert (1819 - 1852) - Find A Grave Memorial". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2017-05-16.
- "California Press Foundation - Hall-of-Fame_Edward-Gilbert". cal-press.wildapricot.org. Retrieved 2017-05-15.
- United States Congress. "Edward Gilbert (id: G000172)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
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