William Waldo (California politician)

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William Waldo (January 16, 1812 – November 2, 1881) was a candidate for Governor of California in 1853. He was born in Harrison County, Virginia (now part of West Virginia) but spent most of his life in Missouri, where he was a merchant and steamboat captain. In 1849 he joined the gold rush to California at the head of a wagon train. In California the next year, reports arrived of impending starvation among numerous immigrants on the Nevada side of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Waldo put great effort into recruiting and delivering supplies for them, and became well known for his relief attempts. In 1853 the Whig party nominated Waldo as their candidate for Governor, but he narrowly lost to the incumbent John Bigler. Following his defeat, he returned east, first to Minnesota and then back to Missouri where his wife and children had remained. In his later years he moved to Texas, where he died.

William Waldo is said to be the namesake of Waldo, Oregon[1][2] where he accidentally campaigned, believing the settlement was in California, and of Waldo Point near Sausalito, California. He was the brother of Oregon politician Daniel Waldo.[3]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Goodrich, James W. "Profit, Philanthropy and Politics: William Waldo's California Years, 1850-1853." Southern California Quarterly 58(Fall 1976): 359-379.
  • Biography of William Waldo, St. Clair County (Missouri) Democrat, June 27, 1940, quoted in [1].
  • Eldredge, Zoeth Skinner, The Beginnings of San Francisco (1912: San Francisco) quoted in [2].
  • Waldo, William (1880). Recollections of a Septuagenarian: A Paper Read Before the Missouri Historical Society of St. Louis. St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society.


  1. ^ History of southern Oregon : comprising Jackson, Josephine, Douglas, Curry and Coos Counties (Portland, OR: A.G. Walling, 1883), p. 446, 456-7.
  2. ^ Grants Pass history page on Grants Pass, Oregon web site.
  3. ^ Johnson, Brian W. "America Waldo Bogle and the Question of her Ancestry". The Oregon Territory and Its Pioneers. Retrieved November 8, 2015.

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