1859 California gubernatorial election

The 1859 California gubernatorial election was held on September 7, 1859 to elect the governor of California.

1859 California gubernatorial election
← 1857 September 7, 1859 1861 →
  Latham1.jpg John Currey.jpg Leland Stanford Governor.jpg
Nominee Milton Latham John Currey Leland Stanford
Party Lecompton Democratic Democratic Republican
Popular vote 61,352 31,298 10,110
Percentage 59.70% 30.46% 9.84%

Governor before election

John B. Weller
Lecompton Democratic

Elected Governor

Milton Latham
Lecompton Democratic

Since the beginning of the 1850s, issues regarding slavery had effectively split the state Democratic Party. Initially divided by pro-slavery Chivalrists and anti-slavery Free Soilers, by 1857, the party had split into the Lecompton and Anti-Lecompton factions. Lecompton members supported the Kansas Lecompton Constitution, a document explicitly allowing slavery into the territory, while Anti-Lecompton faction members were in opposition to slavery's expansion. The violence between supporting and opposition forces led to the period known as Bleeding Kansas. Splits in the Democratic Party, as well as the power vacuum created by the collapse of the Whig Party, helped facilitate the rise of the American Party both in state and federal politics. In particular, state voters voted Know-Nothings into the California State Legislature, and elected J. Neely Johnson as governor in the 1855 general elections.

During the 1859 general elections, Lecompton Democrats voted Latham, who had briefly lived in the American South, as their nominee for governor. Anti-Lecomptons in turn selected John Currey as their nominee. The infant Republican Party, running in its first gubernatorial election, selected businessman Leland Stanford as its nominee. To make matters more complicated, during the campaign, Senator David C. Broderick, an Anti-Lecompton Democrat, was killed in a duel by slavery supporter and former state Supreme Court Justice David Terry on September 13.[1]


California gubernatorial election, 1859[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Lecompton Democratic Milton Latham 61,355 59.90
Democratic John Currey 31,178 30.40
Republican Leland Stanford 9,910 9.70
Total votes 102,443 100
Lecompton Democratic hold


  1. ^ "Election History for the state of California". JoinCalifornia. 7 September 1859. Retrieved 2007-05-21.
  2. ^ Dubin, Michael J. (2003). United States Gubernatorial Elections, 1776-1860: The Official Results by State and County. Jefferson: McFarland & Company. pp. 14–15. ISBN 9780786414390.