Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com advises that these 19th Century
biographies, although edited, still contain period bias.
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BURNETT, Peter Hardeman, governor of California, born in Nashville, Tennessee, 15 November, 1807. In his youth Burnett was a trader and lawyer in Missouri and Tennessee. He went to Oregon, overland, in 1843, took a prominent part there in the organization of the territorial government, was member of the legislature in 1844 and 1848, and became a judge of the Supreme Court. The gold excitement attracted him to California in 1848, and he worked for a short time in the mines, and then became agent in managing the complicated affairs of the Sutter family and estate at New Helvetia. In 1849 he was one of the most active persons in urging the rights and necessities of the people of California as sufficient warrant for the formation of a state government in advance of congressional authority. During the agitation of that summer he was an outspoken opponent of the United States military government of the territory ; but he cheerfully joined in accepting, at length, Governor Riley's action, whereby a constitutional convention was officially called. Under the new constitution he was at once elected governor, and assumed the office, although the state was not admitted by congress until September, 1850. He resigned the governorship in 1851, then practiced law, and was one of the supreme judges m 1857-'8. From 1863 till 1880 he was president of the corporation now known as the Pacific Bank in San Francisco. He has published " The Path which Led a Protestant Lawyer to the Catholic Church" (New York, 1860); "The American Theory of Government, considered with reference to the Present Crisis" (1861); "Recollections of an Old Pioneer" (1878), which is especially valuable in connection with the early political and constitutional history of the Pacific coast; and "Reasons why we should Believe in God, Love God, and Obey God" (1884).
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