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Register of the French (Henry M.) Papers, 1873-1941
Mss158  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
This collection consists of the diaries (1873-1915), family papers and an account book (1904-1916) of Henry M. French, prominent San Jose (Calif.) merchant, attorney and politician. The collection also includes a diary of French's son Henry Nelson French (1912).
Background
Henry M. French (1851-1916) was born in Cornwall, enlisted in the British Navy (1866) and served aboard the following ships: H.M.S. Cordelia, commanded by Capt. Charles Perry, hero of the Sir John Franklin Rescue Expedition; H.M.S. Aboukir, a Canadian Lake steamer converted to West Indian service; and H.M.S. Northumberland, largest ship in the British Navy. Three diaries describe his naval career, including numerous appearances of the British Royal Family and the coronation exercises of the King of Sweden. In 1874 he resigned and emigrated to California where he married Frances Rebecca Tretheway of Lockeford, San Joaquin County (1876). French then entered the grocery business in San Jose while attending classes in the commercial dept of the University of the Pacific (1879-1880). In 1882 became a naturalized citizen. Prominent in the Prohibition movement, he ran for Mayor of San Jose on a hybrid Prohibitionist-Republican ticket, nominated John Bidwell for Governor at the State Prohibition Party Convention (1888) and served as Chairman of the State Central Committee of the Prohibition Party. French later studied law, became a San Jose attorney and ran for Governor on the Prohibition Party ticket (1896).
Availability
Collection is open for research.