James Herbert Budd, loyal in citizenship, is one of the distinguished citizens of California whose life record forms an integral part of the history of the state, and his energy and genius have left an impress upon its rapidly developing civilization. He stands as a high type of American manhood, having attained success in his profession which is indicative of close application and superior ability, while at the same time he has found opportunity to devote to the public welfare, to thoroughly inform himself concerning the vital questions and issues of the day and to spread in effective manner those principles which he believes contain the best elements of good government.
Mr. Budd was born at Janesville, Wisconsin, on the 18th of May, 1851, and is descended from an honorable ancestry. On both the paternal and maternal sides he belongs to families that were represented in the Revolutionary war and the war of 1812. His parents were Joseph H. and Lucinda M. (Ash) Budd, both of whom were natives of New York. The ancestors were of English and French extraction in the paternal line, and Mr. Budd was also descended from one of the old Knickerbocker Dutch families of the Empire state. His father was a graduate of Williams College, Massachusetts, and after practicing law for a number of years in Wisconsin came to California in 1858, making the journey by way of the Isthmus of Panama. Settling in San Joaquin county he resided there until his death, and for many years was a prominent and distinguished member of the Stockton bar. He was also elected judge of the superior court and held that position for a long period, up to the time of his demise, which occurred in 1902 when he was eighty-two years of age. His widow still survives him.
James Herbert Budd accompanied his mother and brother to California not long after the arrival of Judge Budd, and in the public schools of Stockton pursued his early education. Subsequently he attended the Brayton school at Oakland, preparatory to entering the University of California, in which he completed a course by graduation with the class of 1873, the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy being then conferred upon him. The following year his brother was graduated in the same institution with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. When his university course was terminated Mr. Budd took up the study of law in his father’s office and in 1874 was admitted to the bar. Of a family conspicuous for strong intellects, indomitable courage and energy, he entered upon his career as a lawyer, and such is his force of character and natural qualifications that he overcame all obstacles and wrote his name upon the keystone of the legal arch. He continued in active practice until 1882, when he was elected to Congress, and when he had served for one term he was unanimously renominated by his party, but declined to accept the renomination, desiring to confine his course to the law. Again he became a member of the Stockton bar, but in 1894 was called once more to public life, being elected on the Democratic ticket to the office of governor of California. He became the chief executive of the commonwealth in January, 1895, and served until January, 1899. His official record is a matter of history and is creditable to the state. He retired from office as he had entered it — with the confidence and good will of the majority of California’s citizens and then once more entered upon the practice of law, in which he has continued with excellent success. He has a large clientage, connecting him with much of the important litigation in the courts of the state, and he takes rank as an able and successful lawyer.
In 1873 Hon. James H. Budd was married to Miss Inez A. Merrill, a native of Connecticut, and a daughter of M. H. and Celinda a. Merrill, who were also born in the Charter Oaks state and were representatives of old American families. Socially Mr. and Mrs. Budd are well known in California. His only fraternal relations are with the Zeta Psi, a Greet letter society, with which his brother is also identified. Although Mr. Budd is well known throughout the state and has been prominent in its public life, he adheres to the old views of professional ethics, which discountenance all manner of advertising and self-adulation. He is a public-spirited citizen, always ready to support real reforms of existing abuses in the law or its administration, and to encourage and support institutions calculated to aid his fellow men. There is no effort on his part to become a leader, and yet he has been called to the highest office within the gift of the people of California. His ambition, however, is greater in behalf of his friends than for himself, and to them he is ever loyal. His tastes lead him to choose a quiet life of work in his profession and study. His home, his profession and the questions of the day, covering a wide range of study, absorb him, and in these he finds his greatest enjoyment. Few men have a more intimate knowledge of the history of the country or its public men, or have devoted more time to the study of the social and economic questions of the times.
Source: Leigh H. Irvine; A History of the New California Its Resources and People, 2 Volumes; New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.