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Stratton, Frederick Smith, 1859-1915. OAC

 
 

 

Biographical History

Frederick Smith Stratton was born in Oakland in January 22, 1859, the son of James T. and Cornelia Smith Stratton. After attending Swett Grammar School and Oakland High School, he graduated from the University of California in 1881 and entered Hastings College of Law. Stratton entered into practice of law in the office of William W. Morrow, later Judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He established his own law firm with W. W. Kaufman as partner, and later they were joined by Henry A. van C. Torchiana.

In 1896, Stratton was elected to the State Senate from Alameda County, and during his term of office he sponsored the legislation which established the primary election system in California. He also supported bills which raised the State University tax from one to two cents, and which exempted Stanford University from state taxation.

President McKinley appointed Stratton as Collector of the Port of San Francisco in 1900, and he served in this post under Presidents Roosevelt and Taft. He was twice offered, but declined, the position of Under Secretary of the Treasury in the cabinet of Theodore Roosevelt. During this period he was also appointed special attorney for the United States in the Alabama Claims Commission case.

Stratton's business interests included a directorship of the Owl Drug Company of San Francisco, as well as land holdings in Contra Costa County, California and Klamath County, Oregon. In 1909, he was appointed Receiver of the Ocean Shore Railway of San Francisco. His club memberships included the Bohemian and Union in San Francisco, and the Claremont Country and Athenian in Oakland. His home was at 1377 Harrison Street, Oakland.

Retiring in 1913 with the advent of the Wilson administration in Washington, Stratton announced his candidacy for Mayor of Oakland in 1915. A nervous breakdown in April of that year, however, forced him to withdraw from the race, and on November 30, 1915 he committed suicide at Pleasanton.

Stratton's first wife, Alice Lee of Oakland, died in 1896, leaving a daughter, Cornelia, who later became Mrs. Carleton H. Parker. In 1898, Stratton married Grace Gregory and they had two children, Ann and Frederick Jr.; the second Mrs. Stratton died in 1913.

From the finding aid for Frederick Smith Stratton Papers, 1900-1917 (Bancroft Library.)

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