A Civil War Biography

Frederick Ferdinad Low

Low was born 30 June 1828 in Frankfort (now Winterport), Maine. After attending the common schools then Hampden Academy in Hampden, Maine he trained for a mercantile life in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1849 Low, lured by thoughts of gold, headed to California. After spending some time engaged in mining, he started a shipping company. Under his partnership Low Brothers and Company through mergers controlled almost all the inland shipping in San Francisco Bay and on the Sacramento River. In 1854 he moved to Marysville, California and entered the banking industry.

In 1861 he was elected as an at large representative from California to the US House of Representatives as a Republican but when he presented his credentials he was not permitted to take his seat. According to the census California was not authorized as many seats in Congress as were elected. He was finally allowed to take his seat on 3 June 1862 by a special act of Congress. He served until 3 March 1863, having not been a candidate for reelection. He was appointed collector of the port of San Francisco in 1863. Later that year he was elected governor of California and took office on 10 December 1863. As a staunch Union Republican he recruited heavily for the Union army. He also worked on relief efforts for those who were victims of the war. He served as governor until 1867. In 1868 he was named an honorary regent of the University of California. In 1869 he was appointed US Minister to China. He returned from China in 1874 and became the joint manager of the Anglo-California Bank in San Francisco. He retired in 1891. Low died 21 July 1894 in San Francisco.

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