Herschel L. Carnahan

Herschel L Carnahan

Herschel L. Carnahan was a Progressive Reform movement leader who, with California Governor Hiram Johnson, helped defeat the political machine associated with the Southern Pacific Railroad in the first decades of the 1900s.

In 1914, Carnahan joined forces with Ethan Allan Chase, who established the Library Trust Fund, and they formed a committee with Frank Miller of the Mission Inn, S. C. Evans, J.R. Gabbert of the Riverside Press, and Gaylor Rouse of Rouse’s Department Store, to save the Citrus Experiment Station from closing.

When Hiram Johnson was elected governor in 1910, Carnahan assisted him by helping to dismantle legislation put forward by an “S.P. Boss,” named Gillis who had been named state librarian. Gillis’s plan was to bring all county libraries and library systems under the office of the state librarian, giving him control. Carnahan and Johnson lobbied to ensure that counties contract, wherever possible, with city library systems instead, ensuring the continued independence of municipal library systems.

Johnson chose Carnahan as his running mate in 1928 and Carnahan was elected lieutenant governor, serving with Johnson until 1931. In that position, Carnahan was an ex-officio regent of the University of California.