The Honorable Mayor Frank K. Mott: Progressive Leader of Oakland
by Christopher Porfirio
This paper explores the life and political career of Oakland Mayor, Frank K. Mott (b.1866-d.1958), who served his time as its 35th Mayor (1906-1915) during both Oakland’s and California’s Progressive period. The Honorable Frank K. Mott served most of his career with distinction. Topics of this paper will examine various points during his three terms: The beginnings of California’s unique take on Progressive politics after the turn of the 19th century, the Progressive Party’s Lincoln-Roosevelt League and how that would ultimately shape the political careers California’s progressive leaders. The catastrophic 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Mott’s auspicious beginnings as Mayor of Oakland, events which would ultimately bring both the City of Oakland, and Mott to local and national attention. Mott’s building of the prestigious Oakland City Hall V, sometimes referred to as Mott’s “Wedding Cake”, and what this meant to Oakland as a city, how City Hall itself represented a shining beacon of Progressive leadership done right, and once again bringing Mott and Oakland to the national stage. The exploration of Mott’ administration at the height of Progressive and Socialist politics when both were at their zenith, and with the potentially disastrous Town Hall Meeting of the Industrial Workers of the World. What this meeting meant for not only his political career, but also his battle as a progressive Mayor in the last few years of his administration. How the outcome of this event may have affected Mayor Mott’s later life in Oakland politics as well as his possible aspirations for higher office as Governor of California. The examination of the political pitfalls of social change in the City of Oakland, and what they meant for his administration. Ending in Frank Mott’s later role within Oakland’s City Government. The themes explored in the paper are whether Frank Mott was the guiding force in Oakland politics at this time in its history. Whether Mott’s vision had far reaching aims and sustainability for a City at the beginning of the 20th century, and whether those aims still hold true for the City of Oakland in the 21st century. In short what was Mott’s ultimate legacy in Oakland? Using the print media, pictures, primary and secondary sources in order to build the life and political career of a man, that left very little behind in the way of personal documents, to construct the life of a very Progressive Man, a progressive politician who should be remembered by historians, and the people of Oakland as the man who built Oakland into a shining example of the future of the West.
Bagwell, Beth. Oakland the Story of a City. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1982.
Deverell, William, and Tom Sitton. California Progressivism Revisited. Berkeley: California University Press, 1994.
Glass Cleland, Robert. California in Our Time: 1900 -1940. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1947.
Mowry, George. The California Progressives . Berkeley: California University Press, 1951.
Olin, Spencer. California's Prodigal Son's. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968.