Zachariah Montgomery
Zachariah "Zach" Montgomery (March 6, 1825, Nelson County, Kentucky
Nelson County, Kentucky
Nelson County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of 2010, the population was 43,437. Its county seat is Bardstown. The county is part of the Louisville/Jefferson County, KY–IN Metropolitan Statistical Area.- History :...

 - September 3, 1900, Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

) was a publisher, lawyer, politician, and author, particularly known for his skills as an orator.

Montgomery's speeches were often published in newspapers of the day and in pamphlet form. Although his widely published and forceful critiques of the compulsory public education system were never embraced by the public at large, his book Poison Drops in the Federal Senate (1886) is considered by some contemporary writers as a landmark study of the relevant issues. This work continues to elicit discussion amongst home school organizations, teachers' associations, political scientists, and politicians. He was a proponent of the voucher system for the funding and maintenance of primary and secondary schools.

Zach Montgomery received his Bachelor of Arts (1847), and Master of Arts in Law (1848) from St. Joseph’s College, Bardstown, Kentucky
Bardstown, Kentucky
As of the census of 2010, there were 11,700 people, 4,712 households, and 2,949 families residing in the city. The population density was . There were 5,113 housing units at an average density of...

. While at St. Joseph's, Zach befriended fellow student Augustus Hill Garland
Augustus Hill Garland
Augustus Hill Garland was an Arkansas lawyer and politician. He was a senator in both the United States and the Confederate States, served as 11th Governor of Arkansas and as Attorney General of the United States in the first administration of Grover Cleveland.-Early life and law career:Garland...

 and studied for the bar exam in the offices of Benjamin Hardin Helm
Benjamin Hardin Helm
Benjamin Hardin Helm was a Kentucky politician, attorney, Confederate brigadier general, and a brother-in-law of Abraham Lincoln. He was also the son of Kentucky Governor John L. Helm.-Early life:...

 (1784-1852), a noted lawyer, statesman, member of the Kentucky Legislature and U.S. Congress. Zach was admitted to the Bar in Kentucky in 1850.

In July 1850, Montgomery immigrated to California via covered wagon in response to the California Gold Rush
California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands , and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to...

. Following a very brief and unsuccessful stint as miner, he returned to the practice of law.

Legal career

Zachariah Montgomery held law partnerships in several California cities including: Sacramento
Sacramento is the capital of the state of California, in the United States of America.Sacramento may also refer to:- United States :*Sacramento County, California*Sacramento, Kentucky*Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta...

 (1850-1852), Yuba City (1854-1864), San Francisco (1868-1871), Oakland (1871-1881), San Diego (1884-1885 and 1890-1894) and Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 (1894-1900). He served as District Attorney
District attorney
In many jurisdictions in the United States, a District Attorney is an elected or appointed government official who represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses. The district attorney is the highest officeholder in the jurisdiction's legal department and supervises a staff of...

 for Sutter County in northern California (1856, 1858-1860).

Zach Montgomery was the founding President of the Oakland Bar Association (1877), and served as United States Assistant Attorney General
United States Assistant Attorney General
Many of the divisions and offices of the United States Department of Justice are headed by an Assistant Attorney General.The President of the United States appoints individuals to the position of Assistant Attorney General with the advice and consent of the Senate...

 in first Administration of President Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland
Stephen Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States. Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents...


Notable activities as a lawyer

  • Zach witnessed the Squatter's Riot in Sacramento
    Sacramento is the capital of the state of California, in the United States of America.Sacramento may also refer to:- United States :*Sacramento County, California*Sacramento, Kentucky*Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta...

     on August 15, 1850 and served as Charles L. Robinson
    Charles L. Robinson
    Charles Lawrence Robinson was the first Governor of Kansas. He was also the first governor of a US state to be impeached, although he was not convicted or removed from office. To date he is the only governor of Kansas to be impeached...

    ’s attorney in the case. Robinson later served in the California legislature and as the first Governor of Kansas
    Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

  • Montgomery was a staunch and vocal opponent of the Lincoln administration throughout the Civil War
    American Civil War
    The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

    , he surrendered his license to practice law in late 1863 in protest to the California Legislature's Test Oath. In 1868, the Test Oath was repealed and Zach resumed his law practice.
  • Montgomery served in the precedent-setting court case at the United States Supreme Court: Cunningham v. Neagle, U.S. 1 (1890)
    In re Neagle
    In re Neagle, 135 U.S. 1 , was a United States Supreme Court decision that determined the question of whether the Attorney General of the United States had authority to appoint U.S. Marshals as bodyguards to Supreme Court Justices.-Facts:U.S...

    . The case involved the shooting of David S. Terry
    David S. Terry
    David Smith Terry was a California politician, who killed United States Senator David C. Broderick in the Broderick – Terry duel in 1859. He was then killed in 1889 by a bodyguard of United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen J. Field.-Biography:Terry was born in Christian County, Kentucky...

     by Justice Stephen Johnson Field
    Stephen Johnson Field
    Stephen Johnson Field was an American jurist. He was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court of the United States Supreme Court from May 20, 1863, to December 1, 1897...

    's body guard, U.S. Marshal David Neagle . David S. Terry was involved in a dispute with William Sharon
    William Sharon
    William Sharon was a United States Senator from Nevada who profited from the Comstock Lode.-Early life:Sharon was born in Smithfield, Ohio, January 9, 1821, the son of William Sharon and Susan Kirk. He attended Ohio University. After studying law in St. Louis, Missouri, he was admitted to the bar...

     that Justice Field adjudicated.

Political career

While in California, Montgomery served the public in numerous capacities as an elected official. He was a Representative of the California State Legislature
California State Legislature
The California State Legislature is the state legislature of the U.S. state of California. It is a bicameral body consisting of the lower house, the California State Assembly, with 80 members, and the upper house, the California State Senate, with 40 members...

 15th District (12th session; 1860-1861) and served on the Judiciary and Indian Affairs Committees. Zachariah was a delegate to the State Democratic Convention (John C. Breckenridge Party on Democratic ticket; 1860) and was nominated for Speaker of the House (California State Assembly
California State Assembly
The California State Assembly is the lower house of the California State Legislature. There are 80 members in the Assembly, representing an approximately equal number of constituents, with each district having a population of at least 420,000...

) but lost this election. Notably, Zach authored California State Assembly Bill AB 348, The Montgomery Bill – an education reform bill to amend the California School Law Act of May 3, 1855.

On February 11, 1861, Montgomery delivered the State of The State speech to the California State Assembly. Zachariah was petitioned by colleagues to become a United States Senator (1867) but declined due to political ideological differences with the Lincoln Administration.

In the summer of 1884 Zach mounted an unsuccessful bid for the office of District Attorney of San Diego County.


On July 4, 1854 Zach married Helen Francis Graham (born: December 20, 1835, – died: July 18, 1856) who died some months after giving birth to their son Thomas (1855-1861).

On April 28, 1857 he married Eleanor Bridget Evoy (1828-1923). They had six children including famed aviation pioneer John Joseph Montgomery (1858-1911), Zachariah Montgomery Jr. (1858-1861), Mary 1859-1948, twins Ellen (1861 - 1864) and Margaret (1861-1931), Richard (1863-1932), James (1865-1956) and Jane (1869-1955).

Notable activities as a publisher

  • When the news of President Abraham Lincoln
    Abraham Lincoln
    Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

    ’s death reached San Francisco, April 15, 1865, the offices and printing press for the Occidental were destroyed by an angry mob that targeted newspapers sympathetic to the southern cause.


Zach Montgomery was benefactor of Father Lawrence Serda, the founding pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Oakland. Father Serda said Mass from January 16, to December 10, 1876, in the parlor of the Montgomery home at the Northwest corner of Telegraph Avenue and 41st Street. The Montgomery sons were altar boys. Zach Montgomery and J.H. McCourtney donated the land at 40th and Grove Streets where Sacred Heart Church was built in 1876.


  • Montgomery Creek, Shasta County, California, is named in honor of Zachariah. The town was established in 1877.


  • 1864-1865 The Occidental (San Francisco)
  • 1866-1868 Occidental and Vanguard
    Occidental and Vanguard
    Occidental and Vanguard was a weekly newspaper in San Francisco Bay Area between 1866 and 1868.Editor Zachariah Montgomery had published 25 issues of the preceding The Occidental between Oct. 29, 1864 and April 15, 1865....

    (San Francisco)
  • 1881-1884 The Family’s Defender Magazine and Educational Review (1881 - Oakland; 1882-1884 - San Diego)

  • Montgomery, Zachariah. The Poison Fountain or Anti-Parental Education, self published, San Francisco, 1879.
  • Montgomery, Zachariah. Poison Drops In the Federal Senate, Gibson Bros., Washington D.C., 1886. (republished 1972, 1883; St. Thomas Press).

See also

  • John J. Montgomery
    John J. Montgomery
    John Joseph Montgomery was an aviation pioneer, inventor, professor at Santa Clara College.On August 28, 1883 he made the first manned, controlled, heavier-than-air flights of the United States, in the Otay Mesa area of San Diego, California...

    , Aviation pioneer
  • Bishop George Thomas Montgomery
    George Thomas Montgomery
    George Thomas Montgomery was the first American-born Bishop of the Diocese of Monterey-Los Angeles , serving in that capacity from 1896-1902....

Subjects Montgomery wrote about:
  • John Swett
    John Swett
    John Swett is considered to be the "Father of the California public school" system and the "Horace Mann of the Pacific".-Biography:...

    , a founder of American public education.

  • Richard Grant White
    Richard Grant White
    Richard Grant White was one of the foremost literary and musical critics of his day. He was also a prominent Shakespearen scholar, journalist, social critic, and lawyer who was born and died in New York USA.-Biography:...

    , critic of public schools who referred to Montgomery's work.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.