In California, the Office of Attorney General was created in 1850 to contend with what was considered at the time an unstructured, inadequate and inconsistent system of law enforcement.
Since its establishment, the Office of the Attorney General has been molded and changed by three distinct forces: first, the California Constitution and state government codes, which specify the duties and responsibilities of the Attorney General; second, legislative decree altering the duties of the Attorney General in response to specific state needs; and third, the personalities and ambitions of those who have served as Attorney General.
Of all in state government, the Office of the Attorney General has probably changed the most dramatically in its more than 160 year history. Its development essentially mirrors California's history and the development of the state itself.
The Office of Attorney General in its present form is radically different from the office created by California's founders. Like the Constitution, the office has evolved to serve changing state needs. "I wish to see a good Constitution formed," declared C. T. Botts at California's first Constitutional Convention, "...but it will take time to make it. It is true that houses were built in a single night in San Francisco. It is a go-ahead place. I fear if this Constitution is built in the same way, it will bear about the same relation to an enduring political structure, that a shanty in San Francisco bore to a great monument of architectural skill."
Gradually, through the protection of state lands and resources, through monitoring corporate practices, by asserting the rights of the people against discrimination, and by assuming leadership as the state's central law enforcement authority, the Attorney General has grown to play a critical and, like the Constitution, an enduring role in the life of California.
|Names||Dates of Office|
|Rob Bonta||Apr. 2021 - Present|
|Xavier Becerra||Jan. 2017 - Mar. 2021|
|Kamala D. Harris||Jan. 2011 - Jan. 2017|
|Edmund G. Brown Jr.||Jan. 2007 - Jan. 2011|
|Bill Lockyer||Jan. 1999 - Jan. 2007|
|Daniel E. Lungren||Jan. 1991 - Jan. 1999|
|John K. Van de Kamp||Jan. 1983 - Jan. 1991|
|George Deukmejian||Jan. 1979 - Jan. 1983|
|Evelle J. Younger||Jan. 1971 - Jan. 1979|
|Thomas C. Lynch||Sep. 1964 - Jan. 1971|
|Stanley Mosk||Jan. 1959 - Sep. 1964|
|Edmund G. Brown Sr.||Jan. 1951 - Jan. 1959|
|Frederick N. Howser||Jan. 1947 - Jan. 1951|
|Robert W. Kenny||Jan. 1943 - Jan. 1947|
|Earl Warren||Jan. 1939 - Jan. 1943|
|Ulysses S. Webb||Sep. 1902 - Jan. 1939|
|Tirey L. Ford||Jan. 1899 - Sep. 1902|
|William F. Fitzgerald||Jan. 1895 - Jan. 1899|
|William H. H. Hart||Jan. 1891 - Jan. 1895|
|George A. Johnson||Jan. 1887 - Jan. 1891|
|Edward C. Marshall||Jan. 1883 - Jan. 1887|
|Augustus L. Hart||Jan. 1880 - Jan. 1883|
|Jo Hamilton||Dec. 1875 - Jan. 1880|
|John Lord Love||Dec. 1871 - Dec. 1875|
|Jo Hamilton||Dec. 1867 - Dec. 1871|
|John C. McCullough||Dec. 1863 - Dec. 1867|
|Frank M. Pixley||Jan. 1862 - Dec. 1863|
|Thomas H. Williams||Jan. 1858 - Jan. 1862|
|William T. Wallace||Jan. 1856 - Jan. 1858|
|William M. Stewart||Jun. 1854 - (Temporary)|
|John R. McConnell||Jan. 1854 - Jan. 1856|
|S. Clinton Hastings||Jan. 1852 - Jan. 1854|
|James A. McDougall||Oct. 1850 - Dec. 1851|
|Edward J. C. Kewen||Dec. 1849 - Aug. 1850|