John Swett

San Francisco advocate for California education



Garrett Matthews (Kevin) : none
Gilbert Warfield (John) : none
Jess Connor (Dave) : none
Jane Wilson (Judi) : none
John Jost Althaus (Greg) : none
Samuel Davis (Daniel) : UNFRIENDLY

Adventure History

Features as a character in Davis’s 1858 interlude on the advancement of education in California and the formation of the Sacramento County Teaching Association. Though the article was positive overall, Swett is rumored to have drawn offense from the way it minimized his personal impact, especially his mentoring of local superintendent Dr Hatch (who happens to be twenty years his senior with an East Coast doctorate on the theory and practice of modern childhood education).


John Swett was an only child born July 31, 1830 in Pittsfield, New Hampshire, to Lucretia (born French) Swett and Eben Swett, who were Congregationalists.

Swett arrived in California in 1853 to mine gold but quickly sought work as a teacher in San Francisco. There is has become an advocate for the expansion of childhood educational programs, and has worked with Mayor Brannan to establish public education through 3rd grade for “all persons of good family, whatsoever their means”.

He is engaged to Mary Louise Tracy, formerly of Sonoma.

He is known for his autocratic style and harsh disciplinary measures – in a key address before the legislature he stated.

“As a general thing the only persons who have a legal right to give orders to the teacher are his employers, namely, the committee in some States, and in others the directors or trustees. If his conduct is approved by his employers the parents have no remedy as against him or them. The vulgar impression that parents have a legal right to dictate to teachers is entirely erroneous.”

This has made him beloved of politicians and (many) teachers, but the common public has taken a dim view of this approach.

John Swett

Resolute edbailey1208