Friend Richardson was born in Friends Colony, Michigan, on 1st December, 1865. He worked as a county clerk, law librarian and newspaper editor before becoming Superintendent of the State Printing Office in California. In this post he cut the costs of publishing state schoolbooks by a third. He was later appointed State Treasurer.
A member of the Republican Party, Richardson was elected as Governor of California in 1922. As a Quaker he refused to have servants in the Governor's Mansion. He was committed to reducing state spending and convinced that education had become too costly, tried to close two colleges in California.
Richardson controversially refused to pardon Tom Mooney and Warren Billings, who had been wrongly imprisoned for the bombing which occurred in San Francisco in 1916. In 1926 Richardson lost the Republican primary to Clement Young, who replaced him as Governor of California.
Friend Richardson, the publisher of the Berkeley Gazette, died in Berkeley, California, on 6th September, 1943.