Hiram Johnson had so closely identified himself with progressivism in California that when the time came to turn over the reins of government to his successor, Lieutenant Governor William D. Stephens, he refused to resign. Stephens, a successful Los Angeles businessman and former United States congressman, had been appointed lieutenant governor upon John Eshleman's untimely death in February, 1916. Forced upon a reluctant Johnson by prominent Progressive leaders in southern California, the new lieutenant governor was never accorded complete acceptance or recognition by Johnson and his close friends. Fearful that Stephens would easily succumb to conservative pressures, Johnson remained in office until the very last minute. Only a summons from President Wilson to attend a special congressional session in April, 1917, convinced Johnson that the time had come to leave California. Had that summons not arrived, he might well have stayed on for the remainder of his legal term.