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11th Governor of
California, December 8, 1871 - February 27, 1875

Born:  December 30, 1825, in Salem, Indiana

Died:  July 14, 1892, in Sacramento, California

Marriage:  Octavine Glover (1892)


Newton Booth was a well-educated man who enjoyed the study of history and literature. He had a reputation as a fine public speaker. He owned many books, and had perhaps the largest private library in California at that time.


Early Life

Newton was born into a Quaker family in Salem, Indiana, in 1825. His first job was in a store owned by his father in Terre Haute, Indiana. He attended Asbury College (later DePauw University), Indiana, where he earned a Master of Arts degree while also studying in a law office.



In 1850 Booth arrived in California on the Oregon, the ship that carried the news of California’s admission as a state. There were already many lawyers in California, so he opened a wholesale grocery business in Sacramento. While Booth traveled to Indiana and Europe from 1856-1860, the firm of Booth & Co. prospered. When Booth returned to Sacramento to run the business, he became active in politics.

As a state senator, Booth at first was a friend of the railroad companies, but soon became opposed to railroad subsidies and the power that the railroad companies had over the economy of California. On this platform he was elected as governor in 1871.



As governor, Booth continued to protest the railroad monopoly. During his term, the legislature adopted a new set of California codes, effective January 1, 1873, that are the basis for today’s code. Booth suggested many new laws, but also used his veto power freely. While serving as governor, Booth was chosen to fill a seat in the U.S. Senate, and on February 27, 1875, he resigned to take that seat. (In 1879, the second state constitutional convention made it illegal for a governor in office to accept another office during his term.)


Later Years

As a U.S. senator, Booth fought against the railroad monopoly and against Chinese immigration. Following one term in the U.S. Senate, Booth returned to Sacramento and his wholesale business. Five months before he died, he was married for the first time. The novelist Booth Tarkington (1869-1946), named for the governor, was his nephew.


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