SOCIAL STUDIES FACT CARDS
CALIFORNIA GOVERNORS
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HENRY TIFFT GAGE


20th Governor of
California, January 3, 1899 - January 6, 1903
(Republican)

Born:† December 25, 1852, in Geneva, New York

Died:† August 28, 1924, in Los Angeles, California

Marriage:† Frances V. Rains (1890), 5 children

Early Life

Henry Gage was born in Geneva, New York, but soon moved with his family to East Saginaw, Michigan, where he went to school. He graduated from high school and then studied law in his fatherís law office. He became a lawyer in 1873, and the next year moved west to California.

 

Career

After a few years in the sheep business, Gage began a law practice in Los Angeles. One of his clients was the Southern Pacific Railway. The success of his business allowed Gage to build a fine home on a ranch near Downey where he raised livestock, oranges, grapes, and walnuts. Here he lived with his wife Frances, a descendant of Josť Maria Antonio Lugo, a Spanish ranchero. He was elected as Los Angeles city attorney in 1881.

 

As
Governor

Gage entered the governorís office with great fanfare. Thousands of people watched a parade of dignitaries escorted by the national guard, and a band played Hail to the Chief. His tenure as governor, however, was full of problems.

An outbreak of bubonic plague in San Franciscoís Chinatown was denied by the governor despite a quarantine placed on the city by Dr. Joseph J. Kinyoun, a Federal officer. In 1901, a massive labor union strike in San Francisco brought business to a halt for many weeks. Gage was urged to call out the national guard, but refused to do so. Gage lost the trust of many people by appointing his friends to positions in the government, and by other corrupt actions. Accusations at one time reached the level of a warrant for the governorís arrest.

Several positive items from his term were the founding of the California Polytechnic School at San Luis Obispo, and the creation of the California Redwood Park Commission.

 

Later Years

When his term ended, Gage went back to his law practice in Los Angeles. In 1909 he was appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal, where he served until 1911. He then returned to practicing law in Los Angeles, where he died at the age of 71.

 


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