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10th Governor of
California, December 5, 1867 - December 8, 1871

Born:† May 20, 1825, in Rochester, New York

Died:† September 2, 1878, in San Francisco, California

Marriage:† Anna E. Bissell (1855), 5 children


When Henry Haight came to California in 1850, he had no intention of staying. He said that he did not like the climate. His plan was to get rich quickly and return to the East Coast. That plan changed as Haight became involved in the political life of the new state.


Early Life

Haight was born and educated in New York State. At age 15 he entered Yale College where he graduated with high honors in four years. He then joined his fatherís law firm, first in Rochester, New York, and later in St. Louis. News of gold drew him to California via Panama in January 1850.



Rather than try mining, Haight set up a law office with several partners in San Francisco. His father, Fletcher Haight, joined him in 1854. The younger Haight was active in politics, changing party affiliations several times, but held no public office until becoming the Democratic candidate for governor in 1867. The campaign focused on the issue of Chinese and other minorities in California, and Haight appealed to all who feared non-white immigration.



Under Governor Haight the California legislature refused to ratify the 14th (civil rights for all citizens) and 15th (giving voting rights regardless of race or color) amendments to the U.S. constitution. Haight and others feared that the large number of Chinese laborers in California could take control of the state if they had the right to vote, and that this would discourage immigration to California of other groups. Haight felt that the states should keep control over voting rights, rather than have them determined by the Federal government.

More positive aspects of Haightís term were his establishment of a board of public health, a labor exchange, and a permanent state university system. He appointed a board of regents for the new University of California, which had a faculty of ten professors and an enrollment of 50 students.


Later Years

Haight went back to his law practice in 1871. He was scheduled to attend the second constitutional convention but died suddenly just before the convention began. Haight Street in the San Francisco district known as Haight-Ashbury is named for him.


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