William Haile was born in Putney, Vt., in 1807. When he was 14, his family moved to Chesterfield. Haile attended and taught school there until the age of 16, when he became a clerk in the store of Ezekiel Pierce.
Haile soon opened his own store and, in 1834, he moved his business to Hinsdale. He felt that Hinsdale possessed a better business climate because of the abundant water power of the Ashuelot River. Haile ran his country store for the next 15 years. In 1849, he also opened the firm Haile & Todd for the manufacture of flannels and other products.
Despite Haile’s numerous business activities and his leadership of several local organizations, he found time to become involved in state politics. Haile represented Hinsdale in the state House for seven years and in the state Senate for two years. During the year 1855, he served as Senate president.
At the state Republican Convention in January 1857, Haile was nominated for governor, on the third ballot, over 18 other candidates. He won the general election by a margin of 3,002 votes. He was re-elected the following year, defeating Asa Cate of Northfield by almost 5,000 votes.
William Haile was the first Republican elected governor of New Hampshire. He was also one of only four governors who were elected from Cheshire County; the other three were residents of Keene.