American jurist; born in Charleston, S. C., 1816; died at San Francisco Sept. 15, 1890. When twenty-one years old he left South Carolina for Alabama, where he was admitted to the bar and practised law for a number of years in Tallapoosa county. He was judge of the county court and an unsuccessful candidate for judge of Mobile. Holding views on slavery that were at variance with public opinion, he found himself obliged to leave Alabama for California, and in 1850 he settled in San Francisco. From 1852 to 1857 he was associate judge of the Supreme Court of California, and he was acknowledged to be one of the ablest justices on the bench. He was elected by direct vote of the people, being the first Jew to be thus honored.
Heydenfeldt was a Democratic politician of Southern proclivities, and supported Breckinridge in his campaign against Lincoln. Early in life he was an unsuccessful candidate for the office of United States senator before the California legislature, and he was a member of several conventions.
His practise brought him a case wherein he vindicated the right of the Jews to labor on Sunday ("People vs. Newman," 9 Cal. 502). Finally, when a test oath was required from lawyers, he refused to take it and retired from public practise.
- A. M. Friedenberg, in Publications Am. Jew. Hist. Soc. x. 129 et seq.