Born in "Barnet, "Vermont in 1844, Ide graduated from Dartmouth in 1866, where he was named valedictorian. He studied law, first with "Benjamin H. Steele, and later with "Jonathan Ross, and was admitted to the bar in 1870. He practiced law in "St. Johnsbury, Vermont from then until 1891. Among the prospective attorneys who studied law in Ide's office was "William H. Taylor, who later served as an Associate Justice of the "Vermont Supreme Court.
President "Benjamin Harrison appointed Ide Presidential Commissioner to "Samoa in 1891. The formal title of the post was American Land Commissioner in Samoa, one of three representatives (of the United States, Germany, and Great Britain) responsible for adjudicating land claims by foreigners in the islands, as provided for in the "Treaty of Berlin (1889). Ide reached Apia on May 16, 1891, but only held the office for six months, until he resigned because of a serious illness in his family and left the islands on November 12, 1891. "Robert Louis Stevenson wrote to him two days beforehand, saying "I hear with great regret of your departure. They say there are as good fish in the sea as ever came out of it, but I doubt if they will come to our hook. It is not only that you have shown so much capacity, moderation, tact, and temper ; but you have had the talent to make these gifts recognized and appreciated among our very captious population. For my part, I always thought your presence the best thing that the treaty had brought us."
Ide returned to the islands in 1893 as "Chief Justice, another position provided for by the Treaty of Berlin. He accepted the appointment in August, and sailed for the islands two months later. As Chief Justice, Ide presided over trials of both native Samoans and foreign nationals of the three Treaty of Berlin signatories. He also had the power to recommend criminal and taxation legislation to the government of Samoa. He remained Chief Justice until 1897. He resigned in 1896, but there was a delay in the arrival of his successor, requiring him to continue in office until 1897-05-13. The Samoa Weekly Herald noted him, upon his departure, as a just and able judge. Similarly, King "Malietoa told Ide that "You will not be forgotten in Samoa, you will be remembered as the good Chief Justice who knew our ways and laws and customs and who was kind to us".
Ide was one of the Commissioners of the "Taft Commission, appointed in 1900. Like the other Commissioners, he arrived in the Philippines in June of that year, and assumed official legislative power on 1900-09-01.
On 1901-01-01, like the four other remaining Commissioners (Commissioner Taft having been appointed Governor on 1901-07-04), Ide gained executive power as well, being appointed one of the members of Taft's cabinet. Ide was appointed Secretary of Finance and Justice. He held that position until 1904.
Ide was appointed Vice-Governor of the Philippines, a post first held by "Luke Edward Wright and intended to have gubernatorial authority in the event of the absence or incapacity of the Governor, in 1904. In November 1905 he became Acting Governor General after Wright, then Governor General, as the position had then been renamed, had gone on leave and left the islands. Wright formally resigned his position, and Ide formally succeeded him as "U.S. "Governor-General of the Philippines on 1906-04-01, the date of effect of Wright's resignation.
Ide was Governor General for five months, until September of the same year, giving him a total of ten months as Governor General and Acting Governor General. Ide resigned on 1906-09-19, and was recalled to Washington D.C. In part, Ide's few months as Governor General were a political face-saving exercise (as was Wright's resignation). Taft had visited the Philippines in August 1905, and after that visit it had become apparent at least to the Americans in the government that heads would roll in the Philippine Commission. Wright and Ide were two of the Commissioners whose days as Commissioners had become numbered after Taft's visit. Wright effectively lost power, the resignation being a formality. Ide was permitted to assume the reins for ten months to save face.
The issue in part was a conflict between the Commission and the Federalistas. The Federalistas disagreed with and disliked both Wright and Ide. However, whilst they found Wright's Governor Generalship outright offensive, they were happier with Ide's ten months in office. Hailing his resignation from office La Democracia (as quoted in the 1906-09-05 "Manila Times) praised Ide and his work, and stated that "in his social relations, Mr Ide has reestablished the good times of Taft, which the latter's successor tried to make us forget".
Ide served as "minister to Spain 1909–1913.
On 26 October 1871 Henry was married to Mary M., daughter of Joseph and Sophia Matcher (or Melcher), of Stoughton, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, who died 13 April 1892. They had four children: Adelaide (Addie) M., Annie L., Harry J. and Mary M.
During his time on Samoa, Ide became friends with "Robert Louis Stevenson, who was heavily engaged in the politics of the region and a frequent commentator on Samoan affairs to the world at large. One day, Ide mentioned to Stevenson the feelings of his daughter Annie about having been born on "Christmas Day and so having no birthday celebration separate from the family's Christmas celebrations. Stevenson drew up a formal "deed of gift, properly sealed and witnessed as a legal document, and then published in the press, donating his birthday to Ide's daughter. The daughter and Stevenson corresponded further on the matter in November 1891, with Stevenson assuring her that "I am sure [your father] will tell you this is sound law.". The affair was the root of a strong bond between the Ide and Stevenson families.
Anne H. Ide, who was known as "Levei-malo" to the Samoans, married "William Bourke Cockran in 1906, becoming his third wife. In 1912, his daughter Marjorie married "Shane Leslie, a first cousin of "Winston Churchill.
"Luke E. Wright
|"Governor-General of the Philippines
"James Francis Smith
"William Miller Collier
|"U.S. Minister to Spain
"Joseph E. Willard