William Woodbridge, Governor, U.S. Senator

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William Woodbridge

Birthdate: (81)
Birthplace: Norwich, New London County, Connecticut, United States
Death: October 20, 1861 (81)
Grosse Pointe, Wayne County, Michigan, United States
Place of Burial: Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of (Private) Dudley Woodbridge and Lucy Woodbridge
Husband of Juliana Woodbridge
Father of William Leverett Woodbridge; Juliana Trumbull Woodbridge; John Woodbridge; Lucy Maria Woodbridge; Henrietta Sarah Woodbridge and 1 other
Brother of Lucy Woodbridge; Sarah Mathews; Dudley Woodbridge, III; David Woodbridge and John Woodbridge

Managed by: Private User
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About William Woodbridge, Governor, U.S. Senator


William Woodbridge (August 20, 1780 – October 20, 1861) was a U.S. statesman in the states of Ohio and Michigan and in the Michigan Territory prior to statehood. He served as the second Governor of Michigan and a United States Senator from Michigan.

Early life in Connecticut and politics in Ohio

Woodbridge was born in Norwich, Connecticut, and as a child moved with his family to Marietta, Ohio in about 1790. He began the study of law in Marietta and developed a close friendship with Lewis Cass. He returned to Connecticut to complete his law studies and, after returning to Ohio, was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1806 where he began a practice in Marietta, Ohio. In June 1806, he married Juliana Trumbull, the daughter of John Trumbull.

He was a member of the Ohio House of Representatives in 1807, and was elected to the Ohio Senate in 1808, serving from 1809 to 1814. He was also the prosecuting attorney for New London (now Washington County, Ohio) from 1808 to 1814.

Politics in Michigan Territory

In 1814, Woodbridge's old friend Lewis Cass, who had become Governor of the Michigan Territory, encouraged him to accept appointments as Secretary of the Territory and as the collector of customs at the Port of Detroit. On October 15, 1814, Woodbridge reluctantly accepted the appointments from President James Madison and moved to Detroit, Michigan. During the frequent absences of Cass, Woodbridge served as acting Governor. In 1817 became a trustee of the University of Michigan.

Under the rules of Territorial government, the Territory did not have representation in the U.S. Congress. Woodbridge influenced Congress to pass legislation authorizing the selection of a non-voting Delegate to Congress. Woodward became Michigan Territory's first Delegate, serving in the 16th Congress from March 4, 1819, to his resignation on August 9, 1820 due to illness in his family. Solomon Sibley succeeded Woodbridge as Delegate. As a Delegate, Woodbridge worked for the passage of legislation that recognized old French land titles in the Territory according to the terms of the previously signed treaties. He also secured approval for the construction of government roads from the Great Miami River to Detroit, and from Detroit to Chicago. He was also a strong advocate for Michigan's claim to the Toledo Strip, which was disputed with the state of Ohio.

In 1828, he was appointed one of three Territorial Supreme Court judges by President John Quincy Adams, succeeding James Witherell and serving in this capacity until 1832 when his term expired and President Andrew Jackson chose a replacement who was not from the Whig party as Woodbridge was.

Politics and Governorship in the State of Michigan

Woodbridge was a delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1835 and a member of the Michigan State Senate, 1838–1839. He was elected as the second Governor of Michigan in 1840, leading the Whig party to sweeping statewide victories under the slogan "Woodbridge and reform" (along with William Henry Harrison's national campaign). He resigned as Governor on February 23, 1841 to take a seat in the United States Senate and was succeeded by his Lieutenant Governor, J. Wright Gordon.

In 1840, Woodbridge was elected as a Whig to the Senate and served from March 4, 1841, to March 4, 1847. He served as chairman of the Committee on Public Lands in the 28th Congress, 1843–1844, and of the Committee on Patents and the Patent Office in the 29th Congress, 1845–1846. He did not seek reelection.

Retirement and death

After leaving the Senate, he retired from public life and devoted his time to horticulture. He died in Detroit and is interred there in Elmwood Cemetery.

Woodbridge Township, Michigan in Hillsdale County, Michigan is named for him. The Woodbridge Historic District and Woodbridge Avenue in Detroit are also named for him.

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William Woodbridge, Governor, U.S. Senator's Timeline

August 20, 1780
Norwich, New London County, Connecticut, United States
September 12, 1815
Age 35
Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, United States
July 22, 1817
Age 36
May 2, 1820
Age 39
July 22, 1822
Age 41
January 25, 1824
Age 43
February 19, 1826
Age 45
Grosse Pointe Farms, , MI
October 20, 1861
Age 81
Grosse Pointe, Wayne County, Michigan, United States
October 24, 1861
Age 81
Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, United States