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William Woodbridge

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Title: William Woodbridge  
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Subject: Lewis Cass, United States congressional delegations from Michigan, Political party strength in Michigan, List of Governors of Michigan, Robert McClelland (American politician)
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William Woodbridge

William Woodbridge
United States Senator
from Michigan
In office
March 4, 1841 – March 4, 1847
Preceded by John Norvell
Succeeded by Alpheus Felch
2nd Governor of Michigan
In office
January 7, 1840 – February 23, 1841
Lieutenant J. Wright Gordon
Preceded by Stevens T. Mason
Succeeded by J. Wright Gordon
Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from Michigan Territory's at-large congressional district
In office
March 4, 1819 – August 9, 1820
Preceded by none
Succeeded by Solomon Sibley
3rd Secretary of Michigan Territory
In office
October 15, 1814 – January 15, 1828
President James Madison
Preceded by Reuben Atwater
Succeeded by James Witherell
Personal details
Born (1780-08-20)August 20, 1780
Norwich, Connecticut
Died October 20, 1861(1861-10-20) (aged 81)
Detroit, Michigan
Political party Whig
Spouse(s) Juliana Trumbull
Religion Congregationalist

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. Woodbridge 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. He remained the Territorial Secretary while 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.

Woodbridge was elected to the Senate

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