Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation

Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation

Where Detroit's History Endures
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Robert McClelland

Conservative and cautious Robert McClelland was elected the ninth Governor of the State of Michigan on the Democratic ticket.

Born in Greencastle, Pennsylvania in 1807 McClelland was the son of a prominent physician. After graduating from Dickinson college in 1829 he moved to Monroe, Michigan to practice law. He married Sarah E. Sabine in 1837 and they had six children.

He was a delegate to the 1835 and the 1850 Michigan Constitutional Conventions. He served as a member of the University of Michigan Board of Regents. In 1839 he was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives and was elected Speaker of the House in 1843. McClelland was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1843 and served from 1844 to 1845. He was again elected in 1845 and served until 1849.

In 1851, McClelland defeated the Whig party candidate Thownsend Gridley to win the one year term as Michigan Governor. He was reelected in 1852 for a two year term over Zachariah Chandler, the former mayor of Detroit.

On March 4, 1853 McClelland resigned as Governor to accept the appointment as Secretary of Interior in the Cabinet of President of Franklin Pierce. He served as Secretary of the Interior for four years. During his term he brought about many changes and improvements in the federal government administrative system.

McClelland returned to Michigan in 1857, and resumed his law practice in Detroit. During his public life and in his political career McClelland was ever cautious and conservative. On the eve of the Civil War he advocated moderation and compromise.

McClelland died in 1880.

Born: August 1, 1807
Died: August 30, 1880
Buried: Section A2, Lot 49