Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation

Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation

Where Detroit's History Endures
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William Woodbridge

Born during the revolution, Woodbridge lived long enough to see the beginning of the Civil War. He was born in Norwich, Connecticut in 1780. He moved with his family to Marietta, Ohio in 1791. For his schooling he returned to Connecticut to get his degree at Litchfield Law School. As a lawyer he returned Ohio and became Prosecuting Attorney for Washington County and later a state senator. In 1806 he married Juliana Trumbull the daughter of Judge John Trumbull. They had four children. His friend Lewis Cass persuaded him to accept the posts of Secretary of the Territory of Michigan and collector of Customs for the Port of Detroit. The appointments were made in 1814 by President James Monroe.

During his years as Territorial Secretary Woodbridge was often the acting Governor in the absence of Governor Cass and in 1817 he was made a trustee of newly created University of Michigan. In addition, Woodbridge was elected the first Territorial Representative to the U.S. Congress in 1819. Upon his return to Michigan at the end of his term in 1820 Woodbridge was again acting Governor. In 1828, he was appointed as one of the three Territorial Supreme Court Judges by President John Quincy Adams. He served in this office until 1835, when he was elected to the Michigan state senate and helped to draft the first Michigan Constitution.

In 1839 Woodbridge was elected Michigan Governor on the Whig platform of “Retrenchment and Reform”. He served until February 24, 11841 when he was elected U.S. Senator. During his term as Senator, Woodbridge worked for the interests of Michigan. He also opposed such issues as the annexation of Texas and the Mexican War.

At the close of his term Woodbridge returned to private life on his Michigan farm (part of which is now the site of Tiger Stadium). He continued his keen interest in politics and government affairs. Woodbridge had served Michigan for 36 years, in all three branches of government. He died at his home in 1861.

Born: August 20, 1780
Died: October 21, 1861
Buried: Section A, Lot 13