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William Woodbridge
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William Woodbridge

William Woodbridge (August 20, 1780October 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 Governor and as U.S. Senator from Michigan.

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 of 1806, he married Juliana Trumbull, the daughter of John Trumbull.

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

In 1814, Woodbridge's old friend 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 Sixteenth Congress from March 4, 1819, to his resignation on August 9, 1820. 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 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.

He was a delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1835 and a member of the 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, he was elected as a Whig to the Senate and served from March 4, 1841, to March 3, 1847. He did not seek reelection. He served as chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Public Lands in the Twenty-eighth Congress, 1843-1844 and of the U.S. Senate Committee on Patents and the Patent Office in the Twenty-ninth Congress, 1845-1846.

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