Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Woodbridge, William

William Woodbridge, Michigan’s second governor, was born on August 20, 1780 in Norwich, Connecticut. He attended one of the first law schools in the United States, Litchfield Law School, then moved to Ohio where he was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1806. He practiced law and was active in politics starting in 1807 when he became a member of the State House of Representatives. He was a member of the Ohio State Senate from 1808 until 1814, when he moved to Detroit, Michigan to become collector of customs, a position which he held until 1829. 

Also in 1814, Woodbridge was appointed secretary of the Michigan Territory by President Madison. At times he served as acting governor when Lewis Cass was away. On March 4, 1819 Woodbridge was elected delegate to the sixteenth Congress where he served until August 9, 1820, resigning to focus on his duties as territorial secretary, a position he continued until 1829.  

Woodbridge also held other offices such as judge of the Supreme Court of Michigan Territory (1828-1832), delegate to the state constitutional convention (1835), member of state senate (1838-1839), governor of Michigan (1840-1841) and United States senator (1841-1847). As a senator, he was the chairman of the Committee on Public Lands and was on the Committee on Patents and Patent Office.

William Woodbridge retired from politics and the public life after his time in the United States Senate. In his later years he focused on horticulture on his farm. Today part of the former farm is the site of old Tiger Stadium, and just north, the Woodbridge historic neighborhood. Woodbridge married Juliana Trumbull, daughter of John Trumbull, for whom Trumbull Avenue, which runs east of old Tiger Stadium and forms one of the boundaries to the Woodbridge neighborhood, was named.

Woodbridge died on October 20, 1861 in Detroit and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery. His extensive papers are in the Burton Historical Collection of the Detroit Public Library.



Thanksgiving dinner invitation from William Woodbridge, 1852 - 1952.101.005

Certificate signed by William Woodbridge, 1840 - 1947.082.272

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