Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Woodward, Augustus

Augustus Brevoort Woodward was born in New York City in 1774. After college, he became the first practicing lawyer in Washington, D.C. An acquaintance of President Thomas Jefferson, Woodward was appointed as a territorial judge in the Michigan Territory, arriving in Detroit just days after the 1805 fire. Emulating Washington, D.C.’s hub-and-spoke street plan, Woodward laid out a striking vision for his new hometown, including a main thoroughfare that bears his name.

When the British occupied Detroit during the War of 1812, most American officials departed. Woodward remained, advocating for fair treatment of the town’s citizens. Following the conflict, in addition to his court docket, he endeavored to establish a university, laying the groundwork for the University of Michigan.

Woodward’s personality made him a lightening rod for criticism and he made powerful enemies. After 19 years in Detroit, he was assigned to a judicial post in the Territory of Florida. He died there in 1827, a lifelong bachelor.

 


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Detroit Bank note signed by Augustus Woodward, 1806 - 1971.084.019

Historical marker mentioning Augustus Woodward and the founding of the University of Michigan, 1951 - 2013.041.429

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