Augustus B. Woodward

Augustus B. Woodward

Augustus B. Woodward

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Augustus Brevoort Woodward (born Elias Brevoort Woodward in November 1774, died July 12, 1827) was the first Chief Justice of the Michigan Territory. In that position, he played a prominent role in the planning and reconstruction of Detroit following a devastating fire.

Woodward never married. His biographer, Arthur M. Woodford, describes Woodward as a prototype of Washington Irving’s Ichabod Crane. He stood six feet three or four inches tall, thin, sallow, and stooped. His long, narrow face was dominated by a big nose. His only outward vestage of vanity was a generous crop of thick, black, hair. His contemporaries commented on his slovenliness.

While in Washington, he was described as "a man of middle age, a hardened bachelor who wore nut-brown clothing . . . he slept in his office which was never swept . . . and was eccentric and erratic. His friends were few and his practice was so small that he hardly made a living."

Michigan Territory

Then President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson appointed Woodward on March 3, 1805 as the Michigan Territory's first Chief Justice. Woodward arrived in Detroit on June 30, 1805, with the city in ruins from the devastating June 11, 1805 fire. Few buildings were left standing.

Woodward, with Governor William Hull and associate Justices John Griffin and Frederick Bates, possessed all the legislative power in the Territory. Woodward and Griffin, along with the current Governor and a third judge, would hold this power from...
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