Missouri Digital Heritage :: Collections :: Silas B. Woodson, 1873-1875

Missouri State Archives
Silas B. Woodson, 1873-1875

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Silas B. Woodson document


Silas Woodson was born near Barbourville in Knox County, Kentucky, to Wade Netherland and Alice Chick Woodson on May 18, 1819. He attended Kentucky schools, studied medicine after the death of his father, and later turned to law and politics. Woodson was admitted to the Kentucky Bar in 1840.

Woodson served two terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives (1843 and 1853) and was the only member of the Kentucky Constitutional Convention of 1849 to favor the gradual emancipation of slaves. He left Kentucky in 1854, moving to St. Joseph, Missouri, where he practiced law with the firm of Woodson and Hughes.

In 1860, Woodson was elected Buchanan County Circuit Court Judge in the 12th Judicial Circuit. Woodson supported the Union during the Civil War and was inspector general for the Missouri State Militia. In 1863, he was appointed Assistant Provost Marshal where his main duty was the promulgation of General Order 135, which called for the enlistment of slaves and freed blacks into the U.S. Army.

Woodson was elected permanent chairman of the 1872 Democratic Party Gubernatorial Convention. When none of the contenders garnered the required majority of votes, he was nominated. On November 5, 1872, Woodson was elected the 21st Governor of Missouri, defeating his Radical Republican opponent, John B. Henderson, by almost 35,000 votes.

During his administration, Woodson reduced the state debt, lowered the tax levy, and signed an act to authorize a popular vote for a Constitutional Convention. Woodson requested increased appropriations to curb bank and train robberies occurring throughout the state but the legislature did not support the request.

In January 1875, Woodson returned to his law practice in St. Joseph. In 1880, he was elected to a four year term as judge of the Buchanan County Circuit Court. Judge Woodson died on October 9, 1896, following a cerebral hemorrhage. He is buried in Mount Mora Cemetery in St. Joseph.

The Collection

The records (1866-1875) of Governor Silas Woodson (1819-1896) include appointments, resignations, letters of recommendation, supporting petitions, and vacancy notifications; correspondence; statements, court proceedings, transcripts, indictments, and witness testimonies; newspaper clippings; requests and petitions for pardons; reports; Missouri Supreme Court opinions; handbills, election notices, and writs of election.

Rights and Reproductions

Copyright is in the public domain. Preferred citation: [Item description], [date]; Silas Woodson, 1873-1875; Office of Governor, Record Group 3.21; Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City.

How to Use This Collection

The official title lists dates of service from inauguration to end of term. Records (1866-1875) refer to the date range of materials included within the collection. All references to places are within the state of Missouri unless indicated, and county is specified when known. The spelling of proper names varies greatly. When correct spelling could not be determined the original spelling was retained. Officeholders are Missouri officials unless noted (U. S. Senator, U. S. Secretary of State, U. S. Attorney General, U. S. Supreme Court, and etcetera). State Representatives are referred to as Representatives. U. S. Representatives are noted with the title Congressmen. Scanned images shown are the best available.

Additional Resources

The collection finding aid provides information pertaining to additional Woodson material held by Baker Library, Harvard Business School, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City; Elmer Ellis Library, Special Collections at the University of Missouri, Columbia; and the State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia.

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