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Michigan Legal Milestones
7. Augustus B. Woodward

Brilliant but eccentric, the first chief justice of the Michigan territorial court is recalled at the site of his law office. Dedicated and placed inside in the Millender Center Atrium of the Omni Hotel (by the "up" escalator) at corner of Randolph and Jefferson streets in Detroit on May 3, 1988.

Complete Text on Milestone Marker

Augustus B. Woodward

Newly appointed by his friend, President Jefferson, to administer law in the Michigan Territory, August B. Woodward arrived in Detroit two weeks after a fire destroyed the city in 1805. He soon established an office on the corner of Randolph and Jefferson Streets, and served for the next 19 years as the first chief justice of the Supreme Court of Michigan Territory.

A man of great intellect, moral courage, and not a few eccentricities, Justice Woodward is credited with providing Michigan with the legal foundation upon which the state was to later develop. He was a thorough and prolific writer, and his legal opinions reflect the skills of a sound lawyer and creditable jurist. His strong convictions led to many quarrels, but also inspired him to hand down courageous decisions, including an important anti-slavery opinion, as early as 1807.

While serving as chief justice, he drew up the street plan for a rebuilt Detroit, was the catalyst for the founding of the University of Michigan, and established and named Ypsilanti.

Placed by the State Bar of Michigan and the Detroit Bar Association, 1988.