Samuel H. Woodson

Woodson/Sawyer Home (1858)

Woodson's home in Independence. His daughter Sallie and her husband Aaron Flint Sawyer inherited the house, now a National Historic Landmark.
[City of Independence, Missouri]

Samuel Hughes Woodson (1815-1881) was born in Jessamine County, Kentucky. His father served in the Kentucky Legislature and in the United States House of Representatives. Woodson attended public school and graduated from Centre College in Danville and the law department of Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. He was admitted to the bar in 1838 and moved to Independence in 1840. He was a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1845 and was elected to the Missouri General Assembly in 1853 as a Whig.

Elected President Pro-Tem, Woodson opened the Lexington Slave Owners Convention and was chosen along with W.B. Napton, Sterling Price, Mordecai Oliver and Austin A. King for the important committee to draw up a memorial to the people of the United States following the meeting. [Craik, Southern Interest, 373]

He was active in the pro-slavery effort in Kansas. In the March 1855 "Bogus Legislature" election, Woodson rode out with a group of Missourians to the Third District polling place at Tecumseh. Taking possession of the election judges' room before their arrival, Woodson prepared the poll-books and tally-lists. When the judges arrived, Woodson remained in the room while the judges attempted to get organized. General confusion followed and the Missouri crowd gave the judges ten minutes to open the polls or leave. They soon left, new judges were appointed by the crowd, and the election proceeded. Most resident voters left without voting and the election was carried by the pro-slavery candidates ten to one. [Cutler, History, Part 10] Woodson himself voted in the election. [Robinson, Interior and Exterior Life, Ch. 15]

Independence Courthouse Square (1850)

From an engraving made for a German publication.
[City of Independence, Missouri]

As the Whig Party collapsed, Woodson ran for Congress on the American or "Know-Nothing" Party ticket and served from 1857 to 1861. He chose not to run when the war began and returned to Independence to practice law. In April 1861 local secessionists seized the Arsenal at Liberty and took 1,500 weapons and a few cannons. The next week Woodson delivered "an eloquent and impassioned address at a political meeting in praise of the seizure and urging Missouri take her stand "with her sister southern states." A secession flag was raised "amid the cheers of the multitude." [Woodson, Clay County, 124]

Woodson became a Democrat during the war and was elected Circuit Court Judge for Jackson County in 1875, serving until his death in 1881.

Charles Clark