History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/Samuel J. Kirkwood
SAMUEL J. KIRKWOOD, fifth Governor of the State, was born in Hartford County, Maryland, December 20, 1813. He was educated in Washington, D. C., and employed in a drug store. In 1835 his father removed to Richland County, Ohio, where for several years the son assisted him in clearing a new farm in the heavy forest. He finally studied law and in 1843 was admitted to the bar. From 1845 to 1849 he was Prosecuting Attorney and was then elected to the convention which framed the present Constitution of the State of Ohio. Up to 1854 Mr. Kirkwood was a Democrat but when that party attempted to force slavery into Kansas he became alienated and favored the free soil movement. In 1855 he removed to Iowa and purchased an interest in a mill near Iowa City. In February, 1856, he served as a delegate in the State Convention which organized the Republican party of Iowa. In the fall of that year he was elected to the State Senate from the district consisting of Iowa and Johnson counties, serving in the Sixth and Seventh General Assemblies. He won such reputation as a legislator that at the Republican State Convention in 1859 he was nominated for Governor and was elected over General A. C. Dodge the Democratic candidate by over 3,000 majority. During his two terms as Governor it devolved upon him to organize and send to the seat of war more than 60,000 citizen soldiers. How ably he met and performed the arduous duties which a great war thrust upon him is recorded in the most stirring chapters of Iowa history. He won a place with the greatest “War Governors” of the Nation. In 1866 he was elected to the United States Senate to fill a vacancy of two years. In 1875 he was again chosen Governor; but the General Assembly of 1876 elected him to the Senate for a full term of six years and he resigned the office of Governor and returned to the Senate in March, 1877. Upon the inauguration of President Garfield, Governor Kirkwood was invited to a seat in the Cabinet as Secretary of the Interior which he accepted, resigning his position in the Senate. The death of the President terminated his service in the Cabinet after thirteen months and he retired to private life. During the quarter of a century that Governor Kirkwood was almost continually in public life, he possessed the confidence and esteem of the people of Iowa in as great a degree as any citizen who ever served the State. On the 28th of September, 1892, ten years after Governor Kirkwood retired to private life, at the suggestion of Governor Sherman, more than thirty of the old associates of Governor Kirkwood in official positions living in different parts of the State, assembled at his home at Iowa City to pay their respects to the “War Governor” who was then about eighty years of age. It was a remarkable gathering of distinguished men of both political parties, after time had obliterated the bitterness of a score of partisan conflicts. All met as old friends and joined in honoring the man who had earned undying fame in the most critical period of our State and National history. Governor Kirkwood died at his home near Iowa City, September 1, 1894.