A Freemason and Founder of the First Complete Public Education System in America*


By Richard H. Sands, 33o, P.G.M.

Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Michigan


Judge Augustus B. Woodward
First Territorial Judge of Michigan (1774-1827)

P O R T R A I T    BY    R O B E R T    M A N I S C A L C O



The Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons is the oldest existing fraternity in the world.  Freemasons historically have made important and essential contributions to the War for Independence and the fabric of this country.  Among the Freemasons responsible for the first public school system (elementary and intermediate with a university at its apex) in America*, including the beginnings of the University of Michigan, was Judge Augustus Woodward, the first of three federally appointed judges in the Territory of Michigan.  His life, education, and contributions are traced in this paper.


He made a name for himself when he represented Oliver Pollack before Congress in his case for restitution of funds expended in support of the expedition of George Rogers Clark to recapture the Northwest Territories from the British.  Woodward became a close friend of Thomas Jefferson.


Arriving shortly after the fire that leveled Detroit, he left his imprint on the layout of the streets of Detroit.  Woodward was the only one of the civil officers to remain in Detroit during the War of 1812.  He was widely read and developed a system of scientific classification and nomenclature that rivaled the best of the time.  He championed the needy during and after the war of 1812 and drafted the act of 1817 that established the University of Michigania and began the first truly public school system in America*.


In 1824, he lost his judgeship to "dirty" politics, but was able to clear his name and received an appointment as a judge in the new Territory of Florida, where he later died on June 12, 1827, at the age of fifty-two.  His grave is unknown.


The Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons is the oldest extant fraternity in the world.  Members of the Fraternity  (hereinafter referred to as Freemasons or Masons) and its teachings played major roles in the War for Independence and the beginnings and evolution of this country.  Among these were men such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, Baron Von


* There is one other contender for this honor - the Georgia legislature that in 1801 gave supervisory power over the public schools to the President of the University of Georgia1.  To date, I have been unable to learn when and how he exercised that power or if the University of Georgia was truly public in its admissions at that time.


Steuben, Marquis de Lafayette, George Rogers Clark, John Hancock, and many others.  They pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor that they and we might enjoy freedom from oppression.


We are here to discuss Freemasonry in Washtenaw County.  It is most appropriate that this should be done on the University of Michigan campus, because Freemasons played a significant part in the beginning of this University, albeit that the latter took place in Detroit in 1817 before it evolved to a true university in Ann Arbor in 1837.  Among the Freemasons responsible for that beginning, one man stands out; namely, Augustus Woodward, the first of three federally appointed judges for the new Territory of Michigan.


The origins of the Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons are lost in antiquity.  Our oral history tells us that we grew out of those operative lodges of Freemasons that built the great cathedrals of the Middle Ages; however, we have no written proof of that.  We can trace it in great detail only to the meeting of four lodges in London, England, in 1717; but these were already social lodges of Freemasons.  Members of the Fraternity make no pretext of learning the skills of operative Freemasonry; we simply use the tools of the operative craft to teach fundamental truths of human behavior or "morality," if you like.  The Society of Free and Accepted Masons (some 3 Million strong, worldwide) is a fraternity that has built within it a system of moral instruction that is taught in the most palatable manner possible; namely, by symbols and by allegory.  Every Freemason must be of mature age and profess a belief in Diety.  If anyone wishes to be a member, he must ask - no Mason can invite him.  The purpose of the organization is to take good men and help them to become better men by offering them these moral lessons and opportunities to practice charity in an atmosphere of brotherly

love.  You will hear later in this program of the history of some of these lodges of Freemasons in Washtenaw County.


Because bettering oneself is a major part of Freemasonry, Freemasons have always stressed the importance of education.  The first full public school systems in America and in Europe were started by Masons, and Masons were instrumental in starting many of the major colleges and universities in this country; examples are the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina.  In discussing the beginnings of the University of Michigan, we need to review the life and works of the principal player in those beginnings; namely, Judge Augustus Woodward and the circumstances that brought him here 2.


In order to keep the Northwest Territories Congress needed to populate the area.  To facilitate the latter, they needed a system of laws and governance; and The Northwest Ordinance3 was the first effort in that direction.  It is of note that this ordinance was adopted by the Continental Congress in 1787 before our Constitution was written.  It outlawed slavery, promoted education, and provided for a governor, a secretary and three judges appointed by Congress.  But the territories were vast, and the inhabitants were forced to travel inordinate distances to seek justice.  As the numbers of settlers increased, new territories were broken out from the original.  Finally, the Territory of Michigan was established with its own governor, secretary and three federally appointed judges of whom Augustus Woodward was one.


He was born in New York in 1774 and, on November 6 in a Reformed Dutch Church, was baptized Elias Brevoort Woodward, after his maternal uncle.  Elias Brevoort was one of pre-Revolutionary Manhattan's leading citizens with a substantial estate.  Woodward enrolled in Columbia College at the age of fifteen and received his A.B. degree.  He read widely, was well grounded in Greek and Latin and became fluent in French.  Elias Woodward later changed his name from Elias to Augustus, thinking that it better suited his personality.  It was his habit to keep a small notebook in which he jotted down whatever interested him.  After graduation in 1793, he took a job in Philadelphia where he was employed as a clerk in the Treasury Department. The uncle left him an inheritance of 150 English pounds.  With this inheritance, he set out for the new city of Washington on the Potomac, where he invested in real estate.


While in Rockbridge County in 1795, he was received in Monticello and admitted to Thomas Jefferson's intimate circle.  This was the beginning of a lasting friendship.


Augustus moved to Georgetown in the District of Columbia.  He became acquainted with Charles L'Enfant and his plan for Washington.  On the inside cover of his notebook he pasted a copy of L'Enfant's plan for Washington with the location of his ten properties marked.  On March 23,

1801, he presented himself at the opening of the first session of the new court of the District of Columbia and was admitted to practice before it. He was tall, six foot three or four and was stooped with a large crop of dark hair, a narrow face and a large nose.


He claimed no formal religious association, but he was never irreligious.  He was on good terms with the clergy of many denominations, including Father Gabriel Richard of the Catholic faith and Reverend John Monteith of the Protestant faith.  He never displayed impiety or looseness of character and was never known to use profanity.


Prior to 1801, Jefferson was only the Vice-President, whose duties were minimal.  Many a day, he and Woodward would sit before a warm fire discussing their theories of government and sharing books that they had read - both were voracious readers.  Woodward spent a lot of time on a committee for the poor.


The Washington bar of 1802 consisted of only eleven members.  There was business for all; and Woodward had his share.  One case, in particular, earned him distinction: his representation of Oliver Pollock before a committee of Congress to pursue a long-standing claim for reimbursement of funds advanced to the patriotic cause during the Revolution.  Pollock's financial assistance surpassed that of any other person.  That the Northwest was won and that it became a part of the United States was the result, largely, of the efforts of Oliver Pollock.  He was a native of Ireland, emigrating to Pennsylvania in 1761 at the age of 24.  He had a natural talent for business - whatever enterprise he attempted, it prospered.  After beginning operations out of Philadelphia with West Indies ports and with New Orleans, he established his headquarters in New Orleans in 1768.  The Spanish took possession of Louisiana in the following year, and he began supplying the Spanish army.  He was wise enough to charge reasonable prices and not the usual profiteering.  This won him the respect of the Spanish authorities who gave him free trade throughout Louisiana.  Rapidly Pollock acquired considerable wealth with large land holdings near New Orleans where he established plantations with slaves to work on them, and his mercantile interests were wide spread.  After the start of the Revolution, agents from Virginia appeared in New Orleans seeking supplies for the patriotic cause.  Through Pollock's intervention and influence with Spanish

officials, he was able to arrange for ten thousand pounds of powder to be shipped to the colonies.


From Detroit, the British unleashed their Indian allies in a wave of terror.  In order to stop this Indian menace, George Rogers Clark proposed a plan to mount an expedition against the Illinois country, which was not strongly held, and then to move against Detroit..  It took a steady flow of supplies to enable Clark to execute his plan.  From New Orleans, Pollock sent boatload after boatload of food, powder, blankets and clothing up the Mississippi, using his own funds.  As the demands increased, he mortgaged his lands and slaves, and advanced more than $300,000, much of it pledged against his personal credit.  Clark's victory was an expensive one for Pollock, and he became a ruined man.  Payment was demanded by his Spanish creditors and they imprisoned him in a debtor's jail in Havana.  Repeatedly, he appealed to Virginia and Congress for relief.


He became concerned when some individuals claimed that the obligation contracted by Virginia was not binding on the Federal government.  He retained Woodward to secure recognition of his rights to payment.  Woodward's arguments and the justice of Pollock's cause prevailed.  Pollock eventually received all but some $9,000 of his claim.  Just as importantly, Woodward's involvement in this case peaked his interest in the Northwest Territories and, undoubtedly, was a factor in his acceptance of public service in that part of the country when he was offered it by Jefferson.


In Detroit on Tuesday, June 11, 1805, a driver hitching up his cart to get a fresh supply of flour, knocked out his pipe, and a live coal was blown into the hay.  In less than two hours, the whole town was in flames and all that remained of the town were charred chimneys.  Fortunately, no lives were lost and only two were injured: an elderly woman and a young child.  The destruction was total; only the old Block House survived.


Woodward knew nothing of this when he arrived in Detroit on June 30.  Woodward's fame had preceded him; the citizens made it clear that Woodward represented a community hope.  Detroit needed a figure of authority.  Since the fire, the citizens had bickered among themselves about when and how they should start to rebuild.  The new governor, William Hull, accompanied by his secretary, Stanley Griswold, arrived from Albany later the next day.  The following morning, as his first official act, Hull administered the oaths of office to Secretary Griswold and Justices Woodward and Bates, the former assuming the office of chief justice by virtue of an earlier commission.  Hull had been sworn in enroute by the Vice-President, George Clinton. 

Hull, Woodward and Bates formed themselves into a land board to plan a layout for the new city.  They asked the populace to wait patiently.  Woodward was chosen as a committee of one to layout the new Detroit.  It was a year and a half before Woodward's plan was completed, and you can see L'Enfant's imprint.  The plan consisted of an equilateral triangle with 4,000 foot sides, divided into six sections by a perpendicular line from every angle bisecting the opposite side, with squares, circuses and other open spaces where six avenues and where twelve avenues intersect, large circular plazas one thousand feet in diameter, were connected and intersected by north-south and east-west grand avenues, each two hundred feet wide.  From each of the hub-like plazas or circuses, eight other avenues would radiate like spokes of a wheel.  These were one hundred and twenty feet wide and connected at intervals by sixty-foot wide streets. The grand circuses were intended to be sites for public buildings, churches, schools - all the space to be landscaped, adorned with fountains and statuary, and lined with trees.  The base of the first triangular unit paralleled the river for four thousand feet.  The apex of the original was at the present Grand Circus Park and the intersection of the avenues which would have bisected its angles can still be seen at the Campus Martius.  The first unit was designed for fifty thousand.  It could easily be enlarged by adding a second or third triangle by making one side of the original triangle, the base of the new one.


This was a city plan beyond the understanding of the frontier citizens who had never seen a European city and could not appreciate an advanced idea of scientific planning.  After eleven years, Woodward's plan was abandoned.  If Detroit had followed this, it would be the envy of other cities without the congestion of today.


(From the hand-written minutes4 of Zion Lodge, we learn that Augustus B. Woodward was made a Freemason on September 5, 1808, in Zion Lodge #1, chartered under the Grand Lodge of A.F.&A.M. of New York.  He was proposed by Brother Scott, elected to receive, and received the Entered Apprentice degree the same night.  He was passed to the Fellowcraft degree on October 3, 1808; however, he had a series of excused absences from Zion Lodge until September 4, 1809.  He was raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason on October 14, 1809.)


By 1808, the intention of the British for war was apparent.  The unrest of the Indians was being secretly encouraged by the British.  War with Britain was inevitable.  The only question was when?  Appeals to the federal government to reinforce the frontier fell on deaf ears until 1811.  Hull chose this time to return to Massachusetts for the winter of 1811-12; but before his leave expired, he spent several months in Washington discussing defense arrangements. Governor Hull, now Brigadier General Hull, returned to Michigan Territory in July, 1812, as commander-in-chief of an army of two thousand men consisting of three regiments of Ohio volunteers and one regiment of regulars.  War with Great Britain was declared while Hull was marching from Urbana, Ohio.  The army's objective was an immediate invasion of Canada, the capture of Fort Malden, and the occupation of the country as far east as the Thames River.  Hull's subordinates included the three colonels of the Ohio regiments, McArthur, Findlay and Lewis Cass, all of whom urged an immediate invasion of Canada.  Hull delayed until he received orders from Washington, and not until July 12 did the army cross the river.  Hull showed no inclination to do more, refusing to attack Malden. 


While Hull was delaying, the British were actively reinforcing.  In the North, an enemy expedition took Mackinac by surprise on July 17.  Following this, the Indians swarmed to the British side.  Hull respected the British, but feared the Indians and on August 8 he ordered his troops back across the river and on the same day his orders reached the small garrison at Fort Dearborn to evacuate.  The soldiers and their families marched out of that fort and were ambushed by the savages, many brutally massacred and most taken prisoner.  At the same time, Major General Isaac Brock took command of Fort Malden.  Playing upon Hull's fears, he demanded Detroit's surrender, hinting that he might have trouble restraining the Indians.  He planted a battery opposite Detroit and began to bombard the town.  On the morning of August 16, Brock dressed a few of his militiamen as British regulars to make his force appear stronger, then transported them across the river and, with Tecumseh's braves howling around the stockade, marched toward the town.

To the disgust of his troops, Hull ran up the white flag, surrendering unconditionally without firing a shot.  Brock left two hundred and fifty men under the command of Colonel Henry Proctor, and decreed that American laws should remain in effect.


Hull as a prisoner of war was carried off to Montreal.  The Ohio volunteers were sent home under parole.  Before long Hull was exchanged, tried by court martial, convicted of cowardice and sentenced to death.  Woodward was the only one of the original civic officers to remain in Detroit; and since the British decreed that American law would continue to prevail, Proctor (without consulting Woodward) appointed him as Secretary of the Territory (second in command).  This placed him in a difficult position (which he declined); however, Woodward became the emissary of the people.  He mounted a relief group to trace the prisoners from Fort Dearborn. 


(It is of interest to note that Zion Lodge ceased to meet during the British occupation4, despite the ruling that American laws should remain in effect.  The lodge minutes do not give a reason, so we are left to speculate.  Either they no longer had enough members to open or they did not want to have to welcome British brethren into their lodge.  We will never know.) 


Figure 1.  A coarse map of the area


Proctor surprised a division of William Henry Harrison's army under the command of General Winchester at Frenchtown (see Figure 1) on the night of January 21, 1813, and after a fight, forced him to surrender his entire force.  Proctor returned to Malden, leaving the wounded American prisoners in Frenchtown.  The British assured Winchester that the men would be safe,

but despite this, the Indians got out of hand and murdered, scalped or carried away three hundred and ninety-seven Kentuckians while the British officers stood idly by.  Woodward's relief committee was called upon again, raising money for ransom and providing for the prisoners' general comfort.


Woodward ceased amicable relations with Proctor and requested a pass to leave.  After some delay, Woodward was granted a pass on February 19.  On March 16, he was in Albany where he reported by letter to Secretary of State Monroe.  In his letter he pointed out that he had declined commission as Secretary of the Territory under Proctor and had accepted no remuneration from the British. 


Woodward then went to Washington where he gave his papers to Congress, he conferred with Madison and congressional leaders on the situation in the West and the conduct of the war.  He learned that his reputation had not suffered at all.  While Woodward was relaxing from official duties, the war was turning in the West.  In May, the British laid siege to the Fort Meigs on strategic Maumee River, but Gen. Harrison's forces made a determined stand and repulsed the British forces.  A second siege was repulsed in July, and the British needed a victory to assuage their Indian allies, so Proctor attempted to capture Fort Stephenson with a bayonet charge; however, the 160 men under Major George Croghan bloodily repulsed it and Proctor was forced to retreat back to Fort Malden.  In September, Oliver Hazard Perry's fleet sailed out of the harbor at Presque Ile on Lake Erie and decisively defeated the British squadron at Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island.  With the Great Lakes under American control, General Harrison retook Detroit and invaded Canada.  At the Thames River, he overtook and defeated the fleeing Proctor and smashed the Indian confederation.  Once more, the Michigan Territory and the Northwest were under the United States.


On October 29, 1813, President Madison appointed Lewis Cass (a Mason) to replace Hull as the new civic governor of Michigan.  In the Spring of 1814, he set the 3rd Monday of August for the resumption of governmental operations and notified the judges to be on hand.  Cass secured the appointment of his close friend, William Woodbridge, as Secretary.


In Michigan in 1814 the settlements at the Rouge and Raisin were in dire straits, and the devastation from war was ubiquitous.  Fur trade had been

suspended during the war, so no credits were available for food and clothing.  In a territory that was not self-sufficient, the lack of imports resulted in serious hardship.  Agriculture ceased because with hostile Indians in the woods, the farmers did not dare go into the fields.  The livestock had been stolen by the Indians or commandeered by the British.  Famine was everywhere.


During most of 1814 and the early months of 1815, Governor Cass was absent, winding up his affairs in Ohio.  The people turned to Woodward who had never failed them before.


Woodward reported to the Secretary of War that "no kind of flour or meal was to be procured and nothing for the subsistence of the cattle.  No animals for slaughter.  The fencing had been destroyed by the incursion of the enemy for fuel for the military.  Their houses were left with no glass.  Their clothing plundered by the Indians. ……the inhabitants of the River Raisin had to resort to boiled chopp'd hay for subsistence."  Woodward appealed for supplies, including seeds for spring planting.  Father Richard and Cass, upon his return, added their appeals.  In reply, Washington sent relief, food for the people and livestock for the farms.  The gratitude of the people to all three was boundless, and Woodward was revered by the French.


In 1817, President Monroe visited Detroit soon after his inauguration.  In that year, too, Detroit's first regular newspaper. The Gazette, was published.

Furthermore, legislation was introduced to establish the first state or territorial support for a public education system with a university as a key part.  The background for this was extensive.


Woodward in his youth sought to understand a variety of natural phenomena.  He wondered about the sun, electricity, light, heat and magnetism.  He performed many experiments.  None of the explanations he found in books satisfied him.  In 1801, at the age of twenty-seven, he published a booklet entitled Considerations on the Substance of the Sun.


From his boyhood days, Woodward was aware of the apparent lack of a sufficient classification of the various branches of knowledge.   What was needed was a comprehensive system of classification which could catalog and assign proper place and order to the various branches of knowledge.  The relative isolation of his residence in Michigan gave him the opportunity to pursue this undertaking.  Jefferson, too, was interested in a system of classification for the practical purpose of cataloguing his library. 


Woodward developed his ideas during his numerous eastern trips while he was a territorial judge..  He visited libraries in New York, Philadelphia and Princeton.  He discussed his plans with many eminent scholars including the President of Princeton and members of the faculty.  He read widely and he undoubtedly possessed a knowledge of scientific thought as great as anyone then living in the United States.


The heart of his plan was the nomenclature.  This had to be universal, which meant that it had to be exact, so he could not use terms then in use - he had to invent them.  In devising his own terminology, Woodward drew upon Greek roots.  For a general designation that would include all of science he chose "encathol epistemia" or literally, "universal science.".  By 1815, his task was nearly complete and in 1816 upon another journey East, a syndicate of Philadelphia printers published his A System of Universal Science.


Woodward was concerned by the lack of any publicly-supported education in the Territory.  The well-to-do traders and officers sent their sons East to be educated.  Father Richard had dreamed of establishing a seminary and common and vocational schools for the Indians and the whites.  He had even attempted to start such schools, but they failed.  He had appealed to Congress, the President and the Governor and Judges for financial support, but the French inhabitants, who represented the majority, were not interested.


In 1816, the Reverend John Monteith, a native of Pennsylvania and a graduate of Princeton Seminary, where he had prepared for the ministry and for a teaching career, came to Detroit at the call of a committee of citizens to conduct non-denominational Protestant services and hopefully to teach school.  Monteith and Father Richard were kindred spirits.  Their interest in education formed a strong bond, and they along with Woodward and others formed a single-minded group that was determined.  On June 20, 1817, Monteith wrote in his diary that "Judge Woodward invites me to an interview on the subject of a University."


Pressure was applied to the public.  Even the French began to show interest, undoubtedly inspired by Father Richard, who posted a notice in the August 8, 1817, Gazette imploring them to educate their children so that the latter could compete for jobs.


From mid-August to late September, Governor Cass left Detroit to attend to official business..  Secretary Woodbridge took over as acting governor in his absence.  Before Cass's departure, an understanding was reached and arrangements made for some important legislation to establish a university in Michigan Territory.  A call was issued for a meeting of the legislative board on August 26.  Woodward was assigned the task of drafting the legislation.  His System of Universal Science would provide the basis. He entitled the legislation, "An act to establish the catholepistemiad, or university of Michigania."

Woodward, p. 12


Acting Governor Woodbridge and Judges Woodward and Griffin in signing the university act of August 26, 1817, presented to the pioneer community of Michigan a framework for an educational system which was far ahead of anything then existing in the United States or anywhere.  As James B. Angell, president of the University of Michigan pointed out nearly three

quarters of a century after the act of 1817 was adopted:  "In the development of our strictly university work, we have yet hardly been able to realize the ideal of the eccentric but gifted man who framed the project of the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania."


The act itself described a solid well-conceived structure.  It established the form and functional processes of the Catholepistemiad, including the broad instruction that it would offer.  Thirteen departments were provided.  They were to be known individually as didaxia, which covered just about all of human knowledge.  The governing body was to be the didactors, or professors, and the President was to be a didactor.  Their authority was extensive; they were an administrative body with power to name faculty members and carry out the executive functions of the university.  General taxes were to be increased fifteen percent and four lotteries were to provide immediate funds.  An appeal also was made for private contributions, to which the citizens of Detroit generously responded by raising three thousand dollars.  Woodward's act contemplated a complete educational system.  The university was to be the nucleus, and subordinate to it were to be colleges, academies, schools, libraries, museums, athenaeums, botanical gardens and "other useful literary and scientific institutions consonant with the laws of the United States and of Michigan."  At the head of these various subdivisions were to be whatever directors, visitors, curators, librarians, instructors and" instuctrixes" the president and didactors might find necessary.  Use of the term "instructrixes" implies that Woodward envisioned the institution to be coeducational.  See Appendix A for a list of the didaxia.


Immediately following the adoption of the act creating the Catholepistemiad, Montieth was appointed president and given seven of the didaxiim;  Father Richard was made vice president with six didaxiim.


When the act was adopted, an appropriation of $180 was made to acquire a building lot and "in aid of the resources for constructing buildings for use of the University .."  A major stimulant was given to the cause by five contributors.  See Appendix B for a list of the initial contributors.


On September 24, Woodward presided at ceremonies for laying the cornerstone of a university building.  This was to be a two-story structure on Bates Street, around the corner from St. Anne's Church.  See Appendix C for a sketch of the first university building.


(Prior to Michigan becoming a state in 1837, an act specifying a system of public education and a university was drafted by General Isaac Edwin Crary

and Reverend John D. Pierce, modeled after the first successful system of public education in Europe; namely, in Prussia instituted by Frederick the Great, a Freemason!  See the histories in references 5 and 6)


There was general agitation for government reform, and particularly for representation in Congress.  Cass was able to prevail upon Congress for the election of a representative, who would relieve Cass of the necessity of leaving his post to go to Washington.  Woodward, realizing that the present form of government was likely to be changed, announced his candidacy for the office of representative.  Cass, however, had his own choice, which was Woodbridge, his Secretary and close friend.  Charges were levied against Woodward which were untrue, but injury had been done.  The presence of many new Yankees who were unacquainted with Woodward spelled his doom and he lost the election in September,1819.  When Woodbridge resigned after one session of Congress, Woodward again sought the office, but was narrowly defeated by similar tactics.  He ran again in 1821, and lost again. 


In 1823, Congress agreed to expand the number of judges by one and give him jurisdiction over the Northern district of the Territory.  In August, 1823, there was a mild epidemic of typhus fever in Detroit, and Woodward became ill just before the opening of the court in September.  His doctor prescribed draughts of "aether, wine, brandy, spirits, opium and mercury."  Well saturated with these, Woodward started for the Council House in his gig.

Too weak to walk, he had to be assisted to the bench and there, publicly, he dosed himself again.  This was all his foes needed.  Letters, accompanied by affidavits, were speeded to Washington, charging the chief justice with drunkenness in court.  On January 20, 1824, President Monroe completed his list of appointments to the Michigan court, and Woodward's name was among them; however, the charges of intemperance arrived at the White House and Monroe struck Woodward's name and substituted John Hunt, who had traveled all the way to Washington to present the charges in person.  The senate gave swift approval to the revised nominations.  When the news reached Detroit two weeks later, Woodward was flabbergasted.  He thought his only hope for future appointments lay in clearing his name.


He began to dispose of his property and pack his belongings.  Watching his preparations for departure, Detroit suddenly had an attack of conscience. They threw a lavish party where Woodward's past exploits were lauded, and his detractors apologized profusely for their actions.  Woodward replied quietly and with dignity.  A few days later he announced his intention of going to Washington and met with his debtors.


Upon his arrival in Washington, he discovered that the President was not hostile to him, and if he could clear his name of charges of intemperance, the President would give him another appointment.  This was done via letters from Cass and other affidavits, and President Monroe on August 26, 1824, appointed him to a judgeship in the new Territory of Florida.


Woodward was welcomed and served nearly three years, and he died on June 12, 1827, at the age of fifty-two.  His grave is unknown.


If the Masons of Michigan are looking for someone to emulate, they need look no further than Augustus Woodward.  He continually gave of himself to the betterment of others, he applied himself to the attainment of useful knowledge and he applied that knowledge to his duties to God, his neighbor and himself, never sitting down contented when there were others in need.  He was an idealist, who gave to all of us the best that he had.


APPENDIX A. The didaxia for the Catheloepistemiad or the University of Michigania


Thirteen didaxiim were specified.  Today these would be colleges or departments.  At the head of the list was a chair of catholepistemia, or universal science.  The special concern of its didactor would be "the interrelation and correlated development of all departments of learning."  This man was to be President of the University.  Of the twelve remaining didaxiim, Woodward provided designations drawn from his Universal Science.


The didaxiim other than catholepistemia were:

1.      Anthropoglossica, or literature, including all subjects relating to speech, composition and grammar.

2.      Mathematica, or mathematics in all its branches

3.      Physiognostica, or natural history and science.

4.      Physiosophica, or natural philosophy

5.      Astronomia or astronomy

6.      Chymia, or chemistry

7.      Iatrica, or medicine and its related sciences

8.      Oeconomica, which included agriculture, manual and fine arts, education and political economy

9.      Ethica, or philosophy, law and political science

10.  Polemitactia, or military science

11.  Diegetica, or historical sciences

12.  Ennoeica, or intellectual sciences "relative to the minds of animals, to the human mind, to spiritual existences, to the Diety and to Religion."  The occupant of this chair was to be the University's vice-president.



APPENDIX B. A list of the initial contributors7 to the Catheloepistemiad


On September 19, the newly established Detroit Gazette listed the first five contributors, stating:

We congratulate our fellow citizens on the rapid and liberal manner in which the Subscriptions List for the University has filled.  We are informed that considerably upward of a thousand dollars was obtained the first day.  The buildings have already commenced, and the first hall is expected to be completed the present autumn.


            Subsciption List in Aid of the University of Michigania:

            No. 1 William Woodbridge, Secretary of Michigan with the authority of Governor, in behalf of said Territory …………………................$180.00

            No. 2 Sylvester Day, Worshipful Master of Zion Lodge, No. 62, in behalf of the Lodge and by order of the same …………………….....$250.00

            No. 3 William Woodbridge, for himself fifty dollars per ann.            for four years ……………………………………………………….$200.00

            No. 4 James Conner, sixty dollars per ann. for three years… ....................................................................................................................$180.00

            No. 5 James Abbott, twenty-five dollars per ann. for ten years ………………………………………………………………..................$250.00.

            Total ………………………………………………………................................................................................................................... $1,060.00"


Of the first five contributors, three, including the two largest were Masonic; namely, Zion Lodge, James Abbott, PM, and James Connor.

On October 10, the Detroit Gazette published the names and contributions of another thirty subscribers.  The amount on this occasion totaled $1,941.  One other subscription was from Judge Woodward for $200.  Of the original thirty-five subscriptions totaling $3001.00, some $2100.00 (over two-thirds) came from Zion Lodge and its members.


The minutes of the Lodge show that an emergency meeting was held September 15, 1817 "… to take into consideration the propriety of subscribing, as a Lodge, in aid of the University of Michigan…."

The minutes then state:

            "On motion, RESOLVED, that the Worshipful Master be authorized to subscribe, in behalf of the lodge $250, in aid of the University of Michigan, payable in the sum of $50 per annum.


            FURTHER RESOLVED, that the said sum of $250 be subscribed as above, to be paid out of the sum appropriated by the lodge for refreshments, and that refreshments be dispensed with until the same is fully paid."


The motion passed by unanimous vote of the lodge.  Zion's records4 show that Brother Woodward was present that evening.  (It is of interest to note that Zion Lodge4 contracted to lease the top floor of the new university building if it would be completed in two years.) A comparison of the list of additional individual subscribers with the records of Zion Lodge shows that the following individual subscribers were members of Zion Lodge:


James Conner (Connor)

James Abbott

Abraham Edwards

Benjamin Stead

Philip Lecuyer

Samuael T. Davenport

Conrad Ten Eyck

Abraham Wendell

John Anderson

Thomas Rowland

Solomon Sibley

George McDougall

Oliver Willisams

Benjamin Woodworth

John P. Sheldon

Augustus B. Woodward


Thom's Painting8 Depicting the Meeting of Zion Lodge on Sept. 15, 1817

(more info. about Pic here)


In addition, Oliver W. Miller, subscriber of $100, was a member of United Brothers Lodge of New York and had visited Zion in December, 1807.  Of  the 36 known contributors, at least half of the subscribers, including the subscription by the lodge, were from Masonic sources.



APPENDIX C. Sketch of the first building for public education in Michigan


The first university building was constructed in Detroit on Bates Street near the corner of Congress Street. It was razed in 1859.

The first seal was adopted in 1817, but probably never used.

A Sketch of the University Building on Bates Street from W. B. Shaw5


Late in 1818, the University building was still incomplete because many of the pledges were late, so that it was unprepared for cold weather or to attempt school and library functions.  In "The First Annual Report of the University of Michigan," prepared on November 19, 1818 by Register John L.Whiting, Past Master of Zion Lodge, a founder of the Grand Lodge and its first Grand Secretary, Montieth reported on the institution's progress during the first year.  Particular attention was paid to financial matters related to the buildings construction.  He emphasized that the faculty had especially sought to provide the framework for elementary schools in Detroit, Monroe and Michimilimackinac, in addition to Academy (High School) and College facilities.  Unfortunately, there were no qualified university students, so attention had first to be directed toward elementary and high school facilities.


In " A Statistical Abstract of Detroit" published on January 29, 1819, we learn that residing in Detroit were some 1110 persons, 1,040 white and 70 "free people of color", 142 dwelling houses and 131 stores, mechanics shops, public buildings, etc.  Among the public buildings listed was "The Academy - built of Brick, two stories in height, 50 feet in length and 24 in breadth."  The building was the first building of the new University of Michigan and housed the Classical Academy and Primary School, the first instructional units of a proposed territory-wide educational system.  The building remained in use as a school building until 1858, when it was torn down.




1.      Ten Brook, Andrew, American State Universities, Their Origin and Progress, Robert Clarke and Co., Cincinnati 1875.

2.      Woodford, Frank B., Mr. Jefferson's Disciple: A Life of Justice Woodward, Michigan State College Press, East Lansing, MI 1953

3.      Barrett, Jay A., Evolution of the Ordinance of 1787 with an Account of the Earlier Plans for the Government of the Northwest Territory, G. P. Putnam's Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, New York 1891; Taylor, Robert M. Jr., ed., The Northwest Ordinance 1787, A Bicentennial Handbook, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, IN 1987

4.      These dates and information were obtained by the author from the bound minute book of Zion Lodge #1 by courtesy of the current Secretary of Zion Lodge, Arshag Daiyan, PM.

5.      Shaw, Wilfred, The University  of Michigan, Harcourt, Brace and Howe, New York 1920.  For the sketch, see Sagendorph, Kent, Michigan, The Story of the University, E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., New York 1948, page 41. 

6.      Hinsdale, Burke A., History of the University of Michigan, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 1906

7.      Smith, J. Fairbairn, and Fey, Charles, History of Freemasonry in Michigan, The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of Michigan, Fort Worth, TX 1963

8.      The original of this painting (in color) by Robert Thom (commissioned in 1967) is at the Bentley Historical Library, 1150 Beal Ave., North Campus, University of Michigan.  The three men standing in front of the Worshipful Master of Zion Lodge (Sylvester Day, with the hat) are from left to right: Father Gabriel Richard, Rev. John Monteith, and Judge Augustus Woodward.  (For the benefit of the Masons present, you will note that the lodge has not yet opened: the square and compasses are separated, the tapers are not lit, and the tyler's door is open.)


Book cover photo By Mitchell Ozog © 2010