Biography of Hon. Stephen Fowler Chadwick

HON. STEPHEN FOWLER CHADWICK. – No man in the history of the state of Oregon has held more prominent positions, or done more for the welfare of the country, than the subject of this sketch. He was born in Connecticut on the 25th of December, 1825, and received his education in his native state. After becoming proficient in other branches, he read law in the offices of Stoples & Goddard and Edward E. and H.B. Cowles, Wall street, New York City. He was admitted to the bar in New York on the 30th of May, 1850. On March 13th of the following year he sailed for Oregon, where he arrived April 21st of the same year.

He settled at Umpqua, now Douglas county, where he practiced law; and while Oregon was yet a territory he was assistant United States district attorney for the Southern district, and served for a time as prosecuting attorney by order of the court. He was a member of the constitutional convention from Douglas county, and was elected judge of that county, the first under the state constitution. When General McClellan was candidate for President in 1864, he was an elector on the presidential ticket, and again in 1868 carried to the electoral college at Washington, District of Columbia, the electoral vote of Oregon for Horatio Seymour. He was elected secretary of state of Oregon in 1870, was re-elected to the office in 1874; and, on Governor Grover being chosen United States senator in1877, Stephen Fowler Chadwick was elected governor of Oregon.

He took official interest in the Indian war of 1877 in Idaho and on the borders of Oregon, and, taking the field in the war of 1878, in Eastern Oregon, aided in punishing the Indians and restoring peace, and is now a member of the Society of Indian War Veterans of Roseburg. He delivered a fine address at the laying of the corner-stone of the state capital building in Salem, and also delivered the first regular pioneer address after the permanent organization of pioneers. Indeed, in all public enterprises we find him foremost in lending his aid with encouraging words and helping hands. He also suggested the time of the annual meeting of pioneers to be on June 15th, the date of the ending of the treaty of joint occupation of the territory of Oregon between the United States and great Britain in 1878.

At the council of war in 1878, after peace was restored, he, as governor of Oregon, demanded the surrender of all Indians who had engaged in murdering citizens and making war upon settlers, in order that they should be tried and punished by the authorities of the state, instead of by military law, which had heretofore been the practice. This was the first time this demand had been acceded to, and was done to prevent a disturbance between the United States military and state authorities. All chiefs were taken prisoners and held as hostages until the guilty Indians were captured.

Mr. Chadwick was grand master of Masons in Oregon, and has been for over twenty consecutive years chairman of the committee on foreign correspondence of the grand lodge of Masons of Oregon.


History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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