Henry Dodge

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Henry Dodge
Henry Dodge portrait.jpg
United States Senator
from Wisconsin
In office
June 8, 1848 – March 3, 1857
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byJames Rood Doolittle
1st and 4th Governor of Wisconsin Territory
In office
April 8, 1845 – June 23, 1848
Appointed byJames Polk
Preceded byNathaniel P. Tallmadge
Succeeded byJohn Catlin [note 1]
In office
April 30, 1836 – September 13, 1841
Appointed byAndrew Jackson
Preceded byPosition Established
Succeeded byJames Duane Doty
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin Territory's at-large district
In office
March 4, 1841 – March 3, 1845
Preceded byJames Duane Doty
Succeeded byMorgan Lewis Martin
Personal details
Moses Henry Dodge

(1782-10-12)October 12, 1782
Vincennes, Indiana
DiedJune 19, 1867(1867-06-19) (aged 84)
Burlington, Iowa
Resting placeAspen Grove Cemetery
Burlington, Iowa
Political partyDemocratic
  • Christiana McDonald Dodge
  • (m. 1800; died 1865)
Children8, including Augustus Caesar Dodge
ProfessionPolitician, soldier, salt maker, lead miner, lawyer, deputy sheriff, sheriff, U.S. Marshal, military officer
Military service
Allegiance United States

Henry Dodge (October 12, 1782 – June 19, 1867) was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, Territorial Governor of Wisconsin and a veteran of the Black Hawk War. His son was Augustus C. Dodge with whom he served in the U.S. Senate, the first, and so far only, father-son pair to serve concurrently. Henry Dodge was the half brother of Lewis F. Linn. James Clarke, the Governor of Iowa Territory was his son-in-law.[1]

Early life[edit]

Henry Dodge was the son of Israel Dodge and Nancy Hunter Dodge. Israel was from Connecticut and a veteran of the Battle of Brandywine, who came west to serve under his brother in the military command of George Rogers Clark. Nancy's family similarly moved west and settled in Kentucky, and for a period of time the Hunter family was part of the settler colony whose population was recruited to support the garrison at the confluence of the Ohio River and the Mississippi River, known as Fort Jefferson. Henry Dodge was born in Vincennes (then under the jurisdiction of Virginia) when Nancy stopped over to visit Israel (on duty in Vincennes) on her way from Kaskaskia to Louisville. Henry was the first child in what is now Indiana who was born to parents from the colonies, the other residents of Vincennes being of Indian and French Canadian heritage.[2]

Dodge was raised in Kentucky. In 1788 Israel abandoned the family and Henry was raised by his mother. (Nancy later remarried, and had a son Lewis who himself became an elected official.) At age 14 Dodge moved to Missouri to live with his father, who ran salt and lead operations. Although Henry returned to Kentucky occasionally (including to read law), his move to Missouri was permanent. In 1800, he married Christiana McDonald.

In 1805 Dodge was appointed deputy sheriff, reporting to his father. In 1806 Dodge was recruited by Aaron Burr to participate in Burr's spurious attempt at creating a new country in the southwest, an incident known as the Burr conspiracy. Dodge and a companion went so far as to report to a concentration point for the affair in New Madrid. However, when they learned that Thomas Jefferson had deemed it a treasonous act, they immediately abandoned the effort and returned home. Dodge was indicted as a participant in the conspiracy, but the charges were dropped.[2][3]

In 1806 Dodge was named lieutenant of the militia. In 1813 he was appointed U.S. Marshal, as well as Sheriff of Ste. Genevieve County.[3]


War of 1812[edit]

Dodge and the Miamis from a mural in the Missouri State Capitol

In the War of 1812, Dodge entered as a captain in the Missouri State Volunteers. He was part of a mounted company. He finished the war as a major general of the Missouri Militia. His crowning achievement was saving about 150 Miami Indians from certain massacre after their raid on the Boone's Lick settlement in the summer of 1814.

Dodge emigrated with his large family and slaves inherited from his father to the U.S. Mineral District in early July 1827. He served as a commander of militia during the Red Bird uprising of that year, and in October settled a large tract in present-day downtown Dodgeville, known then as "Dodge's Camp." He worked a large claim until around 1830, when he moved several miles south in a beautiful forested area known still as "Dodge's Grove." Here he began building what would become a large two-story frame house for his ever-growing extended family. It is worthy to note that, despite the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 banning slavery in the entire Northwest Territory, including Wisconsin, Dodge brought five black slaves from Missouri to work in his lead mines.[4]

Black Hawk War[edit]

Dodge rose to prominence during the Black Hawk War of 1832. As colonel of the western Michigan Territory Militia, Dodge brought a credible fighting force into being in a very short time. More than fifteen forts, fortified homes and blockhouses sprang up almost overnight. From these forts, Dodge and the mounted volunteers, with four companies of Territorial militia and one of Illinois mounted rangers, took to the field as the "Michigan Mounted Volunteers." Dodge and his men saw action at the battles of Horseshoe Bend, Wisconsin Heights, and Bad Axe. In June 1832, he accepted a commission as Major of the Battalion of Mounted Rangers, commissioned by an Act of Congress. Apparently, he took no prisoners. None of the 12 or 13 shot at Horseshoe Bend survived.

George Catlin sketch of Colonel Henry Dodge, commander of the United States Mounted Rangers, 1833.[5]

The ranger experiment lasted a year, and then, in 1833, was replaced by the United States Regiment of Dragoons. Dodge served as colonel; one of his captains was Nathan Boone, Daniel Boone's youngest son. The United States Regiment of Dragoons was the forth mounted Regular Army unit in United States Army history, not including the American Revolution, Continental Light Dragoons.

In the summer of 1834, Colonel Dodge engaged on First Dragoon Expedition and made successful contact with the Comanches. He was an Indian fighter, most noted for his 1835 peace mission commissioned by President Andrew Jackson, who had called out the U.S. Dragoons to assist.

Territorial governor[edit]

Dodge was the first Territorial governor of Wisconsin Territory from 1836 to 1841 and again from 1845 to 1848, an area which encompassed (before July 4, 1838, when Iowa became a territory) what became the states of Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. In between his two terms as governor, Dodge was elected as a non-voting Democratic delegate to the Twenty-seventh and Twenty-eighth Congresses (March 4, 1841 – March 3, 1845) representing Wisconsin Territory's at-large congressional district.

He declined the opportunity to have his name put forward for the Presidency of the United States at the 1844 Democratic National Convention. He was loyal to Martin Van Buren and both men opposed the annexation of Texas. Despite their efforts, James K. Polk, the Democrat who favored annexation, became President.

Upon Wisconsin being admitted to the Union, Dodge was elected one of its first two senators. He served two terms. He turned down the appointment of Territorial Governor of Washington from Franklin Pierce in 1857.[1]


Dodge died in 1867 in Burlington, Iowa. He is interred at the Aspen Grove Cemetery in Burlington.[1]


In 1948, Iowa County presented a 160-acre estate to the State of Wisconsin which eventually became Governor Dodge State Park. Over the years, this park has grown to include 5,270 acres in the area Dodge once called his home.

Dodge County, Wisconsin,[6] Dodge County, Minnesota,[6] and Henry County, Iowa,[7] and Dodgeville, Wisconsin[8] were named after Dodge.

Fort Clark, the U.S. Army post built near the present-day location of Fort Dodge, Iowa, was renamed for Senator Dodge around 1850.[9]

His former cabin in Dodgeville, now known as the Dodge Mining Camp Cabin, serves as a museum and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


  1. ^ a b c Congressional Biography.
  2. ^ a b Pelzer 1911.
  3. ^ a b Salter 1890.
  4. ^ Redfearn, Winifred V. "Slavery in Wisconsin" Wisconsin 101: Our History in Objects September 11, 2018
  5. ^ Jung, Patrick J. (2007). The Black Hawk War of 1832. University of Oklahoma Press, p. 102.
  6. ^ a b Gannett 1902, p. 95.
  7. ^ Gannett 1902, p. 134.
  8. ^ Gannett 1902, p. 107.
  9. ^ Gue 1903.


  • "DODGE, Henry". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  • Gannett, Henry (1902). The Origin of Certain Place Names In the United States. Washington: Government Printing Office.
  • Pelzer, Louis (1911). Henry Dodge. Iowa City, IA: The State Historical Society of Iowa. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  • Salter, William (1890). The Life of Henry Dodge, from 1782 to 1833. Burlington, IA. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  • Gue, Benjamin (1903). History of Iowa from the earliest times to the beginning of the Twentieth Century, Volume 1. New York: The Century History Company. p. 267. Retrieved May 28, 2011.

Other reading[edit]


  1. ^ John Catlin, as Secretary of Wisconsin Territory, acted as governor of that part of Wisconsin Territory west of the St. Croix River which lost federal representation after Wisconsin statehood in May 1848. In August he issued a writ to hold an election for a territorial delegate to Congress, won by Henry Sibley on October 30, 1848. On March 3, 1849, the region was organized as part of the new Minnesota Territory. See Wisconsin Territory after Wisconsin became a state.

External links[edit]

Political offices
New creation
Formation of Wisconsin Territory
Governor of Wisconsin Territory
April 30, 1836 – September 13, 1841
Succeeded by
James Duane Doty
Preceded by
Nathaniel P. Tallmadge
Governor of Wisconsin Territory
April 8, 1845 – June 23, 1848
Succeeded by
Nelson Dewey
as Governor of Wisconsin
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
James Duane Doty
Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin Territory's at-large congressional district

March 4, 1841 – March 4, 1845
Succeeded by
Morgan Lewis Martin
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Wisconsin admitted to the Union
U.S. senator (Class 1) from Wisconsin
June 8, 1848 – March 4, 1857
Served alongside: Isaac P. Walker and Charles Durkee
Succeeded by
James Rood Doolittle
Honorary titles
Preceded by
William Wilkins
Oldest living U.S. Senator
June 23, 1865 – June 19, 1867
Succeeded by
Wilson Lumpkin