At the grave of Jacob M. Howard in Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit

B. Nash at the Jacob M. Howard grave site


Jacob M. Howard was a name well known in Detroit during the 1800’s. He was born in Vermont but made Detroit his home in 1832. He quickly became involved in many activities and organizations within the city.  He was admitted to the bar in 1833 and began a law practice. He held many positions during his career, including city attorney of Detroit in 1834. He was a prolific public speaker. Most importantly, perhaps, he believed slavery was evil.  Like Abraham Lincoln, he was originally a Whig who became a Republican. In 1854, Howard worked on the development of the first Republican Party convention (held in Jackson, Michigan).

During the Civil War he was tireless in his efforts for Northern victory. He was frequently called on to give speeches and encouragement to the public. On September 3, 1864, for instance, the news of the victory at Atlanta by General Sherman reached Detroit. There was great rejoicing in the streets! A celebration was quickly arranged which included a national salute, fireworks, and patriotic addresses. One of the featured speakers was Jacob M. Howard.  As a United States Senator, Howard worked closely with President Lincoln on what would become the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery.  Howard was also instrumental in the passing of the 14th Amendment.

Sadly, the news had reached Detroit that Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President, had died on April 15, 1865. Large crowds of people had gathered at Campus Martius in downtown Detroit to express their collective grief. Services in the churches were held at twelve noon April 19 and April 25, 1865 to mourn the loss of the beloved Lincoln. Jacob M. Howard delivered an oration to the fallen leader on April 25.  Every store and residence were draped in black.

Mr. Howard died in Detroit in April 1871. His grave marker notes his efforts at abolishing slavery by inclusion of a quote from the 13th Amendment:


Jacob M. Howard is a hero. gives him a hearty salute!


Grave of Jacob M. Howard


Information posted gleaned from Farmer’s History of Detroit and Wayne County and Early Michigan.

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2 Responses to “At the grave of Jacob M. Howard in Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit”

  1. B. Nash says:

    Me. Tennies:
    I am so pleased to hear from you and that you honor this forgotten heroe. Are you in the Detroit area?

  2. Dave Tennies says:

    Mr. Nash, Thank you for this tribute to Senator Howard. I have portrayed him at Civil War events since 1997. In those years I have found very few people who knew who he was. But I continue to teach about him and the important things he did. Maybe we will meet some day. Thanks again.

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