SHSND Home > Exhibits > Online Exhibits > Territorial Governors > William A. Howard

Exhibits - North Dakota Governors - William A. Howard

State Governors | Back to North Dakota Governors

Previous | Next


William A. HowardSixth Territorial Governor

  • Residence: Detroit, Michigan
  • Years Served: 1878-1880
  • Date of Inauguration: April 13, 1878
  • Age at Inauguration: 64
  • Politics: Republican (former Whig)
  • Born: Hinesberg, Vermont - April 18, 1813
  • Died: Washington, D.C. - April 10, 1880

Political Background:

  • 1854-1862: United States House of Representatives (Michigan)
  • 1870: Appointed minister to China but poor health prohibited his acceptance
  • 1878-1880: Governor of Dakota Territory

William Alanson Howard trained as a cabinetmaker at Albion, New York, while going to school. After graduation from Middlebury Academy in Vermont, he taught for one year. He relocated to Michigan, was admitted to the bar in 1842, and practiced law in Detroit for twelve years. He was elected to Congress, and became a ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Howard suffered poor health all his life. He accepted the appointment of governor in hopes of improving his health. In the winter of 1879 he became very ill, and died in April 1880, of neuralgia of the heart and complications from lung trouble. He was the first territorial governor to die in office.

During his administration, Governor Howard was particularly concerned with charitable and penal institutions.

Howard was an attorney, and served in Congress prior to his appointment as Territorial Governor. He died in office.

612 East Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505
Get Directions

State Museum and Store: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F; Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
We are closed New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
State Archives: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. M-F, except state holidays; 2nd Sat. of each month, 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Appointments are recommended. To schedule an appointment, please contact us at 701.328.2091 or
State Historical Society offices: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F, except state holidays.

Contact Us:
phone: 701.328.2666

Social Media:
See all social media accounts