Epaphroditus Ransom

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Served from 1836 through 1848
Chief Justice: 1843, 1844, 1845, 1846, 1847, 1848

Epaphroditus Ransom was born on March 24, 1798, in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, the first of 12 children. He received a good education at various New England academies and by 1823, he had opened his own law practice in Townsend, Vermont. Ransom was elected to the Vermont Legislature but decided instead that he wanted to move his wife, Almira, and their children to the Territory of Michigan.

The family established themselves in what is now known as Kalamazoo. He began practicing law in the area, as well as involving himself in various business and agricultural ventures. It was not long, however, before he was drawn back into politics.

Ransom served in the State Legislature prior to being appointed a Circuit Court Judge and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by Governor Stevens T. Mason in 1837. He maintained his service on the Court until 1848 when he resigned after being elected Governor of Michigan. Ransom was the first governor to be inaugurated in the new state capitol of Lansing. But his luck with politics and business began to change.

Ransom was not renominated for Governor by the Democratic Party due to his strong anti-slavery position. Yet his constituents in Kalamazoo still valued his work and elected him once again to the State Legislature in 1853 and 1854. In addition, he was successful as the President of the Michigan Agricultural Society and as Regent for the University of Michigan. However, the private side of his endeavors began to falter. The business partnership he had with his son, Wyllys, was destroyed by the panic of 1855. “Faced with his financial losses and broken health, Ransom was grateful when President James Buchanan appointed him receiver of the public monies for the Osage land office at Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1857.” Epaphroditus Ransom died at Fort Scott on November 11, 1859. (Weddon, Willah. Michigan Governors: Their Life Stories. Lansing, Michigan: NOG Press, 1994.)

Portrait presented on: (click link to read transcript)
February 7, 1888

Portrait Artist:
Morgan, Benjamin B.

Oil on canvas

74.3cm X 61.6cm (29 1/4″ X 24 1/4″)

Owned by:
State of Michigan

Current location:
Hall of Justice

Portrait photo by:
Doug Elbinger, Lansing – June 1996