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Jacob Merritt Howard (July 10, 1805 – April 2, 1871) was a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from the state of Michiganmarker during and after the American Civil War.

Early life

He was born in Shaftsbury, Vermontmarker and attended the district schools and the academies of Bennington and Brattleboromarker. He graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1830 and then studied law. He moved to Detroit, Michiganmarker in 1832 and was admitted to the bar in 1833 and commenced practice in Detroit. He was city attorney of Detroit in 1834 and a member of the Michigan State House of Representatives in 1838.

Congressional service

He was elected as a Whig to the United States House of Representatives for the Twenty-seventh Congress, serving March 4, 1841–March 3, 1843. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1842. He helped draw up the platform of the first Republican Party convention held in Jackson, Michiganmarker in 1854. He was Michigan Attorney General from 1855-1861.

Howard was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1861 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Kinsley S. Bingham. He was reelected in 1865 and in total served from January 1862, to March 1871. He was chairman of the Committee on Pacific Railroads in the Thirty-eighth through Forty-first Congress.

As a Senator, Howard is credited with working closely with Abraham Lincoln in drafting and passing the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which abolished slavery.

During Reconstruction Howard participated in debate over the first clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, arguing for including the phrase and subject to the jurisdiction thereof. Howard said:
[The 14th amendment] will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the government of the United States, but will include every other class of person.

Howard died in Detroit and is interred in Elmwood Cemetery.


  • Maltz, Earl M., “Radical Politics and Constitutional Theory: Senator Jacob M. Howard of Michigan and the Problem of Reconstruction,” Michigan Historical Review, 32 (Spring 2006), 19–32.
  • American National Biography
  • Dictionary of American Biography


  1. A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 - 1875 Congressional Globe, Senate, 39th Congress, 1st Session Page 2890 of 3840


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