Thomas W. Sutherland

Last updated
Thomas W. Sutherland
United States Attorney for the District of Wisconsin
In office
June 12, 1848 1848
Appointed by James K. Polk
Preceded by William Pitt Lynde
(Wisconsin Territory)
Succeeded by A. Hyatt Smith
United States Attorney for the Wisconsin Territory
In office
April 27, 1841 1845
Appointed by John Tyler
Preceded by Moses M. Strong
Succeeded by William Pitt Lynde
1st Village President of Madison, Wisconsin
In office
Preceded byPosition Established
Succeeded by Alexander L. Collins
District Attorney of San Diego County
In office
Preceded byWilliam C. Ferrell
Succeeded by James W. Robinson
Alcalde of San Diego (Acting)
In office
March 1850 1850
Preceded by Dennis Gahagan
Succeeded by Joshua Bean (Mayor)
Personal details
Born1817 (1817)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
DiedFebruary 2, 1859(1859-02-02) (aged 41–42)
Sacramento, California
Cause of death Pulmonary edema
Resting place
Political party Democratic
  • Joanna Hudson
  • (m. 1841)
  • Thomas A. Sutherland
  • (b. 1850; died 1891)
Father Joel Barlow Sutherland
Professionlawyer, politician

Thomas W. Sutherland (c. 1817 February 2, 1859) was an American lawyer and pioneer settler of Wisconsin and California. He was the first Village President of Madison, Wisconsin, was United States Attorney for Wisconsin for several years in the 1840s, was a member of the first Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin, and was the last Alcalde (Mayor) of San Diego, California, prior to statehood. [1]

Wisconsin State in the United States

Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States, Midwest and Great Lakes regions. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin is the 23rd largest state by total area and the 20th most populous. The state capital is Madison, and its largest city is Milwaukee, which is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan. The state is divided into 72 counties.

California State in the United States

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents across a total area of about 163,696 square miles (423,970 km2), California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

Madison, Wisconsin Capital of Wisconsin

Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the seat of Dane County. As of July 1, 2018, Madison's estimated population of 258,054 made it the second-largest city in Wisconsin by population, after Milwaukee, and the 81st-largest in the United States. The city forms the core of the Madison Metropolitan Area which includes Dane County and neighboring Iowa, Green, and Columbia counties for a population of 654,230.


He was the eldest son of Joel Barlow Sutherland of Philadelphia, who had been a militia officer in the War of 1812 and served as a Member of Congress when Thomas was a child. [1]

Joel Barlow Sutherland was an American politician who served as the first President of the General Society of the War of 1812 from 1854 to 1861. He was a member of the Democratic Party who represented Pennsylvania in the United States House of Representatives (1827–1837).

Philadelphia Largest city in Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, known colloquially as Philly, is the largest city in the U.S. state and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the sixth-most populous U.S. city with a 2018 census-estimated population of 1,584,138. Since 1854, the city has had the same geographic boundaries as Philadelphia County, the most populous county in Pennsylvania and the urban core of the eighth-largest U.S. metropolitan statistical area, with over 6 million residents as of 2017. Philadelphia is also the economic and cultural anchor of the greater Delaware Valley, located along the lower Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, within the Northeast megalopolis. The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.

War of 1812 32-month military conflict between the United States and the British Empire

The War of 1812 was a conflict fought between the United States and the United Kingdom, with their respective allies, from June 1812 to February 1815. Historians in Britain often see it as a minor theatre of the Napoleonic Wars; historians in the United States and Canada see it as a war in its own right.

Early life and career

Thomas W. Sutherland was born c. 1817 in Pennsylvania (he is listed as 33 in the 1850 San Diego Census). In 1835, he traveled to Indiana as a clerk for Henry Leavitt Ellsworth, who had just become commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office and had been tasked by the U.S. government to travel there to make a treaty with an indian tribe. Ellsworth returned east from here, but Sutherland, at age 18, traveled west, meeting a cousin near St. Louis. They traveled together, exploring parts of what is now Iowa and Minnesota. He followed a river route from the Saint Anthony Falls to the location that would later become Madison, Wisconsin, which at the time was still inhabited only by the Ho-Chunk. He spent some time living with the indians on the shore of Lake Monona, and determined that this would become his future home. He returned briefly to Philadelphia to make preparations, then returned to Madison to purchase his lot as soon as land became available under the newly organized Wisconsin Territory. [1]

Pennsylvania State in the United States

Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a state located in the Northeastern, Great Lakes, and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The Appalachian Mountains run through its middle. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east.

Indiana state of the United States of America

Indiana is a U.S. state in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions of North America. Indiana is the 38th-largest by area and the 17th-most populous of the 50 United States. Its capital and largest city is Indianapolis. Indiana was admitted to the United States as the 19th U.S. state on December 11, 1816. Indiana borders Lake Michigan to the northwest, Michigan to the north, Ohio to the east, Kentucky to the south and southeast, and Illinois to the west.

Henry Leavitt Ellsworth American businessman

Henry Leavitt Ellsworth was a Yale-educated attorney who became the first Commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office, where he encouraged innovation by inventors Samuel F.B. Morse and Samuel Colt. Ellsworth also served as the second president of the Aetna Insurance Company, and was a major donor to Yale College, a commissioner to Indian tribes on the western frontier, and the founder of what became the United States Department of Agriculture.


He was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar Association in 1839 and formed a legal partnership in Wisconsin with David Brigham with the endorsement of his father and several other notable politicians. In 1840, at the first session of court in Dane County, Sutherland was one of the first lawyers admitted to practice law in the territory, along with Edward V. Whiton (later Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court), John Hubbard Tweedy, and Morgan Lewis Martin (later congressional delegates for the territory). [1]

Pennsylvania Bar Association Voluntary bar association in Pennsylvania, USA

The Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) is a voluntary bar association of lawyers and law students in Pennsylvania, United States. The association offers membership benefits, including publications, practice support, networking, and continuing education.

Edward V. Whiton American judge, first Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court

Edward Vernon Whiton was an American lawyer and jurist, and was the first Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

John Hubbard Tweedy 18th century American businessman and politician. U.S. House Delegate from the Wisconsin Territory, member of the Wisconsin Assembly.

John Hubbard Tweedy was a delegate to the United States Congress from Wisconsin Territory from March 1847 to May 1848 being elected from the Whig Party. He was also the Whig Party nominee in first Wisconsin gubernatorial election, where he lost to Nelson Dewey.

In 1841 he married Joanna Hudson (born c.1822), the daughter of Philadelphia Doctor Edward Hudson. That same year, he was appointed United States Attorney for the Wisconsin Territory by President John Tyler and remained in that role until the inauguration of James K. Polk in 1845. In 1846, Madison was formally incorporated as a Village and Sutherland became the first President of the Village of Madison. That same year, he became one of the founders of the Wisconsin Historical Society and served as the first Secretary of the organization under President A. Hyatt Smith. [1]

John Tyler Tenth President of the United States

John Tyler was the tenth president of the United States from 1841 to 1845 after briefly serving as the tenth vice president in 1841; he was elected to the latter office on the 1840 Whig ticket with President William Henry Harrison. Tyler ascended to the presidency after Harrison's death in April 1841, only a month after the start of the new administration. He was a stalwart supporter and advocate of states' rights, and as president he adopted nationalist policies only when they did not infringe on the powers of the states. His unexpected rise to the presidency, with the resulting threat to the presidential ambitions of Henry Clay and other politicians, left him estranged from both major political parties.

James K. Polk Eleventh president of the United States

James Knox Polk was the 11th president of the United States, serving from 1845 to 1849. He previously was Speaker of the House of Representatives (1835–1839) and governor of Tennessee (1839–1841). A protégé of Andrew Jackson, he was a member of the Democratic Party and an advocate of Jacksonian democracy. Polk is chiefly known for extending the territory of the United States during the Mexican–American War; during his presidency, the United States expanded significantly with the annexation of the Republic of Texas, the Oregon Territory, and the Mexican Cession following the American victory in the Mexican–American War.

Wisconsin Historical Society agency of the State of Wisconsin, United States

The Wisconsin Historical Society is simultaneously a state agency and a private membership organization whose purpose is to maintain, promote and spread knowledge relating to the history of North America, with an emphasis on the state of Wisconsin and the trans-Allegheny West. Founded in 1846 and chartered in 1853, it is the oldest historical society in the United States to receive continuous public funding. The society's headquarters are located in Madison, Wisconsin, on the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

In 1848, after Wisconsin became the 30th state, Sutherland was again named United States Attorney to fill the vacancy created by William Pitt Lynde, who had resigned after he was elected to Wisconsin's first congressional delegation. In that consequential year, the new state legislature formalized the state University and established the first Board of Regents. Sutherland was appointed to the Board of Regents by Governor Nelson Dewey, along with other early Wisconsin luminaries such as Edward V. Whiton, Alexander L. Collins, John H. Rountree, and Rufus King. [1]

William Pitt Lynde American politician

William Pitt Lynde was an American lawyer and politician from Wisconsin who served in the United States House of Representatives and as Mayor of Milwaukee.

Nelson Dewey American pioneer, first Governor of Wisconsin

Nelson Webster Dewey was an American pioneer, lawyer, and politician. He was the first Governor of Wisconsin.

Alexander L. Collins American pioneer, first Governor of Wisconsin

Alexander Lynn Collins was an American lawyer, judge, and politician. In historical documents, his middle name is sometimes spelled "Linn" and he is sometimes referred to as "A. L. Collins."


In the spring of 1849, Sutherland left Wisconsin for California, which had just been annexed by the United States in the Mexican–American War. Sutherland settled in San Diego, where, in 1850, he served as the final Alcalde (Mayor) of San Diego prior to California becoming a state. That year, on May 5, he and his wife welcomed a son, Thomas, who is claimed to be the first "white" child born in the territory. He then became District Attorney for San Diego County in 1851. They moved to San Francisco in 1852, where Sutherland continued his law practice. He died on February 2, 1859, in Sacramento, California, and was buried at Lone Mountain Cemetery in San Francisco. [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Butterfield, Consul Willshire, ed. (1880). History of Dane County, Wisconsin. Western Historical Co., Chicago. pp. 435, 459, 500, 522, 678, 713. Retrieved November 16, 2019.

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