JOSEPH A. WRIGHT, Indiana’s tenth governor, was born in Washington, Pennsylvania, on April 17, 1810. His family moved to Indiana around 1820, and settled in Bloomington. When Wright was fourteen, his father passed away, leaving him to support himself. He worked as a bricklayer, janitor, and bell ringer, while attending Indiana Seminary and Indiana University. After graduating from Indiana University in 1825, Wright studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1829, and then established his legal career in Rockville, Indiana. He entered politics in 1833, serving as a member to the Indiana House of Representatives, a position he held until 1838. He also served as a member to the Indiana State Senate from 1839 to 1842, and was a member to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from 1843 to 1845. Wright won the 1848 Democratic gubernatorial nomination and was elected to the governorship on August 6, 1849. Under the state’s new constitution, he was reelected to a second four-year term in 1852. During his tenure, the first Indiana state fair took place in 1851, a new state constitution was approved, and a state board of agriculture was established. Also, school reform was initiated that included the creation of a school board of education, city taxes were instituted for school programs, and schools were placed under a township trustee system. After leaving office, Wright secured an appointment as U.S. Minister to Prussia, serving from 1857 to 1861. He also served in the U.S. Senate from February 1862 to January 1863, was a commissioner to the Hamburg Exposition in 1863, and was reappointed in 1865, as U.S. Minister to Prussia, where he served until his death. Governor Joseph A. Wright passed away on March 11, 1867 in Berlin, Germany. He was buried in New York City.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.