WILLIAM PAINE LORD was born in Dover, Delaware. After graduating from Fairfield College in New York, he began the study of law, but his studies were interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War. Lord enlisted in the Union Army and was commissioned a Captain, rising to the rank of Major in a cavalry regiment by war’s end. He then returned to law, graduating from Albany Law College in 1866. Although admitted to the New York Bar that same year, he rejoined the military, serving in California and Washington as well as in Alaska, where he was sent when the Army took formal possession of the newly-purchased territory. In 1868 he left the military to begin the practice of law in Salem, Oregon. He became Salem’s City Attorney and then won election as state Senator but resigned to run successfully for membership on the Oregon Supreme Court. He served on the Supreme Court for fourteen years, serving part of the time as Chief Justice, before winning election as governor. During Lord’s gubernatorial administration, the legislature provided for a State Land Agent to investigate losses that Oregon had suffered in securing public lands and to secure title to land to which the state had legal claim. Lord in turn appointed the first state land agent. He lost a challenge for the Republican Party’s nomination for a second gubernatorial term, after which he was appointed U.S. Minister to Argentina. He later returned to Oregon to practice law and was responsible for codifying the state’s laws, which were published in three volumes.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 8. New York: James T. White & Company.
Oregon State Archives