University of Sussex

File(s) not publicly available

Kirkwood, Samuel Jordan

posted on 2023-06-08, 11:41 authored by Robert Cook
Kirkwood, Samuel Jordan – one of 19th-century Iowa's leading Republican politicians — was born in northern Maryland. He hailed from a Scotch-Irish family of modest standing, his father, Jabez, being a blacksmith and elder in the local Presbyterian church. After receiving a rudimentary education in country schools until the age of 10, he was enrolled in a private academy in Washington, D.C., where he studied classics, rhetoric, and literature. Although his youthful desire for self-improvement was evident in his efforts to form a debating society, Kirkwood's prospects for social advancement appeared to be poor. As a teenager, he worked as a clerk in his brother's drugstore and for a time taught school in Pennsylvania. Initially, the family's move to rural Ohio had little impact on his fortunes–indeed, his humble status rendered him sympathetic to the working-class radicalism of the English Chartists and the Jacksoniandemocrats. In March 1841, however, the plain, homespun Kirkwood began studying law in the town of Mansfield. Two years later he was admitted to the Ohio bar and soon became a prominent local Democrat. In 1853 he traveled west to visit his brother-in-law, a miller in Johnson County, Iowa. Impressed with what he saw, he became a partner in the family business and moved to Iowa in the spring of 1855.


Publication status

  • Published


University of Iowa Press

Page range




Book title

The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa

Place of publication

Iowa City



Department affiliated with

  • American Studies Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes


Marvin Bergman, David Hudson, Loren Horton

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Publications)


    No categories selected