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  • Florida Supreme Court
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    Tallahassee Florida
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    Banner: Portrait Gallery

    Justice William Augustus Forward

    1860-1865

    William Forward’s father moved from his native New York to Canada after the War of 1812, because of his positive impressions of that region. William studied law in Canada, but in 1838 he joined a group of rebels trying (unsuccessfully) to break away from British rule.  Forward was captured, imprisoned, and then banished from Canada.  He decided to try his fortunes in the American South.  In company with Isaac Bronson, he settled in St. Augustine, and started a law practice. He also joined the Democratic Party in 1840 and became a leading light in the politics of East Florida. In 1844, voters elected him to the Territorial Legislature and he served as speaker of that body until it was dissolved by Congress upon the admission of Florida to statehood in 1845.  Under statehood, Forward was elected to both the Florida House and Senate over the next eight years. In 1853, he ran against the popular Thomas Douglas and gained election as circuit judge of the East Florida district. In 1857, Forward returned to private practice, but two years later decided to run for election to the Supreme Court. He assumed office in 1860. His strong leanings toward the Southern point of view led him to support secession. He even volunteered to be a foot soldier in the Second Florida Infantry Regiment. But, in the end, he remained on the Supreme Court until July 1865 when he became ill and decided to resign.  While traveling north to find a treatment for his illness, he died in Savannah, Georgia.

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