William G. Thompson was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on July 23, 1842. He was educated at Amherst College. In 1861, sparked to enlist by the Civil War, he joined the Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry. When his enlistment was over, he moved at the request of his mother to Toledo, Ohio, but then enlisted in a lancer regiment there as a first lieutenant. He spent the winter of 1861–62 in Detroit, after which the regiment was disbanded and Thompson returned to Lancaster. He was later appointed aide de camp as a second lieutenant in the 6th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, and was severely wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville, earning a promotion to first lieutenant for gallantry on the battlefield.
Law and politics
After his unit was mustered out in 1864, Thompson studied law in New York City, then moved to Detroit to join the law firm of D. B. and H. M. Duffield. He was admitted to the bar in 1867. He had varied business interests, building the Ste. Claire Hotel on Campus Martius in 1879 and founding Detroit's first major league baseball team, the Detroit Wolverines, in 1881.
Thompson served on the Board of Estimates in 1873, and as an alderman in 1874–1875. He unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 1876, and was a delegate to the Republican National Convention from Michigan in both 1876 and 1880. He ran for mayor of Detroit on the Republican ticket twice more, winning both times and serving from 1880 to 1883. In 1884, Thompson switched parties to become a Democrat and sought that party's nomination for mayor, but was not nominated. He ran once more for mayor in 1891, being defeated by the then-incumbent Hazen S. Pingree. He also served as a state senator, being elected in 1894.
Personal and later life
In 1867, Thompson married Adelaide Mary Brush, the daughter of Edmund A. Brush and granddaughter of Elijah Brush. The couple had one daughter, and Adelaide died in 1875. In 1878, Thompson married Adele Campau, but the two began divorce proceedings in 1888. The couple's acrimony caused a sensational and public fight between Thompson and Adele's brother Daniel Campau, in which Thompson was considerably pummeled. Campau had warned Thompson just prior to the fight that "he must not talk about his wife hereafter in barrooms and other public places, as he had been doing."
- Silas Farmer (1889). "THE HISTORY OF DETROIT AND MICHIGAN". p. 1048. http://books.google.com/books?id=Yl06VbZ-RfwC&pg=1048#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Patricia Ibbotson (2007). "Detroit's Historic Hotels and Restaurants". Arcadia Publishing. p. 11. ISBN 0-7385-5080-9. http://books.google.com/books?id=2i3a-rrO6VwC&pg=PA11&lpg=PA11#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Ren Farley. "Recreation Park". Detroit1701. org. http://www.detroit1701.org/Recreation%20Park.html. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
- "LANDMARKS OF DETROIT A HISTORY OF THE CITY". 1898. p. 826. http://books.google.com/books?id=4n8fC5f3eccC&pg=PR826#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- "Thompson, William". Political Graveyard. http://politicalgraveyard.com/bio/thompson9.html#RNX03XG57. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
- "Mr. Hill's Lieutenants". March 3, 1892. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F70913F73C5C17738DDDAA0894DB405B8285F0D3.
- "Detroit". The Evening news association. 1902. p. 71. http://books.google.com/books?id=Xr7PAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA71#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- "The government of the city of Detroit and Wayne County, Michigan: 1701 to 1907, historical and biographical". 1907. pp. 35–36. http://books.google.com/books?id=Y6vhAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA35#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- "DIED AT YONKERS". Jul 21, 1904.
- "Both Men Laid Up: A fierce fight between two Detroit politicians". May 6, 1888. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F20D14FF3F5E15738DDDAF0894DD405B8884F0D3.
- Judy Jacobson (2002). "Detroit River Connections: Historical and Biographical Sketches of the Eastern Great Lakes Border Region". Genealogical Publishing Com. p. 59. ISBN 0-8063-4510-1. http://books.google.com/books?id=u0WR6JeTHvQC&pg=PA59#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- "William G. Thompson". Find a Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/memorial/4464. Retrieved 2008-02-15.
George C. Langdon
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