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William Riley Griffith

Constitutional Delegate. Born: May 8, 1820, Lafayette, Indiana. 

The man who would become the state's first superintendent of public instruction (February 1861-February 1862), William Riley Griffith, was a minister's son born near Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Indiana, on May 8, 1820. Griffith graduated from Asbury University in 1847, removed to Bourbon County, Kansas Territory, from Pennsylvania in the spring of 1855, and wasted little time getting involved in the politics of the day. Initially a free-state Democrat, Griffith was a delegate to the Topeka Constitutional Convention in October 1855 and a recognized leader of the free-state movement in the southeast. Griffith won election to the superintendent's office on December 6, 1859, and took office after Kansas was admitted to the Union in 1861. He died in Topeka on February 12, 1862, after only one year on the job. During the Wyandotte Convention the Daily Times writer described Griffith as "one of the most valuable members of this body. . . . a good, clear thinker, concise and terse speaker, and a man true always to the best instincts of humanity. 32

Entry: Griffith, William Riley

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2011

Date Modified: January 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.