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Charles W. Wright

Charles W. Wright

Charles W. Wright

2nd Colorado Attorney General
Term: 1879-1880

Charles W. Wright – 1879-1880

               In the general election of 1878, Republican Charles W. Wright defeated Democrat Caldwell Yeaman 14,461 to 11,571 to become Colorado’s second Attorney General.[1] At the time of his election Wright was a partner in the prominent Denver law firm of Butler, Wright and King.

               Charles Wright was born in Rochester, New York in December, 1843. His father was a physician and his parents were described as “well-to-do, refined and educated people.” His biography indicates he traveled with his father to the “wilds of Ohio” and, at age thirteen, set out on his own “barefooted, penniless, and almost without clothes and turned his face to the west…” Why he did so is not explained. It does say he traveled all over the West, including visiting Pikes Peak in Colorado, before returning to the Midwest to complete his education. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor of laws in 1863, finishing third in a class of 75.[2]

               After graduating, Wright was employed as the traveling correspondent for a newspaper, another opportunity for extensive travel. But by 1866 he had settled in St. Joseph, Missouri and was ready to embark on his chosen profession. He became heavily involved in a railroad practice. He served as a solicitor of several large railroads and he served as a justice of the peace. In 1870 he was nominated by the Republican Party as a candidate for Judge of the Common Pleas Court. He lost by 45 votes. In the summer of 1871, Wright came to Colorado and settled in Denver. In 1873 he was appointed County Attorney and held that position for three years. The 1880 Census indicates Wright was married to Harriet S. Wright and they had two sons.

               Not surprisingly, much of Wright’s work as Colorado Attorney General involved resolving the state’s relationship with the railroads, insisting that they be properly registered to do business in Colorado and pay appropriate taxes. He was also involved with a controversy concerning the state insane asylum and in a dispute between H. C. Brown and the State, involving Brown’s gift to the state of the grounds upon which a state capitol was to be built. That dispute would continue for several years. Wright’s criminal cases included murder and cattle theft. A biographer was complimentary of Wright’s bipartisan work:

“Mr. Wright cannot well be called a politician, although he is a zealous Republican. Still, he loves his profession better than his party and prefers the intellectual duels of the former to brawling fights of the latter.”[3]

               After leaving office, Wright served as a Director of the Colorado Pacific Railroad and the Pueblo and Denver Southern Railroad. But it appears he then left Colorado and no record of his subsequent undertakings or his death could be located.


[1] Robert G. Dill, Political Campaigns of Colorado, Arapahoe Publishing Co. (1885).

[2] W. B. Vickers, History of the City of Denver, Arapahoe County and Colorado, O. L. Baskin and Co. (1880) p. 629.

[3] Ibid., p. 630.