Civil War Union Army Officer, US Congressman. Born in Tennessee, he moved with his family to Missouri as a young man. He spent several years in California during the Great Gold Rush, prospecting and teaching school before returning to Missouri in 1854 to read law. Admitted to the Missouri State Bar Association in 1856, he established a law practice in Springfield, Missouri, and was elected Mayor of the city later in the year. A staunch Unionist, when the Civil War began he worked to recruit troops for the Union Army. In October 1861 he was commissioned a Colonel of Volunteers, and was assigned to command the 24th Missouri Volunteer Infantry. The regiment was assigned to the Union’s Army of the Southwest, and fought in the March 6 to 8, 1862 Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Over the next year Colonel Boyd would command his regiment as it occupied various places in Arkansas and Missouri while it took part in operations against Confederate forces in the area. While in the field with the army he was elected as an Unconditional Unionist to represent Missouri’s 4th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. Taking office after resigning from the Army on April 18, 1863, while in Congress he served as
chairman of the Committee on Revisal and Unfinished Business, and in January 1865 voted in favor of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution that abolished slavery. He declined to run for a second term, and after his Congressional term ended
on March 4, 1865 he was appointed Judge of the court of the Fourteenth Judicial District Court (his successor to the seat, John Russell Kelso, had served during the Civil War under Colonel Boyd in the 24th Missouri Infantry). While serving as Judge he presided over the August 1865 trial of now-legendary Western Frontier figure James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickock, who had shot a man in a gunfight in Springfield, Missouri in July 1865, and was acquitted after Judge Boyd instructed the jurors about “jury nullification” (the fight would help make Hickock famous). He became involved in developing the Southwestern Pacific Railroad, and was again elected to the United States House of Representatives, served as a Republican and representing again Missouri’s 4th Congressional District from 1868 t0 1871. He resumed his law practice and business ventures in Springfield after the end of his second Congressional term. In 1890 he was appointed by President Benjamin H. Harrison as United States Minister to the Kingdom of Siam (today’s Thailand), and he served in that diplomatic post from 1891 to 1892. He passed away in Springfield at age 66 in 1894.
Bio by: RPD2