- Honorary Degree (1866)
- Doctor of Laws
- Bloomington, Indiana
- Presenter: Cyrus Nutt
At age fourteen, George Grover Wright entered Indiana College (now IU). He graduated from IU in 1839. The year prior to his graduation, his brothers, John and Simeon, and sister Sarah, with her two daughters, drove overland from Bloomington and settled in Keosauqua, in the Iowa Territory. In 1840, Wright joined his siblings in the Iowa Territory and practiced law there, living with his family until he got married. Iowa gained statehood in 1846. From 1847 to 1848, Wright was a prosecuting attorney. In 1849, his elder brother, Joseph, became governor of Indiana, a position he held until 1857. From 1849 to 1851, Wright was an Iowa state senator. In 1851, his mother died in Iowa.
From 1854 to 1870, Wright served on the Iowa Supreme Court. Simultaneously, from 1860 to 1865, he was president of the Iowa Agricultural Society. Also around this time, his brother, Joseph, was U.S. Minister to Prussia. In 1865, Wright opened a law school in Des Moines, which was soon absorbed into Iowa University as its permanent law school. Wikipedia claims this was the first law school west of the Mississippi River. In 1866, IU conferred on Wright the Doctor of Laws honorary degree. From 1871 to 1877, he served as a senator from Iowa to the U.S. Senate and was chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary. In 1875, George Grover Wright II was born, named in his honor, grandson of his brother William.
From 1887 to 1888, Wright was president of both the American Bar Association and of the Polk County Savings Bank. After he retired from politics, Wright returned to practicing law in Iowa. By the time of his death, Wright had received seven degrees from five different universities: A.B., A.M., and LL. D. from IU; LL. D. from Iowa College; LL. D. from Wesleyan University; LL. D. from Simpson Centenary College; and LL. D. from Iowa State University. Wright died in 1896.
In the 1970s, playwright Earlene Hawley co-wrote a play about Harriet Beecher Stowe that included a role for George Grover Wright. In 2014, the play was crafted into a film screenplay, and Wright was portrayed by actor Mike Kennedy in the resulting motion picture Sons and Daughters of Thunder (finally released 2019).