The death of Meriwether under mysterious circumstances in 1809 left a void in frontier government. He had been governor of the District of Louisana. A number of persons applied for the job. Why President Madison chose the man he did is still a matter of speculation. The man he picked preferred to live in Kentucky, rather than live in the area which would become known as Missouri during his term. Despite his absences from Missouri, Benjamin Howard was regarded highly as a military leader in the nervous days of the War of 1812. He had been a congressman from Kentucky when he was first named governor of the district of Louisana. He was about fifty years old when he took the job in 1810.