Woodbury was born on December 22, 1789 in Francestown, New Hampshire. In 1809 he graduated from Dartmouth College. He then went on to attend Reeve Law School. In 1812 he was admitted to the bar in New Hampshire. In 1816, Woodbury became the Clerk of the State Senate. In 1817 Woodbury began serving on the New Hampshire Superior Court, where he served until 1823. In 1823 he was elected Governor of New Hamshire. In 1825 Woodbury was elected to the state legislature and became speaker. That same year he was elected to the United States Senate where he served until 1831. In 1831 President Jackson appointed Woodbury to be Secretary of the Navy. In 1834 he was appointed Secretary of the Treasury. In 1841 he was again elected to the United States Senate. In December 1845 President Polk nominated Woodbury to the Supreme Court. There he served for five years, until his death in 1851.