Ewing, Thomas

EWING, THOMAS (1789-1871), American lawyer and statesman, was born near the present West Liberty, West Virginia, on the 28th of December 1789. His father, George Ewing, settled at Lancaster, Fairfield county, Ohio, in 1792. Thomas graduated at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, in 1815, and in August 1816 was admitted to the bar at Lancaster, where he won high rank as an advocate. He was a Whig member of the United States senate in 1831-1837, and as such took a prominent part in the legislative struggle over the United States Bank, whose rechartering he favoured and which he resolutely defended against President Jackson's attack, opposing in able speeches the withdrawal of deposits and Secretary Woodbury's "Specie Circular" of 1836. In March 1841 he became secretary of the treasury in President W.H. Harrison's cabinet. When, however, after President Tyler's accession, the relations between the President and the Whig Party became strained, he retired (September 1841) and was succeeded by Walter Forward (1786-1852). Subsequently from March 1849 to July 1850 he was a member of President Taylor's cabinet as the first secretary of the newly established department of the interior. He thoroughly organized the department, and in his able annual report advocated the construction by government aid of a railroad to the Pacific Coast. In 1850-1851 he filled the unexpired term of Thomas Corwin in the U.S. Senate, strenuously opposing Clay's compromise measures and advocating the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. He was subsequently a delegate to the Peace Congress in 1861, and was a loyal supporter of President Lincoln's war policy. He died at Lancaster, Ohio, on the 26th of October 1871.

His daughter was the wife of General William T. Sherman. His son, Hugh Boyle Ewing (1826-1905), served throughout the Civil War in the Federal armies, rising from the rank of colonel (1861) to that of brigadier-general (1862) and brevet major-general (1865), and commanding brigades at Antietam and Vicksburg and a division at Chickamauga; and was minister of the United States to the Netherlands in 1866-1870. Another son, Thomas Ewing (1829-1896), studied at Brown University in 1852-1854 (in 1894, by a special vote, he was placed on the list of graduates in the class of 1856); he was a lawyer and a free-state politician in Kansas in 1857-1861, and was the first chief-justice of the Kansas supreme court (1861-1862). In the Civil War he attained the rank of brigadier-general (March 1863) and received the brevet of major-general (1865). He was subsequently a representative in Congress from Ohio in 1877-1881; and from 1882 to 1896 practised law in New York City, where he was long one of the recognized leaders of the bar.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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