Thomas Ewing: Wikis


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Thomas Ewing

In office
March 8, 1849 – July 22, 1850
Preceded by (none)
Succeeded by Thomas M. T. McKennan

In office
March 4, 1841 – September 11, 1841
President William Henry Harrison
(March 4-April 4)
John Tyler
(April 4-September 11)
Preceded by Levi Woodbury
Succeeded by Walter Forward

Born December 28, 1789(1789-12-28)
West Liberty, Virginia (now West Virginia), U.S.
Died October 26, 1871 (aged 81)
Lancaster, Ohio, U.S.
Political party Whig
Spouse(s) Maria Wills Boyle Ewing
Alma mater Ohio University
Profession Politician, Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic

Thomas Ewing, Sr. (December 28, 1789 – October 26, 1871) was a National Republican and Whig politician from Ohio. He served in the U.S. Senate as well as serving as the Secretary of the Treasury and the first Secretary of the Interior.



Born in West Liberty, Ohio County, Virginia (now West Virginia). After studying at Ohio University and reading law under Philemon Beecher, Ewing commenced the practice of law in Lancaster, Ohio, in 1816.

The Zachary Taylor Administration, 1849 Daguerreotype by Matthew Brady
From left to right: William B. Preston, Thomas Ewing, John M. Clayton, Zachary Taylor, William M. Meredith, George W. Crawford, Jacob Collamer and Reverdy Johnson, (1849).

As a colorful country lawyer, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1830 as a Whig and served a single term. He was unsuccessful in seeking a second term in 1836. Ewing served as Secretary of the Treasury from March 4, 1841 – September 11, 1841, serving under Presidents William Henry Harrison and John Tyler.

Ewing was later appointed to serve as the first Secretary of the Interior by President Zachary Taylor. Ewing served in the position from March 8, 1849–July 22, 1850 under Taylor and Millard Fillmore. As first secretary, he consolidated bureaus from various Departments, such as the Land Office from the Treasury Department and the Indian Bureau from the War Department. The bureaus were being kicked out of their offices as unwanted tenants in their former departments. However, the Interior Department had no office space, so Ewing rented space. Later, the Patent Office building, with a new east wing, provided permanent space in 1852. Ewing initiated the Interior Department's culture of corruption by wholesale replacement of officials with political patronage. Newspapers called him "Butcher Ewing" for his efforts.

In 1850 Ewing was appointed to the Senate to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Thomas Corwin, and served from July 20, 1850 - March 3, 1851. Ewing was unsuccessful in seeking re-election in 1851. In 1861, Ewing served as one of Ohio's delegates to the peace conference held in Washington in hopes of staving off civil war. After the war, Ewing was appointed by President Andrew Johnson to a third post as Secretary of War in 1868 following the firing of Edwin M. Stanton but the Senate, still outraged at Johnson's firing of Stanton—which had provoked Johnson's impeachment—refused to act on the nomination.

Ewing married Maria Wills Boyle, a Roman Catholic, and raised their children in her faith. His foster son was the famous general William Tecumseh Sherman. Sherman was given a Catholic baptism in their home, and it is often reported that he only acquired the Christian name "William" at that time and that previously he was known simply as "Tecumseh Sherman." However, there is reason to believe that Sherman was always named "William Tecumseh."[1] Sherman eventually married Thomas Ewing Sr.'s daughter, Ellen Ewing Sherman. Ewing's namesake son, Thomas Ewing, Jr., was an American Civil War Union army general and two-term U.S. Congressman from Ohio. Two of Ewing's other sons – Hugh Boyle Ewing and Charles Ewing (General) – also became generals in the Union army during the Civil War.

Ewing was born a Presbyterian, but for many years attended Catholic services with his family. He was formally baptized into the Catholic faith during his last illness.[2]

Prior to his death in 1871, Ewing had been the last surviving member of the Harrison and Tyler Cabinets. Future President and Governor of Ohio Rutherford B. Hayes was a pallbearer at his funeral.


  1. ^ See Schenker, Carl R., Jr., "'My Father . . . Named Me William Tecumseh ': Rebutting the Charge That General Sherman Lied About His Name," Ohio History (2008), vol. 115, p. 55; for more information see William Tecumseh Sherman, "Early Life."
  2. ^ Lewis, 33-34, 609-10.


  • Memorial of Thomas Ewing, of Ohio (New York: Catholic Publication Society, 1873), compiled by his daughter, Ellen Ewing Sherman.
  • Lewis, Lloyd, Sherman: Fighting Prophet (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1932)
  • Miller, Paul I., "Thomas Ewing, Last of the Whigs," Ph.D. diss., Ohio State University, 1933.

External links

United States Senate
Preceded by
Jacob Burnet
United States Senator (Class 3) from Ohio
Served alongside: Benjamin Ruggles, Thomas Morris
Succeeded by
William Allen
Preceded by
Thomas Corwin
United States Senator (Class 1) from Ohio
Served alongside: Salmon P. Chase
Succeeded by
Benjamin F. Wade
Political offices
Preceded by
Levi Woodbury
United States Secretary of the Treasury
Served under: William Henry Harrison, John Tyler

Succeeded by
Walter Forward
Political offices
Preceded by
United States Secretary of the Interior
Succeeded by
Thomas M. T. McKennan

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

THOMAS EWING (1789-1871), American lawyer and statesman, was born near West Liberty, Ohio (disambiguation)|Ohio county, 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. In1850-1851he 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 majorgeneral (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 in1852-1854(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 freestate politician in Kansas in 1857-1861, and was the first chiefjustice 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.

<< Juliana Horatia Orr Ewing

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