Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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EATON, John, educator, born in Sutton, New Hampshire, 5 December 1829. He was graduated at Dartmouth in 1854, was principal of a school in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1854'6, and superintendent of schools in Toledo in 1856'9. He then resigned, studied for the ministry at the Andover theological seminary, and was ordained by the presbytery of Maumee, Ohio, on 5 September 1861. Meanwhile, in August he had been commissioned chaplain of the 27th Ohio volunteers, was made brigade sanitary inspector, and in November 1862, was appointed by General Grant superintendent of contrabands. A month later he became general superintendent of freedmen for Mississippi, Arkansas, West Tennessee, and Northern Louisiana, and served as such till 27 May 1865. He was commissioned colonel of the 63d U. S. colored infantry on 2 October 1863, and received the brevet of brigadier general of volunteers in March 1865. Subsequently he was appointed assistant commissioner of the bureau of refugees, freedmen, and abandoned lands, and after thoroughly organizing the bureau resigned to edit the "Memphis Post," where he continued from 1866 till 1870, serving as state superintendent of public instruction in 1867'9.
He was appointed U. S. commissioner of education in March 1870, and remained in that capacity until August 1886, when he resigned to accept the presidency of Marietta College. The bureau of education at the time of his appointment had but two clerks, not over a hundred volumes belonging to it, and no museum of educational illustrations and appliances; but when he resigned there were 38 assistants and a library including 18,000 volumes and 4,000 pamphlets. General Eaton represented the department of the interior at the Centennial exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876, he was chief of the department of education for the New Orleans exposition and organized that vast exhibition, was president of the International congress of education held there, and vice president of the International congress of education held in Havre. France. He received the degree of Ph. D. from Rutgers in 1872, and that of LL. D. from Dartmouth in 1876. General Eaton is a member of many learned associations, and has published numerous addresses and reports on education and the public affairs with which he has been connected.
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