Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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EW1NG, Thomas, statesman, born near West Liberty, Ohio County, Virginia, 28 December 1789; died in Lancaster, Ohio, 26 October 1871. His father, George Ewing, served in the Revolutionary army, and removed with his family in 1792 to the Muskingum River, and then to what is now Athens County, Ohio. In this unsettled district young Ewing's education was necessarily imperfect. His sister taught him to read, and in the evenings he studied the few books at his command. In his twentieth year he left his home and worked in the Kanawha salt establishments, pursuing his studies at night by the light of the furnace fires. He remained here till he had earned enough money to clear from debt the farm that his father had bought in 1792, and had qualified himself to enter the Ohio University at Athens, where, in 1815, he received the first degree of A. B. that was ever granted in the Northwest.
He then studied law in Lancaster, was admitted to the bar in 1816, and practiced with success for fifteen years. In 1831'7 he served as U. S. senator from Ohio, having been chosen as a Whig. He supported the protective tariff system of Clay, and advocated a. reduction in the rates of postage, a re-charter of the U. S. bank, and the revenue collection bill, known as the " force bill." He opposed the removal of the deposits from the U. S. bank, and introduced a bill for the settlement of the Ohio boundary question, which was passed in 1836. During the same session he brought forward a bill for the reorganization of the general land office, which was passed, and also presented a memoria.1 for the abolition of slavery. In July 1836, the secretary of the treasury issued what was known as the " specie circular."
This directed receivers in hind offices to accept payments only in gold, silver, or treasury certificates, except from certain classes of persons for a limited time. Mr. Ewing brought in a bill to annul this circular, and another to make it unlawful for the secretary to make such discrimination, but these were not carried. After the expiration of his term in 1837 he resumed the practice of his profession. He became secretary of the treasury in 1841, under Harrison, and in 1849 accepted the newly created portfolio of the interior, under Taylor, and organized that department. Among the measures recommended in his first report, 3 December 1849, were the establishments of a mint near the California goldmines, and the construction of a railroad to the Pacific. When Thomas Corwin became secretary of the treasury in 1850, Mr. Ewing was appointed to succeed him in the senate. During this term he opposed the fugitive slave law, Clay's compromise bill reported a bill for the establishment of a branch mint in California, and advocated a reduction of postage, and the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia.
He retired frown public life in 1851, and again resumed his law practice in Lancaster. He was a delegate to the peace congress of 1861. During the civil war he gave, through the press and by correspondence and personal interviews, his counsel and influence to the support of the National authorities. While he devoted much of his time to politica1 subjects, the law was his favorite study and pursuit. He early won trod maintained throughout his life unquestioned supremacy at the bar of Ohio : and ranked in the Supreme Court of the United States among the foremost lawyers of the nation. In 1829, just after his father's death, General William T. Sherman, then Mr. Ewing, who afterward appointed him to the U. S. military academy, adopted a boy nine years of age, and in 1850 he married Ellen, the daughter of his benefactor.
His son, Hugh Boyle Ew1ng, soldier, born in Lancaster, Ohio, 31 October 1826, was educated at the U. S. military academy. At the time of the gold fever, in 1849, he went to California by way of New Orleans and Texas, and traveled extensively through that country, going to the High Sierra in an expedition sent by his father, then secretary of the interior, to rescue emigrants from the snows. In 1852 he returned by way of Panama, as bearer of dispatches to Washington. He then went to Lancaster and completed his law studies, began the pra.etice of his profession in St. Louis in 1854 and two years later opened an office with his brother Thomas in Leavenworth, Kansas.
In 1858 he removed to Ohio, in order to assume charge of his father's salt works. In April 1861, he was appointed brigade inspector of Ohio volunteers, with the rank of major, and took part in the early combats in the mountains of West Virginia under McClellan and Rosecrans. He commanded the 30th Ohio regiment in August 1861, was appointed brigadier general, 29 November 1862, and brevetted major general in 1865. He led a brigade at Antietam, and at the siege of Vicksburg, and a division at Chickamauga, which formed the advance of Sherman's army, and which, in a desperate battle, carried Mission Ridge. He was afterward ordered to North Carolina, and was preparing a secret joint military and naval expedition up the Roanoke, when the war came to an end.
In 1866 he was appointed U. S. minister to Holland, where he served for four years. After his return he bought a small estate near his native town, where he has since resided. General Ewing has traveled widely in this country and abroad, and is author of " The Grand Ladron, a Tale of Early California," and "A Castle in the Air" (1887).
Another son, Thomas Ew1ng, lawyer, born in Lancaster. Ohio, 7 August 1829, was educated at Brown University, which gave him the degree of A. M. in 1860. He was private secretary to President Taylor from 1849 till 1850, and subsequently studied law in Cincinnati, where he began to practice his profession. In 1856 he removed to Leavenworth, Kansas, and became member of the Leavenworth constitutiona1 convention of 1858, and in 1861 became the first chief justice of the state. He was a. delegate to the Peace conference of 1860. He resigned his judgeship in 1862, recruited the llth Kansas regiment, was made its colonel, and served with distinction in the civil war, taking part in the battles of Fort Wayne. Cane Hill, and Prairie Grove. He was made brigadier general, 13 March 1863, for gallantry at the last-named battle, commanded the district of the border, and subsequently at Pilot Knob, 28 September 1864 with a thousand men, held his position against the repeated assaults of the Confederates under Price, thus checking the invasion of Missouri. He made a retreat to Rolla in 1864, and in 1865 was brevetted major general of volunteers.
After the war he practiced law in Washington, D. C., but returned to Lancaster in 1871, and in 1877'81 was a member of congress, where he prepared a bill to establish a bureau of labor statistics. He also actively supported the measures that stopped the use of troops at the polls, advocated the re-monetization of silver, and the retention 6f the greenback currency. In 1879 he was 1he unsuccessful candidate for governor of Ohio. At the close of his last term in congress he declined a renomination, and removed to New York City, where he has since practiced law.
Another son, Charles Ew1ng, soldier, born in Lancaster, Ohio, 6 March 1835; died in Washington, D. C., 20 June 1S83, was educated in his native town, at a Dominican College, and at the University of Virginia. At the beginning of the civil war he received a commission in the regular army as captain of the 13th infantry, and also served for some time on the staff of his brother-in-law, General William T. Sherman. He was brevetted major in 1863 for gallantry in the first assault at Vicksburg, where he was wounded while planting the flag of his battalion on the parapet. He was also brevetted lieutenant colonel in 1864 for services in the Atlanta campaign, and colonel in 1865 for gallant conduct during the war. On 8 March 1865, he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers. He resigned his commission in 1867, and practiced law successfully in Washington, D. C., during the remainder of his life.
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