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The Life of Thomas Ewing has Edward G. Morgan, relates how, on yet to be written, and what we can one occasion, Tom Ewing and the glean of his career must be drawn relator's brother enticed and locked from the scattered records of the him in the corncrib, in order that political history of his times, and they might not be disturbed by him from the brief memoir, compiled while reading the Bible, which they with filial affection by his daughter, did aloud, verse and verse about, Mrs. General Sherman, and re- and being discovered at such pious cently issued from the press of the mischief, escaped the merited punCatholic Publication Society. ishment of their prank.
This ocHis family was of Revolutionary curred in 1797, when young Ewing stock, and we find them first set. had been taken to West Liberty, tled near Greenwich, in Cumber- and there went to school for seven land County, New Jersey, where months. His garrison education the family mansion still stands. bad given bim a preliminary inHis father, George Ewing, enlisted, sight into that standard colonial in 1775, in the New Jersey line, schoolbook, Dilworth's Spellingwhere he obtained the rank of book, which he now proceeded lieutenant, and was present at the to master thoroughly, at a school battles of Brandywine and German- which is described by bis cousin, town, and spent the winter at the Mr. Morgan, as being conducted memorable camp at Valley Forge. by a Presbyterian minister, who While in the army he sold, on credit, user to summon to class by callthe property which he inherited, ing out, with a loud sbrill voice, the and when his bonds became due word " Books;" something, perhaps, was paid in Continental money, then in the same style as Dominie Sampa legal tender, but rapidly depre- son was wont to whistle “ Prodig ciating, and soon becoming totally ious !” The master's authority was valueless, in consequence of which enforced by a fearful array of instruhe determined to reinstate his shat- ments of torture, such as switches, tered fortune by migrating west of roasted in hot ashes to make them the Alleglianies, and in 1786 settled tough, a dunce-block and leather on a farm near West Liberty, Ohio spectacles, and a strong cord fastCounty, Virginia, where his son ened to the joists, for use under exThomas was born December 28th, traordinary infractions of the rules. 1789. In April, 1792, the family Those who have used Dilworth's removed to the mouth of Olive Spelling-book will remember, says Green Creek, on the Muskingum Mr. Morgan, to whom we are inRiver, where, three years later, they debted for the story, that it conwere obliged to take refuge in a tains many short quotations from blockhouse, in order to avoid the Scripture, one of them being, “ The danger of being massacred by the wicked fee when no man pursueth, Indians, who were rising in all di- but the righteous are as bold as a rections An elder sister had taught lion." One evening on returning young Ewing to read, and while he from school, when Tom had got in was in the garrison, he cultivated sight of home, he ran forwarıl and an assiduous acquaintance with the called out, “ l'ucle, uncle! I have only book it afforded—the Bible- turned over a new leaf, and have which caused him to acquire the got to the wicked flea ;” and he cognomen of “ The Bishop," which strutted around as proud as a peaclung to him for many years. In- cock. Forty years after he was deed, his mind seems to have, very heard to say that it was the proudest early, taken a semi-religious turn. day of his life. His cousin and school-companion, On leaving West Liberty, he re
turned to his father, who had then culties, a similar craving for knowl*
that "it was all a lie, and he only The books were brought across wanted to get rid of her, which was the mountains on horseback, and
sliame after all she had in a sack, and on being tumbled done for him." Many a time did out proved almost as motley a com- hope sink within the heart of the pany as Falstaff's recruits. Gold- youth, doomed thus to spend his smith's works, Plutareh's Lives, best days in apparent fruitlessness, treatises on philosophy, and re- many a time were his tears his only ligious controversial works, were relief, little did he know that God supplemented by fashionable and by this trial was building up the highstrung romances, with start strength of his moral character, ling titles, all of which young Ew- and fitting him not only for his ing devoured with a literary appe- future grand public career, but also tite which can only be appreciated for that unworldliness which is the by those who can adequately im- distinctive characteristic of men agine the dulness of frontier life, or whose path through life has been who have practically experienced, strewn, not with the roses of pleasunder almost insurmountable diffi- ure, but the thorns of trial, thus pre
paring him to be the worthy recipi- lieved that he could have worked up ent of Heaven's first and greatest a better legal defence, and throwing gift, FAITH.
up his trade of salt-selling, entered In 1808, a lad who had travelled the law office of Philemon Beecher, considerably, and who for some at Lancaster. Shortly after his months had been employed on the admission to the bar, while travelfarm, aroused, by his narrations of ling about in search of a place to life, young Ewing's determination locate, he, in company with several to see the world, and make some companions, stopped at a wayside practical efforts towards the high tavern for refreshments, when as ends he had in view. He was ac- he rode off the village Solons ascordingly induced to abandon the sembled as loungers around the farm, and travelling back to Vir- door, began to make sarcastic reginia, received employment at the marks on the young attorney's apKanawha salt works; he was so suc- pearance, one of them, a lawyer, cessful that in a short time he re. remarked that his immense head turned home with sufficient means showed that he was only “a booby," to pay off his father's debts. Re- whereupon one William Bridges, turning again to the Saline Mines, an old settler thereabouts, remarked he earned suflicient to pay for a prophetically, in a quotation from period of desoltory schooling, at Burns : the Athens Academy, and kept on "There's many a ragged colt been known alternating between the two places,
To make a nobile aiver;
So he may some day fill a throne, until his labor at the mines broke For all your clish-ma-claver." down his health, which a period of The prophecy was fulfilled, and rest and laughter, engendered by the Mr. Ewing's rise at the bar was reading of * Don Quixote," even- rapid and brilliant. One of his first tually restored him. He returned clients was Judge Sherman, father to Athens, and except for a brief of General William Tecumseh Sherinterim, during which he taught man, who afterwards became his school in Gallipolis, perfected him- ward and son-in-law, and whose self in English, French and Latin magnificent success in the army belles-lettres, and the sciences, but was largely due to Mr. Ewing's especially in mathematics, for which kind tutelage of the early years of he had peculiar aptitude, and while the future hero. He foresaw young the former gave him in after years Sherman's latent abilities, and just a bright reputation for exquisite as firmly defended him, when atliterary taste, the latter served to tacked on his military policy during develop those logical powers of the his campaigns. Mr. Ewing's repu
. mind which made him so celebrated tation as a lawyer, both in the local, as a profound and concentrative State, and United States courts, lawyer.
was most brilliant. His great powIn 1815 his goal was reached ers of research gave him profunand he graduated from Athens, tak- dity, while his ability in condensaing er aequo with a fellow-pupil tion enabled him to cover in a half the first degree of A. B. ever con- hour's argument, the ground other ferred in the State of Ohio. His great lawyers would require two choice of a profession was decided days to go over, and earned for upon from his overhearing the him the cognomen of “The great Hon. Elijah B. Merriam delivering logician of the West.” Ilaving an argument of uncommon ability, occasion to undertake same cases in the courthouse at Marietta. For in St. Louis, the records of whose the first time in his life Ewing felt courts were entirely in the Spanish the power of eloquence, but be- language, he shut himself up in his room, and devoted himself for six bill for the settlement of the Ohio weeks to the study of that tongue, boundary question, which after which brief period he was caused the famous “ Toledo War," sufficiently proficient therein to and was author of the act for remake his own translations of the organizing the Land Office. He court documents. His compeers at also took a leading part in the disthe bar, notably among them the cussion of the once famous “Specie Hon. Henry Stanberry, have well- Circular," issued by Levi Woodnigh exhausted praise on his legal bury, Secretary of the Treasury, in attainments, and surely we should July, 1836. not look elsewhere for more com- In 1837, Mr. Ewing resumed the petent or unbiassed judgments. He practice of his profession, but was confined himself strictly to his pro- selected by President Harrison, in fession, and it was solely the re- 1841, as Secretary of the Treasury, splendent integrity of his private and continued under Tyler's adcharacter, his high intellectual and ministration until, bitterly resentlegal ability, which induced the ing the partisan defection of Tyler, legislature of bis State to elect him, he, together with the rest of the cabiin 1831, to the United States Sen- net, resigned, being prompt among ate. An election on such a basis his associates in the cabinet in his would be almost as great a novelty election between an adherence to in modern politics, as so brilliant the principles and promises of his an opening of political life is rare party on the one hand and the alin the annals of American states- lurements of place and power on manship He immediately took the other, and the scathing letter rank with Clay, Webster, Calhoun, of resignation with which he surBenton, and all the brilliant array rendered the keys of oflice did of statesmen who once adorned our much to mark the boundaries that Senate Chamber at Washington. separated the President from the He was not indeed as brilliant an true men of the party he had, in orator as those great speakers, but Mr. Ewing's judgment, betrayed. he was a more terse reasoner, and It is related that after the nomiit could be said of him, as was said nation of General Taylor, by the of his compeer in the cabinet, the Whig Convention, the exultant late Hon. William M. Meredith, Taylor men, anxious to conciliate “ His reasoning was like a sledge- Mr. Clay's friends, proposed Mr. hammer, and woe betide the an- Ewing for Vice-President, and it tagonist wlio mistook its weight.” would have followed as a matter of His first term being ended he was course, had not Hon. L. D. Campsucceeded by William Allen, who bell, inconsolable and irritated at was elected by one majority. Mr. Clay's defeat, declared that “Ohio Ewing being always a stanch whig in did not want any sugar-plums," and politics, co-operated with Clay and the nomination passed on to Mr. Webster, in opposition to the policy Fillmore. Had it rested on the of the then administration; one of former, it is hardly necessary to his first speeches was in opposition add, that Mr. Ewing would have to the confirmation of Martin Van become President of the United Buren, as Minister to England. States. General Taylor, however, He supported the Clay tariff, advo- made him first secretary of the new cated a reorganization in the post- Department of the Interior, one office department, a
recharter of of the heaviest and most intricate the United States Bank, and the in our government, but upon his passage of the Force Billas a remedy death, a repetition of the “ Tylerfor nullification. He introduced å ism” of his previous cabinet experience caused him, together with case as follows: 66 There is no such all bis fellow-members, to resign thing as contraband of war going their portfolios to Mr. Fillmore. on a neutral bottom between neuThe celebrated “ Tom Corwin” tral ports.” Mr. Edward Everett succeeded him in the cabinet, Ew- urged their retention, and pubing at the same time replacing lished an argument in support of Corwin in the Senate. His reso- his views, which Secretary Seward lute adherence to the course that was inclined to favor; but Mr. Linhis own convictions marked out for coln felt, from the first, doubts as him, was strikingly apparent in his to the tenability of that position. opposition to Henry Clay's com- Mr. Ewing hurried to Washington, promise measures, and all the great and by his great influence, exerted questions then arising under them, with unusual warmth upon the simply because he believed them, as President and his Secretary, saved Mr. Clay himself believed them, us from the terrible dangers of a anconstitutional, and perversive of most untimely war with England. law and right, though Mr. Clay Always of a conservative tenthought the end justified the sacri- dency, though by natural disposifice. On the question of his re-elec- tion impetuous and imperious, lie tior to the Senate, Mr. Ewing lacked sunk the politician in the lawyer, one or two votes of success, and and with a wholesome dread of was succeeded by a gentleman then revolutionary proceedings, set his but little known, but who possessed face firmly against the Congresa few " fast friends," Benjamin F. sional Reconstruction Acts, as exWade. The days of statesmanship ercised over what the dominant parwere evidently on the wane. Mr. ty beld to be yet sovereign States. Ewing was in fact the last of the His theory was that the effect of great galaxy of intellectual stars the rebellion was to reduce the who then illuminated our country Southern States to territories, and with their splendor.
that they must be readmitted as” In his retirement from official such to the Union, and not life he did not lose sight of public sovereigns be dictated
to by the affairs. He was active in his pro Federal government. Hence, the fession, and his force of character close of his days found him in acand intellect gave him unsought cord with President Johnson and conspicuity and influence. In 1861, the Democratic party ; thus finally he was appointed by Governor succumbing to the system of “TyDenison to represent Ohio in the lerism” which he had so strenufruitless Peace Commission which ously resisted through lite, though sat in Washington. When hostili. he might have pleaded in extenuaties broke out he took an active tion that he was but following what part in favor of measures for the would have been the policy of Mr. support of the National govern- Johnson's predecessor had lie conment, and throughout the war was tinued in office. an earnest supporter of the admin- His last notable public service was istration, and a trusted counsellor to preside over the "Wigwam" conof President Lincoln, whose regard vention, called at Philadelphia, in for him amounted to veneration. 1866, to counteract the " Southern On the seizure of the Trent, with Loyalists' Convocation," held a few Mason and Slidell, he urged their months previously at the same surrender in accordance with in- place. ternational law. In the brief space In 1862, Mr. Ewing formed a of a telegram to Mr. Lincoln, he new partnership, and entered upon condensed the whole law of the the practice of law at Washington,