Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Sherman, William Tecumseh
SHERMAN, William Tecumseh, soldier, b. in Lancaster, Ohio, 8 Feb., 1820; d. in New York City, 14 Feb., 1891. His branch of the family is traced to one who came to this country in 1634 with his brother, the Rev. John Sherman, and his cousin, Capt. John Sherman. Roger Sherman, signer of the Declaration of Independence, traces his lineage to the captain, and Gen. Sherman to that of the Rev. John, whose family settled in Woodbury and Norwalk. Conn., whence some of them removed to Lancaster, Fairfield co., Ohio, in 1810. The father of Gen. Sherman was a lawyer, and for five years before his death in 1829 judge of the supreme court. His mother, who was married in 1810, was Mary Hoyt. They had eleven children, of whom William was the sixth and John the eighth. William was adopted by Thomas Ewing, and attended school in Lancaster till 1836. In July of that year he was sent as a cadet to West Point, where he was graduated in 1840 sixth in a class of forty-two members. Among his classmates was George H. Thomas. As a cadet, he is remembered as an earnest, high-spirited, honorable, and outspoken youth, deeply impressed, according to one of his early letters, with the grave responsibility properly attaching to “serving the country.” He also at that time expressed a wish to go to the far west, out of civilization. He was commissioned as a 2d lieutenant in the 3d artillery, 1 July, 1840, and sent to Florida, where the embers of the Indian war were still smouldering. On 30 Nov., 1841, he was made a 1st lieutenant, and commanded a small detachment at Picolata. In 1842 he was at Fort Morgan, Mobile Point, Ala., and later at Fort Moultrie, Charleston harbor, where he indulged in hunting and society, the immediate vicinity of the fort being a summer resort for the people of Charleston. In 1843, on his return from a short leave, he began the study of law, not to make it a profession, but to render himself a more intelligent soldier. When the Mexican war began in 1846 he was sent with troops around Cape Horn to California, where he acted as adjutant-general to Gen. Stephen W. Kearny, Col. Mason, and Gen. Persifer F. Smith. Returning in 1850, on 1 May he married Miss Ellen Boyle Ewing, at Washington, her father, his old friend, then being secretary of the interior. He was appointed a captain in the commissary department, 2 Sept., 1850, and sent to St. Louis and New Orleans. He had already received a brevet of captain for service in California, to date from 30 May, 1848. Seeing little prospect of promotion and small opportunity for his talents in the army in times of peace, he resigned his commission, 6 Sept., 1853, the few graduates of West Point being at that period in demand in many walks ot civil life. He was immediately appointed (1853) manager of the branch bank of Lucas, Turner and Co., San Francisco, Cal. When the affairs of that establishment were wound up in 1857 he returned to St. Louis, and lived for a time in New York as agent for the St. Louis firm. In 1858-'9 he was a counsellor-at-law in Leavenworth, Kan., and in the next year became superintendent of the State military academy at Alexandria, La., where he did good work; but when that state seceded from the Union he promptly resigned and returned to St. Louis, where he was for a short time president of the Fifth street railroad.
Of the civil war he took what were then considered extreme views. He regarded President Lincoln's call for 75,000 three-months' men in April, 1861, as trifling with a serious matter, declaring that the rising of the secessionists was not a mob to be put down by the posse comitatus, but a war to be fought out by armies. On 13 May he was commissioned colonel of the 13th infantry, with instructions to report to Gen. Scott at Washington. That officer had matured a plan of campaign, and was about to put it into execution. Sherman was put in command of a brigade in Tyler's division of the army that marched to Bull Run. His brigade comprised the 13th, 69th, and 70th New York and the 2d Wisconsin regiments. The enemy's left had been fairly turned, and Sherman's brigade was hotly engaged, when the Confederates were re-enforced; the National troops made fatal delays, and, struck by panic, the army was soon in full retreat. Sherman's brigade had lost 111 killed, 205 wounded, and 293 missing. On 3 Aug., 1861, he was made a brigadier-general of volunteers, to date from 17 May, and on 28 Aug. he was sent from the Army of the Potomac to be second in command to Gen. Robert Anderson in Kentucky. Few persons were prepared for the curious problem of Kentucky politics. What has been called the “secession juggle” was at least partially successful. On account of broken health, Gen. Anderson soon asked to be relieved from the command, and he was succeeded by Sherman on 17 Oct. It was expected by the government that the men, to keep Kentucky in the Union, could be recruited in that state, and that the numbers required would be but few; but this expectation was doomed to be disappointed. Sherman looked for a great war, and declared that 60,000 men would be required to drive the enemy out of the state and 200,000 to put an end to the struggle in that region. Most men looked upon this prophetic sagacity as craziness. He was relieved from his command by Gen. Buell on 12 Nov. and ordered to report to Gen. Halleck, commanding the Department of the West. He was placed in command of Benton Barracks. At this time Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was in command of the force to move on Forts Henry and Donelson in February, 1862, and just after the capture of these strongholds Sherman was assigned to the Army of the Tennessee. It consisted of six divisions, of which Sherman was in command of the 5th. In the battle of Shiloh, or Pittsburg Landing, 6 and 7 April (see Grant, Ulysses S.), Sherman's men were posted at Shiloh church, and the enemy were so strong that all the detachments were hotly engaged, and Sherman served as a pivot. When the Army of the Ohio came up, during the night, Grant had already ordered Sherman to advance, and when the combined forces moved, the enemy retreated rapidly upon Corinth. The loss in Sherman's division was 2,034. He was wounded in the hand, but did not leave the field, and he richly deserved the praise of Gen. Grant in his official report: “I feel it a duty to a gallant and able officer, Brig.-Gen. W. T. Sherman, to make mention. He was not only with his command during the entire two days of the action, but displayed great judgment and skill in the management of his men. Although severely wounded in the hand on the first day, his place was never vacant.” And again: “To his individual efforts I am indebted for the success of that battle.” Gen. Halleck declared that “Sherman saved the fortunes of the day on the 6th, and contributed largely to the glorious victory of the 7th.” After the battle Gen. Halleck assumed command of all the armies, and advanced slowly upon Corinth, acting rather with the caution of an engineer than with the promptness of a strategist. In the new movement Gen. Sherman was conspicuous for judgment and dash. He was employed constantly where promptness and energy were needed. Two miles in advance of the army, as it was ranged around Corinth, he captured and fortified Russell's house, which is only a mile and a half from Corinth. Deceiving Halleck, the enemy were permitted to evacuate the town and destroy its defences. Sherman was made a major-general of volunteers, to date from 1 May, 1862. On 9 June he was ordered to Grand Junction, a strategic point, where the Memphis and Charleston and the Mississippi Central railroads meet. Memphis was to be a new base. He was to repair the former road, and to guard them both and keep them in running order. Gen. Halleck having been made general-in-chief of the armies of the United States, Grant was, on 15 July, appointed to command the Department of the Tennessee, and he at once ordered Sherman to Memphis, which had been captured by the National flotilla, 6 June, with instructions to put it in a state of defence. Sherman, to secure himself against the machinations of the rebellious inhabitants, directed all who adhered to the Confederate cause to leave the city. He allowed them no trade in cotton, would not permit the use of Confederate money, allowed no force or intimidation to be used to oblige negroes, who had left their masters, to return to them, but made them work for their support. He also effectually suppressed guerilla warfare.
The western armies having advanced to the line of the Memphis and Charleston railroad, the next step was to capture Vicksburg and thereby open to navigation the Mississippi river. Vicksburg was strongly fortified and garrisoned and was covered by an army commanded by Gen. Pemberton posted behind the Tallahatchie. Grant moved direct from Grand Junction via Holly Springs, McPherson his left from Corinth, and Sherman his right from Memphis to Wyatt, turning Pemberton's left, who retreated to Grenada behind the Yalabusha. Then Grant detached Sherman with one of his brigades back to Memphis to organize a sufficient force out of the new troops there and a division at Helena to move in boats escorted by Admiral Porter's gun-boat fleet to Vicksburg to capture the place while he, Grant, held Pemberton at Grenada. The expedition failed from natural obstacles and the capture of Holly Springs by the enemy, and at the same moment Gen. McClernand arrived to assume command of the expedition by orders of President Lincoln, and the Army of the Tennessee was divided into the 13th, 15th, 16th, and 17th corps, of which Sherman had the 15th. To clear the flank, the expeditionary force before Vicksburg under McClernand returned in their boats to the mouth of the Arkansas, ascended that river a hundred miles, and carried by assault Fort Hindman, capturing its stores and five thousand prisoners, thereby making the Mississippi safe from molestation. In this movement Sherman bore a conspicuous part. The expedition then returned to the Mississippi river, and Gen. Grant came in person from Memphis to give direction to the operations against Vicksburg from the river, which resulted in its capture, with 31,000 prisoners, on 4 July, 1863, thereby opening the Mississippi and fully accomplishing the original purpose. During this brilliant campaign Gen. Sherman was most active, and therefore was appointed a, brigadier-general in the regular army, to date 4 July, 1863.
Meantime Rosecrans, having expelled the enemy from middle Tennessee, had forced him to evacuate Chattanooga, fought the bloody battle of Chickamauga, and fell back into Chattanooga, where he was in a precarious condition. On 4 Oct. Sherman was ordered to take his corps, the 15th, from the Big Black via Memphis, with such other troops as could be spared from the line of the Memphis and Charleston railway, toward Chattanooga. He moved, repairing the road as he went, according to the express orders of Gen. Halleck. But on the 27th he received orders from Gen. Grant to discontinue all work and march rapidly toward Bridgeport on the Tennessee. He lost no time in doing so. Sherman's 15th corps, with other commands, by the rapid movement for Chattanooga, was now getting into position; he was preparing to cross the river from the west bank, below the mouth of the Chickamauga, with the purpose of attacking the northern end of Mission ridge, while a division of cavalry was sent to the enemy's right and rear to cut the railroad behind him. At 1 o'clock, on the morning of 24 Nov., Sherman crossed on pontoon-bridges, and by 3 o'clock P. M. he was intrenched at the north end of Mission ridge. Thus the disposal of troops in Grant's line of battle was: Sherman on the left, in front of Tunnell Hill; Thomas in the centre, at Fort Wood and Orchard Knob; while Hooker was to come up from Wauhatchie, take Lookout mountain, and, crossing to Rossville, advance upon the ridge, to complete the organization. There was open communication between these bodies by special couriers. While preparations were making for the centre attack under Thomas, it was evident that the enemy's design was to crush Sherman. Fierce assaults were made upon him in quick succession, which he resisted, and thus performed good service in drawing the foe to his flank, while Thomas was making the main attack upon the ridge, which was successful. On the morning of the 25th Sherman pursued the enemy by the roads north of the Chickamauga, arriving at Ringgold on that day, and everywhere destroying the enemy's communications.
During these operations Gen. Burnside was besieged by Longstreet in Knoxville, Tenn., and was in great straits. On 3 Dec., under orders from Grant, which another commander was slow to obey, Sherman made forced marches to Burnside's relief, and reached Knoxville not a minute too soon, and after supplying Burnside with all the assistance and re-enforcements he needed marched back to Chattanooga. Toward the end of January, 1864, he returned to Memphis and Vicksburg, whence with parts of McPherson's and Hurlburt's corps, then unemployed, he marched to Jackson and Meridian, where he broke up the Confederate combinations and destroyed their communications. On 2 March, Grant had been made lieutenant-general; on the 12th he assumed command of all the armies of the United States, with the purpose of conducting in person the campaign of the Army of the Potomac. On 12 March he assigned Sherman to the command of the military division of the Mississippi, comprising the Departments of the Ohio, the Tennessee, the Cumberland, and the Arkansas — in a word, of the entire southwestern region, with temporary headquarters at Nashville. In a letter of 4 March, 1864, Grant acknowledges to Sherman his great gratitude for the co-operation and skill which so largely contributed to his own success, and on 19 Feb., 1864, Sherman received the thanks of congress for his services in the Chattanooga campaign. On 25 March he began to prepare his command for action, to put the railroads in good condition, and protect them and to make provision for the supplies of the army in its approaching campaign. On 10 April he received his final instructions from Grant to move against Atlanta. Ordering his troops to rendezvous at Chattanooga, he made it his headquarters on 28 April. His force consisted of the armies of the Cumberland, Gen. George H. Thomas; the Tennessee, Gen. James B. McPherson; and the Ohio, Gen. John M. Schofield. It was 99,000 strong, with 254 guns, while the Confederate army, under Johnston, about 41,000 strong, soon re-enforced up to 62,000 men, was prepared to resist his advance, and if Sherman had the advantage of attack, Johnston had that of fighting behind intrenchments and natural obstacles. Moving from Chattanooga, Sherman came up with him at Dalton, 14 May, and turned his position at Buzzard's Roost by sending McPherson through Snake Creek gap, when Johnston fell back to Resaca. After an assault, 15 May, Johnston retreated to Cassville and behind the Etowah on the 17th. After the turning of Allatoona pass, which he made a secondary base, and fierce battles near New Hope church, in the neighborhood of Dallas, Johnston still further retreated to a strong position on Kenesaw mountain, having contracted and retired his flanks to cover Marietta. Sherman advanced his line with each retrograde movement of the enemy and pressed operations, continually gaining ground. Both armies habitually fought from behind log parapets until Sherman ordered an attack on the fortified lines, 27 June, but did not succeed in breaking through. He then determined to turn the position, and moved Gen. James B. McPherson's army on 3 July toward the Chattahoochee, which compelled Johnston to retire to another intrenched position on the northwest bank of that river, whence he fell back on Atlanta as Sherman began to cross the river, threatening to strike his rear with a part of the army, while the rest lay intrenched in his front. On 17 July began the direct attack on Atlanta. Gen. John B. Hood, who had superseded Gen. Johnston on 17 July, made frequent sorties, and struck boldly and fiercely. There was a severe battle at Peach Tree creek on 20 July, one on the east side of the city two days later, and on the 28th one at Ezra church, on the opposite side of Atlanta, in all of which the National forces were victorious. After an ineffective cavalry movement against the railroad, Gen. Sherman left one corps intrenched on the Chattahoochee and moved with the other five corps on the enemy's only remaining line of railroad, twenty-six miles south of Atlanta, where he beat him at Jonesboro', occupied his line of supply, and finally, on 1 Sept., the enemy evacuated the place.
Here Hood's presumption led to his own destruction. Leaving the south almost defenceless, he moved upon Nashville, where he was disastrously defeated by Thomas. Sherman had sent Thomas to that city purposely to resist his advance, and with the diminished army he moved upon Savannah, threatening Augusta and Macon, but finding little to oppose him in his march to the sea. Sherman moved steadily forward until he reached the defensive works that covered Savannah and blocked Savannah river. These were promptly taken by assault, and communications were opened with the fleet, which furnished ample supplies to his army. Savannah thus became a marine base for future operations. Sherman announced in a brief note to President Lincoln the evacuation of the city. “I beg to present you,” he writes, “as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns, plenty of ammunition, and 25,000 bales of cotton.” His army had marched 300 miles in twenty-four days, through the heart of Georgia, and had lived in plenty all the way. The value of this splendid achievement cannot be overestimated. On 12 Aug. he had been appointed major-general in the U. S. army, and on 10 Jan. he received the thanks of congress for his “triumphal march.” After the occupation of Savannah the question arose whether Sherman should come north by sea or march with his army through the Atlantic states. He preferred the latter plan. Schofield, leaving Thomas in Tennessee, was sent by rail and steamers to the coast of North Carolina with his corps (23d) to march upon Goldsboro', N. C., to co-operate with him. Sherman left Savannah in February, moved through the Salkehatchie swamp, flanked Charleston, compelled its evacuation, and entered Columbia on the 17th. Thence he moved on Goldsboro' by way of Winnsboro', Cheraw, and Fayetteville, opening communication by Cape Fear river with Schofield on 12 March, fighting at Averysboro' and Bentonville, where the enemy resisted his advance vigorously. At Averysboro' on the 16th Gen. Henry W. Slocum with four divisions attacked the intrenched position of Gen. William J. Hardee, and, turning his left flank, compelled him to fall back, while the cavalry, under Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick, were attacked and driven back by the Confederate infantry of Gen. Lafayette McLaws on the road to Bentonville. At the latter point Gen. Johnston's force was attacked in a strongly intrenched position on the 19th by the left wing of Sherman's army, under Gen. Slocum, whose right flank had been broken and driven back. After an obstinate combat, the Confederates withdrew in the night. Sherman and Schofield met at Goldsboro' on 23 and 24 March as originally planned. Leaving his troops there, he visited President Lincoln and Gen. Grant at City Point, returning to Goldsboro' on the 30th. The interview on board the “Ocean Queen” is represented in the accompanying vignette copy of a painting by G. P. A. Healy, entitled “The Peacemakers,” the fourth member of the group being Admiral Porter. Sherman is shown at the moment that he said to Mr. Lincoln: “If Lee will only remain in Richmond till I can reach Burkesville, we shall have him between our thumb and fingers,” suiting the action to the word.
He was now ready to strike the Danville road, break Lee's communications, and cut off his retreat, or to re-enforce Grant in front of Richmond for a final attack. He would be ready to move on 10 April. Johnston at Greensboro' received news of Lee's surrender on the 12th, and on the 14th sent a flag of truce to Sherman to know upon what terms he would receive his surrender. “I am fully empowered,” Sherman wrote to him, “to arrange with you any terms for the suspension of hostilities, and am willing to confer with you to that end. That a base of action may be had, I undertake to abide by the same conditions entered into by Gens. Grant and Lee at Appomattox Court-House, Va., on the 9th inst.” After considerable correspondence and a long interview with Gen. Johnston, having in view an immediate and complete peace, Sherman made a memorandum or basis of agreement between the armies, which was considered by the government as at once too lenient and exceeding his powers. It included in terms of capitulation not only the army of Johnston, but all the Confederate troops remaining in the field. By the 7th article it was announced in general terms “that the war is to cease; a general amnesty so far as the executive of the United States can command, on condition of the disbandment of the Confederate army, the distribution of arms, and the resumption of peaceful pursuits by officers and men hitherto composing said armies.” In order to secure himself against the assumption of power, the article is thus continued: “Not being fully empowered by our respective principals to fulfil these terms, we individually and officially pledge ourselves to promptly obtain authority, and will endeavor to carry out the above programme.” It was an honest effort on the part of a humane commander to put an end to the strife at once. Perhaps affairs were somewhat complicated by the assassination of President Lincoln on 14 April, which created great indignation and sorrow. It not only affected the terms between Johnston and Sherman, but it caused the latter to fall under the suspicion of the secretary of war. On their arrival in Washington they were promptly and curtly disapproved by a despatch sent, not to Sherman, but to Gen. Grant, on the morning of 24 April, directing him to go at once to North Carolina, by order of Sec. Stanton, to repudiate the terms and to negotiate the whole matter as in the case of Lee. Gen. Sherman considered himself rebuked for his conduct. It was supposed that in the terms of agreement there was an acknowledgment of the Confederate government and a proposed re-establishment of the state authorities and that it might furnish a ground of claim for the payment of the Confederate debt in the future. Such certainly was not its purpose, nor does it now appear that such could have been its effect. Sherman was a soldier treating with soldiers, and deserved more courteous and considerate treatment from the government authorities, even if in his enthusiasm he had exceeded his powers. On 10 March. Sherman set out for Alexandria, Va., and arrived on the 19th. He determined then not to revisit Washington, but to await orders in camp; but he afterward, at the president's request, went to see him. He did not complain that his agreement with Johnston was disapproved. It was the publication that constituted the gravamen of the offence, its tone and style, the insinuations it contained, the false inferences it occasioned, and the offensive orders to the subordinate officers of Gen. Sherman which succeeded the publication. These he bitterly resented at the time, but before Mr. Stanton's death they became fully reconciled.
Preliminary to the disbandment of the National armies they passed in review before President Johnson and cabinet and Lieut.-Gen. Grant — the Army of the Potomac on 23 May, and Gen. Sherman's army on the 24th. Sherman was particularly observed and honored. He took leave of his army in an eloquent special field order of 30 May. From 27 June, 1865, to 3 March, 1869, he was in command of the military division of the Mississippi, with headquarters at St. Louis, embracing the Departments of the Ohio, Missouri, and Arkansas. Upon the appointment of Grant as general of the army on 25 July, 1866, Sherman was promoted to be lieutenant-general, and when Grant became president of the United States, 4 March, 1869, Sherman succeeded him as general, with headquarters at Washington. From 10 Nov., 1871, to 17 Sept., 1872, he made a professional tour in Europe, and was everywhere received with the honors due to his distinguished rank and service. At his own request, and in order to make Sheridan general-in-chief, he was placed on the retired list, with full pay and emoluments, on 8 Feb., 1884. He has received many honors, among which may be mentioned the degree of LL. D. from Dartmouth, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and other universities, and membership in the Board of regents of the Smithsonian institution, 1871-'83.
A thorough organizer, he is also prompt in execution, demanding prompt and full service from all whom he commands. He is an admirable writer, and goes at once to the very point at issue, leaving no one in doubt as to his meaning. His favorites are always those who do the best work in the truest spirit, and his written estimate of them is always in terms of high commendation. Without being a natural orator, he expresses himself clearly and forcibly in public, and as he is continually called out, he has greatly developed in that respect since the war.
In personal appearance he is a typical soldier and commander, tall and erect, with auburn hair carelessly brushed and short-cropped beard, his eyes dark hazel, his head large and well-formed; the resolution and strong purpose and grim gravity exhibited by his features in repose would indicate to the stranger a lack of the softer and more humane qualities, but when he is animated in social conversation such an estimate is changed at once, and in his bright and sympathizing smile one is reminded of Richard's words:
“Grim-visaged War has smoothed his wrinkled front.”
His association with his friends and comrades is exceedingly cordial, and his affection for those allied to him is as tender as that of a woman. A life of Gen. Sherman has been written by Gen. Manning F. Force in the “Great Generals” series (New York, 1898), and he has published “Memoirs of Gen. William T. Sherman, by Himself” (2 vols., New York, 1875; new ed., 1885). — His brother,
John, statesman, b. in Lancaster, Ohio, 10 May, 1823, after the death of their father in 1829, leaving the large family with but limited means, the boy was cared for by a cousin named John Sherman, residing in Mount Vernon, where he was sent to school. At the age of twelve he returned to Lancaster and entered the academy to prepare himself for college. In two years he was sufficiently advanced to enter the sophomore class, but a desire to be self-supporting led to his becoming junior rod-man in the corps of engineers engaged on the Muskingum. He was placed in charge of the section of that work in Beverly early in 1838, and so continued until the summer of 1839, when he was removed because he was a Whig. The responsibilities attending the measurements of excavations and embankments, and the levelling for a lock to a canal, proved a better education than could have been procured elsewhere in the same time. He began the study of law in the office of his brother Charles, and in 1844 was admitted to the bar. He formed a partnership with his brother in Mansfield, and continued with him until his entrance into congress, during which time his ability and industry gained for him both distinction and pecuniary success.
Meanwhile, in 1848, he was sent as a delegate to the Whig convention, held in Philadelphia, that nominated Zachary Taylor for the presidency, and in 1852 he was a delegate to the Baltimore convention that nominated Winfield Scott. His attitude as a conservative Whig, in the alarm and excitement that followed the attempt to repeal the Missouri compromise, secured his election to the 34th congress, and he took his seat on 3 Dec., 1855. He is a ready and forcible speaker, and his thorough aquaintance with public affairs made him an acknowledged power in the house from the first. He grew rapidly in reputation as a debater on all the great questions agitating the public mind during that eventful period: the repeal of the Missouri compromise, the Dred-Scott decision, the imposition of slavery upon Kansas, the fugitive-slave law, the national finances, and other measures involving the very existence of the republic. His appointment by the speaker, Nathaniel P. Banks, as a member of the committee to inquire into and collect evidence in regard to the border-ruffian troubles in Kansas was an important event in his career. Owing to the illness of the chairman, William A. Howard, of Michigan, the duty of preparing the report devolved upon Mr. Sherman. Every statement was verified by the clearest testimony, and has never been controverted by any one. This report, when presented to the house, created a great deal of feeling, and intensified the antagonisms in congress, being made the basis of the canvass of 1856. He acted with the Republican party in supporting John C. Frémont for the presidency because that party resisted the extension of slavery, but did not seek its abolition. In the debate on the submarine telegraph he showed his opposition to monopolists by saying: “I cannot agree that our government should be bound by any contract with any private incorporated company for fifty years; and the amendment I desire to offer will reserve the power to congress to determine the proposed contract after ten years.” All bills making appropriations for public expenditures were closely scrutinized, and the then prevalent system of making contracts in advance of appropriations was denounced by him as illegal. At the close of his second congressional term he was recognized as the foremost man in the house of representatives. He had from deep and unchanged conviction adopted the political faith of the Republican party, but without any partisan rancor or malignity toward the south.
He was re-elected to the 36th congress, which began its first session amid the excitement caused by the bold raid of John Brown. In 1859 he was the Republican candidate for the speakership. He had subscribed, with no knowledge of the book, for Hinton R. Helper's “Impending Crisis,” and this fact was brought up against him and estranged from him a few of the southern Whigs, who besought him to declare that he was not hostile to slavery. He refused, and after eight weeks of balloting, in which he came within three votes of election, he yielded to William Pennington, who was chosen. Mr. Sherman was then made chairman of the committee of ways and means. He took a decided stand against ingrafting new legislation upon appropriation bills, saying: “The theory of appropriation bills is, that they shall provide money to carry on the government, to execute existing laws, and not to change existing laws or provide new ones.” In 1860 he was again elected to congress, and, when that body convened in December, the seceding members of both houses were outspoken and defiant. At the beginning of President Buchanan's administration the public indebtedness was less than $20,000,000, but by this time it had been increased to nearly $100,000,000, and in such a crippled condition were its finances that the government had not been able to pay the salaries of members of congress and many other demands. Mr. Sherman proved equal to the occasion in providing the means for the future support of the government. His first step was to secure the passage of a bill authorizing the issue of what are known as the treasury-notes of 1860.
On the resignation of Salmon P. Chase, he was elected to his place in the senate, and took his seat on 4 March, 1861. He was re-elected senator in 1867 and in 1873. During most of his senatorial career he was chairman of the committee on finance, and served also on the committees on agriculture, the Pacific railroad, the judiciary, and the patent-office. After the fall of Fort Sumter, under the call of President Lincoln for 75,000 troops he tendered his services to Gen. Robert Patterson, was appointed aide-de-camp without pay, and remained with the Ohio regiments till the meeting of congress in July. After the close of this extra session he returned to Ohio, and received authority from Gov. William Denison to raise a brigade. Largely at his own expense, he recruited two regiments of infantry, a squadron of cavalry, and a battery of artillery, comprising over 2,300 men. This force served during the whole war, and was known as the “Sherman brigade.” The most valuable services rendered by him to the Union cause were his efforts in the senate to maintain and strengthen the public credit, and to provide for the support of the armies in the field. On the suspension of specie payments, about the first of January, 1862, the issue of United States notes became a necessity. The question of making them a legal tender was not at first received with favor. Mainly through the efforts of Senator Sherman and Sec. Chase, this feature of the bill authorizing their issue was carried through congress. They justified the legal-tender clause of the bill on the ground of necessity. In the debates on this question Mr. Sherman said: “I do believe there is a pressing necessity that these demand-notes should be made legal tender, if we want to avoid the evils of a depreciated and dishonored paper currency. I do believe we have the constitutional power to pass such a provision, and that the public safety now demands its exercise.” The records of the debate show that he made the only speech in the senate in favor of the national-bank bill. Its final passage was secured only by the personal appeals of Sec. Chase to the senators who opposed it. Mr. Sherman's speeches on state and national banks are the most important that he made during the war. He introduced a refunding act in 1867, which was adopted in 1870, but without the resumption clause. In 1874 a committee of nine, of which he was chairman, was appointed by a Republican caucus to secure a concurrence of action. They agreed upon a bill fixing the time for the resumption of specie payment at 1 Jan., 1879. This bill was reported to the caucus and the senate with the distinct understanding that there should be no debate on the side of the Republicans, and that Mr. Sherman should be left to manage it according to his own discretion. The bill was passed, leaving its execution dependent upon the will of the secretary of the treasury for the time being.
Mr. Sherman was an active supporter of Rutherford B. Hayes for the presidency in 1876, was a member of the committee that visited Louisiana to witness the counting of the returns of that state. He was appointed secretary of the treasury by President Hayes in March, 1877, and immediately set about providing a redemption fund by means of loans. Six months before 1 Jan., 1879, the date fixed by law for redemption of specie payments, he had accumulated $140,000,000 in gold, and he had the satisfaction of seeing the legal-tender notes gradually approach gold in value until, when the day came, there was practically no demand for gold in exchange for the notes. In 1880 Mr. Sherman was an avowed candidate for the presidential nomination, and his name was presented in the National convention by James A. Garfield. During the contest between the supporters of Gen. Grant and those of James G. Blaine, which resulted in Mr. Garfield's nomination, Mr. Sherman's voted ranged from 90 to 97. He returned to the senate in 1881, was re-elected in 1887 and again in 1893, resigning in 1897 to enter President McKinley's cabinet as secretary of state. His advanced age induced him to resign his office soon after the declaration of war with Spain, in May, 1898. In December, 1885, he was chosen president of the senate pro tem., but he declined re-election at the close of his senatorial term in 1887. His name was presented by Joseph B. Foraker in nomination for the presidency at the National convention held in 1884, but the Ohio delegation was divided between him and James G. Blaine, so that he received only 30 votes from this state. Again in 1888 his name was presented by Daniel H. Hastings, in behalf of the Pennsylvania delegation at the National convention, and on the first ballot he received 229 votes and on the second 249, being the leading candidate, and continued so until Benjamin Harrison received the support of those whose names were withdrawn. Mr. Sherman has published “Selected Speeches and Reports on Finance and Taxation, 1859-1878” (New York, 1879). See “John Sherman, What he has said and done: Life and Public Services,” by Rev. Sherlock A. Bronson (Columbus, Ohio, 1880).