The moderate voice of John Sherman and the Republican agenda 1855-1898

Richard M Smith, Florida International University


Republican John Sherman, United States Congressman, Senator, Treasury Secretary, and Secretary of State had a political career of major importance from 1855 to 1898, yet there have been only casual references by historians and only two biographies of him, with the most recent published in 1902. From a strong Whig Party background, he was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1854; switching to the Republicans that same year. Then elevated to the Senate in 1861, he served in that body throughout the Civil War and Reconstruction when he was the most important voice of party unity and moderation. In 1877, the new President Rutherford Hayes appointed Sherman Secretary of the Treasury. He returned to the Senate after the Hayes administration where he sat for the following 15 years. In this particularly notable period, he not only led the upper house, but he engineered more bills in Congress which bore his name than any other member of either house. These included the critically important Sherman Silver Purchase Act, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and Sherman Inter-State Commerce Act. In 1897 he left the Senate finally when William McKinley appointed him Secretary of State. Through this long, distinguished career, Sherman was involved in all the important legislation that brought the country through the Civil War and Reconstruction and into the post-war world of the Gilded Age of rapid industrialization, and urban growth, Politically, he never strayed far from the nationalistic and economic principles of the Whig Party, and brought both these values to bear in the Republican Party that dominated American political life from 1860 to 1900. Similarly, party loyalty and loyalty to the President always characterized his service. He was indeed, an exemplar of political and statesmanship. While research for this dissertation included review of both journal and monographic literature, its basis lies more critically in primary research in unpublished archival material in repositories from Maine to Ohio, in particular the Library of Congress.

Subject Area

Biographies|American history

Recommended Citation

Smith, Richard M, "The moderate voice of John Sherman and the Republican agenda 1855-1898" (2011). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3483251.