John Sherman

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Sherman, John,

1823–1900, American statesman, b. Lancaster, Ohio; brother of William Tecumseh Sherman. He studied law, was admitted (1844) to the bar, and practiced law several years in Mansfield, Ohio, before he moved (1853) to Cleveland. He had been a delegate to the Whig national conventions of 1848 and 1852 and in 1855 presided over the first Republican state convention. A moderate opponent of slavery expansion, he served (1855–61) in the House of Representatives and quickly rose to prominence. Sent (1861) to the Senate to fill a vacancy, he served there until 1877. Sherman became (1867) chairman of the Senate finance committee and played a leading role in government finance in the Reconstruction period. He had supported the Legal Tender Act of 1862 and the National Banking Act of 1863, but he opposed Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch's plan to retire the greenbacksgreenback,
in U.S. history, legal tender notes unsecured by specie (coin). In 1862, under the exigencies of the Civil War, the U.S. government first issued legal tender notes (popularly called greenbacks) that were placed on a par with notes backed by specie.
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 in circulation and pushed a compromise plan for resuming specie payment. Later, however, he forced the Resumption Act of 1875 through the Senate, and as Secretary of the Treasury (1877–81) under President Hayes, he directed the implementation of the act. In 1880, 1884, and 1888 he was considered as a candidate for the Republican nomination for President. Again in the Senate (1881–97), he was associated in 1890 with the passage of the Sherman Antitrust ActSherman Antitrust Act,
1890, first measure passed by the U.S. Congress to prohibit trusts; it was named for Senator John Sherman. Prior to its enactment, various states had passed similar laws, but they were limited to intrastate businesses.
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 and the Sherman Silver Purchase ActSherman Silver Purchase Act,
1890, passed by the U.S. Congress to supplant the Bland-Allison Act of 1878. It not only required the U.S. government to purchase nearly twice as much silver as before, but also added substantially to the amount of money already in circulation.
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. In 1897 he resigned from the Senate to provide a seat for Marcus A. Hanna and was appointed Secretary of State by President McKinley. He retired to private life in 1898. He wrote Recollections of Forty Years in the House, Senate, and Cabinet (1895).


See The Sherman Letters (ed. by R. S. Thorndike, 1894); biography by T. E. Burton (1906, repr. 1972).

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Sherman, John

(1823–1900) U.S. senator, cabinet officer; born in Lancaster, Ohio (brother of William T. Sherman). A lawyer who became active in the new Republican Party, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives (Rep., Ohio; 1855–61) and the U.S. Senate (1861–77). During these years in the Senate, he concentrated on financial affairs and played a major role in restoring national credit. President Hayes then appointed him secretary of the treasury (1877–81) and he superintended the U.S.'s return to the gold standard. He went back to the U.S. Senate (Rep., Ohio; 1881–97) and made his impact with the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Silver Purchase Act (both in 1890). President McKinley named him secretary of state in 1897 but he resigned a year later to protest the administration's decision to go to war with Spain.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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