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John Sherman Letters

An inventory of his letters at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Dec 1988

Biographical History

John Sherman (1823-1900) was an American statesman who served as U.S. Congressman (1855-61), U.S. Senator (1861-77, 1881-97), U.S. Secretary of the Treasury (1877-81), and U.S. Secretary of State (1897-98). He is best remembered for authoring the Sherman Antitrust Act aimed at limiting monopolies and cartels in the United States.

1823 Born in Lancaster, Ohio on May 10th
1844 Admitted to the bar in Ohio
1848 Married Margaret Sarah Stewart
Delegate to Whig Convention
1855-1861 U.S. Congressman representing Ohio
1861-1877 U.S. Senator representing Ohio
1877-1881 U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under President Rutherford Hayes
1880 Sought Republican Presidential nomination
1881-1897 U.S. Senator representing Ohio
1890 Sherman Antitrust Act
1897-1898 U.S. Secretary of State under President William McKinley
1900 Died in Washington, D.C. on October 22nd

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The John Sherman Letters are a collection of 64 outgoing items which reflect the statesman's public career as a U.S. Congressional Representative from Ohio (1855-1861), U.S. Senator (1861-1877, 1881-1897), U.S. Secretary of the Treasury (1877-1881), and U.S. Secretary of State (1897-1898).

The letters include discussions concerning Sherman's support for various pieces of legislation, his recommendations for governmental appointments, and miscellaneous issues raised by his constituents as well as other public officials. A number of letters are responses to invitations to appear at ceremonial functions. Responding to the receipt of Charles E. Lester's book, The Glory and Shame of England, Sherman writes (07 Feb 1869):

I have twice visited that country and could not but feel that we have here imported by our ancestors the best elements of England - her laws and liberal institutions - and have left behind in the old country the elements of her decay - her intolerance, oligarchy and unequal distribution of wealth.

The Sherman letters also contain discussions of some of the leading issues facing 19th century America: the national debt, the politics of Reconstruction, and the doctrine of manifest destiny. In the aftermath of bitterness following the Civil War, Sherman writes (19 Apr 1866):

I wish earnestly to prevent a break between Congress & the President for I see no occasion for it. There is real danger that the chill arising from the difference of opinion in the Civil rights & other bills may settle into downright enmity. Both united can control the politics of the country which each has proven enough to destroy our party. I do think the stubborn will of the President & the dogmatic ultraism of a few men in Congress will break us up. Perhaps in standing between I may lose the good opinion of both but at least I will do what is right.

And regarding the doctrine of manifest destiny, Sherman states (08 Dec 1890):

...I am against the acquisition of any more territory except Canada whenever it is ready to fall into our lap.

A forty-year veteran of public life in the nation's capital, Sherman was not above this display of partisanship in a letter to Ernest Ackerman (Feb 1894):

You will perceive that the McKinley bill largely reduced the amount of taxes while the revenues from imported goods steadily increased until the election of the Democratic President, when the panic commenced.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection contains one series, Correspondence, which is arranged chronologically. A Selected index to correspondence is located at the end of the finding aid.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Bok, Edward William, 1863-1930.
Burlingame, Anson, 1820-1870.
Campbell, Lewis D. (Lewis Davis), 1811-1882.
Clapp, A. M. (Almon M.)
Cowdin, Elliot C. (Elliot Christopher), 1819-1880.
Dalzell, James McCormick, 1838-1924.
Fish, Hamilton, 1808-1893.
Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885.
Greenough, Charles P. (Charles Pelham), 1844-1924.
Hodnett, John Pope.
Hoyt, Charles Hale, 1859-1910.
Hurst, J. F. (John Fletcher), 1834-1903.
Leggett, Mortimer Dormer, 1821-1896.
Lester, C. Edwards (Charles Edwards), 1815-1890.
Metcalf, Lorettus Sutton, 1837-1920.
Pinchback, Pinckney Benton Stewart, 1837-1921.
Ramsdell, George A. (George Allen), 1834-1900.
Rhodes, James Ford, 1848-1927.
Rives, John C. (John Cook), 1795-1864.
Sherman, John, 1823-1900.
Stoddard, William O., 1835-1925.
Ward, William Hayes, 1835-1916.
Washburne, E. B. (Elihu Benjamin), 1816-1887.
Wilson, James Grant, 1832-1914.

Corporate Bodies

Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- )


Politicians -- United States.
United States -- History -- 1865-1898.
United States -- Officials and employees -- Selection and appointment.
United States -- Politics and government -- 19th century.

Genres and Forms




Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

John Sherman Letters,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents


Selected index to correspondence


Selected index to correspondence