John Sherman, nicknamed "The Ohio Icicle" (May 10, 1823 – October 22, 1900), was a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Ohio during the Civil War and into the late nineteenth century. He served as both Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of State and was the principal author of the Sherman
Sherman was born in Lancaster, Ohio, to Mary Hoyt Sherman and Charles Robert Sherman, a justice in the Ohio Supreme Court. When he died in 1829, John's mother was left with eleven children to take care of. His brother, William, went to live with Maria and Thomas Ewing who were friends of the Shermans.
Sherman was educated at common schools as well as an academy in Ohio, but left early to work as an engineer on canal projects. He later began studying law and was admitted to the bar in 1844. He became partners with his brother the same year and practiced out of Mansfield, Ohio. He married Cecilia Margaret Stewart in 1848, the daughter of an Ohio judge.
After his marriage, Sherman took up an interest in politics. He was a delegate to the 1848 Whig National Convention which nominated General Zachary Taylor for the presidency and again to the 1852 Whig National Convention which nominated General Winfield Scott. In 1853, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio. In 1854, he was elected a Republican to the United States House of Representatives for Ohio's thirteenth district where he was the Republican candidate for Speaker in the long contest of 1859-60 and served as chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means from 1860 to 1861.
After Senator Salmon P. Chase resigned to become the Secretary of the Treasury, Sherman was elected to fill his seat. There, he served as chairman of the Committee on Agriculture from 1863 to 1867 and chairman of the Committee on Finance from 1863 to 1865 and again from 1867 to 1877. In 1877, newly elected President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Sherman Secretary of the Treasury. He served in the position through the entire Hayes administration, 1877 to 1881.
John Sherman in his office (c. 1897)
In 1880, he sought the Republican nomination for the presidency hoping to become a compromise candidate between Ulysses S. Grant and James G. Blaine, but lost it to his campaign manager James A. Garfield.
When his term as Treasury Secretary expired, Sherman was elected back to the Senate to fill the seat to which James A. Garfield was originally elected, Garfield having won election to the presidency that year. Sherman served as chairman of the Committee on the Library from 1881 to 1887, chairman of the Republican Conference from 1884 to 1885 and again from 1891 to 1897 and chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations from 1885 to 1893 and again from 1895 to 1897. He was also elected President pro tempore of the Senate from 1885 to 1887. Due to the death of Vice President Thomas A. Hendricks, Sherman was next in line for the presidency from December 1885 to January 1886. He ran for the presidency two more times, in 1884 and 1888, but again lost the bids, to James G. Blaine and Benjamin Harrison.
In 1890, Sherman wrote and introduced the Sherman Antitrust Act, the first United States Federal Government action to limit monopolies and thus the oldest of all antitrust laws in the United States. It was signed by President Benjamin Harrison that year.
In 1897, newly elected President William McKinley appointed Sherman Secretary of State. Selected more for his high standing inside the Republican Party than any diplomatic experience, Sherman proved to be ineffective in the position and in 1898, McKinley replaced Sherman with Assistant Secretary of State William R. Day.
Sherman retired from public life after resigning as Secretary of State. He died in Washington, D.C. after a lingering illness and was interred in Mansfield City Cemetery in Mansfield, Ohio, with his wife, Margaret.