KS History – Group D

blogs about KS history

Thomas Ewing Jr. September 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — tfern24 @ 2:03 pm

Thomas Ewing Jr.

(1829-1896)

Thomas Ewing Jr. was a man with a basis of knowledge in law, which was in the history of his family’s profession.  He had many experiences that made him good at what he did. He fulfilled many positions in his lifetime, with one of them especially contributing to the Civil War and the Border protection between Missouri and Kansas. Thomas Ewing Jr. was a private secretary of President Zachary Taylor before coming to Kansas. Starting out in Ohio first; he then came to Kansas in 1856. Ewing had his own law firm when he came to Kansas which included his brothers. An important part of Ewing’s life was being appointed Kansas’ first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Ewing’s political stance was Democratic).

Ewing became a part of the Kansas realm especially when he was recruited into the 11th Kansas infantry regiment. He then was colonel Ewing, but later in March 1863 he became brigadier general of volunteers. He contributed to a lot of events during the Kansas Missouri border wars and Civil War because his position was to command the District of the Border. General Ewing is known for issuing order No. 11, which ordered the clearing of all inhabitants in counties along the Kansas border.  This was in part to separate the Confederate Guerrillas from causing any more problems. An important moment in Ewing’s life was when he was given the title of Major General, for what he did at Pilot Knob, a former place of conflict and a place of confederate defeat.

At the end of the war, from 1864-1865 Ewing took up many positions in Missouri. First, he was put in the place of commander of the District of St. Louis and next he became commander of the District of Rolla as well. Finally in 1865 he returned to St. Louis as the commander, but was not there very long. Ewing never returned back to Kansas after the war and instead furthered his law practices in the D.C. area and then was a congressman in the House of Representatives.  He later moved to New York and died after a car accident.

Thomas Ewing Jr. had an interesting lifestyle because he resided in many places across the United States, and contributed to the many events. In Kansas history Ewing was especially important because of his discipline on the border. By issuing Order 11, he helped to protect Kansas from Confederate Guerrillas. This is important because it helped prevent more problems and resist further hurt on the Kansas side. Granted some of Ewing’s actions may be seen as causing more harm than good, it was unintentional. After the order of imprisonment on Missouri women, it wreaked havoc on Lawrence, because of the jail accident that put blame on Ewing for his order to put the women there in the first place. These are the instances where Ewing has a prominent appearance in Kansas.

-Tracy Fernandez

Information retrieved for this Biography:

From the Kansas State Historical Society: Thomas Ewing, Jr. Papers, 1856-1908

http://www.kshs.org/research/collections/documents/personalpapers/findingaids/ewing.htm#biography

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2 Responses to “Thomas Ewing Jr.”

  1. shells85 Says:

    Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there were real people that had to make choices and decisions, like Ewing did with the imprisonment of the women, and we just focus on what happened. Thank you for writing about the person behind the choices, I learned a lot from your post. Do you know if he wrote anything about his decision to imprison the women and if he felt responsible for the deaths?
    ~Shelley Stroh

  2. tfern24 Says:

    There are some specific papers written by Ewing and his family. I am not sure what all they entail but some are Law related and others are “private letter books,” which I am sure are available through the Kansas Historical Society, but not through the internet. I think it would be interesting if he did write something on the imprisonment of women and how he felt about it. Hope this helps! -Tracy Fernandez


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