Hugh Jewett was a prominent attorney, politician and business leader in nineteenth century Ohio.
Hugh Jewett was born on July 1, 1817, at Deer Creek, Maryland. He attended the Hopewell Academy in Pennsylvania and then studied law with a private attorney. Jewett was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1838.
Jewett opened a legal practice in St. Clairsville, Ohio. He then moved his practice to Columbus, Ohio, and finally to Zanesville, Ohio, in 1848. It was in Zanesville where Jewett diversified his business interests. He helped establish numerous railroad ventures, including the Central Ohio Railroad Company, the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railroad Company, and the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Jewett also served as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio beginning in 1854.
Jewett also had a lengthy political career. Zanesville voters elected him to the Ohio Senate in 1853 and then to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1855. He became well known within the state for his insightful mind and his devotion to the Democratic Party. In 1861, the Democratic Party chose Jewett as its candidate for governor. During the American Civil War, many Democrats who favored the war effort joined with Republicans to establish the Union Party. The remaining Democrats often wanted an immediate end to the fighting. Because of their opposition to the Civil War, they were called Peace Democrats.
Jewett was a War Democrat and supported the Union's war against the Confederacy. By nominating Jewett, Democrats hoped to sway some of their former party members now with the Unionists back into the fold. Jewett lost the election by nearly fifty thousand votes to Unionist candidate David Tod, a former War Democrat. The Democratic Party considered Jewett again as a candidate for governor in 1863. But in the end, the party membership chose Clement Vallandigham, a leading Ohio Peace Democrat.
Following the Civil War, Jewett remained active in politics. He served in the Ohio House of Representatives in 1868 and 1869. In 1872, Ohio voters elected Jewett to the United States House of Representatives. He held this seat for two years and then became president of the Erie Railroad Company. Hugh Jewett later moved to New York. He died on March 6, 1898, and was buried in Zanesville.
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