|Thomas Ewing Jr.|
(Library of Congress)
By Nicole Etcheson
The New York Times, August 23, 2013
"Thomas Ewing Jr. was a conscientious man. Though never as flamboyant as his foster brother, William Tecumseh Sherman, Ewing was ambitious for political fame and fortune, as befitted the son of one of Ohio's leading Whig politicians. His father had served both in the United States Senate and in the cabinets of Presidents William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor. Thomas Ewing Jr., or Tom, was his father's personal secretary when the elder Ewing ran Taylor's Department of the Interior. Tom Ewing graduated from Brown University and became a lawyer. He migrated to Kansas Territory and settled in Leavenworth, where he practiced law, speculated in land and railroads, and engaged in free-state politics. Kenneth J. Heineman, a biographer of the Ewing family, believes Tom wanted to re-create in Kansas his father's rise to wealth and power a generation earlier on the Ohio frontier. But drought and political instability in Kansas rendered Ewing's land speculations unprofitable, leaving him in debt and reliant on income from his law practice when the secession crisis came. ... Tom became colonel of the 11th Kansas Infantry, which stayed in the Midwest. Early on, Tom had not seen the Missourians as a threat to Kansas, and doubted that they would disturb 'the Kansas Hornets nest.' Considering the Missourians 'devils, but also cowards,' he was actually more worried about the destabilizing incursions of Kansas Jayhawkers into Missouri. ... Along the border, Kansans and Missourians had persisted in the animosities of the pre-war period. Kansas Jayhawkers, under leaders like the fiery James H. Lane, who had received one of the Kansas senate seats, had been sent away from the border because of their depredations against Missourians. Yet increasingly, the problem was that of bushwhackers, pro-Confederate guerrillas, who attacked Union troops and targets inside Missouri, and occasionally raided across the border into Kansas.