General Sherman’s Son


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First published in 1959, this is Father Joseph T. Durkin’s scholarly biography of Father Thomas Ewing Sherman (1856-1933), an American lawyer, educator, and Catholic priest who became a popular public speaker during the latter half of the 19th century

Fr. Tom Sherman was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Union Army General William Tecumseh Sherman and his wife Ellen Ewing Sherman. During the American Civil War (1861-1865), Tom’s father rose to become the second highest ranking general in the United States Army. When his superior, Ulysses S. Grant, became President of the United States, William Tecumseh Sherman was appointed commanding general of the army.

Fr. Sherman attended the preparatory department of Georgetown College and graduated with a B.A. degree in 1874. He then entered Yale University’s Sheffield Scientific School as a graduate student in English literature. He received a law degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1878 and was admitted to the bar, but soon gave up the profession of the law in order to study for priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church. That same year he joined the Jesuit Order and studied for three years in Jesuit novitiates in London, England, and Frederick, Maryland. He was ordained as priest in 1889 and belonged to the Western Province of the Jesuit Order (headquarters in St. Louis). He taught for some years in Jesuit colleges, principally in St. Louis and Detroit.

He presided over General Sherman’s funeral Mass in 1891 and served as an army chaplain during the Spanish-American War of 1898. He was in demand as a public lecturer and frequently spoke against anti-Catholic prejudice in the United States.

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