Stanton,Edwin Mcmasters, an American statesman, born in Steubenville, Ohio, Dec. 19, 1814, died in Washington, I). C, Dec. 24, 1869. He-was a student in Kenyon college from 1831 to 1833, was admitted to the bar in 1836, began practice in Cadiz, Harrison co., Ohio, and soon afterward was elected prosecuting attorney for the county. After acquiring a large circuit practice he removed to Steubenville. From 1842 to 1845 he was reporter of the decisions of the supreme court of the state, and prepared vols, xi., xii., and xiii. of the Ohio reports. In 1845 he successfully defended Caleb J. McNulty, clerk of the house of representatives, tried in the criminal court of Washington for embezzlement. In 1847 he removed to Pittsburgh, Pa., but for nine years afterward retained also an office in Steubenville. His first appearance before the supreme court of the United States was as counsel for Pennsylvania in the case of the state against the Wheeling and Belmont bridge company, and thereafter his practice in that court increased so much that in 1856 he removed to Washington. In 1858 he.went to California as counsel for the government in certain land cases, and his services were specially important in the examination of Spanish and Mexican archives in their bearing upon titles.
He was also engaged in several leading patent cases. In 1859 he was one of the counsel for Daniel E. Sickles, tried for the murder of Philip Barton Key. In December, 1860, he was nominated attorney general of the United States, and served to the close of President Buchanan's administration, when he resumed the practice of his profession. In January, 1862, he was appointed secretary of war. His labors in this department were indefatigable, and many of the most important and successful movements of the war were originated by him. He continued as secretary after the succession of Andrew Johnson; but his support of congressional measures which were vetoed and repassed, and his opposition to Johnson's plan of reconstruction, led the president (from whom the power of removal had been taken by the tenure of office act), on Aug. 5, 1867, to request his resignation, He refused to resign, but on Aug. 12 he gave way under protest to Gen. Grant as secretary ad interim. On Jan. 13, 1868, the senate reinstated him. On Feb. 21 the president appointed Gen. Lorenzo Thomas secretary of war ad interim, and Mr. Stanton refusing to vacate, the impeachment of the president followed. (See John-sox, Andrew.) Upon the president's acquittal, May 26, Mr. Stanton resigned.
The senate in confirming his successor adopted a resolution that Mr. Stanton was not legally removed, but relinquished his office; and subsequently congress passed a vote of thanks to him for the great ability, purity, and fidelity with which he had discharged his duties. Although his health was much shattered by his arduous labors in the war department, his circumstances compelled him to resume the practice of the law, and he argued several important cases. On Dec. 20, 1869, he was nominated by President Grant as an associate justice of the supreme court of the United States, and was immediately confirmed by the senate; but he died after a brief illness from dropsy, before his commission was made out.