Georcre Sewall Bodtwell, an American statesman, born in Brookline, Mass, Jan. 28, 1818. He is the son of a farmer, and received a common school education, which he supplemented by a course of reading and self-instruction, continued far into manhood. In 1835 he became a merchant's clerk in Groton, Mass., and subsequently was made a partner in the business. At 18 years of age he began the study of law, which he pursued chiefly by night, and of which he acquired a considerable knowledge, although he never became a practitioner. In 1840 he entered political life as an advocate of the election of Van Buren to the presidency, and between 1842 and 1851 he was seven times elected as a democratic member from Groton of the Massachusetts house of representatives, where he developed ability as a debater, and was recognized as a leader of his party. In 1844, 1846, and 1848 he was the democratic candidate of his district for member of congress, but failed in each instance of an election; and in 1849 and 1850 he was nominated by the same party for governor of the commonwealth. In 1849-'50 he was state bank commissioner. In 1851, by a coalition of democrats and freesoilers, he was elected governor, and in the succeeding year was again returned for the same office.
After the repeal of the Missouri compromise in 1854 he left the democratic party, and the next year helped organize the republican party, with which he has since acted. He was a delegate in 1860 to the republican convention at Chicago, which nominated Lincoln for the presidency, and a member of the peace conference which assembled in Washington in February, 1861. In 1862, at the invitation of President Lincoln, he organized the new department of internal revenue, and was its first commissioner till March 4,1863, when he became a member of congress, and was twice reelected to that office. In 1868 he was one of the managers in the impeachment trial of President Johnson. He was secretary of the treasury from March, 1869, to March, 1873, when he was elected United States senator from Massachusetts. He has opposed any considerable diminution of national taxation, and advocated a large annual reduction of the public debt. In 1870 congress at his recommendation passed an act providing for the funding of the national debt, by the terms of which the secretary of the treasury was authorized to sell certain bonds under certain plainly expressed conditions, but not to increase the debt.
He attempted to effect this object through the instrumentality of a " syndicate," but in funding the new loan expended more than one half of one per cent., which was alleged to be in defiance of the law. The committee of ways and means of the house of representatives subsequently absolved Mr. Bout-well from this charge. He has been an overseer of Harvard college, was for five years secretary of the Massachusetts state board of education, in which capacity he prepared elaborate annual reports, and was a leading member of the Massachusetts constitutional convention of 1853. He is the author of " Educational Topics and Institutions," a "Manual of the United States Direct and Revenue Tax " (1863), and a volume of "Speeches and Papers" (1869).