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SHERWOOD, LORENZO

SHERWOOD, LORENZO (1810–1889). Lorenzo Sherwood, legislator, lawyer, abolitionist, and political nonconformist, the son of Lemuel Sherwood, was born in New York state in 1810 and graduated from college at Bennington, Vermont. After graduation he served as principal of the local academy, studied law, and moved to Madison County, New York, where he edited a paper at Hamilton and became a partner in a law firm. In 1843 he was elected to the New York state legislature, where he joined the radical Democratic faction, became an associate of Michael Hoffman of Herkhimer, and fought against canal and railroad promotional schemes. He advocated state credit for railroad building and, as a member of the Executive Committee of the State Constitutional Association, helped to introduce the public to the reforms of the 1840 constitution. Sherwood, his wife Caroline, and his son moved to Galveston, Texas, in 1846. There he established a legal practice, developed a clientele among Galveston's important shippers, and was elected a member of the Texas legislature. He soon earned the enmity of several powerful Texans, however, by serving clients with grievances against combines promoting railroads. Critical of the evolving corporate system, Sherwood originated the state plan for railroad development in the early 1850s, and in 1855 wrote a series of articles on the question of internal improvements for DeBow's Review, including a defense of state-owned transportation. He also proposed that corporate property should accept liability for the acts of its agents, and that stockholder liability should extend to once or twice the amount of an individual's stock. An opponent of Robert Mills and Samuel May Williams, he received support from Hamilton Stuart's Galveston Civilian. Sherwood opposed slavery and argued that Congress had the right to decide the slavery question in the territories. Maligned by opponents for his views, including support for free-soil doctrines and federal government supremacy, he was driven from the legislature in 1856, labelled anti-southern, threatened with death should he chose to speak, and kept from serving as a delegate to the Secession Convention. In an effort to support the development of the Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad, he went north in 1861 to purchase railroad materials to help Texans build a cost-effective system; to his chagrin the supplies were used for the Confederacy. He apparently did not return to Texas after 1861, but during the Civil War allied himself with a prounion, antislave trade group made up largely of Germans living on the Gulf Coast. Sherwood eventually settled in Hoosick, New York, near the Vermont line. In the Peterhoff case of 1866, he argued before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of Liverpool merchants shipping cargo deemed partly contraband during the blockade and won, thereby setting a precedent regarding contraband shipping. After the war he attended the Convention of Southern Unionists in Philadelphia and served as president of the Cheap Freight Railroad League. Sherwood died on May 12, 1889, in Brooklyn, New York.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Herbert W. Briggs, The Law of Nations (New York: Crofts, 1946). Earl Wesley Fornell, The Galveston Era: The Texas Crescent on the Eve of Secession (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1961). Carl H. Moneyhon, Republicanism in Reconstruction Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980). New York Times, May 13, 1869. Sherwood Collection, Rosenberg Library, Galveston.

Diana J. Kleiner

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Diana J. Kleiner, "SHERWOOD, LORENZO," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsh58), accessed April 16, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.