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Random Thoughts

A man of many achievements, part 1


November 27, 2020

Few Americans have led lives as successful and interesting as Charles Dawes. During his lifetime, which spanned the years from 1865 to 1951, he accomplished many things in the fields of law, politics, business, government service, the military, and the arts.

Dawes was a member of a prominent family with a storied past in American history. One of his great-great grandfathers was William Dawes who, along with Paul Revere and Samuel Prescott, rode out of Boston one April night in 1775 to warn the farmers in the surrounding countryside that the British were coming!

Another great-great grandfather was a Puritan minister named Manasseh Cutler who served as a chaplain to American troops during the Revolutionary War, practiced medicine, and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts from 1801 to 1805.

By the time Charles was born, the family had lived in Ohio for several decades. His father, Rufus Dawes, and an uncle, Ephraim, had both served as officers in the American Civil War that ended just months before Charles’s birth.

Ephraim Dawes was a major who served under Ulysses Grant at the Battles of Shiloh and Vicksburg before being critically wounded while participating in William Sherman’s infamous “March to the Sea” through Georgia in 1864.

After the war ended, Ephraim distinguished himself in business by operating railroad and coal mining companies. He also wrote several books about the Civil War.

Meanwhile, Rufus Dawes was an officer who became a general just prior to the war’s end. He commanded a brigade at the Battle of Gettysburg and fought in several other major battles including Second Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.

After the war, Rufus also engaged in several business ventures including owning a lumber company. He practiced law, wrote a book about his Civil War exploits, and represented his southeastern Ohio district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1881 to 1883.

Like his distinguished relatives, Charles Dawes would achieve great things, too, as we will see next week in Part 2 of this article.


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