William Maxwell Evarts was born 6 February 1818 in Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States to Jeremiah Evarts (1781-1831) and Mehitabel Sherman (1774-1851) and died 28 February 1901 in New York City, New York, United States of unspecified causes. He married Helen Minerva Wardner (1820-1903) 1843 . Notable ancestors include Henry II of England (1133-1189), William I of England (1027-1087), Charlemagne (747-814), Hugh Capet (c940-996), Alfred the Great (849-899). Ancestors are from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Spain, Belgium, England, Portugal, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, the United States, Turkey, the Byzantine Empire, Sweden, Hungary, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Canaan.

William Maxwell Evarts (February 6, 1818 – February 28, 1901) was an American lawyer and statesman who served as U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Senator from New York. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Jeremiah Evarts, an author, editor, and Indian removal opponent; and the grandson of Declaration of Independence signer Roger Sherman.

  • 27th U.S. Secretary of State (1877-1881 / Rutherford B Hayes Administration)
  • 29th U.S. Attorney General (1868-1869 / Andrew Johnson Administration)
  • U.S. Senator for New York (1885-1891)


Evarts attended Boston Latin School, graduated from Yale College in 1837, and attended Harvard Law School. While at Yale he became a member of the Linonian Society and the secret society Skull and Bones. Later in life spoke out against such societies, including at the 1873 Yale commencement alumni meeting, claiming they bred snobbishness.

Evarts was admitted to the bar in New York in 1841. One of his first cases involved the trial of the infamous forger Monroe Edwards. Evarts served as a junior counsel for the defense, which was headed by Senator John J. Crittenden of Kentucky. Edwards was convicted, but Evarts' handling of his duties earned him notice as a promising lawyer.

He was chief counsel for President Andrew Johnson (1808-1875) during his impeachment trial. Afterward Evarts was appointed Attorney General following the Senate's refusal to reconfirm Henry Stanbery to the office, from which Stanbery had resigned in order to participate in Johnson's defense. Evarts served as United States Attorney General from July 1868 until March 1869.[5]

In 1872 he was counsel for the United States before the tribunal of arbitration on the Alabama claims in Geneva, Switzerland. Evarts was a founding member of the New York City Bar Association. He served as its first president from 1870 to 1879, the longest tenure of any president.

Evarts served as counsel for President-elect Rutherford B. Hayes before the Electoral Commission that resolved the disputed presidential election of 1876. During President Hayes' administration, he was Secretary of State. He was a delegate to the International Monetary Conference at Paris 1881.

Evarts gained the support of state legislators in 1884 for US Senator from New York, and from 1885 to 1891 he served one term. While in Congress (49th, 50th and 51st Congresses), he served as chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Library from 1887 to 1891. He was also a sponsor of the Judiciary Act of 1891 also known as the Evarts Act, which created the United States courts of appeals.[6] As an orator, Senator Evarts stood in the foremost rank, and some of his best speeches were published.

Marriage & Family

He married Helen Minerva Wardner (1820-1903) in 1843. She was the daughter of Allen Wardner, a prominent businessman and banker who served as Vermont State Treasurer. They had 12 children between 1845 and 1862, all born in New York City.

  1. Charles Butler Evarts (1845-1891)
  2. Roger Sherman Evarts (1847-1849)
  3. Allen Wardner Evarts (1848-1920) - graduated from Yale College in 1869. He supported the founding of Wolf's Head Society, and was first president of its alumni association. He held the position for a total of 20 years over two separate terms. He was a law partner, corporate president, and trustee of Vassar College.
  4. William Evarts (1851-1878)
  5. Hattie Sherman Evarts (1852-1917)
  6. Mary Evarts (1854-)
  7. Helen Minerva Evarts (1856-)
  8. Elizabeth Hoar Evarts (1858-1940) - mother of Maxwell Evarts Perkins (1884-1947) who became the noted editor of Charles Scribner's Sons, and dealt with authors F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and James Jones.
  9. Prescott Evarts (1859-)
  10. Sherman Evarts (1859-)
  11. Louisa Wardner Evarts (1861-1892)
  12. Maxwell Evarts (1862-1913) - graduated from Yale College in 1884, where he was also a member of Skull and Bones. He served as a New York City district attorney, and later as General Counsel for E. H. Harriman, which later became the Union Pacific Railroad. He was president of two Windsor, Vermont, banks, and the chief financial backer of the Gridley Automatic Lathe (manufactured by the Windsor Machine Co.). In politics, Maxwell served as a member of the Vermont House of Representatives and was a Vermont State Fair Commissioner.


Offspring of William Maxwell Evarts and Helen Minerva Wardner (1820-1903)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Charles Butler Evarts (1845-1891)
Roger Sherman Evarts (1847-1849)
Allen Wardner Evarts (1848-1920) 10 December 1848 New York City, New York 30 May 1939 New York City, New York
William Evarts (1851-1878)
Hattie Sherman Evarts (1852-1917)
Mary Evarts (1854-)
Helen Minerva Evarts (1856-)
Elizabeth Hoar Evarts (1858-1940) 4 January 1858 New York, United States 19 October 1940 Windsor, Windsor County, Vermont, United States Edward Clifford Perkins (1858-1902)

Prescott Evarts (1859-)
Sherman Evarts (1859-)
Louisa Wardner Evarts (1861-1892)
Maxwell Evarts (1862-1913) 15 November 1862 New York City, New York 7 October 1913 Windsor, Windsor County, Vermont Margaret Allen Stetson (1867-)


Offspring of Jeremiah Evarts AKA: William Penn and Mehitabel Sherman (1774-1851)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Mary Evarts (1806-1850) 2 December 1806 New Haven County, New Haven County, Connecticut 25 October 1850 Westborough, Worcester County, Massachusetts David Greene (1797-1866)

Martha Sherman Evarts (1809-1889) 31 July 1809 New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut 10 April 1889 Plainsfield, Union County, New Jersey Ebenezer Carter Tracy (1796-1862)

John Jay Evarts (1812-1833) 6 December 1812 Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts 1 September 1833 New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut
Sarah Evarts (1815-1826) 26 February 1815 Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts 23 April 1825 New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut
William Maxwell Evarts (1818-1901) 6 February 1818 Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States 28 February 1901 New York City, New York, United States Helen Minerva Wardner (1820-1903)

Famous Descendants

  • See also Roger Sherman (1721-1793)/Immigrant Ancestors
  • Famous Cousins - Ebenezer R. Hoar, a first cousin of Evarts, was a U.S. Attorney General, Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and representative in Congress. The two were best friends, and shared similar professional pursuits and political beliefs. Each served, in succession, as United States Attorney General. Some of Evarts' other first cousins include U.S. Senator and Governor of Connecticut Roger Sherman Baldwin; U.S. Senator from Massachusetts (brother of Ebenezer R.) George F. Hoar; and Sherman Day, California state senator and founding trustee of the University of California.
  • Great-grandson Archibald Cox (1912-2004) served as a U.S. Solicitor General and special prosecutor during President Richard Nixon's Watergate scandal, whereas Evarts defended a U.S. President (Andrew Johnson) in his impeachment trial. In a sense, they both successfully argued their cases, which represent two of the three U.S. Presidential impeachment efforts. An impeachment trial was not held in Nixon's case: Nixon resigned before the House of Representatives acted on the House Judiciary Committee's recommendation that Nixon be impeached.



Footnotes (including sources)



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