Upon completing his studies, he was admitted to the bar in 1880. He practiced law in the firm, Cookingham & Martin. Meanwhile, Sherman joined a number of organizations including Royal Arcanum and Order of the Elks and served as the president of Utica Trust & Deposit Co. and the New Hartford Canning Co.
It was during his early years in law that Sherman formed his own political thinking. As such, he broke ties with the Democrats to support Republicans. At the age of 29, Sherman became a mayor of Utica.
In 1886, he was elected as U.S. Representative from New York's 23rd congressional district. He served in the national public office all through his life, excepting the re-election of 1890, during which Republican Party stood divided over William McKinley’s protective tariff. However, he resumed office in 1892, defeating Democratic candidate, Henry Bentley.
During his early political days, Sherman neither held a party leadership post nor served as a chairman of a major committee. In turn, he served on a number of committees including Judiciary, Census, Industrial Arts and Expositions, Interstate and Foreign Commerce, and Indian Affairs Committee.
Sherman’s neutrality and non-involvement in other committees earned him the chairmanship of the Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union. The committee was basically aimed at hastily moving on legislature and passing the bills by suspending certain rules. Sherman’s strong character, upright decisiveness and balanced temperament made him fit for the post. In 1895, he chaired the Republican State convention.
Under McKinley’s administration, Sherman strongly fought to preserve the Gold standard against ‘free silver’. He even fought against Democratic President Grover Cleveland's efforts to lower the tariff.
In 1900, Sherman made an unsuccessful attempt for the chair of the Speaker losing to David Henderson. However, he became the right-hand of Henderson in the latter’s years in office and continued enjoying the privilege under Henderson’s successor, ‘Uncle Joe’ Cannon. For a second time, he chaired the Republican state convention.
Following McKinley’s assassination and Roosevelt’s emergence to prominence, the party shifted towards progression, demanding change. Sherman, however, remained a Old-guard conservative, and resisted the national reform movement.
In 1906, during the congressional elections, he chaired the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. In the profile, he successfully raised a huge amount of monetary contributions from business interests for the campaigns, thus gaining recognition.
Continue Reading Below
In 1908, for the third time, Sherman chaired the Republican state convention. Meanwhile, when Roosevelt stepped down from running for a third term as the President and appointed William Howard Taft as his successor, opportunity arose for Sherman to take up the office of the Vice President. Lack of interest from rival candidate Charles Evans Hughes led him to be nominated as the Republican candidate under William Howard Taft ticket.
Sherman’s appointment as the Vice Presidential candidate came in as he appeared to be the most conventional Old-guard chieftain in the House. Furthermore, since he was an easterner, it gave a sense of balance to Taft’s profile, who was a westerner with progressive thinking.
The Republicans won the 1908 elections with a comfortable margin. On March 4, 1909, Sherman took up the office of the Vice President of United States. At a time when William Taft came to power, the Republican Party was divided over progressivism against conservatism. While Taft was a downright progressive leader, Sherman belonged to the Old-guard conservatives. The major problem that arose was keeping together the two factions of the Republican Party together.
During the initials days after the Republican Party victory, Sherman and Taft were at odds with each other, given the opposing ideals. Right from the tariff policy to the role of the Vice President, they did not reconcile over anything. However, with time, Taft’s progressivism paved way to give about space to conservatism, which bettered his relation with Sherman.
Taft credited Sherman’s Capitol Hill accomplishments to the latter’s personal integrity, charming mannerism, spirited sense of conciliation but with a pig-headed sense of principles. Furthermore, Sherman was appraised for his fair judgment, calm disposition, defined dignity and good humour.
Following the Ballinger-Pinchot controversy, the Republican Party stood divided between Taft and Sherman against ex-President Roosevelt, as the latter supported his friend Pinchot against Taft’s secretary of Interior, Ballinger. Sherman however backed Taft’s decision.
In the aftermath of Charles Evan Hughes resignation from the post of Supreme Court justice, a major warfare broke in the Republican Party amongst conservatives and progressives. Sherman was appointed as a contender for the seat of the temporary chairman of the state convention against Roosevelt. Though Sherman gained support of President Taft and party’s Old guard, it wasn’t enough against Roosevelt’s popularity. As such, he lost to Roosevelt.
In the 1912 Presidential elections, Taft and Sherman campaigned on the same ticket against Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party. At the time of the campaign, Sherman became the second sitting Vice President after John C. Calhoun to be re-nominated. However, his re-nomination came in at a time of failing health condition. He breathed his last just days before the election.