On July 1, 1817, Jewett was born in Deer Creek, Maryland. As a child, his parents enrolled Jewett in the Hopewell Academy, a preparatory school in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Upon completing the Hopewell Academy’s coursework, Jewett moved to Elkton, Maryland, where he studied to become an attorney.
During the American Civil War, Hugh Jewett ran for Ohio’s governor’s office and a United States Senate seat as a member of the War Democratic Party.
On July 1, 1817, Jewett was born in Deer Creek, Maryland. As a child, his parents enrolled Jewett in the Hopewell Academy, a preparatory school in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Upon completing the Hopewell Academy’s coursework, Jewett moved to Elkton, Maryland, where he studied to become an attorney. Jewett successfully passed the Maryland bar exam in 1838, at just twenty-one years of age.
Upon becoming an attorney, Jewett opened his own legal office in St. Clairsville, Ohio. His practice quickly succeeded, and Jewett soon moved his office to Columbus, Ohio, the state capitol, and in 1848, to Zanesville, Ohio. Upon arriving in Zanesville, Jewett embarked upon numerous other financial and political ventures.
In 1852, Jewett became the president of the Zanesville branch of the State Bank of Ohio. In 1854, he accepted an appointment as an United States attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. He also became the president of the Central Ohio Railroad Company in 1857, and he would help develop the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railroad Company and the Pennsylvania Railroad Company in subsequent years.
Politically, Jewett won election to the Ohio Senate in 1853 and to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1855. A devout member of the Democratic Party, Jewett quickly advanced through this party’s ranks, becoming a well-respected leader.
In 1861, the Democratic Party in the North split into three separate groups. First were the Peace Democrats. These Democrats strongly opposed the Civil War and called for an immediate termination of the hostilities even if this meant an end to the United States of America. Democrats who favored the war either became War Democrats or joined a new party—the Union Party. The War Democrats supported the Northern war effort to reunite the nation, while Democrats in the Union Party concurred but took a more active role in assisting Republicans in securing victory. The divided Democratic Party struggled during the war years. The War Democrats prevailed in having the party select one of their own—Jewett—as the Democratic Party’s candidate for the Ohio governor’s seat in 1861. Unfortunately for the Democrats, the Union Party candidate, David Tod, a former member of the Democratic Party, won the election by approximately fifty thousand votes. Despite the political loss, Jewett continued to serve Ohio. During August and September 1862, as rumors circulated that Confederate forces were marching on Cincinnati, Ohio, Jewett actively petitioned the state and federal governments for military assistance to defend the city.
In 1863, Ohio’s Democrats again contemplated nominating Jewett for the governor’s seat, but in the end, party leaders chose Clement Vallandigham, Ohio’s leading Peace Democrat. Undaunted, Jewett unsuccessfully ran for one of Ohio’s United States Senate seats that same year. Jewett returned to his legal practice until 1867, when he won election to the first of two consecutive terms in the Ohio House of Representatives. In 1872, Jewett won election to the United States House of Representatives, serving in this body from March 4, 1873 to June 23, 1874. Upon leaving the House, Jewett became the president of the Erie Railroad Company. Later in life, Jewett moved to New York City. He died while visiting Augusta, Georgia on March 6, 1898. He was buried in Zanesville, Ohio's Woodlawn Cemetery.