Born near Hollisterville, Pennsylvania, Steward attended the common schools. In 1838 moved with his parents to Kendall County, Illinois. He studied law. He was admitted to the bar about 1860 but never practiced. He engaged in agricultural pursuits and became an extensive landowner. He also engaged in the manufacture of harvesters, mowers, and binders at Plano and later at West Pullman. He was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Governor of Illinois in 1876.
Steward was elected as a Democrat to the Fifty-second Congress (March 4, 1891-March 3, 1893). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1892 to the Fifty-third Congress and for election in 1894 to the Fifty-fourth Congress. He resumed his former manufacturing activities. He was also interested in agricultural pursuits. He died in Plano, Illinois, August 27, 1896. He was interred in Plano Cemetery.
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