Merton E. Lewis

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Merton E. Lewis (1902)

Merton Elmer Lewis (December 10, 1861 – May 2, 1937) was an American lawyer and politician.


He was born on December 10, 1861, in Webster, Monroe County, New York, the son of Charles Chadwick Lewis (b. 1826) and Rhoda Ann (Willard) Lewis. He graduated from Webster Union School, then studied law with James B. Perkins at Rochester. He was admitted to the bar in 1887, and commenced practice in Rochester. On January 2, 1886, he married Adeline Louise Moody (1866-1894).

He was delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention of 1894. He was an alderman of Rochester from 1891 on, and as President of the Common Council since 1894 became Acting Mayor of Rochester after the resignation of George W. Aldridge in 1895.

He was a member of the New York State Assembly (Monroe Co., 1st D.) in 1897, 1899, 1900 and 1901; and of the New York State Senate (43rd D.) from 1902 to 1906, sitting in the 125th, 126th, 127th, 128th and 129th New York State Legislatures.

At the New York state election, 1906, he ran for New York State Comptroller, but except for Governor Charles Evans Hughes, the whole Republican ticket was narrowly defeated by the ticket nominated by the Democratic Party and the Independence League.

In January 1915, he was appointed as First Deputy by Attorney General Egburt E. Woodbury. Woodbury resigned on April 19, 1917, and six days later Lewis was elected New York Attorney General by joint ballot of the New York State Legislature (vote: Lewis 173, Morris Hillquit 2), and at the New York state election, 1917, he was elected to remain in office until the end of 1918.

At the 1918, he declined to run for re-election, and ran in the Republican primary for governor instead. In August 1918, he urged the Republican voters to repudiate his opponent, the incumbent Governor Charles S. Whitman, because Whitman was backed by William Randolph Hearst whom he accused of having undermined the United States war effort against Germany. Whitman was re-nominated, but was defeated in the election by Al Smith.

He died on May 2, 1937, in Rochester, New York.


  • Descendants of Benjamin Waite at Lewis ancestry, at Earthlink
  • Biographies of Monroe County People. at Bio from Rochester and the Post Express - A history of the City of Rochester from the earliest times; the pioneers and their predecessors, frontier life in the Genesee country, biographical sketches; with a record of the Post Express compiled by John Devoy (1895, page 196), at Rootsweb
  • Biographies of Monroe County People. at Bio from Landmarks of Monroe County, NY by William F. Peck (1895, Part III, p. 153)
  • [1] The Rep. ticket, in NYT on September 27, 1906
  • [2] His appointment as First Deputy, in NYT on December 19, 1914
  • [3] Woodbury's resignation, in NYT on April 20, 1917
  • M. E. LEWIS IS ELECTED in NYT on April 26, 1917
  • [4] Merton Lewis declined renomination, in NYT on May 7, 1918
  • [5] His candidacy announced, in NYT on May 13, 1918
  • [6] His urge against Whitman, in NYT on August 13, 1918
Political offices
Preceded by
George W. Aldridge
Mayor of Rochester, NY
Succeeded by
George E. Warner
New York Assembly
Preceded by
Charles J. Smith
New York State Assembly
Monroe County, 1st District

Succeeded by
James B. Perkins
Preceded by
James B. Perkins
New York State Assembly
Monroe County, 1st District

Succeeded by
Martin Davis
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Cornelius R. Parsons
New York State Senate
43rd District

Succeeded by
William J. Tully
Legal offices
Preceded by
Egburt E. Woodbury
New York Attorney General
Succeeded by
Charles D. Newton