He attended the common schools and graduated from Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois in 1846. He taught school in Mobile, Alabama, graduated from the law department of Harvard University, was admitted to the bar, and began practicing law.
In 1860, Lewis was a delegate to the Republican National Convention. He enlisted in the Union Army on August 1, 1861 and served as captain of Company G, First Missouri Volunteers. He was appointed by the military authorities as judge of the civil commission court at Memphis, Tennessee in 1863.
He was discharged from the service on November 15, 1864.
He was president of the commissioners of Shelby County, Tennessee from 1867 to 1869. Lewis was elected as a Republican to the 43rd Congress, and he served from March 4, 1873 to March 3, 1875.
He was an unsuccessful candidate for re-election in 1874 to the 44th Congress. He resumed the practice of law in Memphis and moved to Saint Louis, Missouri in 1878.
He was appointed to the United States land office in Salt Lake City, Utah, and he resigned in 1879.
After Lewis moved to Whitman County, Territory of Washington, he engaged in agricultural pursuits and stock raising. Lewis died in Colfax, Washington, on July 15, 1893 (age 75 years, 191 days). He is interred at Colfax Cemetery.
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