Son of an early colonial assemblyman, James Ewing was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, August 3, 1736, the son of Thomas Ewing and Susanna Howard. He attended Penn for one year before participating in the Braddock Expedition, 1755; served as a lieutenant on the Pennsylvania Militia, 1758; was a member of the Colonial Assembly, 1771-1776; commissioned brigadier general in the Pennsylvania militia on the Fourth of July, 1776; guarded the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River when Washington's forces crossed the stream on Christmas night 1776; won a seat on Pennsylvania's Supreme Executive Council, 1781; in 1782 and 1783 he served as a 76 Radical and vice-president (Lieutenant-Governor) of that body at the same time John Dickinson was president (equivalent of Governor). In 1784 Ewing served a one-year term in the State Assembly. He became a trustee (1783) of Dickinson College, and six years later, chaired a committee seeking improvement of navigation on the Susquehanna River. By 1795 he was back in the state legislature, this time as a Federalist in the Pennsylvania Senate. He was reelected in 1799 and died at his home near York, Pennsylvania on March 1, 1806. He married Patience Wright.