Russell Newton Shewmaker, 72, retired general counsel of the U.S. International Trade Commission and a principal drafter of major tariff legislation, died of an abdominal aneurysm Jan. 4 at Sibley Memorial Hospital.

Mr. Shewmaker's government career spanned 47 years before he retired in 1981, and he had been general counsel of the trade commission for 17 years before his retirement.

He was chief drafter of the Tariff Classification Act of 1962 and in 1963 of the Tariff Schedules of the United States, the basic law governing imports into this country. For this work he received letters of commendation from President John F. Kennedy and from the chairmen of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.

Much of Mr. Shewmaker's work at the Trade Commission involved advising Congress on various tariff and trade matters and related legislation.

A lifelong resident of Washington, Mr. Shewmaker was a graduate of McKinley Tech High School and George Washington University where he also received a law degree.

He began his government career as a messenger at the Treasury Department in 1935, and in 1951 he joined what then was the U.S. Tariff Commission. He was named assistant general counsel in 1956 and general counsel in 1964. Much of Mr. Shewmaker's work between 1953 and 1962 consisted of a study that led to the adoption of the Tariff Schedules of the United States.

In 1963 and 1964 Mr. Shewmaker was U.S. representative to the European Economic Community on tariff nomenclature. He was a delegate to the Customs Cooperation Council in Brussels in 1964 and 1965 and a member of the U.S. delegation to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in Geneva in 1967.

He also had participated in Boy Scout activities, and he was legislative chairman of the D.C. Parent-Teacher Association Congress.

Survivors include his wife of 47 years, Ruth Shewmaker of Washington; four sons, John, of Irvine, Calif., Wayne, of Arlington, Dale, of Fairfax and Roger, of Washington; one daughter, Diane Olsen of Washington; one sister, Roberta Barnes of Washington; one brother, Schuyler Shewmaker of Alexandria, and eight grandchildren.