Joseph Lawrence (Pennsylvania)

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For other people of the same name, see Joseph Lawrence (disambiguation).
Joseph Lawrence
19th Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
In office
Preceded by Rees Hill
Succeeded by John Gilmore
Personal details
Born 1786
Hunterstown, Pennsylvania
Died April 17, 1842
Political party Democratic Republican
21st Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
In office
Preceded by John Gilmore
Succeeded by Joel Barlow Sutherland

Joseph Lawrence (1786 – April 17, 1842) was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.

Early life[edit]

Joseph Lawrence (father of George Van Eman Lawrence) was born near Hunterstown, Pennsylvania. He moved with his widowed mother to a farm in Washington County, Pennsylvania, in 1789, and attended the common schools. He engaged in agricultural pursuits.

Pennsylvania House of Representatives[edit]

He was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1818 to 1824 and served as speaker from 1820 to 1824. On December 7, 1819, he was elected speaker with a vote of 56 of 93 representatives voting, out of 94 (other votes were: Phineas Jenks – 21, Rees Hill – 14, Wilson Smith – 1, William Lehman – 1).[1] On December 3, 1822, he was elected speaker with a vote of 65 (other votes were John Gilmore – 23 and Jacob Holgate – 8).[2] In the general election of 1820, he received 3,083 votes.[3]

United States Congress[edit]

He was elected as an Adams candidate to the Nineteenth and Twentieth Congresses. He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1828 to the Twenty-first Congress. He was again a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1834 to 1836. He was nominated for the United States Senate in 1836, along with future President James Buchanan and others.[4] He served as state treasurer[5] in 1837. He was an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1838 to the Twenty-sixth Congress. He was elected as a Whig to the Twenty-seventh Congress and served until his death in Washington, D.C. He served as chairman of the United States House Committee on Roads and Canals during the Twenty-seventh Congress.

Other political activities[edit]

Lawrence served as chairman of the Democratic convention of PA state legislators in 1824.[6] At the Whig Convention at Wheeling (in Virginia at the time but now West Virginia) in 1840, Lawrence was president of the Pennsylvania delegation. He individually introduced all the soldiers who fought in the American Revolution who were present at the convention.[7]


His death occurred shortly after 11 am. He had been ill for approximately two weeks prior to death; his eldest son and son's wife died weeks before him.[8]


On Monday, April 18, 1842, William Wallace Irwin of Pennsylvania took to the floor of the House of Representatives to announce Lawrence's death. He followed with a eulogy. This was the only business transacted in the House on that day. After customary arrangements, the House adjourned for the day.[9] Lawrence is interred in the Congressional Cemetery.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Carlisle Republican 1 (6). December 14, 1819. p. 23. 
  2. ^ Berks and Schuylkill Journal 7 (29). December 14, 1822. p. 3. 
  3. ^ "General Election Return, For 1820.". Washington (PA) Reporter. October 16, 1820. p. 3. 
  4. ^ Public Ledger and Daily Transcript. December 13, 1836. p. 2. 
  5. ^ "Death of the Hon. Joseph Lawrence". Philadelphia Inquirer. April 19, 1842. p. 2. 
  6. ^ "Democratic Convention". Oracle of Dauphin. January 17, 1824. p. 3. 
  7. ^ "Great Convention at Wheeling". North American and Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia). September 11, 1840. p. 2. 
  8. ^ "Death of the Hon. Joseph Lawrence". Philadelphia Inquirer. April 19, 1842. p. 2. 
  9. ^ Philadelphia Inquirer. April 20, 1842. p. 2. 
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Thomas Patterson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 15th congressional district

Succeeded by
William McCreery
Preceded by
Isaac Leet
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 21st congressional district

Succeeded by
Thomas M. T. McKennan