William Beach Lawrence

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William Beach Lawrence

William Beach Lawrence (23 October 1800 – 26 March 1881) was an American politician and jurist who served as lieutenant governor of Rhode Island from 1851 to 1852 under Governor Philip Allen.

Lawrence was born in New York City to a wealthy family from England. He graduated from Columbia in 1818 and was admitted to the bar in 1823. Three years later he was appointed Secretary of Legation for Great Britain, and was made chargé d'affaires the year after. When he returned to the United States in 1829 he practiced law with Hamilton Fish, and worked on the executive committee to promote the building of the Erie Railroad.

In 1850 Lawrence moved to Rhode Island and was elected as lieutenant-governor of that state the next year. He then became acting governor in 1852, and served in Rhode Island's constitutional convention as well. After his time in politics, he wrote essays and books about international law, and he argued a case before the United States Supreme Court in 1873. He became vice-president of the New York Historical Society in 1836. He died in New York City.


  • The Bank of the United States (1831)
  • Institutions of the United States (1832)
  • Discourses on Political Economy (1834)
  • Biographical Memoir of Albert Gallatin (1843)
  • The Law of Charitable Uses (1845)
  • an annotated edition of Wheaton's Elements of International Law (1855)
  • Visitation and Search (1858)
  • Commentaire sur les éléments du droit international (four volumes, 1868–80)
  • The Treaty of Washington (1871)
  • Belligerent and Sovereign Rights as Regards Neutrals During the War of Secession (1873)
  • Etudes sur la jurisdiction consulaire et sur l'extradition (1880)