Andrew Stevenson

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For the baseball player, see Andrew Stevenson (baseball).
Andrew Stevenson
United States Minister to the United Kingdom
In office
July 13, 1836 – October 21, 1841
Preceded by Aaron Vail (chargé d'affaires)
Succeeded by Edward Everett
11th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
In office
December 3, 1827 – June 2, 1834
President John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Preceded by John W. Taylor
Succeeded by John Bell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 23rd district
In office
March 4, 1821 – March 3, 1823
Preceded by John Tyler
Succeeded by None; district eliminated
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 16th district
In office
March 4, 1823 – March 3, 1825
Preceded by John Randolph
Succeeded by William Armstrong
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 9th district
In office
March 4, 1825 – March 3, 1833
Preceded by James Stephenson
Succeeded by William P. Taylor
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 11th district
In office
March 4, 1833 – June 2, 1834
Preceded by John M. Patton
Succeeded by John Robertson
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
In office
Personal details
Born January 21, 1784
Culpeper County, Virginia
Died January 25, 1857 (aged 73)
Albemarle County, Virginia
Political party Democratic
Alma mater The College of William & Mary
Profession Law

Andrew Stevenson (January 21, 1784 – January 25, 1857) was a Democratic politician in the United States. He served in the United States House of Representatives representing Virginia, as Speaker of the House, and as Minister to the United Kingdom.

Early life[edit]

Andrew Stevenson was born in Culpeper County, Virginia on January 21, 1784. He was educated at the College of William and Mary, studied law, and attained admission to the bar in 1809. Stevenson practiced in Richmond.

Start of career[edit]

Stevenson was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1809 to 1816 and 1818 to 1821. He served as Speaker of the House of Delegates from 1812 to 1815. In 1814 and 1816 he was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress.

Congressional career[edit]

In 1820 Stevenson won election to the United States House of Representatives, and he served until 1834. From 1827 to 1834 he was the Speaker of the House (20th through 23rd Congresses).

Stevenson began his Congressional career as a Democratic-Republican (17th Congress). As the Democratic-Republican Party began to split in the 1820s and 1830s and reorganized as the Democratic Party, he won reelection as a Crawford Republican (18th Congress), and then as a Jacksonian (19th through 23rd Congresses).

Diplomatic career[edit]

Stevenson resigned from Congress in June 1834 to accept appointment as Minister to the United Kingdom. In June of that year the United States Senate denied him confirmation by a vote of 23 to 22. Jackson's opponents in Congress argued that Jackson had offered Stevenson the appointment in 1833, and that when Congress convened later that year, Stevenson had organized the House, including committee assignments and chairmanships, in accordance with Jackson's preferences. In the Anti-Jacksonian view, this amounted to a quid pro quo that allowed executive branch interference with the prerogatives of the legislative branch.

He returned to Virginia and resumed the practice of law. In addition, he presided over the 1835 Democratic National Convention.

In February 1836 President Andrew Jackson renominated Stevenson for Minister to Great Britain. He was confirmed 26 votes to 19, and served from 1836 to 1841.

His term as Minister to the United Kingdom was marked by controversy: the abolitionist cause was growing in strength, and some sections of public opinion resented the choice of Stevenson, who was a slaveowner, for this role.[1] The Irish statesman Daniel O'Connell was reported to have denounced Stevenson in public as a slave breeder, generally thought to be a more serious matter than simply being a slaveowner.[2] Stevenson, outraged, challenged O'Connell to a duel, but O'Connell, who had a lifelong aversion to dueling, refused, and suggested that he had been misquoted. The controversy became public and the repeated references to slave breeding caused Stevenson a good deal of embarrassment: there was a widespread view that if O'Connell's charges were false Stevenson would have done better to simply ignore them rather than engaging in a public squabble.[3]

Later life[edit]

Sarah Coles Stevenson, Andrew Stevenson's wife

Stevenson presided over the 1848 Democratic National Convention. In 1845 he was elected to the board of visitors of the University of Virginia. From 1856 to 1857 he served as the university's rector.

Death and burial[edit]

He died at his Blenheim estate on January 21, 1857. He was buried at Enniscorthy Cemetery in Keene, Virginia.


Stevenson purchased the Blenheim property in Albemarle County in 1846.[4] It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.[5]


Stevenson married three times. In 1809, he married Mary Page White, granddaughter of Carter Braxton, who was the mother of John White Stevenson, a Congressman, U.S. Senator, and who also served as Governor of Kentucky. She died in 1812.

In 1816 he married his second wife, Sarah (Sally) Coles, who was a cousin of Dolley Madison and a sister of Edward Coles, who served as Governor of Illinois. She died in 1848.

In 1849 he married Mary Schaff.


  1. ^ Geoghegan, Patrick M. Liberator- the Life and Death of Daniel O'Connell Gill and Macmillan 2010 Dublin p.202
  2. ^ Geoghegan pp.202-4
  3. ^ Geoghegan p.204
  4. ^ Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff (December 1975). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Blenheim" (PDF).  and Accompanying photo
  5. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Tyler
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 23rd congressional district

March 4, 1821 – March 3, 1823 (obsolete district)
Succeeded by
Preceded by
William L. Ball
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 9th congressional district

March 4, 1823 – March 3, 1833
Succeeded by
William P. Taylor
Preceded by
John M. Patton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 11th congressional district

March 4, 1833 – June 2, 1834
Succeeded by
John Robertson
Political offices
Preceded by
John W. Taylor
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
December 3, 1827 – March 3, 1829;
December 7, 1829 – March 3, 1831;
December 5, 1831 – March 3, 1833
December 2, 1833 – June 2, 1834
Succeeded by
John Bell
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Aaron Vail
(Chargé d'Affaires)
U.S. Minister to Britain
Succeeded by
Edward Everett