John Renshaw Thomson

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John Renshaw Thomson
Hon. Tompson - NARA - 528695.jpg
United States Senator
from New Jersey
In office
March 4, 1853 – September 12, 1862
Preceded by Robert F. Stockton
Succeeded by Richard S. Field
Personal details
Born (1800-09-25)September 25, 1800
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died September 12, 1862(1862-09-12) (aged 61)
Princeton, New Jersey
Political party Democratic

John Renshaw Thomson (September 25, 1800 – September 12, 1862) was an American merchant and politician from New Jersey.


Thomson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Edward Thomson (1771-1853) and Ann Renshaw (1773-1842). His father along with an uncle, George Thomson, were shipowners extensively involved in the China Trade.[1]

Thomson attended the common schools in Princeton, New Jersey, and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). In 1817, he went to China and assisted his father in the mercantile trade. John served as the United States Consul to Canton from 1823 to 1825, succeeding his late brother Richard Renshaw Thomson, whose sudden death left the position vacant.

In 1825-26, Edward Thomson's business failed. His son returned to the United States and, in the winter of 1825, married Annis Stockton, a daughter of Senator Richard Stockton and granddaughter of Continental Congressman Richard Stockton and poet Annis Boudinot Stockton. The match brought many financial and political advantages. The young couple settled in Princeton.

Thomson became a director and secretary of the Delaware and Raritan Canal Company and was president, and later treasurer, of the Philadelphia and Trenton Railroad. He was a delegate to the New Jersey State Constitutional Convention of 1844, and was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Governor of New Jersey the same year.

Thomson's wife, Annis, died in 1842; in 1845, he married Josephine A. Ward, daughter of congressman Aaron Ward of New York.

Thomson was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of his brother-in-law Robert F. Stockton. Thomson was re-elected in 1857, occupying the seat from March 4, 1853, until his death in Princeton, New Jersey. He was chairman of the Committee on Patents and the Patent Office (36th United States Congress) and the Committee on Pensions (Thirty-sixth Congress).

He was interred in Princeton Cemetery. In 1878, his widow, Josephine, married Maryland governor Thomas Swann.


  1. ^ Lee, Jean Gordon (1984). Philadelphians and the China Trade, 1784-1844. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art. pp. 152–3. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 

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United States Senate
Preceded by
Robert F. Stockton
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New Jersey
March 4, 1853 – September 12, 1862
Served alongside: William Wright, John C. Ten Eyck
Succeeded by
Richard S. Field
Party political offices
Preceded by
Daniel Haines
Democratic Nominee for Governor of New Jersey
Succeeded by
Daniel Haines