Joseph L. Rawlins

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Joseph L. Rawlins
United States Senator
from Utah
In office
March 4, 1897 – March 3, 1903
Preceded byArthur Brown
Succeeded byReed Smoot
Delegate to the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah Territory's at-large district
In office
March 4, 1893 – March 3, 1895
Preceded byJohn Thomas Caine
Succeeded byFrank J. Cannon
Personal details
Born(1850-03-28)March 28, 1850
Millcreek, Provisional State of Deseret, U.S. (now Utah, U.S.)
DiedMay 24, 1926(1926-05-24) (aged 76)
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
Resting placeSalt Lake City Cemetery
40°46′37.92″N 111°51′28.8″W / 40.7772000°N 111.858000°W / 40.7772000; -111.858000
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseJulia Elizabeth Davis
Alma materIndiana University

Joseph Lafayette Rawlins (March 28, 1850 – May 24, 1926) was a delegate to the U.S. Congress from Utah Territory and a Senator from Utah after statehood was achieved.

Rawlins was born at Millcreek in the Provisional State of Deseret (Millcreek is in present-day Salt Lake County, Utah).

Rawlins pursued a classical course at Indiana University in Bloomington. He was a professor at the University of Deseret in Salt Lake City from 1873 to 1875. He then studied law; he was admitted to the bar in 1875, and he commenced practice in Salt Lake City. Raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), young Rawlins disliked the practice of plural marriage and was grateful that his father, Joseph Sharp Rawlins, resisted the pressure of the church to take a second wife. However, when the elder Rawlins did succumb to the wishes of the authorities, his son began questioning the principles and practices of the Latter-day Saints. By the time Rawlins returned to Utah after his first year at college, he was well on the way toward apostasy in his views, and by the time he became Salt Lake's city attorney, he considered himself no longer a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He never returned to the church.[2]

Rawlins was elected as a Democrat as Utah Territory's delegate to the Fifty-third Congress (March 4, 1893 – March 3, 1895). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1894 to the Fifty-fourth Congress. After Utah achieved statehood in 1896, Rawlins was elected by the Utah State Legislature as a Democrat to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1897, to March 3, 1903. He was an unsuccessful candidate for re-election.[3]

Afterwards, Rawlins continued the practice of law in Utah in partnership with Edgar A. Wedgwood and Samuel R. Thurman.[4] In 1921, he withdrew from public life and active business, and he died in Salt Lake City. He is buried in Salt Lake City Cemetery.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Joseph Lafayette Rawlins".
  2. ^ "The Unfavored Few": The Auto-biography of Joseph L. Rawlins [ed. and amplified by Alta Rawlins Jensen]. Salt Lake City: privately printed, 1956, pp. 63–65, 125.
  3. ^ "REED SMOOT SENATOR". The New York Times. January 21, 1903. p. 3.
  4. ^ "Soldier-Lawyer of Utah is Dead". The Salt Lake Tribune. Salt Lake City, UT. February 1, 1920. p. 1 – via

External links[edit]

United States Congress. "RAWLINS, Joseph Lafayette (id: R000073)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah Territory

Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. senator (Class 1) from Utah
Served alongside: Frank J. Cannon, Thomas Kearns
Succeeded by