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John Dawson (1762 – March 31, 1814) was a Virginia lawyer, soldier and politician who served in the War of 1812 and a term in the Continental Congress as well as several terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before his death in office.[1]

John Dawson
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the Culpeper district
In office
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 15th district
In office
March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1803
Preceded byJames Madison, Jr.
Succeeded byJohn Randolph
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 10th district
In office
March 4, 1803 – March 3, 1813
Preceded byEdwin Gray
Succeeded byAylett Hawes
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 11th district
In office
March 4, 1813 – March 31, 1814
Preceded byJohn Roane
Succeeded byPhilip P. Barbour
Personal details
Virginia, U.S.
DiedMarch 31, 1814(1814-03-31) (aged 52)
Washington, D.C.
Resting placeCongressional Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic-Republican
Alma materHarvard College
ProfessionLawyer, planter, military officer, politician

Early life and educationEdit

Born in Virginia, Dawson graduated from Harvard University in 1782, studied law and was admitted to the bar.


Known for his stylish attire and red hair, "Beau" Dawson was a good friend of, and prolific correspondent with, James Madison, for Dawson's stepfather Judge Joseph Jones raised Madison's good friend (and sometimes political opponent) James Monroe after his father's death.[2] Dawson served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1786 to 1789 and was also elected a member of the Continental Congress in 1788.

A delegate to the Virginia Convention in 1788, Dawson opposed ratification, aligning himself with Monroe, Patrick Henry and George Mason, although that convention as a whole ratified the United States Constitution. The following year Dawson was selected to Virginia's privy council and served in that executive branch capacity for several years. In 1796, Dawson was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Democratic-Republican and served from 1797 to his death in 1814. In 1801 President John Adams selected Dawson to transmit dispatches to the Government of France, and Dawson thus averted war with the one-time ally. Dawson became chairman of the Committee on the District of Columbia from 1813 to 1814, as well as served as an aide to Generals Jacob Brown and future President Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812.

Death and legacyEdit

Dawson died in Washington, D.C. on March 31, 1814 and was interred there at Congressional Cemetery.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
    • United States Congress. "John Dawson (id: D000151)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  2. ^ Richard Labunski, James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights (Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 24-25
  3. ^ * John Dawson at Find a Grave

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
James Madison, Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 15th congressional district

March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1803 (obsolete district)
Succeeded by
John Randolph
Preceded by
Edwin Gray
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 10th congressional district

March 4, 1803 – March 4, 1813
Succeeded by
Aylett Hawes
Preceded by
John Roane
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 11th congressional district

March 4, 1813 – March 31, 1814
Succeeded by
Philip P. Barbour

  This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website