Born in Liverpool, England, Swanwick and his family arrived in the American colonies in the early 1770s. He engaged in mercantile pursuits in Philadelphia under Robert Morris, and was also interested in literature, having published a volume of poetry. He was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Fourth and Fifth Congresses and served from March 4, 1795, until his death. While in the House he was chairman of the Committee on Commerce and Manufactures (Fourth Congress).
Swanwick died on July 31, 1798, of yellow fever, in Philadelphia, where he was interred at St. Peter's Church.
- John Swanwick: Spokesman for "Merchant-Republicanism" In Philadelphia, 1790-1798
- Wheeler & Becker, Discovering the American Past, p. 97. ISBN 978-0-395-87187-4
- Elmer James Ferguson et al., The Papers of Robert Morris, 1781-1784, p. 8
- United States Congress. "John Swanwick (id: S001095)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- The Political Graveyard
|U.S. House of Representatives|
At large on a General ticket:
Thomas Fitzsimons, John W. Kittera, Thomas Hartley, Thomas Scott, James Armstrong, Peter G. Muhlenberg, Andrew Gregg, Frederick A. C. Muhlenberg, Daniel Hiester, William Irvine, William Findley, John Smilie, and William Montgomery
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 1st congressional district
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