John Bennett Dawson
John Bennett Dawson.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1841 – March 3, 1843
Preceded byThomas Withers Chinn
Succeeded byAlcée Louis la Branche
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 3rd district
In office
March 4, 1843 – June 26, 1845
Preceded byJohn Moore
Succeeded byJohn Henry Harmanson
Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born(1798-03-17)March 17, 1798
Nashville, Tennessee
DiedJune 26, 1845(1845-06-26) (aged 47)
St. Francisville, Louisiana
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Margaret Johnson

John Bennett Dawson (March 17, 1798 – June 26, 1845) was an American politician who served as a Democrat in the United States House of Representatives from the state of Louisiana.

Early life

Born near Nashville, Tennessee on March 17, 1798, he went to Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. He moved to Louisiana and became a planter residing at Wyoming Plantation; he was also interested in the newspaper business. He married Margaret Johnson and together they had four children. His daughter Anna Ruffin Dawson married Robert C. Wickliffe who would serve as Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Louisiana in the 1850s.

Political career

From 1823-1824, Dawson was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives representing Feliciana Parish.[1]

He unsuccessfully ran for Louisiana Governor in 1834, He was defeated by Whig candidate Edward D. White.

In 1840, Dawson was elected as a Democrat representing the Second District in the 27th Congress. He was re-elected in 1842 and represented the Third District in the 28th Congress. He served from March 4, 1841, until his death on June 26, 1845. He defeated James M. Elam (Whig) in the election of 1843.

He served as major-general in the State militia, judge of the parish court in West Feliciana Parish, and U.S. postmaster at New Orleans from April 10, 1843, until December 19, 1843.

Dawson was known for his threats of violence, particularly on the topic of slavery. He once "threatened to cut a colleague’s throat ‘from ear to ear.’"[2] On separate occasions, he drew a Bowie knife on and raised a cocked pistol at the anti-slavery congressman Joshua R. Giddings.[3] John Quincy Adams described him as a "drunken bully."[4]


Dawson died on June 26, 1845. His remains were interred in Grace Episcopal churchyard in St. Francisville, Louisiana. His successor in Congress, John H. Harmanson, eulogized him on the floor of the House, but not without noting his "faults — some thought grave faults."[5]

In his memory, a cenotaph was erected at Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Louisiana House of Representatives, List of Members
  2. ^ Osnos, Evan (16 November 2020). "Pulling Our Politics Back from the Brink". The New Yorker. Retrieved 6 September 2021.
  3. ^ Charles Sumner. "Complete Works". Retrieved 6 September 2021.
  4. ^ Joanne B. Freeman (11 September 2018). The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-71761-2. OCLC 1052465671.
  5. ^ "A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 - 1875". 11 December 1845. Retrieved 12 October 2021.
  6. ^ "John Bennett Dawson". Find-a-grave. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
Party political offices Preceded byW. S. Hamilton Democratic nominee for Governor of Louisiana 1834 Succeeded byDenis Prieur U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byThomas Withers Chinn Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Louisiana's 2nd congressional district 1841 – 1843 Succeeded byAlcée Louis la Branche Preceded byJohn Moore Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Louisiana's 3rd congressional district 1843 – 1845 Succeeded byJohn Henry Harmanson