Joseph Anderson
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
January 15, 1805 – December 1, 1805
Preceded byJesse Franklin
Succeeded bySamuel Smith
United States Senator
from Tennessee
In office
March 4, 1799 – March 3, 1815
Preceded byDaniel Smith
Succeeded byGeorge W. Campbell
In office
September 26, 1797 – March 3, 1799
Preceded byWilliam Blount
Succeeded byWilliam Cocke
Personal details
Joseph Inslee Anderson

(1757-11-05)November 5, 1757
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
DiedApril 17, 1837(1837-04-17) (aged 79)
Washington, D.C.
Resting placeCongressional Cemetery
Washington, D.C.
Political partyDemocratic-Republican
SpousePatience Outlaw[1]
ChildrenWilliam, Alexander, Pierce, Thomas, Addison, George, James[2]: 84–5 
Residence(s)Soldier's Rest
Hamblen County, Tennessee

Joseph Inslee Anderson (November 5, 1757 – April 17, 1837) was an American soldier, judge, and politician, who served as a United States Senator from Tennessee from 1797 to 1815, and later as the First Comptroller[3] of the United States Treasury.[4] He also served as one of three judges of the Southwest Territory in the 1790s, and was a delegate to the Tennessee state constitutional convention in 1796.[1]

From January to December 1805, Anderson served as President pro tempore of the United States.


Early life

Anderson was born at White Marsh, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Anderson and Elizabeth Inslee.[2]: 81  He acquired a good education and studied law.[5] In 1776, following the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, he enlisted in the 3rd New Jersey Regiment of the Continental Army, and rose to the rank of captain and paymaster in less than two years.[2]: 83  Anderson fought at the Battle of Monmouth, and was with the army during its difficult 1777 wintering at Valley Forge.[4] In 1781, he transferred to the 1st New Jersey Regiment, and fought with this unit at the Battle of Yorktown.[4]

At the end of the war, Anderson was discharged with the rank of major.[1] Having studied law before the war, he was admitted to the Delaware bar, and practiced law in Delaware from 1784 to 1791.[1] He owned slaves.[6]

Anderson was a Freemason. He was a member of Military Lodge No. 19 of Pennsylvania and became a member of Lodge No. 36 while in the New Jersey Brigade. After the war, he was the first Senior Warden of Princeton Lodge No. 38 in Princeton, New Jersey. [7]

Early Tennessee politics

In 1791, President George Washington appointed Anderson United States judge of the newly formed Southwest Territory.[5] He served alongside David Campbell and John McNairy.[8] No records of any of the trials presided over by Anderson survive, with the exception of a 1794 murder trial.[2]: 85  This trial, conducted at the Tellico Blockhouse, concerned an Indian charged with killing settler Joseph Ish.[2]: 85 

In 1792, Anderson married Only Patience Outlaw, the daughter of Tennessee pioneer Alexander Outlaw.[1] His wife's dowry included land along the Nolichucky River in what is now Hamblen County (but was then a part of Jefferson), where the Andersons built their home, Soldier's Rest.[1][9]

In 1796, Anderson and his father-in-law represented Jefferson County at Tennessee's constitutional convention in Knoxville.[2]: 87  Resolutions introduced by Anderson and Outlaw included a motion to sever ties with the United States if Tennessee's petition for statehood was rejected, a motion to implement viva voce voting instead of balloting, and a motion to establish a unicameral legislature, all of which were rejected.[2]: 87  Anderson swore in the new state's first legislature later that year.[2]: 87 

United States Senate

In 1797, Anderson was elected by the Tennessee General Assembly to fill the vacancy in the Senate created by that body's expulsion of the seat's original occupant, William Blount.[1] That term was scheduled to expire on March 3, 1799; however, on December 12, 1798, the Tennessee General Assembly elected Anderson to the state's other (Class 1) Senate seat, which had been vacated by Andrew Jackson, and was temporarily held by Daniel Smith.[8] Anderson was re-elected to this seat in 1803, and again in 1809. In the latter election, he defeated retiring governor John Sevier by a vote of 23 to 16.[2]: 92 

Anderson voted against a Senate proposal to have Blount arrested in 1797. He opposed the Alien and Sedition Acts, federal intervention into the issue of slavery, the rechartering of the national bank, and the usage of military force in the Quasi-War.[4][10] He voted in favor of the War of 1812.[8] In the Eighth Congress (1803–1804), he served as the Senate's president pro tempore.[4]

Later life

After retiring from the Senate, Anderson was appointed Comptroller of the U.S. Treasury, the first to hold that office, by President James Madison, and served in that office from 1815 until 1836.[1][5] He died in Washington on April 17, 1837, and was interred in the Congressional Cemetery.[1]


Anderson's grave.

Anderson's son, Alexander Outlaw Anderson, served as a U.S. Senator from Tennessee from 1840 to 1841, and helped organize the government of the State of California in the early 1850s.[1] Another son, William, served in the state legislature, and a nephew, James W. Deaderick, served as a justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court.[2]: 83  Anderson County, Tennessee, is named for Joseph Anderson, as well as Andersonville.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Mary Rothrock, The French Broad-Holston Country: A History of Knox County, Tennessee (Knoxville, Tenn.: East Tennessee Historical Society, 1972), p. 369.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Fay McMillan, "A Biographical Sketch of Joseph Anderson," East Tennessee Historical Society Publications, Vol. 2 (1930), pp. 81-93.
  3. ^ "Decisions of the Comptroller General of the United States". 1957.
  4. ^ a b c d e Charles Anderson, "Pioneer Federal Judge and Classic 'Roman' Senator: Joseph Inslee Anderson Archived June 12, 2015, at the Wayback Machine," Tennessee Bar Journal, Vol. 43, No. 11 (November 2007). Retrieved: July 9, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Johnson, Rossiter (1906). "Anderson, Joseph (senator)" . The Biographical Dictionary of America . Vol. 1. pp. 109–110 – via Wikisource.
  6. ^ "Congress slaveowners", The Washington Post, January 13, 2022, retrieved July 4, 2022
  7. ^ Denslow, William R. 10,000 Famous Freemasons, Vol. I, A-D.
  8. ^ a b c Phillip Langsdon, Tennessee: A Political History (Franklin, Tenn.: Hillsboro Press, 2000), pp. 29-30, 39-41.
  9. ^ Mrs. Burwin Haun,Hamblen County,Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, 2009. Retrieved: September 15, 2011.
  10. ^ "TO PASS H.R. 119, (APP. 7/9/1798, 1 STAT 578), AN … -- Senate Vote #141 -- Jul 6, 1798". Retrieved September 7, 2023.
  11. ^ Tara Mitchell Mielnik, "Anderson County," Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, 2009. Retrieved: September 15, 2011.
Political offices Preceded byJesse Franklin President pro tempore of the United States Senate January 15, 1805 – December 1, 1805 Succeeded bySamuel Smith U.S. Senate Preceded byWilliam Blount U.S. senator (Class 2) from Tennessee 1797–1799 Served alongside: Andrew Jackson, Daniel Smith Succeeded byWilliam Cocke Preceded byDaniel Smith U.S. senator (Class 1) from Tennessee 1799–1815 Served alongside: William Cocke, Daniel Smith, Jenkin Whiteside, Jesse Wharton Succeeded byGeorge W. Campbell