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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 100


This is the grave of Joseph Inslee Anderson.

Born in 1757 in Philadelphia, Anderson volunteered for the Patriot forces in 1776. Serving in the 3rd New Jersey Regiment, he rose in two years to the rank of captain, while also serving as paymaster, which I assume given the horrible financial support from the states and the Second Continental Congress for the war they so wanted, was either a huge pain or not much work at all. Also, America never changes much. Anyway, he fought at Monmouth and suffered through Valley Forge. He then fought at Yorktown.

He moved to Delaware and practiced law there from 1784 to 1791. As a good officer during the war, Anderson became a good candidate for patronage and George Washington named him judge of the Southwestern Territory, which was what Tennessee was then called. He quickly rose in frontier Tennessee society, marrying the daughter of a large landowner. He represented Jefferson County at the state’s constitutional convention in Knoxville in 1796. By this time, he had become something of a separatist and introduced a resolution calling for Tennessee secession if statehood was denied. This was not necessary and Anderson was elected to the state legislature. He only stayed a year because when the Senate expelled William Blount for conspiring with the British to seize Louisiana, Anderson was selected to replace him. He remained in the Senate until 1815. He became a staunch Jeffersonian and southerner, despite his upbringing. I assume he owned slaves, although I don’t see any easy confirmation on this, which isn’t surprising given his obscurity today. Anyway, he opposed all intervention into slavery, opposed the rechartering of the national bank, and supported the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions. He also became a nationalist, supporting the War of 1812. He retired from the Senate in 1815. James Madison then named him Comptroller of the U.S. Treasury. He moved to Washington and died there, still in the same job, in 1838.

Joseph Inslee Anderson is buried in Congressional Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

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