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House Speaker Biographies

Photo credit:

Browning, Charles H., ed.  The American Historical Register and Monthly Gazette of the Patriotic-Hereditary Societies of the United States of America, Vol. III.  Philadelphia: The Historical Register Publishing Company, 1896. 


Photo credit:

Browning, Charles H., ed.  The American Historical Register and Monthly Gazette of the Patriotic-Hereditary Societies of the United States of America, Vol. III.  Philadelphia: The Historical Register Publishing Company, 1896. 

 

Joel B. Sutherland

Born: February 26, 1792, Clonmel, Gloucester County, NJ.  Died: November 15, 1861, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA.  Member of the House: Philadelphia County, 1813-1816, 1821-1825.  Affiliation: Republican, Democrat.      

Joel Barlow Sutherland was born on February 26, 1792, in Gloucester County, New Jersey.  Sutherland trained as a doctor and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1812 with a qualifying thesis on “galvanism in the solution of the urinary calculi.”  After completing medical school, he joined the Junior Artillerists of Philadelphia as assistant surgeon in the War of 1812, eventually ranking as a lieutenant colonel commandant.  Shortly thereafter, Sutherland became the physician at the port of Philadelphia’s quarantine hospital, the Lazaretto.  Sutherland married the former Mary Read on April 23, 1815, and the couple had a number of children including Charles, Thomas W., Mary, and Caroline (Mallet-Prevost). The couple also had 3 daughters that died in childhood: Lydia Ann, Mary Jane, and Anna. 

Sutherland was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives as a Republican to serve in the 1813-1814 and 1814-1815 sessions.  He was re-elected for the 1815-1816 session, though his party affiliation had shifted to Democrat. 

After his initial years of House service, Sutherland sought a career change.  He studied law, and was admitted to the Philadelphia bar on March 30, 1819.

Sutherland was re-elected to the Pennsylvania House as a Democrat for the 1821-1822 session, and then re-elected for the next 3 consecutive sessions.  Sutherland was elected the 55th Speaker of the House on December 7, 1824.  During his Speakership, Sutherland signed Act 53 of 1825, a law which rechartered the Bank of North America, as well as Act 15 of 1825, which incorporated the Pennsylvania Fire Insurance Company.

Sutherland was elected to the Pennsylvania Senate as a Democrat, serving from 1825 to 1827.  As a Senator, Sutherland supported legislation that led to the founding of Thomas Jefferson University, then Jefferson Medical College, and he later served on the school’s board of trustees.  Sutherland was elected to the Twentieth United States Congress, and the 4 subsequent congresses, as a Jacksonian Democrat.  During the Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Congresses he served as chairman of the Committee on Commerce.  In 1836 he shifted his political alliance to the Whig party, and was ultimately unsuccessful in being re-elected to serve his district in the Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Congresses. In between time spent in Washington, DC, for his congressional service, Sutherland was associate judge of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas from 1833-1834.

In addition to his political service, Sutherland was interested in the rules of governing bodies, and authored several manuals regarding legislative practice at the state and federal levels.  In 1827 he published A Manual of Legislative Practice and Order of Business in Deliberative Bodies at the end of his term as a Senator.  In 1841 he published A Congressional Manual: or Outline of the Order of Business in the House of Representatives of the United States, and a revised Manual of Legislative Practice was published in 1852.  

Joel Barlow Sutherland died on November 15, 1861, in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He is interred at the Old Pine Street Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.