PATRON + Biography: Joab Lawler, born June 12, 1796



(1796 – 1838)

North Carolina and Madison, Shelby, Bibb, Coosa, Talladega Counties, Alabama

Joab Lawler, public official and a representative in Congress, was born June 12, 1796, in Monroe County, N. C., and died May 8, 1838. in Washington, D. C. His parents moved to Tennessee about 1806; and in 1814, he came to Madison County, Alabama. He married in 1815, and a very few years afterward, he moved to Shelby County, Alabama.

He received a common school education, to which he added by study and reading. He held the offices of clerk of the circuit court, and county judge of Shelby County, between 1821-1826: was elected to the State legislature from Shelby County, 1826-1831; served Bibb and Shelby Counties in the State senate, 1831-1832, resigning in the latter year to accept the position of receiver of public money for the Coosa land district tendered him by President Andrew Jackson; He moved to Mardisville, Talladega County in 1834, and held that office at Mardisville, Talladega County, until elected to congress in 1835 over Eli Shortridge and Pleasant H. May, both of Tuscaloosa. He was re-elected to Congress in 1837 over Hon. H. W. Ellis of Tuscaloosa, and died during that session of Congress on May 8, 1838.

Around the year 1825, he professed religion and commenced preaching soon after, and continued until his death.

The following is a letter written in May 1835 from Mr. Lawler to his family, while he was in Congress which reveals his devotion to God and truth.

“The old year is past, and we have entered upon the cares, anxieties, and responsibilities of a new year. May God grant us grace to improve it to his glory. I look back upon the year which has just ended, and is now buried with the years beyond the flood, and recognize upon all my path, an abiding, superintending Providence – the mercies bestowed upon us have been many, and precious, our cup has run over. – Oh! what shall we render unto the Lord for all his benefits!. But how have I improved this precious time? I am free to say, that I have fallen far short of that measure of service which so much goodness demands, and I would humbly pray, that each succeeding period of my life may be an improvement upon the past.”

Joab Lawler was treasurer of the University of Alabama from 1833 until 1836. He united with the Baptist church in 1826, and shortly afterward was ordained to the ministry. From the time of his ordination to his election to Congress, he filled the office of pastor.

The Talladega, (later Alpine), and the Talladega town churches were originated by his ministry and he was their pastor. The following extract about Joab Lawler is from A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Alabama by Hosea Holcombe 1840 :

Good Hope, is in the town of Talladega, (which occupies what was formerly called the Talladega battle ground,) was constituted by brethren Joab Lawler, and Oliver Welch, in 1825. Mr. Lawler was considered pastor for some time, and in his absence, they were supplied by Mr. Hillsman, who came from east Tennessee, but soon removed again, I believe to the Cherokee Nation.

Joab Lawler was a Whig. Mr. Lawler is buried in the Congressional Cemetery at Washington, D. C.

He married: Miss Elizabeth Baker Lawler (1796-1826), sister of Hon. Robert A. Baker of Dallas County. Children: 1. Gen. Levi W. Lawler.

The following excerpt is from the records in Congress about his death

Tuesday, May 8. Death of the Hon. Joab Lawler. Mr. Lyon, of Alabama, addressed the House: Mr. Speaker: I have the melancholy duty to perform of announcing to this House the death of one of its members.

My friend and colleague, the Hon. Joab Lawler, expired this morning at his lodgings in this city, after a brief and painful illness, which he bore with unusual fortitude and resignation.

Less than a week ago, and he was present in his place in this hall, in the performance of his part in the laborious duty assigned by the people to their representatives. He was yet in the prime of life, and has been cut off in the midst of his usefulness.

By his death, his immediate constituents and his State have lost an attentive, intelligent, and a faithful representative; his family have been deprived of a husband and father; and society has lost a member, whose conduct, in every relation of life, was worthy of all imitation.

The deceased enjoyed the confidence and esteem of those who knew him well, to an extent which nothing but a course of life the most exemplary, and a character the most irreproachable, could have secured.

In his State he had filled several offices of much importance, and under the General Government he held for several years a trust of great responsibility. In all his official conduct in the various public stations held by him, he acquired a high character for integrity and capacity, which no act of his life forfeited or impaired.

His conduct as a member of this House has been in character with his whole life. While he was firm and unwavering in the discharge of what he considered his duty as a Representative, he was mild and unobtrusive in his deportment, and respectful towards his associates. He had lived the life of a Christian, and died without apprehension as to the future.

To testify our regret for his loss, and respect for his memory, I move the adoption of the following resolutions:

Resolved, That the members and officers of this House will attend the funeral of Joab Lawler, deceased, late a member of this House from the State of Alabama, to-morrow, at 12 o’clock meridian.

Resolved, That a committee be appointed to take order for superintending the funeral of Joab Lawler, deceased.

Resolved, That the members and officers of this House will testify their respect for the memory of Joab Lawler, by wearing crape on their left arm for thirty days.

Resolved, That when this House adjourns to-day, it will adjourn to meet to-morrow, at 12 o’clock meridian.

Ordered, That a message be sent to the Senate to notify that body of the death of Joab Lawler, late a Representative from the State of Alabama, and that his funeral will take place to-morrow, at 12 o’clock, from the Hall of the House of Representatives.

The resolutions were unanimously agreed to.


Tuesday, May 8. Death of Hon. Joab Lawler. Mr. King addressed the Senate: Mr. President: Another of the members of this Congress has passed from time to eternity. This unexpected event is well calculated to produce the most serious reflections. “Be ye also ready,” should be impressed upon every heart. The Hon. Joab Lawler, a Representative from the State of Alabama, breathed his last at his boarding-house in this city, about 9 o’clock this morning. His sickness was of short duration; but a life devoted to piety and virtue enabled him to look with calm and Christian resignation on the dread change that awaited him.

Mr. Lawler was of humble origin. He was destitute of the advantages of a liberal education; but a vigorous intellect, combined with sterling integrity, early recommended him to the favorable notice of his fellow-citizens, and they placed him in the Legislature of his State. For years he continued to discharge his duties in that situation in a manner so creditable to himself, so satisfactory to those he represented, that they demanded his services in a more exalted station. He yielded to their wishes, and twice has he been chosen to represent their interests in the Congress of the United States. Mr. President, his mortal career has closed. His country has lost the services of one of her most virtuous citizens; his bereaved wife an affectionate husband; and his orphan children the fostering care and protection of an indulgent father. To that desolate, heart-stricken family, I would say, “mourn not as one without hope.” The husband—the father—was a Christian. He died, as the Christian dieth, in the full hope of a blessed immortality. Keep, then, before your eyes the purity and holiness of his life: live as he lived, and you may go to him; to you he can never return.

Mr. K. then submitted the following resolution, which was unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That the Senate will attend the funeral of the honorable ‘Joab Lawler, deceased, which will take place from the Hall of the House of Representatives; and, as an additional mark of respect for the memory of the deceased, the members of that body will go into the usual mourning, by wearing crape on the left arm for thirty days.

Wednesday, May 9, 1838. Pursuant to order, the house assembled at 12 o’clock, M. for the purpose of attending the funeral obsequies of the hon. Joab Lawler, late a representative in Congress from the state of Alabama. The following was the order of arrangements: The committee of arrangements, pall-bearers, and mourners, attended at the late residence of the deceased, at Mr. Mount’s, on Pennsylvania Avenue, at 11 o’clock, A. M. at which time the remains were removed, in charge of the committee of arrangements, attended by the sergeant-at-arms of the house of representatives, to the hall of the house. Shortly after 12 o’clock, meridian, funeral service was performed in the hall of the house of representatives, and, immediately after, the procession moved to the place of internment in the following order:

The chaplains of both houses.

Physicians who attended the deceased.

Committee of arrangments, viz:

Mr. Lyon, of Alabama,

Mr. Mercer, of Wa.

Mr. Henry, of Penn.

Mr. Harlan, of Ky.

Mr. Parmenter, of Mass.

Mr. Maury, of Tenn. Mr. Boon, of Indiana.

Pall-bearers, viz:

Mr. Elmore, of S. C.

Mr. Conner, of S. C.

Mr. Carter, of Tenn.

Mr. Kilgore, of Ohio.

Mr. Sibley, of N. Y.

Mr. Briggs, of Mass.

The family and friends of the deceased.

The members of the house of representatives and senators from Alabama, as in mourners.

The sergeant-at-arms of the house of representatives.

The house of representatives, preceded by the speaker and clerk.

The other officers of the house of representatives.

The sergeant-at-arms of the Senate.

The Senate of the United States, preceded by the vice president and secretary.

The other officers of the Senate.

The president of the United States.

The heads of departments.

Foreign ministers.

Citizens and strangers.

Thursday, May 10. Mr. Martin, of Alabama, by leave, offered a resolution that the speak or inform the governor of Alabama of the death of the late Joab Lawler, in order that steps may be taken to fill the vacancy thereby occasioned in the Alabama delegation; which was agreed to

An extract from a letter to a colleague in Congress, Mr. R. Chapman, to the bereaved widow, and family; gives an account of Mr. Lawler’s death.”

“I am happy,” says he, “amidst all the pangs this melancholy bereavement is calculated to produce, that I have it in my power to say to you, and your family, that I have never witnesses a more interesting and feeling scene. He addressed a solemn prayer to the throne of grace in a firm tone, after which he expressed a perfect resignation to his fate, and a confident hope of salvation. he said he put his trust in Christ, who had sustained him through all his trials during life, and he was sure would not desert him in the hour of death. His mind, which continued perfect to the last, was so completely fixed on things beyond the grave, that he was reluctant to be disturbed in such pleasing reflections by company. In short, it was a most perfect triumph of the meek and faithful follower of Christ, over the sting of death.” etc.


  • History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, Volume 4, By Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owen, S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1921 – Alabama
  • Niles’ National Register: Containing Political, Historical, Volume 54, 1838
  • Findagrave.com memorial 7371742
  • A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Alabama by Hosea Holcombe 1840

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