Varnum, Joseph Bradley

Varnum, Joseph Bradley (1750-1821) Speaker of the House: Born in Dracutt, Massachusetts, on January 29, 1750, Varnum became one of the earliest American patriots, and was commisioned a captain at the age of eighteen by the committee of the colony of Massachusetts. From 1780 to 1795, he served as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate, adding service on the governor's council and the rank of colonel in 1787. Also in 1787, Varnum served on the Massachusetts convention to ratify the US Constitution and helped put down Shays' Rebellion. He received a personal letter of thanks from General Benjamin Lincoln for his part in controlling the rebellion. From 1795 to 1811, Varnum was a member of the US House of Representatives. In 1802, he was made a brigadier-general, then a major-general of the Massachusetts state militia in 1805. As a Representative, he was elected Speaker of the House for two terms, from 1807 to 1811. Serving as a US Senator from 1811 to 1817, he was president pro tempore, and was acting Vice-President of the United States from December 1813 to April 1814. A strong Democrat, he opposed slavery and supported the administration of Thomas Jefferson. In 1817, after retiring from Congress, Varnum was elected to the Massachusetts Senate, in which he remained until his death on September 21, 1821..