This long overdue biography of English-born New York lawyer John Laurance (1760-1810) restores an important missing piece to the founding narrative. With verve and sweep, Keith Marshall Jones III lays bare the middling Cornish émigré’s passage to Federalist America’s governing inner circle. Essential to the telling are five wartime years as General George Washington’s “courtroom Baron von Steuben” and battlefield father of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate Corps. Laurance spoke as New York City’s post-war pro-mercantile voice in the Confederation Congress, state legislature, and both houses of the fledgling federal Congress.
Keith Marshall Jones III is a direct descendant of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. He is the author of Congress As My Government(2008), the definitive account of Marshall’s military service in the War for Independence; Farmers Against the Crown (2002, 2014); and The Farms of Farmingville (2001). His 2017 article “John Laurance and the Role of Military Justice at Valley Forge” in Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography introduced the forgotten immigrant New York lawyer to scholars and period history buffs.