John Renshaw Thomson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 25, 1800. He attended common schools in Princeton, New Jersey, then attended and graduated from Princeton University. Upon graduation, Thomas went to work for a large importing company, and was sent to China in 1817 to represent that company as a tea trader in the port city of Canton. President James Monroe appointed Thomas as the United States Consul for the port of Canton from 1823-1825. Upon returning to the United States, Thomas was one of the first to advocate the construction of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, and became its first director and secretary. A staunch Democrat, Thomas became involved in politics in the 1830s, and was a member of the New Jersey Constitutional Convention in 1844. He ran unsuccessfully for Governor of New Jersey in 1844. Thomas was elected to the United States Senate in 1853 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of his brother-in-law, Commodore Robert F. Stockton. He was reelected to serve a full term as U.S. Senator in 1857. Thomas died in office on September 12, 1862 and is buried in the Princeton Cemetery.
From the description of John R. Thomson papers, 1847-1863. (New Jersey Historical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 53116654