Andrew Stevenson (January 21, 1784 – January 25, 1857) was a Democraticpolitician in the United States. He served in the United States House of Representatives representing Virginia, as Speaker of the House, and as Minister to the United Kingdom.
Andrew Stevenson was born in Culpeper County, Virginia on January 21, 1784. He was the son of James Stevenson (1739–1809) and Frances Arnette (née Littlepage) Stevenson (1750–1808).
Stevenson was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1809 to 1816 and 1818 to 1821. He served as Speaker of the House of Delegates from 1812 to 1815. In 1814 and 1816, he was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress.
In 1820, Stevenson won election to the 17th U.S. Congress as a Democratic-Republican. When the party fragmented during the contentious 1824 presidential election, he first aligned himself with the Crawford faction during the 18th Congress, and then, for the remainder of his time in Congress, identified with the Jacksonians. He was elected Speaker of the House on December 3, 1827, the opening day of the 20th Congress. Reelected three times (1829, 1831 and 1833) he served until his resignation on June 2, 1834.
In June 1834, Stevenson resigned from Congress to accept appointment from Andrew Jackson as Minister to the United Kingdom. In June of that year, the United States Senate denied him confirmation by a vote of 23 to 22. Jackson’s opponents in Congress argued that Jackson had offered Stevenson the appointment in 1833, and that when Congress convened later that year, Stevenson had organized the House, including committee assignments and chairmanships, in accordance with Jackson’s preferences. In the Anti-Jacksonian view, this amounted to a quid pro quo that allowed executive branch interference with the prerogatives of the legislative branch. Following his denial by the Senate, he returned to Virginia and resumed the practice of law and in addition, he presided over the 1835 Democratic National Convention.
His term as Minister to the United Kingdom was marked by controversy: the abolitionist cause was growing in strength, and some sections of public opinion resented the choice of Stevenson, who was a slaveowner, for this role. The Irish statesman Daniel O’Connell was reported to have denounced Stevenson in public as a slave breeder, generally thought to be a more serious matter than simply being a slaveowner. Stevenson, outraged, challenged O’Connell to a duel, but O’Connell, who had a lifelong aversion to dueling, refused, and suggested that he had been misquoted. The controversy became public and the repeated references to slave breeding caused Stevenson a good deal of embarrassment; there was a widespread view that if O’Connell’s charges were false Stevenson would have done better to simply ignore them rather than engaging in a public squabble.