James Lawrence Orr

James Orr
United States Ambassador to Russia
In office
December 12, 1872  May 5, 1873
President Ulysses Grant
Preceded by Andrew Curtin
Succeeded by Marshall Jewell
73rd Governor of South Carolina
In office
November 29, 1865  July 6, 1868
Lieutenant W. D. Porter
Preceded by Benjamin Perry
Succeeded by Robert Scott
Confederate States Senator
from South Carolina
In office
February 18, 1862  May 10, 1865
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
22nd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
In office
December 7, 1857  March 3, 1859
President James Buchanan
Preceded by Nathaniel Banks
Succeeded by William Pennington
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 5th district
In office
March 4, 1853  March 3, 1859
Preceded by Armistead Burt
Succeeded by John Ashmore
Chairman of the House Committee on Indian Affairs
In office
March 4, 1853 March 3, 1855
Preceded by Robert Ward Johnson
Succeeded by Benjamin Pringle
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1849  March 3, 1853
Preceded by Richard Simpson
Succeeded by William Aiken
Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from Pendleton District
In office
November 25, 1844 November 27, 1848
Personal details
Born (1822-05-12)May 12, 1822
Craytonville, South Carolina
Died May 5, 1873(1873-05-05) (aged 50)
St. Petersburg, Russia
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Virginia
Military service
Allegiance Confederate States of America
Service/branch Confederate States Army
Years of service 1861–1862
Unit 1st South Carolina Rifle Regiment (Orr's Rifles)
Battles/wars American Civil War

James Lawrence Orr (May 12, 1822  May 5, 1873) was an American politician who served as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives in the United States Congress.[1] He later served in the Confederate Congress during the American Civil War and was the 73rd Governor of South Carolina.


Orr was born at Craytonville, South Carolina located in Anderson County, South Carolina. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1841 and became an attorney. He served as a Democratic Congressman from South Carolina from 1849 to 1859, serving as the Speaker of the House from 1857 to 1859. Orr was an advocate of states' rights who used his position to assist those persons who promoted the continuation of slavery. He foresaw the consequences of the decision by South Carolina to attempt to secede from the Union, but he remained loyal to his State. He was one of the three commissioners sent to Washington, D.C. to negotiate the transfer of federal property to South Carolina; the failure of these negotiations led directly to the bombardment of one of the highest-profile federal assets within South Carolina, Fort Sumter.

After Fort Sumter and the outbreak of the American Civil War, Orr organized and commanded Orr's Regiment of South Carolina Rifles, which saw little action before he resigned in 1862 and entered the Confederate Senate. The regiment continued to bear his name throughout the war and fought in some of the most prominent battles of the Army of Northern Virginia. In the Confederate Senate, he remained a strong proponent of states' rights.

At the end of the war, Orr was elected governor and served from 1865 until the passage of a new state constitution in 1868.

In 1872 President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Orr as Minister to Russia in a gesture of post-Civil War reconciliation.

Orr died in St. Petersburg, Russia shortly after arriving to begin his service as Minister. He was interred in the First Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Anderson, South Carolina.


  1. ORR, James Lawrence, (1822 - 1873), bioguide.congress.gov, accessed 4 August 2010

James Lawrence Orr at Find a Grave

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Richard Simpson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
William Aiken
Preceded by
Armistead Burt
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
John Ashmore
Political offices
Preceded by
Nathaniel Banks
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Succeeded by
William Pennington
Preceded by
Benjamin Perry
Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
Robert Scott
Confederate States Senate
New constituency Confederate States Senator (Class 3) from South Carolina
Served alongside: Robert Barnwell
Constituency abolished
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Andrew Curtin
United States Ambassador to Russia
Succeeded by
Marshall Jewell
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