Military and political leader Joseph Dickson was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, in April 1745. At the age of ten he moved with his family to Rowan County. In time he was admitted to the North Carolina bar and began practicing law in Salisbury. In addition to being a lawyer he was a successful cotton and tobacco planter. He married Margaret McEwen in 1764. Together they had nine children.
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In 1775, on the eve of the Revolution, he was a member of the Rowan County Committee on Safety. That same year he was commissioned as a captain in the Continental Army. As a major in 1780 he led the Lincoln County militia cavalry. He went on to be commissioned as a colonel and a brigadier general. Away from the battlefield, Dickson was elected clerk of the Lincoln County court. He was elected to the North Carolina Senate where he served four terms, from 1788 to 1795. While in the Senate he sat on a committee that established the University of North Carolina and became one of the original trustees of the University. After serving in the Senate he returned to Lincoln County where he was elected as a Federalist to the United States House of Representatives. He represented Wilkes, Burke, Rutherford, and Lincoln counties in the Sixth Congress from 1799 to 1801.
In 1803 Dickson left North Carolina for Davidson County, Tennessee. As he had done in North Carolina, he developed a reputation as a planter and lawyer in the town of Murfreesboro. He served two terms in the Tennessee legislature, from 1807 to 1811. During the second term he was Speaker of the House, his last position in public office. Dickson spent his remaining years on his Tennessee farm where he died on April 14, 1825. He was buried in the family cemetery on his plantation northeast of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. (Note: The house referenced in the marker text no longer stands. The sign will be updated when funds permit.)
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress: http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=D000331
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, II, 67—sketch by C. Sylvester Green
A modern tombstone for Joseph Dickson