John Rhea as an American politician in the early 19th century that represented Tennessee in the United States House of Representatives. Born in the parish of Langhorn, County Londonderry, Ireland in 1753, he immigrated to the United States in 1769 with his parents, who settled in Philidelphia, Pennsylvania. He moved to Piney Creek, Maryland in 1771 and to eastern Tennessee in 1778. In 1780, he completed preparatory studies and graduated from Princeton College. In October 1780 he was a member of the Patriot force in the Battle of Kings Mountain.
He was clerk of the Sullivan County Court in the proposed State of Franklin, and subsequently in North Carolina, from 1785 to 1790. He was a member of the North Carolina House of Commons, and he was a delegate to the State convention that ratified the Federal Constitution in 1789. He studied law and was admitted to bar in 1789. In 1796, he was a delegate to the constitutional convention of Tennessee and the attorney general of Greene County. In 1796 and 1797 he was a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives.
John Rhea was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Eighth Congress and the five succeeding Congresses, serving from March 4, 1803 until March 3, 1815. During the Tenth through the Thirteenth Congress, he was the chairman of the Committee on Post Office and Post Roads. He was a member of the Committee on Pensions and Revolutionary War Claims during the Fifteenth Congress through the Seventeenth Congress.
He was appointed United States commissioner to treat with the Choctaw Nation in 1816. Afterward, he again became a U.S. Representative, serving from March 4, 1817 until March 3, 1823 in the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Congresses. He was actively connected with higher education in Tennessee. He retired from active pursuits and resided on Rhea plantation near Blountville, Sullivan County, Tennessee, where he died on May 27, 1832. He was interred in Blountville Cemetery.
This article incorporates facts obtained from the public domain Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.