Lawrence, William Beach, 1800–1881, American political leader and jurist, b. New York City. He was appointed secretary of the legation in Great Britain in 1826 and was made (1827) chargé d'affaires. In 1829 he returned to New York City, where he practiced law. Lawrence moved to Rhode Island in 1850, was elected lieutenant governor in 1851, and was acting governor in 1852. Soon afterward he retired from politics to devote himself to writing on international law. His annotated edition of Henry Wheaton's Elements of International Law (1855) was long a standard work. From his service on an international commission to codify international law came his Commentaire sur les éléments du droit international [commentary on the elements of international law] (4 vol., 1868–80).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.