John Claiborne came from an illustrious family of politicians. He was the son of Congressman Thomas Claiborne (1749-1812), and elder brother of the eponymous Thomas Claiborne (1780-1856), who sat for Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was also related to several other politicians. Claiborne enjoyed a good education. After studying medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and his 1798 was admitted as a doctor, he began to work in this profession. Politically, he was a member of the founded by President Thomas Jefferson Democratic- Republican Party.
In the congressional elections of 1804 Claiborne was in the 17th electoral district of Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington DC chosen, where he succeeded his father on March 4, 1805. After a re-election, he could remain until his death on October 9, 1808 in Congress. He was buried in the family cemetery near Dinwiddie. His deputy's mandate was made after a special election to Thomas Gholson.