Born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania to Presley Carr Lane and Sarah "Sallie" Stephenson, Lane attended college in Pennsylvania and studied medicine in Louisville, Kentucky. He entered the U.S. Army, and was appointed post surgeon at Fort Harrison in 1816. He resigned from the army in 1819 to enter private practice. He married February 26, 1818 in Vincennes, Indiana to Miss Mary Ewing, daughter of Nathaniel Ewing and Ann Breading. Their children were Anne Ewing Lane (1819-1904), Sarah L. Lane (1821-1887), and Victor Carr Lane (1831-1848).
He served as St. Louis's first mayor from 1823 to 1829. His city had 4000 people at the time. He oversaw the first public health system in the city, free public schools, and street improvements, including the paving of Main Street. Lane helped erect the city's first town hall. He was also instrumental in beautifying the city with fountains and greenery. The City Seal was adopted, and election procedures were written. Perhaps the most memorable event in his term was a visit by Lafayette in 1825, and a ball given in his honor.
Lane served again as mayor from 1837 to 1840. In 1852, President Millard Fillmore appointed him to be the new governor of the New Mexico Territory. After this term, Lane returned to St. Louis and practiced medicine until his death in 1863.