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Samuel W. Pennypacker

samuel w. pennypacker handwritten genealogy, samuel w pennypacker school
Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker April 9, 1843 – September 2, 1916 was the 23rd Governor of Pennsylvania from 1903 to 1907 He also served Pennsylvania as a judge and wrote on aspects of Pennsylvania history


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Works
  • 3 Notes
  • 4 References


Gov Pennypacker was born in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, April 9, 1843; he was the son of Dr Isaac A Pennypacker and Anna Maria Whitaker, and the grandson of Matthias and Sarah Anderson daughter of Isaac Anderson, and of Joseph and Grace Whitaker He was a cousin of Galusha Pennypacker He and his grandfather Whitaker witnessed Abraham Lincoln's speech outside Independence Hall in February 1861, standing 20 feet 61 m away1 He received his education at the Grovemont Seminary at Phoenixville and at the West Philadelphia Institute2 He was the fourth great-grandson of Abraham op den Graeff3 His ancestor Heinrich Pannebäcker emigrated to Pennsylvania in 17024

Pennypacker's early education was interrupted several times In 1863 he answered a call to arms by Governor Andrew Curtin during the Gettysburg Campaign of the American Civil War He enlisted as a private in Company F of the 26th Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia and trained at Camp Curtin He fought in the skirmish at Witmer Farm, north of Gettysburg on June 26, 1863, an action that saw his newly recruited regiment retreat to Harrisburg when confronted by veteran Virginia cavalry He left the emergency militia in late July 1863 and resumed his education

From Autobiography of a Pennsylvanian

Pennypacker studied law at the University of Pennsylvania and opened his own law practice in 1866 In 1868, he was elected president of the Law Academy of Philadelphia2

From 1876 to 1888 he was reporter-in-chief for the Court of Common Pleas No 34 In 1889 he was appointed judge of the Court of Common Pleas No 2 and was elected for two terms of 10 years each, acting for several years 1896-1902 as president judge of that court25 In 1902, he soundly defeated Robert Pattison, who was seeking a third nonconsecutive term as governor During his term in office, Pennypacker signed into law the Child Labor Act of 1905, setting a minimum age and standard for young workers He created the Pennsylvania State Police and the State Museum, and oversaw the completion of the new state capitol building He led a war on the easy divorce system of Pennsylvania2

He also signed the Salus-Grady libel law, requiring newspapers to print the names of their owners and editors and making them responsible for negligence2 The Salus-Grady law also banned "any cartoon or caricature or picture portraying, describing or representing any person, either by distortion, innuendo or otherwise, in the form or likeness of beast, bird, fish, insect, or other unhuman animal, thereby tending to expose such person to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule" Pennypacker had been insultingly caricatured as a parrot during his campaign, mindlessly mimicking the words of his political bosses The passage of this law was widely criticized, not least by Pennsylvania cartoonists who immediately began depicting political figures as inanimate objects and vegetables The furor was observed nationwide, and the law was never enforced6

In 1906, Pennypacker vetoed what would have been the first compulsory sterilization law in the United States7 At the time of the veto, Pennypacker stated:

"It is plain that the safest and most effective method of preventing procreation would be to cut the heads off the inmates, and such authority is given by the bill to this staff of scientific expertsScientists like all men whose experiences have been limited to one pursuitsometimes need to be restrained Men of high scientific attainments are proneto lose sight of broad principles outside of their domainTo permit such an operation would be to inflict cruelty upon a helpless classwhich the state has undertaken to protect" 8

Pennypacker Mills

During his time in office, Pennypacker made his home in Schwenksville at Pennypacker Mills, a 170-acre 069 km2 farm and mansion that eight generations of Pennypackers lived in before it was eventually donated to Montgomery County and is now a historic park He also used Moore Hall as a summer home9

Pennypacker was later president of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania and held positions of honor in various German and Netherlandish societies2 As president of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, he wrote extensively Amongst his publications was a history of the Phoenixville area, Annals of Phoenixville and Its Vicinity: From the Settlement to the Year 1871 He had a collection of over 10,000 items pertaining to Pennsylvania history4 In 1915 he was appointed chairman of the Public Service Commission of Pennsylvania, which office he held until his death2

He married Virginia Earl Broomall in 1870 They had four children4 He died at Pennypacker Mills, aged 73, and was buried in Morris Cemetery, Phoenixville Pennypacker Hall at the Penn State University Park campus is named for him, as is the Samuel W Pennypacker School at Philadelphia


  • Historical and biographical sketches 1883
  • The settlement of Germantown, Pennsylvania, and the beginning of German emigration to North America 1899
  • Pennsylvania in American History 1910
  • Desecration and Profanation of the Pennsylvania State Capitol 1911
  • The Autobiography of a Pennsylvanian 1918


  1. ^ "Rare Lincoln letter donated to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania" PDF Retrieved December 30, 2009 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Rines, George Edwin, ed 1920 "Pennypacker, Samuel Whitaker" Encyclopedia Americana 
  3. ^ "Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania", John W Jordan Genealogical Publishing Com, 1978 ISBN 0-8063-0811-7, 9780806308111 p 486
  4. ^ a b c d Francis S Philbrick 1934 "Pennypacker, Samuel Whitaker" Dictionary of American Biography New York: Charles Scribner's Sons 
  5. ^  Reynolds, Francis J, ed 1921 "Pennypacker, Samuel Whitaker" Collier's New Encyclopedia New York: PF Collier & Son Company 
  6. ^ "A Pennsylvania battle waged in ink" philly-archives 
  7. ^ History News Network Archived 2004-04-22 at the Wayback Machine at hnnus
  8. ^ Cited in Black, Edwin 2004 War against the weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race Thunder's Mouth Press
  9. ^ "National Historic Landmarks & National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania" Searchable database ARCH: Pennsylvania's Historic Architecture & Archaeology Retrieved 2012-11-02  Note: This includes Eleanor Winsor and Harvey Freedenberg August 1972 "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Moore Hall" PDF Retrieved 2012-11-03 


  • United States Army portal
  • American Civil War portal
  • Collection of Samuel Pennypacker biographies
  • Pennsylvania State Archives biography of Samuel Pennypacker
  • Brief biography
  • Pennypacker Mills
  • Samuel W Pennypacker at Find a Grave
Political offices
Preceded by
William Stone
Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Edwin Stuart
Party political offices
Preceded by
William Stone
Republican nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Edwin Stuart

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