World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Samuel W. Pennypacker

Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker
from Autobiography of a Pennsylvanian
23rd Governor of Pennsylvania
In office
January 20, 1903 – January 15, 1907
Lieutenant William Brown
Preceded by William Stone
Succeeded by Edwin Stuart
Personal details
Born (1843-04-09)April 9, 1843
Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
Died September 2, 1916(1916-09-02) (aged 73)
Schwenksville, Pennsylvania
Political party Republican
Religion Lutheran

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.


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


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 and his grandfather Whitaker witnessed Abraham Lincoln's speech outside Independence Hall in February 1861, standing 20 feet (6.1 m) away.[1] He received his education at the Grovemont Seminary at Phoenixville and at the West Philadelphia Institute.[2] He was the fourth great-grandson of Abraham op den Graeff.[3] His ancestor Heinrich Pannebäcker emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1702.[4]

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.

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 Philadelphia.[2]

From 1876 to 1888 he was reporter-in-chief for the Court of Common Pleas No. 3.[4] 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 court.[2][5] 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 also signed the Salus-Grady libel law, requiring newspapers to print the names of their owners and editors and making them responsible for negligence.[2] 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 Pennsylvania.[2]

In 1906 he vetoed what would have been the first compulsory sterilization law in the United States.[6] 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 experts...Scientists like all men whose experiences have been limited to one pursuit...sometimes need to be restrained. Men of high scientific attainments are lose sight of broad principles outside of their domain...To permit such an operation would be to inflict cruelty upon a helpless class...which the state has undertaken to protect..." [7]
Pennypacker Mills

During his time in office, Pennypacker made his home in Schwenksville at Pennypacker Mills, a 170-acre (0.69 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 home.[8]

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 societies.[2] 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 history.[4] In 1915 he was appointed chairman of the Public Service Commission of Pennsylvania, which office he held until his death.[2]

He married Virginia Earl Broomall in 1870. They had four children.[4] 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  
  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".  
  5. ^  
  6. ^ History News Network at
  7. ^ Cited in Black, Edwin (2004). War against the weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race. Thunder's Mouth Press.
  8. ^ "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. 


  • 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
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.