Simon Snyder, 3rd Governor of Pennsylvania

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Simon Snyder

Birthdate: (60)
Birthplace: Lancaster, Lancaster County, Province of Pennsylvania
Death: November 9, 1819 (60)
Selinsgrove, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, United States (Typhoid Fever)
Place of Burial: Selinsgrove, Snyder County, Pennsylvania, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Anthony Snyder and Mary Elizabeth Snyder
Husband of Elizabeth Snyder; Catharine Schuyler Snyder and Mary Snyder
Father of Amelia Jencks; Rep. John Snyder (D-PA); Henry William Snyder; George Antes Snyder and Phillip Frederick Snyder

Occupation: 3rd Governor of Pennsylvania
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Simon Snyder, 3rd Governor of Pennsylvania

Simon Snyder (5 November 1759 – 9 November 1819) was the third Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, serving three terms from 1808 to 1817. A Jeffersonian Democrat, he served three terms as speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives before becoming governor.

He led the state through the War of 1812 and, following the conclusion of his term, was elected to the United States Senate, but he died in 1819 before he began to serve. He was the first governor of Pennsylvania to be of German descent.

Early life

Snyder was born on 5 November 1759 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to Moravian parents, Anthony and Mary Elizabeth (née Knippenberg) Snyder. His father was a mechanic, and had emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1758. After his father's death in 1774, Snyder apprenticed himself to a tanner in York, Pennsylvania, and employed his leisure in study. In 1784, Snyder moved to Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, where he opened a gristmill, and was justice of the peace for twelve years. His residence still stands at 121 North Market Street.

Marriage and family

In 1790, Snyder married Elizabeth Michael. They had two children. Elizabeth died in 1794 and her widowed husband was left to raise the young children. Snyder quickly remarried, as was common in those days. With his second wife, Catherine Antes, he had five more children.

Early political career

Snyder began his political career as a Justice of the Peace. He was first elected in 1789 to serve as a delegate to help revise Pennsylvania’s state constitution in 1790. Following this, he served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1797 to 1807. During this time, he was elected three times as the speaker of the House: in 1804, in 1805, and in 1807.

While he was in the House, Snyder sought the governorship as a Jeffersonian Democrat in 1805, but he was defeated by the incumbent governor Thomas McKean, also a Jeffersonian Democrat. A lack of public recognition in comparison to the incumbent contributed to Snyder's losing the election.

Snyder sponsored the “Hundred-dollar Act,” which embodied the arbitration principle. It provided for the trial of cases only when the amount in question was more than one hundred dollars.


In 1808, the Jeffersonians united behind Snyder and he won the election. Snyder ran again in subsequent elections (in 1811 and 1814) and easily won reelection against the Federalist candidates William Tilghman, Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and Isaac Wayne, respectively. In 1812, Snyder suggested relocating the capital city of the commonwealth from Lancaster to its present, more central location in Harrisburg. The General Assembly approved this request.

War of 1812

Snyder supported the War of 1812 wholeheartedly despite Federalist cries of dissent. With the victory at the end of the war, this criticism subsided. After the war, John Binns supported elevating Snyder to consideration for the vice-presidential slot on President James Madison’s ticket, but later he was disregarded as a possible candidate.

Post governorship

Snyder was elected by the legislature in 1818 to serve in the United States Senate. He died on 9 November 1819, before taking office.

Legacy and honors

His gravesite at Sharon Lutheran Church in Selinsgrove is marked by a monument topped by his bust.
His house at Selinsgrove, known as the Gov. Simon Snyder Mansion, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Sy Snyder is a pseudonym for the publishers of PoliticsPA, a website dedicated to Pennsylvania politics.
Snyder County, Pennsylvania, is named in his honor.
A street in South Philadephia, Pennsylvania is named in his honor.
A residence hall at Penn State University is named in his honor.
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Simon Snyder, 3rd Governor of Pennsylvania's Timeline

November 5, 1759
Lancaster, Lancaster County, Province of Pennsylvania
Age 31
July 29, 1793
Age 33
Selinsgrove, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, United States
Age 37
Age 39
Age 41
November 9, 1819
Age 60
Selinsgrove, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, United States