Gov. Samuel W. Pennypacker

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Gov. Samuel W. Pennypacker's Geni Profile

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Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker

Birthdate: (73)
Birthplace: Phoenixville Chester County Pennsylvania
Death: Died in Swenksville, Montgomery, Pennsylvania, USA
Place of Burial: Morris Cemetery Phoenixville Chester County Pennsylvania
Immediate Family:

Son of Isaac Anderson Pennypacker; Anna Maria Pennypacker and Anna Maria Pennypacker
Husband of Virginia Earl Pennybacker and Virginia Earl Pennypacker
Father of Dirck Koster Pennypacker; Bevan Aubrey Pennypacker; Josephine Whitaker Pennypacker; Anna Maria Whitaker Pennypacker; Eliza Broomall Pennypacker and 1 other
Brother of James Lane Pennypacker; Isaac Rusling Pennypacker; Henry Clay Pennypacker; John Christman Pennypacker and Josephine Pennypacker

Occupation: 24th Governor of Pennsylvania
Managed by: Erin Spiceland
Last Updated:

About Gov. Samuel W. Pennypacker

Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker (April 9, 1843 – September 2, 1916) was the 23rd Governor of Pennsylvania from 1903 to 1907. Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker was the fourth great-grandson of Abraham op den Graeff.


Gov. Pennypacker was born in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, April 9, 1843; son of Dr. Isaac A. Pennypacker and Anna Maria Whitaker; 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. Pennypacker's early education was interrupted several times before 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. His public life began in the 1880s with several judgeships; Pennypacker also wrote extensively as president of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. 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.

In 1906 he vetoed what would have been the first compulsory sterilization law in the United States. 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..."

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.

He died at Pennypacker Mills, aged 73, and was buried in Morris Cemetery, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Pennypacker Hall at the Penn State University Park campus is named for him, as is the Samuel W. Pennypacker School at Philadelphia.


The Autobiography of a Pennsylvanian (1918)

Letters to

Letter to Samuel W. Pennypacker from George H. Earle, Jr., May 16, 1906,_Jr.,_May_16,_1906

24th Pennsylvania Governor. He served as Governor of Pennsylvania from 1903 to 1907. He served during the Civil War as a Private in the 26th Pennsylvania Emergency Troops, which was a Militia regiment mobilized during the Confederates invasion of Pennsylvania in the Summer of 1863.

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Gov. Samuel W. Pennypacker's Timeline

April 9, 1843
Phoenixville Chester County Pennsylvania
Age 6
August 4, 1871
Age 28
November 14, 1872
Age 29
October 18, 1874
Age 31
December 7, 1878
Age 35
November 22, 1879
Age 36
July 20, 1881
Age 38
Age 66
Montgomery, PA
Age 66