Simon Snyder

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For the business owner and politician in Ontario, Canada, see Simon Snyder (mayor).
Simon Snyder
SimonSnyder.jpg
3rd Governor of Pennsylvania
In office
December 20, 1808 – December 16, 1817
Preceded by Thomas McKean
Succeeded by William Findlay
Personal details
Born November 5, 1759
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Died November 9, 1819(1819-11-09) (aged 60)
Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania[1]
Political party Democratic-Republican Party
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Michael (1790–1794; her death)
Catherine Antes (1796–1810; her death)
Religion Lutheran
Signature

Simon Snyder (November 5, 1759 – November 9, 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. The politician started his business career as a tanner and owner of a gristmill; his first electoral office was as justice of the peace.

He led the state through the War of 1812. Following the conclusion of his third term, he was elected to the Pennsylvania State Senate. He died of typhoid fever in 1819 before he began to serve. He was the first governor elected in Pennsylvania who was of German descent.

Early life[edit]

Snyder was born on November 5, 1759 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to parents who were ethnic Germans. Anton Schneider and Agnesa Krämer (née Knippenberg) Schneider reared him in the Lutheran church. His father was a mechanic, and had immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1744 from Germany, part of a large wave of immigrants from there in the 18th century. After his father's death in 1774 when Snyder was 15, the youth became apprenticed to a tanner in York, Pennsylvania, in order to learn a trade. He used his limited leisure time for study.

In 1784, Snyder moved to Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, where he opened a gristmill. He was elected as justice of the peace, serving for twelve years.[2] His residence still stands at 121 North Market Street and is now known as the Gov. Simon Snyder Mansion; it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Marriage and family[edit]

In 1790, Snyder married Elizabeth Michael. They had two children. Elizabeth died in 1794 and her widowed husband was left to raise their young children. Snyder quickly remarried, as was common in those days, to Catherine Antes on July 12, 1796. He and his second wife had another five children together. Catherine Antes Snyder died on March 15, 1810, in Selinsgrove and is buried at the First Reformed Church Memorial Garden in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Early political career[edit]

Snyder began his political career as a Justice of the Peace. In 1789 he was elected as a delegate to revise Pennsylvania’s state constitution in 1790. Following this, he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, serving 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 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 civil cases only when the amount in question was more than one hundred dollars.[2]

Governorship[edit]

In 1808, the Jeffersonians united behind Snyder, and he won the election for governor. Snyder ran again in the succeeding elections of 1811 and 1814, easily winning 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 proposal.

War of 1812[edit]

Snyder supported the War of 1812 wholeheartedly despite Federalist cries of dissent. With the United States emerging undefeated 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 the governor was disregarded as a possible candidate.

Post governorship[edit]

Snyder was elected by the people of Union County, Pennsylvania to the State Senate in 1818. He died from typhoid fever in Selinsgrove on November 9, 1819, before taking office.[1] He is buried at the Old Lutheran Cemetery in Selinsgrove.[1]

Legacy and honors[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Governor Simon Snyder". Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Retrieved 2015-05-25. 
  2. ^ a b c Wikisource-logo.svg Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1900). "Snyder, Simon". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton. 
  3. ^ Staff (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas McKean
Governor of Pennsylvania
December 20, 1808 – December 16, 1817
Succeeded by
William Findlay