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Governor William Findlay

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Office Dates:  Dec 16, 1817 - Dec 19, 1820

Born:  Jun 20, 1768

Passed:  Nov 12, 1846

Birth State:  Pennsylvania

Party:  Democratic-Republican (New School Jeffersonian Democrat or "Family Party")

Family:  Married Nancy Irwin; one child

National Office(s) Served:  Senator

Military Service:  National Guard


WILLIAM FINDLAY was born in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania and was admitted to the Franklin County Bar after reading law. He served in the Pennsylvania Assembly for ten years, after which the state legislature chose him State Treasurer, a position that he held until becoming governor. At the time of Findlay’s election, there were two Jeffersonian factions: the new school, which favored a protective tariff, a federally chartered bank, and publicly-funded internal improvements; and the old school, which sought to greatly limit governmental functions. Supported by the former faction, Findlay won the governorship by 7,000 out of a total of 125,000 votes cast. Findlay’s adversaries launched an investigation into his years as State Treasurer and sought his impeachment. Notwithstanding the failure of the impeachment effort, it damaged his political standing, which was further eroded during the Panic of 1819. Methods for promoting canal and turnpike construction were looked into during Findlay’s administration but were not acted on because of the financial panic. During the next gubernatorial race, the old school Jeffersonian faction was successful in defeating Findlay, who went on to win election by the state legislature to the U.S. Senate, where he served until 1827. President Andrew Jackson later appointed him Director of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, a position that he held until 1841. He died at the age of seventy-eight in Harrisburg, where he had gone to live with his daughter.

SOURCES:

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 2. New York: James T. White & Company.

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress