GEORGE WOLF was born in Allen Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania and studied at the Allen Township Classical Academy, of which he later became principal. After reading law, he was admitted to the Northampton County Bar in 1798. He became clerk to the prothonotary (i.e., chief clerk) and postmaster in Easton in 1801, served as clerk of the Northampton County Orphans Court from 1804 to 1809, and was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1814. He then engaged in the practice of law until he won elected to Congress in 1824. He was reelected to his congressional seat twice, resigning during his third term to become Pennsylvania’s governor. Having begun his political career as a Jeffersonian, he had become a Jacksonian Democrat—a party that split into two factions in Pennsylvania during the late 1820s: one faction supporting Henry Clay for President to succeed Andrew Jackson, and the other supporting John C. Calhoun. Wolf was the gubernatorial candidate favored by the Calhoun faction, and after winning the Democratic party nomination, he defeated his Anti-Mason opponent in the general election. While governor, Wolf undertook a revision of Pennsylvania’s statute law, urged the establishment of a public school system, supported new taxation to repay funds borrowed to finance the state’s public canal and railway system, and brought the canal/railway project close to completion. Although Wolf won a second term as governor, the party split that had resulted from the bitter Jackson-Calhoun feud led to the nomination of a rival three years later and ultimately cost the Democrats the election to their Anti-Masonic opponents. President Jackson appointed Wolf to the newly-created post of Comptroller of the U.S. Treasury in 1836 and President Martin Van Buren appointed him Collector of Customs in Philadelphia two years later.
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 State Archives Holdings: MG-227 George Wolf Papers