FRANCIS RAWN SHUNK was born in Trappe, Pennsylvania. He began teaching at the age of fifteen and then studied law, winning admission to the Bar in 1816. In 1812 he was appointed a clerk by the Surveyor General of Pennsylvania and two years later served with the Pennsylvania emergency force sent to defend Baltimore during the War of 1812. He went on to become clerk of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and then clerk of the Pennsylvania Canal Commission for a decade, after which he was named Secretary of the Commonwealth by then-Governor David R. Porter, whom he succeeded as governor. As governor, Shunk mobilized Pennsylvania’s volunteer quota for the Mexican War. He opposed legislation granting special privileges to business and promoting the concentration of wealth. Soon after beginning his second term, he was stricken with tuberculosis, forcing him to step down. He died less than two weeks after resigning the governorship, and was succeeded in accordance with the Pennsylvania Constitution by the Speaker of the state Senate.
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.