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Simon Snyder

Gov. Simon Snyder

  • December 20, 1808 - December 16, 1817
  • Democratic-Republican
  • November 5, 1759
  • November 9, 1819
  • Pennsylvania
  • Senator


SIMON SNYDER was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and became a tanning and currying apprentice during his teens. In his twenties he moved to Selinsgrove, where he opened a store and ran a grist mill and was elected Justice of the Peace. He was a delegate to the state Constitutional Convention of 1789-1790 and was elected to the state Assembly every year from 1797 to 1807 except 1805, when he ran for governor. Considered to be an advocate for the poor, Snyder was nominated by the legislature to run for governor against incumbent Thomas McKean, who had been lambasted in the press for referring to the common man as a “clodpole.” Although he was defeated by McKean in 1805, Snyder came back to win election against his Federalist opponent in 1808 with the full support of Jeffersonians, who had come back together after suffering a split earlier in the decade. Reelected in 1811 and 1814, he helped prepare Pennsylvanians for the War of 1812. In 1809, however, he was forced to back down after calling up the state militia to protect Pennsylvania’s sovereignty against the federal government in the Olmsted case. [In that case, a Connecticut sea captain by the name of Gideon Olmstead overcame his British captors and sailed their ship into American waters. He and the State of Pennsylvania, which each laid claim on the ship, fought their claims through both the state and federal courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled in Olmsted’s favor. However, the dispute led to an armed confrontation between the state and the federal government. Source:] As his third term came to an end, Snyder was elected by the Pennsylvania legislature to the U.S. Senate. He had just begun his term as a Senator when he fell ill and died at the age of sixty.


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 Archive Holdings: MG-116 Snyder Family Collection

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