Simon Snyder
3rd Governor of Pennsylvania
In office
December 20, 1808 – December 16, 1817
Preceded byThomas McKean
Succeeded byWilliam Findlay
Personal details
Born(1759-11-05)November 5, 1759
Lancaster, Province of Pennsylvania, British America
DiedNovember 9, 1819(1819-11-09) (aged 60)
Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, U.S.[1]
Political partyDemocratic-Republican
Elizabeth Michael
(m. 1790; died 1794)

Catherine Antes
(m. 1796; died 1810)

Mary Slough Scott
(m. 1814; his death 1819)

Simon Snyder (November 5, 1759 – November 9, 1819) was the third Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, serving three terms from 1808 to 1817. He led the state through the War of 1812.

Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Snyder established a gristmill in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. He was elected as a Justice of the Peace and served as a delegate to the 1790 Pennsylvania constitutional convention. He served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1797 to 1807, and won election as Speaker of the House. A member of the Democratic-Republican Party, he ran for governor in 1805 but was defeated by Thomas McKean.

He won election as governor in 1808 and won re-election in 1811 and 1814. He was the first governor elected in Pennsylvania who was of German descent. Snyder presided over the establishment of Harrisburg as the state capital. He strongly supported the War of 1812 and was a candidate for the Democratic-Republican vice presidential nomination in the 1816 presidential election. Following the conclusion of his third term, he was elected to the Pennsylvania State Senate for the 9th Senatorial District but died of typhoid fever in 1819 before he began to serve.

Early life

Snyder was born on November 5, 1759 in Lancaster in the Province of Pennsylvania. His parents 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. The family was for many years associated with the Moravian Church in Lancaster, consistently listed in membership catalogs of the congregation during the 1760s and 1770s.[2] 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.[3] 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

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.

In 1814, Snyder married Mary Slough Scott, a widow. They remained together until his death in 1819.

Early political career

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.[3]


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

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

Snyder was elected by the people of Union County, Pennsylvania to the Pennsylvania 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

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Governor Simon Snyder". Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  2. ^ Records of Lancaster Moravian Church, Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
  3. ^ a b c Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1900). "Snyder, Simon" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  4. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.


Party political offices
Preceded by
Thomas McKean
Democratic-Republican nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
1805, 1808, 1811, 1814
Succeeded by
William Findlay
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas McKean
Governor of Pennsylvania
December 20, 1808 – December 16, 1817
Succeeded by
William Findlay