William Tennent Rogers
Born in Philadelphia, June 17, 1799, Senator William Tennent Rogers was the son of Connecticut settler William C. Rogers (mother unknown). The senior Rogers moved the family to Warrington Township, Bucks County after a brief stay in the City of Brotherly Love. At age 14, the future Speaker embarked on a seven-year newspaper apprenticeship under Asher Miner, editor of the Bucks County Star of Freedom. William ascended from delivery boy to foreman and general business agent of the paper. In 1822, he married Mary Sophia Pugh of Doylestown and purchased the Democrat and Farmers Gazette from rising 23 year-old Democrat Simon Cameron. He sold the paper in 1829 and acquired the German Democratic journal, the Bucks County Express.
A dedicated military man, Rogers attained the rank of Captain of the Bucks Pennsylvania Rifle Company before 1819. Chosen Major General of the Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware Military District in 1830, Senator Rogers later received an 1839 Van Buren appointment as a member of the West Point Board of Visitors.
Rogers received his first major political position as postmaster under the Monroe administration. He later served as Clerk of the Bucks County Commission (1831); Collector of Tolls at the Bristol office of the Delaware Canal (1833 and 1841); and in 1842, Superintendent of the Delaware Canal. He served as a member of the 1856 Board of Revenue Commissioners, and two years later, Governor Packer appointed William, notary public.
During his years in the Senate, Rogers served as Chairman of the Public Buildings and Accounts Committees, appointed throughout his career as a mainstay on Militia (chair), Library, and Revenue Bills. Rogers corresponded with state Democratic leader Lewis Coryell, appearing as an ardent Jackson supporter, backing the president’s controversial Compromise of 1833 and opposing the Second U.S. Bank charter. William favored a low tariff and fought introduction of coking technology in defiance of the Keystone State’s growing manufacturing section. In the process, he defended Pennsylvania’s numerous small furnace operators against extinction. A proponent of Governor Wolf’s public education program, the Bucks Democrat also advocated a woman’s inclusion at the bar.
During the 1835-1836 Session, he fought the privatization of the public works program and the call for an open constitutional convention. Rogers played an important role in his attempt to prevent escalation of violence during the Buckshot War, maintaining a close, if not particularly warm relationship with Speaker Charles Penrose, earning the overly-generous moniker “The Great Pacificator.” He became Speaker of the Senate in 1840 and served as a delegate to the Baltimore Democratic National Convention during the same year.
A prominent force in local government, William received leadership positions as commissioner of streets, clerk on the Doylestown Borough Council, and president of the Doylestown and Willow Grove Turnpike. Rogers founded the Doylestown Cemetery Corporation and actively participated in the Bucks County Agricultural Society, nurturing a keen interest in horticulture and development of the county’s fruit crops. Rogers represented an 1850 group responsible for building the town’s waterworks and served as a Bucks County commissioner from 1861-1863. A true newspaperman until he died, Senator Rogers left instructions in his will, directing his burial by four printers. Three days after June 29, 1866, two printers from the Democrat and two from the Intelligencer carried out his wish.