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07/31/2021 04:45 AM
Pennsylvania State Senate

Samuel Postlethwaite


Session Position District Party
1793-1794 N/A Federalist
1795-1796 N/A Federalist
1797-1798 N/A Federalist
1799-1800 Speaker N/A Federalist
1801-1802 N/A Federalist
 Counties   Cumberland


1739 - 1810

Samuel Postlethwaite is the only Speaker of the Senate to be duly elected at mid-session, not deputed, during the absence of a predecessor. The senator was the son of English immigrants John and Anne Metcalf Postlethwaite, born in Lancaster County on January 17, 1739. He received an early informal education, ran survey lines, and accumulated an impressive real estate portfolio. At age 19, Samuel embarked on an impressive military career, serving throughout the 1758 Forbes Campaign, ascending to the rank of captain within a year and retiring as a Colonel.  Samuel settled in Carlisle, marrying Matilda Rose in 1760, playing an active role in civic affairs and pursuing a lucrative career in the Indian trade with Captain Robert Callendar and John Gibson. During the Revolution, Colonel Postlethwaite assumed command of a company of Cumberland County Militia and later rose to high rank in the assistant quartermaster department of the Continental Army. Elected sheriff of Cumberland County after war’s end, Postlethwaite eventually served in nearly all county offices. He represented his county as a Federalist in the Pennsylvania Senate from October 1794 through 1801, losing to legendary Republican Senator Robert Whitehill during the “Jeffersonian Revolution.”  On February 3, 1800, Samuel was an 18-vote unanimous choice for Speaker. He deferred the seat on March 10, 1800, as Senator Woods resumed the chair after returning from a leave of absence. During his brief service as Speaker, Samuel defeated a Samuel Maclay-backed bill designed to repeal the personal property tax law.  He and Senate Federalists additionally supported passage of an act enabling citizens to sue the state government. At home, the senator served as an elder of St. John’s Anglican Church, Carlisle. The Honorable Samuel Postlethwaite passed away at age 72 on August 24, 1810.  According to his obituary from Kline’s Carlisle Gazette, he:
“…possessed from nature one of the best and most even dispositions—his equanimity was rarely equaled—perhaps never exceeded—his complacency and benevolence were often exercised in accommodating the disputes of others…he was by many stiled (sic) the universal arbitrator.”