William Fisher Packer
PHMC: Pennsylvania Governors Past and Present
Journalist, politician, born on April 2, 1807, Howard Township, Centre County the son of James and Charity (Bye) Packer; printer’s apprentice at age thirteen for the Sunbury Public Inquirer and followed by jobs with the Bellefonte Patriot and as a journeyman at the Harrisburg Pennsylvania Intelligencer. He studied law but never practiced; owned the Lycoming Gazette, 1829; served as superintendent of the West Branch Division, Pennsylvania Canal; auditor general, 1842-1845; state House of Representatives, 1846-1849; state Senate, 1850-1852; founded the Democratic (Harrisburg) Keystone Gazette, and was elected Governor as a former Buchanan Democrat, distancing himself from the President over restricting Kansas statehood to slave-state status. He supported the Public School bill, substantially reduced state debt by privatizing the canal system, and supported Pennsylvania’s inclusion in the last-ditch-effort peace conference, to pass the Crittenden proposal to avert Civil War. Governor Packer married Mary W. Vanderbilt. He died in Williamsport on September 27, 1870, interred in Williamsburg Cemetery.