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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House Speaker Biographies

Photo credit:

Peale, Charles Willson. Simon Snyder. 1810. National Park Service Museum Collections, Second Bank of the United States, Philadelphia.

Photo credit:

Peale, Charles Willson. Simon Snyder. 1810. National Park Service Museum Collections, Second Bank of the United States, Philadelphia.


Simon Snyder

(Elected to replace Isaac Weaver, Jr., following his resignation)

Born: November 5, 1759, Lancaster, Lancaster County, PA.  Died: November 9, 1819, Selinsgrove, Union County (now Snyder County), PA.  Member of the House: Northumberland County, 1797-1808.  Affiliation: Democratic-Republican.

Simon Snyder was born to a Pennsylvania German family in Lancaster County and was educated as a Quaker.  He served an apprenticeship as a tanner and currier while a young man, and eventually moved to Selinsgrove, where he ran a store and operated a grist mill.  It was there that he made his first foray into politics when he was elected as a justice of the peace in Penn Township in 1784.  He held the position for 12 years.  Snyder was elected in 1789 to serve as a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention in 1789-1790.  Snyder married the former Elizabeth Michael in 1790, and the couple had 2 children, Amelia (Jenks) and John.  His son John served in the 27th United States Congress.  Following his first wife’s death in 1794, he married the former Catherine Antes, and the couple had 5 children together: Henry W., George A., Philip F., and Antes.  Another child, also named Antes, died in childhood.  In 1814 he married the former Mary Slough Scott, with whom he spent the final years of his life.  

Snyder was elected to the Pennsylvania House to represent Northumberland County for the 1797-1798 session. He was re-elected for 6 more consecutive sessions.  In 1805 Snyder challenged Governor Thomas McKean, but was unsuccessful at defeating the incumbent.  After a 2-year hiatus, Snyder was again re-elected to the Pennsylvania House for the 1806-1807 and 1807-1808 sessions.  After the resignation of Isaac Weaver, Jr., on March 1, 1803, Snyder was elected the 42nd Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.  On December 6, 1803, Snyder was re-elected for a full term as Speaker for the 1803-1804 session. He was reelected Speaker on December 4, 1804, for the 1804-1805 session, on December 2, 1806, for the 1806-1807 session, as well as on December 1, 1807, for the 1807-1808 session.  During his Speakership, Cambria County was created with Act 16 of 1807.  On January 14, 1808, in his capacity as Speaker, Snyder wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson pledging the allegiance of the Commonwealth’s Representatives to the nation in the struggle against Great Britain.

Snyder was elected Governor of Pennsylvania in 1808 and re-elected in 1811 and 1814, serving until 1817.  In 1812 Snyder signed Act 29 of 1810, which called for the official state capital to be moved from Lancaster to Harrisburg.  Throughout his governorship, Snyder wrestled with issues of state versus Federal sovereignty, a controversial issue in early 19th century American politics.  He was also responsible for directing the state’s mobilization during the War of 1812.

Following his time as Governor, Snyder was elected to the Pennsylvania Senate in 1817.  He remained in that office until his death.  

Simon Snyder died on November 9, 1819, in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.  He is interred in the Old Lutheran Cemetery in Selinsgrove, Snyder County, Pennsylvania.  In 1855 the legislature incorporated and named Snyder County in honor of him.