Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker


Samuel Pennypacker was born in Phoenixville, Chester County, on April 9, 1843. His grandfather, Mathias Pennypacker, helped write the Pennsylvania state Constitution. When General Robert E. Lee's forces began to engage Union troops in Pennsylvania in 1863, Pennypacker enlisted in a Pennsylvania regiment and with minimal training fought at Gettysburg. After the war Pennypacker studied law at the University of Pennsylvania, earned his degree in 1865 and established himself in law practice in 1866. In 1868 he became president of the Law Academy of Philadelphia.

In 1889 Pennypacker was appointed judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia. In 1900 he became President of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (serving in that capacity for sixteen years), and it was during this period that he began to devote more time to writing. Pennypacker's personal library is reputed to have numbered over 10,000 volumes and by some accounts is Pennsylvania's best-read governor. He spoke several languages, including Greek, French, Dutch, Spanish, Latin, and German.

Evidence of Pennypacker's poetry can be found in Reports of Cases in the Philadelphia License Court of 1901 compiled by Pennypacker (consisting of twelve poems in English, German, and French, with quotations in Dutch and Latin).

Governor Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

J. Smith Futhey & Gilbert Cope (eds.), History of Chester County, PA (1881)


Samuel W. Pennypacker, The Autobiography of a Pennsylvanian (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Co., 1918) [online text]


Samuel W. Pennypacker, Annals of Phoenixville and its vicinity : from the settlement to the year 1871, giving the origin and growth of the borough with information concerning the adjacent townships of Chester and Montgomery counties and the valley of the Schuylkill (Philadelphia: Bavis & Pennypacker, Printers, 1872) [online text]

___________________, The Settlement of Germantown, Pennsylvania, and the Beginning of German Emigration to North America (Philadelphia: W. J. Campbell, 1899) [online text]

___________________, Pennsylvania in American History (Philadelphia: William J. Campbell, 1910) [online text]

___________________, Pennsylvania, the Keystone: A Short History (Philadelphia: Christopher Sower Co., 1914) [online text]


Hampton L Carson, An Address upon the Life and Services of Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker, governor of Pennsylvania, president of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania ([Philadelphia?] 1917)