William Pennington

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William Pennington
23rd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
In office
February 1, 1860 – March 4, 1861
President James Buchanan
Preceded by James L. Orr
Succeeded by Galusha A. Grow
Member of U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 5th district
In office
March 4, 1859 – March 4, 1861
Preceded by Jacob R. Wortendyke
Succeeded by Nehemiah Perry
13th Governor of New Jersey
In office
October 27, 1837 – October 27, 1843
Preceded by Philemon Dickerson
Succeeded by Daniel Haines
Personal details
Born May 4, 1796
Newark, New Jersey
Died February 16, 1862 (aged 65)
Newark, New Jersey
Political party Republican
Alma mater Princeton College
Profession Law
Religion Presbyterian

William Pennington (May 4, 1796 – February 16, 1862) was an American politician and lawyer, the Governor of New Jersey from 1837 to 1843, and Speaker of the House during his one term in Congress.

Life and career

Born in Newark, New Jersey, he graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1813 and then studied law with Theodore Frelinghuysen. He was admitted to the bar in 1817 and served as a clerk of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (where his father was a judge) from 1817 to 1826.

As a member of the Whig party, he was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly in 1828, and then was elected Governor of New Jersey annually from 1837 to 1843. His tenure as governor was marked by the "Broad Seal War" controversy. Following a disputed election for Congressional Representatives in New Jersey, Pennington certified the election of five Whig candidates while five Democrats were certified by the Democratic Secretary of State. After a lengthy dispute, the Democrats were eventually seated.

He was appointed Governor of Minnesota Territory by President Millard Fillmore, but declined the position.

He was elected as a Republican to the 36th Congress to represent New Jersey's 5th congressional district. During his first (and only) term, he was elected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives after two months where the House was unable to reach a majority for John Sherman, the Republican candidate (the Republicans had only a plurality and the Southern Oppositionists who held the balance of power were unwilling to support either a radical Republican or a Democrat). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1860 to the 37th Congress.

He died in Newark of an unintentional morphine overdose[1] and was interred at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Newark.

See also


Political offices
Preceded by
Philemon Dickerson
Governor of New Jersey
October 27, 1837 – October 27, 1843
Succeeded by
Daniel Haines
Preceded by
James L. Orr
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
February 1, 1860 – March 4, 1861
Succeeded by
Galusha A. Grow
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jacob R. Wortendyke
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 5th congressional district

March 4, 1859 – March 4, 1861
Succeeded by
Nehemiah Perry