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William Findley (c. 1741– April 4, 1821) was an American farmer and politician from Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. He served in both houses of the state legislature and represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. House from 1791 until 1799 and from 1803 to 1817.

Early years

William Findley was born in Ulster, Ireland and emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1763. He first settled in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, where he married and started a family. In the American Revolution he served on the Cumberland County Committee of Observation, and enlisted as a private in the local militia, and rose to the rank of captain of the Seventh Company of the Eighth Battalion of Cumberland County Associators. In 1783 he moved his family across the Allegheny Mountains to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

Public life

Upon arrival in Westmoreland County he was almost immediately elected to the Council of Censors. On this Council, which was to decide whether the radical Constitution of 1776 needed to be revised, he established himself as an effective supporter of what the "best people" considered the radical position in state politics.

In the following years he served in the Ninth through Twelfth General Assemblies and on the Supreme Executive Council. He was a major opposition voice[1] [2] in the Pennsylvania convention that ratified the federal Constitution and he was one of the leaders in the convention that, in 1789, wrote a new Constitution for Pennsylvania.

He was an Antifederalist who wrote papers under the name of "An Officer of the Late Continental Army".

After serving in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, he was elected to the Second Congress from the district west of the mountains in 1791. William Findley served in the Second through the Fifth congresses. As a voice of reason, in 1794 he helped to calm the passions of the Whiskey Insurrection.

After declining nomination to the Sixth Congress, he was elected to the Pennsylvania State Senate because he allowed his name to be placed on the local ticket to rally western support for Thomas McKean's campaign for Governor.

Elected to the Eighth Congress, he served through the Fourteenth, the turbulent years of the Burr conspiracy, the embargo, and the War of 1812 as a strong supporter of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. He was known as "The Venerable Findley," and because he was the senior representative in years of service, he was in 1811 designated "Father of the House" the first man to be awarded that honorary title. He died in his home along the Loyalhanna Creek on April 5, 1821, and is buried in Latrobe's Unity Cemetery.


Political offices
Preceded by
John Proctor
Member, Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, representing Westmoreland County
25 November 1789—20 December 1790
Succeeded by
position dissolved
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
At large on a General ticket:
Muhlenberg, Clymer, Fitzsimons, Hartley, Scott, Wynkoop, Hiester & Muhlenberg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's At-large congressional district

1791 - 1795

1791-1793 alongside:
Fitzsimons, Hartley, Muhlenberg, Kittera, Hiester, Jacobs & Gregg
1793-1795 alongside:
Fitzsimons, Muhlenberg, Kittera, Hartley, Scott, Armstrong, Muhlenberg, Gregg, Hiester, Irvine, Smilie & Montgomery

Succeeded by

1st: John Swanwick
2nd: Frederick Muhlenberg
3rd: Richard Thomas
4th: Samuel Sitgreaves & John Richards
5th: Daniel Hiester
6th: John Andre Hanna
7th: John W. Kittera
8th: Thomas Hartley
9th: Andrew Gregg
10th: David Bard & Samuel Maclay
11th: William Findley
12th: Albert Gallatin

Preceded by
At large on a General ticket:
Thomas Fitzsimons, Muhlenberg, Kittera, Hartley, Scott, Armstrong, Muhlenberg, Gregg, Hiester, Irvine, Smilie, Findley & Montgomery
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 11th congressional district

1795 - 1799
Succeeded by
John Smilie
Preceded by
John Stewart
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 8th congressional district

1803 - 1813
Succeeded by
William Piper
Preceded by
Abner Lacock
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 11th congressional district

1813 - 1817
Succeeded by
David Marchand


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