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Samuel Maclay (June 17, 1741October 5, 1811) was an Americanmarker surveyor, farmer, and politician from Union County, Pennsylvaniamarker. He served in the state legislature and represented Pennsylvaniamarker in both the U.S. House and the United States Senate.


Maclay was born the younger brother of future Pennsylvania senator William Maclay. He was born in Lurgan Township, Pennsylvaniamarker and served in the Revolutionary War.

In 1790, Maclay performed his first state work as a surveyor of the streams of northwestern Pennsylvania. He became an associate judge of Franklin County, Pennsylvaniamarker and served between 1792 and 1975.

Maclay was also the father of William Plunkett Maclay.

Political life

Maclay was elected to the Fourth Congress. He served as a member of the lower house of the State legislature in 1797 and was a member of the Pennsylvania State Senate from 1798 to 1802 and served as speaker from 1801 to 1802.

He was elected to the United States Senate as a Democratic Republican by the Pennsylvania legislature and began service in 1803. Popular among Pennsylanians, he was an infrequent Senate speaker, but was frequently mentioned as his party's possible candidate for governor, but was passed over in favor of Simon Snyder.

However, Maclay opposed the nomination of James Madison to the presidency by the Democratic Republicans. He doubted how committed Madison was to the party, considering him a late convert, and backed George Clinton instead. Furthermore, Maclay was an opponent of the Embargo Act which had been passed during President Jefferson's second term. Despite the eventual repeal of the Embargo Act, Madison secured Pennsylvania's support and Maclay realized that he was out of step with his fellow party members and Pennsylvanians. Seeing no hope of reelection, he resigned from the Senate in 1809.

Maclay served in the Senate from March 4, 1803, until his resignation on January 4, 1809. He retired and died in Buffalo Township, Pennsylvania and was interred in the Driesbach Church Cemetery in Union County, close to where he owned a farm.


  • American National Biography; Dictionary of American Biography; Aurand, A. Monroe, Jr. The Genealogy of Samuel Maclay, 1741-1811. Harrisburg, Pennsylvaniamarker: Aurand Press, 1938;

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