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

Early years

William Findley was born in Ulster, Irelandmarker and emigrated to Pennsylvaniamarker in 1763. He first settled in Cumberland County, Pennsylvaniamarker, 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, Pennsylvaniamarker.

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 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 Latrobemarker's Unity Cemetery.


  • The Political Graveyard
  • Explore Pennsylvania History
  • Callista Schramm, "William Findley in Pennsylvania Politics," Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine (20, 1937): 31–40
  • John Caldwell, William Findley: A Politician in Pennsylvania, 1783-1791 (Gig Harbor, WA: Red Apple Publishing, 2000)
  • Robert Ewing, "Life and Times of William Findley," Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine (2, 1919): 240-251.

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