Isaac S. Pennybacker

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Isaac Samuels Pennybacker
Isaac S. Pennybacker.jpg
United States Senator
from Virginia
In office
December 3, 1845 – January 12, 1847
Preceded byWilliam C. Rives
Succeeded byJames M. Mason
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
In office
February 17, 1840 – December 6, 1845
Appointed byMartin Van Buren
Preceded byAlexander Caldwell
Succeeded byJohn White Brockenbrough
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 16th district
In office
March 4, 1837 – March 3, 1839
Preceded byJames M. H. Beale
Succeeded byGreen B. Samuels
Personal details
Born(1805-09-03)September 3, 1805
New Market, Virginia
DiedJanuary 12, 1847(1847-01-12) (aged 41)
Washington, D.C.
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materWashington College
ProfessionLawyer, judge, politician

Isaac Samuels Pennybacker (September 3, 1805 – January 12, 1847) was an American lawyer, federal judge, and politician from Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Early life and education[edit]

Pennybacker was born at Pine Forge, near New Market, Shenandoah County, Virginia on September 3, 1805. His parents were Benjamin D. Pennybacker (1760–1820) and Sarah Margaret Samuels (1768–1825). He married Sarah Ann Dyer in 1832.

He attended Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) and the Winchester Law School, run by Henry St. George Tucker, Sr.. He was then in private practice in Harrisonburg, Virginia until 1837.

Political and judicial career[edit]

Pennybacker represented Virginia in the U.S. House from 1837 to 1839.

He was offered by President Martin Van Buren the office of Attorney General, but declined. Similarly, he declined a position as justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, and would not accept the nomination of the Democratic party for Governor of Virginia.

On April 23, 1839, Pennybacker received a recess appointment from Van Buren to a seat on the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia following the death of Alexander Caldwell. Formally nominated on January 29, 1840, Pennybacker was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 17, 1840, and received his commission the same day.

He resigned from his judgeship on December 6, 1845, and then served as United States Senator from Virginia from 1845-1847. James K. Polk named Pennybacker to the very first Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, a group which included Vice-President George M. Dallas, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, D.C. Mayor William W. Seaton, Senator Sidney Breese, Rep. William J. Hough, Rep. Robert Dale Owen, Rep. Henry W. Hilliard, Rufus Choate, Richard Rush, Dr. Benjamin Rush, William C. Preston, Alexander Dallas Bache, and Joseph G. Totten, among others, who met for the first time in September 1846.[1]

As judge, Pennybacker was succeeded by John White Brockenbrough. As Senator, he succeeded William Cabell Rives, whose brother Alexander Rives later served like Pennybacker as judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia. Pennybacker died at the age of 41 in Washington, D.C.. His Senate seat was filled by James Murray Mason.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Some Reflections on the Board of Regents' First Meeting, on September 7, 1846". Center for Museum Studies, Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved October 2, 2007.


U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
James M. H. Beale
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 16th congressional district

March 4, 1837 – March 4, 1839
Succeeded by
Green B. Samules
Legal offices
Preceded by
Alexander Caldwell
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
Succeeded by
John White Brockenbrough
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
William C. Rives
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Virginia
December 3, 1845 – January 12, 1847
Served alongside: William S. Archer
Succeeded by
James M. Mason