George Wolf (August 12, 1777 – March 11, 1840) was the seventh Governor of Pennsylvania from 1829 to 1835. On June 29, 1888, he was recognized as the "father of the public-school system" in Pennsylvania by the erection of a memorial gateway at Easton.[1]

George Wolf
George Wolf.jpg
7th Governor of Pennsylvania
In office
December 15, 1829 – December 15, 1835
Preceded byJohn Andrew Shulze
Succeeded byJoseph Ritner
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 8th district
In office
Preceded byThomas J. Rogers,
Samuel D. Ingham
Succeeded byPeter Ihrie, Jr.,
Samuel A. Smith
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born(1777-08-12)August 12, 1777
Allen Township, Pennsylvania
DiedMarch 11, 1840(1840-03-11) (aged 62)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Resting placeHarrisburg Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Mary Erb (1798–1833; her death)


Early yearsEdit

Wolf was born in Allen Township, Pennsylvania. His parents, George and Mary Wolf, had immigrated from Alsace, then a province of the Holy Roman Empire, in 1751.[2] George Wolf was educated at a classical school, taught for some time, and then studied law.[1] He was admitted to the bar in 1799 and commenced practice in Easton, Pennsylvania. He became a member of the Democratic Republican Party at the start of Thomas Jefferson's administration,[1] and was appointed postmaster of Easton, which office he filled in 1802 and 1803. He was a clerk of the orphans' court of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, from 1803 to 1809. He was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1814.

Wolf married Mary Erb (1781–1833) of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on June 5, 1798.[2] The couple had eight sons and one daughter.[2]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

Wolf was elected without opposition to the United States House of Representatives in 1824 to the Eighteenth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Thomas J. Rogers. He was reelected to the Nineteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-first Congresses. He took the protectionist side in debates on the tariff.[1]

Governor of PennsylvaniaEdit

As member of the Jacksonian Democratic Party, Wolf defeated Joseph Ritner in both 1829 and 1832 to become the Governor of Pennsylvania. He lost the governor's seat to the Anti-Mason candidate Ritner in 1835, owing to the defection of a part of the Democrats, who voted for Henry A. Muhlenberg.[1]

As governor, Wolf persuaded the legislature to construct canals and impose new taxes for the liquidation of debts that had already been incurred on account of internal improvements. Wolf advocated the establishment of a general system of common schools, and by strenuous efforts accomplished this reform where former governors had failed.[1] In the wake of the hanging of Charles Getter in Easton, which was viewed by up to 20,000 people, Wolf signed a law on April 10, 1834, to ban public executions.[3]

Later yearsEdit

From 1827 to 1840, Wolf was a trustee of Lafayette College.[4] In 1836 Andrew Jackson appointed him as first Comptroller of the Treasury. Two years later President Martin Van Buren appointed him as Collector of Customs for the District of Philadelphia in a job swap with James Nelson Barker. He held this office until his death.[1][5]


Wolf Hall on the campus of Penn State University is named for George Wolf. Wolf Township in Lycoming County is also named for him, as is Wolf Street in Philadelphia. The Governor Wolf Building, built in 1893 as the first Easton High School in Easton, the George Wolf Elementary School in Bath, and the Governor Wolf Elementary School in Bethlehem are also named for Governor Wolf. The Governor Wolf Historical Society in East Allen Township is named for George Wolf and is the historic site of Wolf Academy where young George received a classical education and went on to become a teacher there.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1889). "Wolf, George" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  2. ^ a b c Richards, Miles (January 14, 2015). "Exploring History: Pennsylvania's 1st Governor Wolf". Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  3. ^ "See a bird's-eye view of Getter's Island, now for sale in Easton". The Express-Times. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  4. ^ Skillman, David Bishop (1932). The Biography of a College: Being the History of the First Century of the Life of Lafayette College. Easton, Pennsylvania: Lafayette College. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  5. ^ "George Wolf Esq". Raleigh Register. March 13, 1840. p. 5. Retrieved May 7, 2021 – via


External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
1829, 1832
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 8th congressional district

alongside: Samuel D. Ingham
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by