Hiester Clymer

Hiester Clymer (November 3, 1827 – June 12, 1884) was an American political leader from the state of Pennsylvania. Clymer was a member of the Hiester family political dynasty and the Democratic Party. He was the nephew of William Muhlenberg Hiester and the cousin of Isaac Ellmaker Hiester. Although Clymer was born in Pennsylvania, he was adamantly opposed to Abraham Lincoln's administration and the Republican Party's prosecution of the American Civil War. Elected Pennsylvania state senator in 1860, Clymer opposed state legislation that supported the state Republican Party's war effort. After the American Civil War ended, Clymer unsuccessfully ran for the Pennsylvania Governor's office in 1866 on a white supremacist platform against Union Major-General John W. Geary. After his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1872 as a Democrat, Clymer would be primarily known for his investigation of Sec. William W. Belknap's War Department in 1876. Belknap escaped conviction in a Senate trial, since he resigned his cabinet position before being impeached by the House of Representatives. Having retired from the House in 1881, Clymer served as Vice President of the Union Trust Co. of Philadelphia and president of the Clymer Iron Co. until his death in 1884.

Hiester Clymer
Hiester Clymer Brady-Handy.jpg
Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus
In office
March 4, 1877 – March 3, 1879
SpeakerSamuel J. Randall
Preceded byLucius Q. C. Lamar II
Succeeded byJohn F. House
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 8th district
In office
March 4, 1873 – March 3, 1881
Preceded byJames L. Getz
Succeeded byDaniel Ermentrout
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate, District 8
In office
Preceded byHenry Spering Mott
Succeeded byJoseph Depuy Davis
Personal details
Born(1827-11-03)November 3, 1827
near Morgantown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedJune 12, 1884(1884-06-12) (aged 56)
Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Resting placeCharles Evans Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic

Early lifeEdit

Clymer was born near Morgantown, Pennsylvania. He attended Princeton University, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1849. Clymer practiced law in Berks County and Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.[1] His brother, Edward M. Clymer, married the actress and poet, Ella Maria Dietz.

Political careerEdit

A racist pro-Clymer campaign poster for the 1866 governor's election.

He was a delegate to the national conventions of the Democratic Party in 1860 and 1868. He served in the Pennsylvania State Senate for the 8th district from 1861 to 1866.[2] He ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Pennsylvania in 1866 on a white supremacist policy, losing to John W. Geary. In the controversial campaign, Clymer's camp produced some of the most virulently graphic racist posters and pamphlets of the decade.[3]

U.S. Representative (1873–1881)Edit

He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1872 and served from March 4, 1873 to March 3, 1881. While in Congress, he served on the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of State, and as chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of War.

Retirement and deathEdit

After he left Congress, he served as vice president of the Union Trust Company in Philadelphia and as president of the Clymer Iron Company. He died in Reading, Pennsylvania, on June 12, 1884, by suicide as a result of what one newspaper account called "financial embarrassment."[4] He is interred at the Charles Evans Cemetery.[5][6]

Further readingEdit

  • United States Congress. "Hiester Clymer (id: C000539)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • The Political Graveyard


  1. ^ "Pennsylvania State Senate - Heister Clymer Biography". www.legis.state.pa.us. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  2. ^ Cox, Harold. "Senate Members C". Wilkes University Election Statistics Project. Wilkes University.
  3. ^ Wood, Forrest G. (1970). Black scare: the racist response to emancipation and reconstruction. University of California Press. p. 79. Retrieved April 26, 2016. Hiester Clymer was a white supremacist.
  4. ^ The Tonganoxie Mirror, June 26, 1884, p. 2
  5. ^ "Clymer, Hiester", in "History, Art & Archives: U.S. House of Representatives." Washington, D.C.: U.S. House of Representatives, retrieved online August 23, 2018.
  6. ^ "Hiester Clymer". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 8 March 2019.

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Pennsylvania State Senate
Preceded by
Henry Spering Mott
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate, 8th district
Succeeded by
Joseph Depuy Davis
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by