Isaac S. Pennybacker

Isaac Samuels Pennybacker (September 3, 1805 – January 12, 1847) was a United States Representative and a United States Senator from Virginia and a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia.

Isaac S. Pennybacker
Isaac S. Pennybacker.jpg
United States Senator
from Virginia
In office
December 3, 1845 – January 12, 1847
Preceded byWilliam Cabell Rives
Succeeded byJames Murray Mason
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
In office
April 23, 1839 – 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 Berry Samuels
Personal details
Isaac Samuels Pennybacker

(1805-09-03)September 3, 1805
Pine Forge, Virginia
DiedJanuary 12, 1847(1847-01-12) (aged 41)
Washington, D.C.
Resting placeWoodbine Cemetery
Harrisonburg, Virginia
Political partyDemocratic
RelativesGreen Berry Samuels
EducationWinchester Law School

Education and careerEdit

Born on September 3, 1805, at Pine Forge near Newmarket, Shenandoah County, Virginia,[1] Pennybacker attended an "old field" school and the Winchester Law School.[2] He was admitted to the bar and entered private practice in Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Virginia until 1837.[1]

House serviceEdit

Pennybacker was elected as a Democrat from Virginia's 16th congressional district to the United States House of Representatives of the 25th United States Congress, serving from March 4, 1837, to March 3, 1839.[2] He declined the office of United States Attorney General offered him by President Martin Van Buren and that of Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia.[2]

Federal judicial serviceEdit

Pennybacker received a recess appointment from President Martin Van Buren on April 23, 1839, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia vacated by Judge Alexander Caldwell.[1] He was nominated to the same position by President Van Buren on January 23, 1840.[1] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 17, 1840, and received his commission the same day.[1] His service terminated on December 6, 1845, due to his resignation.[1]

Senate service and deathEdit

Pennybacker was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy in the term beginning March 4, 1845, caused by the failure of the Virginia General Assembly to elect, and served from December 3, 1845, until his death.[2] He was Chairman of the Committee on Claims for the 29th United States Congress.[2] He died on January 12, 1847, in Washington, D.C.[1] He was interred in Woodbine Cemetery in Harrisonburg.[2]

Other serviceEdit

President 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, Washington, D.C. Mayor William Winston Seaton, Senator Sidney Breese, United States Representative William Jervis Hough, United States Representative Robert Dale Owen, United States Representative Henry Washington Hilliard, Rufus Choate, Richard Rush, Dr. Benjamin Rush, William C. Preston, Alexander Dallas Bache, and Joseph Gilbert Totten, among others, who met for the first time in September 1846.[3]


Pennybacker was a cousin of Green Berry Samuels, a United States Representative from Virginia.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Isaac Samuels Pennybacker at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Isaac Samuels Pennybacker". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  3. ^ "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

Succeeded by
Green Berry Samuels
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 Cabell Rives
U.S. senator (Class 1) from Virginia
Served alongside: William S. Archer
Succeeded by
James Murray Mason