Samuel Maclay

Samuel Maclay (June 17, 1741 – October 5, 1811) was an American surveyor, farmer, and politician from Union County, Pennsylvania. He served in the state legislature and represented Pennsylvania in both the U.S. House and the United States Senate.

Samuel Maclay
United States Senator
from Pennsylvania
In office
March 4, 1803 – January 4, 1809
Preceded byJames Ross
Succeeded byMichael Leib
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1795 – March 3, 1797
Preceded byAndrew Gregg
Succeeded byJohn A. Hanna
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
In office
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born(1741-06-17)June 17, 1741
Lurgan Township, Province of Pennsylvania, British America
DiedOctober 5, 1811(1811-10-05) (aged 70)
Buffalo Township, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic-Republican


Maclay was born the younger brother of future Pennsylvania senator William Maclay. He was born in Lurgan Township in the Province of Pennsylvania at Maclay's Mill and served in the Revolutionary War. Maclay came to the Buffalo Valley in Union County in 1769, then in Cumberland and Berks Counties, to perform some of the first surveys, along with and under the supervision of brother William, in "the new purchase" of land made by the Penn Family pursuant to the Treaty at Fort Stanwix in 1768.

In 1790, Maclay performed work as a surveyor of the streams of northwestern Pennsylvania, equating to something of a "Lewis & Clark Expedition" of the dangerous interior wilds of Pennsylvania. He became an associate judge of Franklin County, Pennsylvania and served between 1792 and 1795. Maclay was the father of William Plunkett Maclay.

Political lifeEdit

Maclay was elected to the Fourth Congress. He served as a member of the lower house of the State legislature in 1797 and was a member of the Pennsylvania State Senate from 1798 to 1802 and served as speaker from 1801 to 1802.

He was elected to the United States Senate as a Democratic Republican by the Pennsylvania legislature and began service in 1803. Popular among Pennsylvanians, he was an infrequent Senate speaker, but was frequently mentioned as his party's possible candidate for governor, but was passed over in favor of Simon Snyder.

Maclay opposed the nomination of James Madison to the presidency by the Democratic Republicans. He doubted how committed Madison was to the party, considering him a late convert, and backed George Clinton instead. Furthermore, Maclay was an opponent of the Embargo Act which had been passed during President Jefferson's second term. Despite the eventual repeal of the Embargo Act, Madison secured Pennsylvania's support and Maclay realized that he was out of step with his fellow party members and Pennsylvanians. Seeing no hope of reelection, he resigned from the Senate in 1809.

Maclay served in the Senate from March 4, 1803, until his resignation on January 4, 1809. He retired to Buffalo Township, Pennsylvania, where he died, aged 70. He was interred in the Driesbach Church Cemetery in Union County.


  • American National Biography; Dictionary of American Biography; Aurand, A. Monroe, Jr. The Genealogy of Samuel Maclay, 1741-1811. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Aurand Press, 1938;
  • Maclay, Samuel. Journal of Samuel Maclay. Williamsport, Pennsylvania: Gazette & Bulletin Printing House, 1887.

External linksEdit

  • United States Congress. "Samuel Maclay (id: M000029)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • The Political Graveyard
  • Union County, Pennsylvania: A Celebration of History
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 10th congressional district

alongside: David Bard
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. senator (Class 1) from Pennsylvania
Served alongside: George Logan, Andrew Gregg
Succeeded by