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William Bigler (January 1, 1814 – August 9, 1880) was an American politician. A Democrat, he served as the 12th Governor of Pennsylvania from 1852 to 1855, and later a U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania from 1856 until 1861.

William Bigler
William Bigler.jpg
United States Senator
from Pennsylvania
In office
January 14, 1856 – March 3, 1861
Preceded byJames Cooper
Succeeded byEdgar Cowan
12th Governor of Pennsylvania
In office
January 20, 1852 – January 16, 1855
Preceded byWilliam F. Johnston
Succeeded byJames Pollock
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born(1814-01-01)January 1, 1814
Cumberland County, Pennsylvania
DiedAugust 9, 1880(1880-08-09) (aged 66)
Clearfield, Pennsylvania
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Maria Jane Reed (m. 1836–1880; his death)
ProfessionPolitician, Printer, Lumberman, Railroad President


Bigler was born in rural Pennsylvania and received little formal education; he studied informally under his elder brother John Bigler (later governor of California), publisher of the Centre County Democrat newspaper. Bigler founded his own political newspaper, the Clearfield Democrat, in 1833, and later became wealthy in the lumber business.

In the 1840s, Bigler served in the Pennsylvania senate. He defeated incumbent governor William F. Johnston for the governor's seat in 1851. Although Bigler opposed slavery in principle, he supported the federal government's Fugitive Slave Act and the pro-slavery Kansas–Nebraska Act. He was defeated for a second term by James Pollock, the candidate of the newly formed Republican Party.

Following his term as governor, he served in the United States Senate from 1856 to 1861.


William and Brother John Bigler were listed in Ripleys Believe It or Not as brothers being governors of two different states simultaneously.

One of his daughters Ida Annettee Bigler married Holmes Eugene Ruhe of Allentown PA.

Biglerville, Pennsylvania in Adams County, Pennsylvania is named after him. Bigler Hall on the University Park campus of Penn State is named after William Bigler, as are Bigler Street in Philadelphia, Bigler Township in Clearfield County, and Bigler Avenues in both Clearfield and Northern Cambria, Pennsylvania.


External linksEdit

  • United States Congress. "William Bigler (id: B000459)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • William Bigler at Find a Grave
Political offices
Preceded by
William F. Johnston
Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
James Pollock
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
James Cooper
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Pennsylvania
January 14, 1856 – March 3, 1861
Served alongside: Richard Brodhead and Simon Cameron
Succeeded by
Edgar Cowan