William Pennington ( born May 4, 1796 in Newark, New Jersey, † February 16, 1862 ) was an American politician and 1837-1843 Governor of the State of New Jersey. Between 1859 and 1861 he represented his country as a delegate in the U.S. Congress.
William was the son of William S. Pennington (1767-1826), who had been 1813-1815 Governor of New Jersey. He was also a cousin of Alexander Pennington (1810-1867) a Congressman, who graduated from 1853-1856 two terms in Washington. William Pennington attended the common schools and then studied until 1813 at Princeton University. After a subsequent law degree in 1817 and its recent approval as a lawyer, he was 1817-1827 Secretary to the Commissioner for New Jersey federal court, where his father was a judge. At the same time he also worked as a lawyer.
Political Rise and governor of New Jersey
William Pennington was a member of the Whig party. From 1829 to 1833 he was a deputy in the New Jersey General Assembly. In 1837 he was selected by the New Jersey Legislature as governor of his state. After he was confirmed in the following years, each in his office, he was able to remain in this position between 27 October 1837 to 27 October 1843. During this period a reform of the judiciary has been made in New Jersey. A law that borrowers were punished with prison was abolished. At that time also special schools for blind, deaf and sick nerves originated.
An issue of concern in his reign was the so-called "Broad Seal War". It was about the congressional elections of 1838, and five deputies who were to be sent to New Jersey in the Congress. The choice was scarce and controversial. The governor confirmed five Whig candidate as a Congressman, while the House of Representatives only one of these candidates confirmed and four Democratic candidates preferred. After it became apparent that in some constituencies was actually present electoral fraud in favor of the Whigs, eventually all five seats were awarded to the candidates of the Democratic Party. William Pennington strove in 1843 to a re- election to the highest office in his state. This time, however, he was defeated by Democrat Daniel Haines.
More political career
After the end of his governorship Pennington was first returned to the bar. He later refused a nomination by President Millard Fillmore to the territorial governor in Minnesota Territory. When the Whigs disbanded itself in the 1850s, William Pennington joined the newly formed Republican Party. As their candidate, he was elected in 1858 to Congress. There he graduated between 4 March 1859 and the March 3, 1861 a legislative period. Since 1 February 1860 to the end of his time in the U.S. House of Representatives he was its spokesman. In 1860 he ran unsuccessfully for re-election to Congress. William Pennington died in February 1862. Together with his wife Caroline Burnet he had four children.