Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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PACKER, William Fisher, governor of Pennsylvania, born in Howard, Centre County, Pennsylvania, 2 April, 1807; died in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, 27 September, 1870. He was of Quaker ancestry. At the age of thirteen he apprenticed himself to a relative, who published a newspaper in Sunbury. After completing his apprenticeship in Bellefonte, he worked for two years as a journeyman in the office of Simon Cameron, then public printer at Harrisburg, read law for a short time in Williamsport, and in 1827 became one of the proprietors and editors of the "Lycoming Gazette," of which he was sole manager from 1829 till 1836. He was the author of an "Address to the People of Philadelphia" (1831), urging the construction of the West branch canal as a part of the system of internal improvements that was then under discussion, and was superintendent of that division until the work was completed in 1835. He was one of the founders in 1836 of the " Keystone," at Harrisburg, which became the organ of the Democratic party in the state. He was a canal commissioner in 1839-'42. In 1842 he disposed of his interest in the "Keystone" and became auditor-general of the commonwealth, which office he held till 1845. In 1847 and 1848 he was elected to the state house of representatives, and was chosen speaker for both terms. In 1849 he was elected a state senator, and while in that body he secured, against strong opposition, the incorporation of the Susquehanna railroad company, the beginning of railroad connections with Baltimore. He was made president of the corporation on its organization in 1852, and, when the road was consolidated with others to form the Northern central railway, became a director in the latter company. As a member of the National Democratic convention he labored for the nomination of James Buchanan for the presidency in 1856. In 1857 he was elected governor for the term ending in January, 1861. He opposed the policy of President Buchanan, and in his last annual message denounced the secession of South Carolina as an act of rebellion.
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