WILKINS, William (1779-1865)

WILKINS, WILLIAM, a Senator and a Representative from Pennsylvania; born in Carlisle, Pa., December 20, 1779; attended Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa.; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1801 and commenced practice in Pittsburgh, Pa.; assisted in organizing the Pittsburgh Manufacturing Co. in 1810; first president of the Bank of Pittsburgh; president of the common council 1816-1819; member, State house of representatives 1820; appointed judge of the fifth judicial district of Pennsylvania 1821-1824; judge of the United States District Court for western Pennsylvania 1824-1831; unsuccessful candidate for election in 1826 to the Twentieth Congress; elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-first Congress, but resigned before qualifying; elected as a Jacksonian to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1831, to June 30, 1834, when he resigned; chairman, Committee on the Judiciary (Twenty-second Congress), Committee on Foreign Relations (Twenty-third Congress); appointed United States Minister to Russia 1834-1835; unsuccessful candidate for election to the Twenty-seventh Congress in 1840; elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-eighth Congress and served from December 4, 1843, to February 14, 1844, when he resigned; chairman, Committee on the Judiciary (Twenty-eighth Congress); appointed Secretary of War by President John Tyler 1844-1845; member, State senate 1855-1857; major general of the Pennsylvania Home Guards in 1862; died in 'Homewood,' near Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pa., June 23, 1865; interment in Homewood Cemetery, Wilkinsburg, Pa., a town named for him.

Dickinson College Library
Carlisle, PA
Papers: 1807-1863. 12 letters.

Heinz History Center

Pittsburgh, PA
Papers: In the Records of the Pittsburgh Select and Common Council, 1806-1938. 7 cubic feet. The council worked with the mayor to stimulate growth and development. It includes council minutes, bills and receipts, petitions, contracts, election papers, correspondence, reports, ordinances, treasurer's warrants documenting the daily administration of the council from 1816 to the mid 1870s.

Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, PA
Papers: 1 letter (August 11, 1840) concerning business interests in Wilkins family papers.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division
Washington, DC
Papers: 1817, 1822, 1858. 3 letters. Also correspondence in Amos Kendall papers, 1835-1909 (bulk 1835-1880), available on 1 microfilm reel.

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Harrisburg, PA
Papers: Correspondence (1812-1856) contained in various collections. Finding aid.

Rosenbach Museum and Library
Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1 letter (no date) to Mr. Seely in autograph letters collection, 1834-1860.

  • Slick, Sewell E. "William Wilkins: Pittsburgher Extraordinary.'' Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 22 (December 1939): 217-36.