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William Maclay

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William Maclay (July 20 1737-April 16 1804) was a politician from Pennsylvania during the eighteenth century.

Maclay pursued classical studies, and then served as a lieutenant in an expedition to Fort Duquesne in 1758. He went on to serve in other expeditions in the French and Indian Wars. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1760. After a period of practicing law he became a surveyor in the employ of the Penn family, and then a prothonotary and clerk of the courts of Northumberland County in the 1770s. During the American revolution he served in the Continental Army as a commissary. He was also a frequent member of the State legislature in the 1780s. During that period he was also the Indian commissioner, a judge of the court of common pleas, and a member of the executive council.

After the ratification of the Constitution Maclay was elected to the United States Senate and served from March 4 1789 to March 3 1791. He received a two-year term instead of the usual six-year term for senators after he lost a lottery with the other Pennsylvania senator, Robert Morris. A similar issue was dealt with in each state, with one senator receiving a two or four year term rather than a six year term to determine the election cycle for senators in that state. In the Senate, Maclay was one of the most radical members of the Anti-Administration faction. In his journal, which is one of the most important records of the First United States Congress, he criticizes many of the Founding Fathers, including John Adams and George Washington. He also criticized many of their supporters who ran the senate and included particularly senators from the far north and far south, believing that their ways of running the Senate were inefficient. He was unsuccessful in his attempt to be re-elected by the state legislature of Pennsylvania.

Maclay retired to his farm in Dauphin, Pennsylvania, but was also a member of the State house of representatives in 1795, 1796 and 1797;. In addition, he was a presidential elector in 1796, a county judge from 1801 until 1803, and a member again of the State house of representatives in 1803. He died in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and was interred in Old Paxtang Church Cemetery. Several of his relatives were also politicians, including his brother, Samuel Maclay and his nephew, William Plunkett Maclay.


Preceded by:
None
U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania
1789-1791
Succeeded by:
Albert Gallatin
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