John M. Snowden

John Maugridge Snowden (January 13, 1776 April 1, 1845), served as Mayor of Pittsburgh City from 1825 to 1828.

John M. Snowden
John Maugeridge Snowden
3rd Mayor of Pittsburgh
In office
Preceded byJohn Darragh
Succeeded byMagnus Miller Murray
Personal details
BornJanuary 13, 1776
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
DiedApril 1, 1845 (aged 69)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Political partyDemocratic-Republican, Democratic
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Moor
RelationsWilliam Snowden (father)
ResidenceCarrick, Pittsburgh

Early life

Snowden was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to a revolutionary war family of patriots. His father, John Snowden, was a hero of the war, being imprisoned by the British forces and dying in their custody. His mother, Elizabeth Moor, was a major advisor to General Washington during his Pennsylvania campaigns. In 1811 Snowden began a printing and book business in Pittsburgh. He eventually bought and edited his own newspaper, the Pittsburgh Mercury. Like his predecessor as Mayor, John Darragh, he used his appointment as President of the Bank of Pittsburgh to launch his mayoral candidacy.

Pittsburgh politics

Snowden served terms as Allegheny County Recorder and Treasurer before being elected mayor of Pittsburgh in 1825. He served until 1828.

Letter from John Maugridge Snowden to Gen Andrew Jackson

Pittsburgh 12 March 1829

His Excellency
Gen A. Jackson
Prest. U.S.

Dr Sir
To the many requests to which your attention is at this time drawn, may I be permitted respectfully to add mine? I have this day written to the Hon. M Van Buren applying for the appointment to publish the laws of the United States, &c in the Pittsburgh Mercury of which I am the editor and proprietor; and requesting of him, if required, to afford me time to forward to him whatever recommendations may be deemed necessary. Presuming on your knowledge of my character and standing here and on your friendly feelings may I be permitted respectfully to solicit your aid in this particular. I presume it is known to your excellency that the Mercury was, both in 1824 and 1828, devoted to those principles which have so signally triumphed in the late contest. It is the second oldest paper in this place and has a respectable patronage and circulation. Calculated with firmness, but at the same time maintaining that decorous course which is calculated to merit and secure the public confidence, it is believed that it was not an unimportant auxiliary in that contest. But neither my scrupulous regard as an editor for private character - the correctness of my course - nor my acknowledged good reputation - has secured me from many sacrifices in (supp crossed out) the just support of my political principles and opinions. Wherever political opponents could assail me, they have done it. From their own avowals, the first effort displayed itself by a combination to oust me from the mayoralty of this city - not because I was considered to be incompetent to or unfaithful in the discharge of the duties of that office, but because the fact that an opponent of the then existing administration had been removed from the head of the city authorities, would give éclat abroad and subserve their political interests. This step has then been followed up by attempts to break down my establishment or diminish its patronage - attempts which have to a considerate extent affected my pecuniary interests, and subjected me to an inconvenience which is sensibly felt at my advanced period of life, with a numerous family dependent on my labour and exertions for maintenance. I make these statements not by way of complaint, but to show that the Pittsburgh Mercury was not, and is not regarded as an inefficient partisan in the struggle for principles; and as a change will undoubtedly be made of the public printer of this place, respectfully to present them as recommendations on the score of service to the consideration of the government.

If other recommendations be wanting for the obtainment of that appointment, I shall with great pleasure afford to your excellency any testimonials which may be asked of the purity of my life and character.

I write with the freedom of a friend, and I hope that my candour will not be construed into a want of respect. Had I less confidence in your willingness to give my application a favorable reception, or in the benevolence of your disposition, I should scarcely have ventured to write this letter, or if I had written, would have written more reservedly.

At the time of your visit to this place, I had the honour of introducing to your notice my son Wm Snowden. He accompanied you to Washington. He has been bred to the law. He possesses a good address, some talents and is a young man of steady habits. Several of his and my friends have advised him to apply for a clerkship in one of the public offices, particularly in that of the secretary of state. His course of education we think best qualifies him for such a clerkship. I have understood that Mr Stevenson, and many of the Pennsylvania delegation, together with Col McKinley of Alabama, and other of your distinguished personal friends in and out of our congress, with whom he is acquainted, will join in his recommendation. If from the partial acquaintance you have had of him, and the recommendations he may obtain, your excellency could be induced to interest yourself in his behalf, it would not only afford great gratification to me, but might be the happy means of bringing a promising young man into the public usefulness.

I have the honour to be your excellencys most obt sevrt. John M. Snowden

This is a transcript of a letter from the National Archives, Record Group 59, (State Department Records).

Pittsburgh, July 24, 1826 TOWN MEETING

IN pursuance to/ public notice, the citizens of Pittsburgh, convened in town meeting, at the court house, on Saturday evening, the 22nd inst. John M. Snowden, Esq. Mayor of the City, was called to the chair, and William Eichbaum, jr. and Robert Burke, were chosen secretaries. The object of the meeting having been stated by the chairman, Judge Wilkins rose, and after some appropriate and eloquent remarks, submitted the following preamble and resolutions, which were adopted: When men, beloved and honored for their virtues, talents and services are removed from the scene of life, full of years, and bearing with them the benedictions of millions whom they have blessed- when he who brought to light the principles of our revolutionary struggle, and he who stood foremost as their advocate, have sunk to rest, it becomes us as men, it is duty as Americans, to join in an expression of regret for their loss- of profound respect for their memory. The citizens of Pittsburgh, feeling the deepest emotions of gratitude for the services and veneration for the memories of the late THOMAS JEFFERSON & JOHN ADAMS, do therefore Resolve, That the Mayor of the City be required to address letters of condolence, on behalf of the citizens of Pittsburgh, to the families of the illustrious deceased, expressive of the deep sympathy they feel in the loss of their venerated patriarchs, and of the high sense entertained by them of the unremitted and successful labors of these fathers of American Independence. Resolved, That the commandant of the Pittsburgh Volunteer Legion, be requested by the Mayor, to order out the company Artillery, and such other portion of the Legion as may be deemed necessary, upon Tuesday next, the 25th inst. For the purpose of paying the same military honors to the memory of the deceased, as are ordered and intended to be observed at the U. S. military post near this city. Resolved, That on Tuesday next, from dawn to sun-set, the National Flag shall wave, at half mast, on Grant’s Hill, under the conduct of a corps of citizen volunteers, and guarded by surviving revolutionary soldiers, wearing the usual badge of mourning on the left arm. Resolved, That a committee of thirteen be appointed to aid in carrying into effect these resolutions, and to make such other arrangements as in their judgment, the occasion may render fit and proper. The following are the committee selected by the chairman, at the request of the meeting: James Ross, William Wilkins, John S. Riddle, Ross Wilkins, Alexr. Johnston, jr. M. B. Lowrie, Richard Biddle, Wm. Hays, A Brackenridge, Wm. Lecky, Col. Wm. Anderson, Wm. Eichbaum, jr. T. B. Dallas. On motion Resolved, That the Hon. Wm Wilkins, has been requested to deliver a Eulogium on the characters of the deceased, at such time and place as the committee may appoint. On motion Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting be signed by the chairman and secretaries and published. JOHN M. SNOWDEN, Chm’n W. Eichbaum, jr. Robert Burke Sec’ys. Pittsburgh, July 24, 1826

Transcript of document from the Adams Family Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Later life

Mayor Snowden died suddenly of heart disease on April 1, 1845 at his residence in Allegheny City, now Pittsburgh's North Side.[1][2] He was buried at Concord Presbyterian Church on Brownsville Road, near his home there.


Allegheny County's community Snowden (part of present-day South Park Township) was named for John Snowden.

Preceded by
John Darragh
Mayor of Pittsburgh
Succeeded by
Magnus Miller Murray


  1. "Died". Pittsburgh Morning Post. April 2, 1845. p. 2, col. 3.
  2. "The Late [illegible] Snowden". Pittsburgh Morning Post. April 3, 1845. p. 2, col. 1.
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