Member Biography

Jacob Gratz 

Sessions Office Position District Party
1842       1 Whig

COUNTIES: Philadelphia  


12/20/1788 - 12/24/1856

Jacob Gratz (Whig1) Philadelphia City 1842

Early Life:

Jacob Gratz, born, December 20, 1788, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; son of Michael and Miriam Simon Gratz; University of Pennsylvania, A.M., 1811; merchant; director, Institution for the Instruction, Deaf and Dumb (now, Pennsylvania School for the Deaf), Philadelphia, 1820; manager, Pennsylvania Union Canal Company, 1821-1833; president, Pennsylvania Union Canal Company, 1834-1837; elected, Whig, Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, 1838-1841; elected, Whig, Pennsylvania State Senate, Special Election, 1842; commissioner, Delaware Canal Company, 1843; officer, Congregation Mikveh Israel, Philadelphia; never married; died, December 24, 1856, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; interment, Mikveh Israel Cemetery, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Politics:

Elected, Whig, Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, 1838-1841.

Elected, Whig, Pennsylvania State Senate, Special Election, 1st district, Philadelphia City, 1842.

Pennsylvania State House of Representatives Biography:

Official Website - PA House Archives Official Website (


Father, Michael Gratz, signed the Non-Importation Resolutions of 1765 to protest the Stamp Act, encouraged the opening of the West to settlement. Involved coastal shipping service between New Orleans and Quebec. The French and Indian Wars interfered with shipping, forced to western frontier trade in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Kentucky.

Sister, philanthropist Rebecca Gratz. 

Brothers, abolitionist Hyman, and Simon, inherited their father's business. Their store was at the Graff House (7th and Market) where Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. Both Simon and Hyman Gratz were treasurers of Mikveh Israel. They were among the founders of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. 

Benjamin Gratz, business and civic leader, Lexington Kentucky. His home, Mount Hope, is still standing beside Gratz Park. Lexington. Member, city council, trustee of Transylvania, curator for Kentucky University. First president, Kentucky Agricultural and Mechanical Association. Promoted construction of the Maysville- Lexington Road, Lexington and Ohio Railroad. Instrumental in establishing Lexington's public library, the first in the West. 

One of first, if not the first Jewish Pennsylvania State Senator.


Cox, Harold. "Senate Members "G""Wilkes University Election Statistics Project. Wilkes University.

Jacob Gratz (1790-1856) - Find a Grave Memorial