Member Biography

John Francis Steele 


Portrait: Jacob Eichholtz, Lancaster County Historical Society

Sessions Office Position District Party
1802-1803       6 Democratic-Republican
1803-1804       6 Democratic-Republican
1804-1805       6 Democratic-Republican
1805-1806     Speaker 6 Democratic-Republican

COUNTIES: Lancaster  


06/05/1758 - 02/27/1827

General John Francis Steele (Democratic-Republican6) Lancaster County 1802-1806

Early Life:

General John Francis Steele, born June 5, 1758, Drumore Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, British Colonial America; son of William and Rachel Carr Steele; Presbyterian clergyman, Chestnut Level Select School; Continental Army, Revolution War, 1776; seriously wounded, Brandywine battle, retired, January 1, 1783; married, Abigail Bailey; elected, Democratic-Republican, Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, 1801-1802; elected, Democratic-Republican, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1802-1806, Senate Speaker, 1805 unsuccessful reelection, 1806; unsuccessful, Democratic candidate, United States Senate, 1806-1807; appointed, President Jefferson, collector, port of Philadelphia, 1808-1827; unsuccessful candidate, United States Senate, Special Election, 1814; died, February 27, 1827. (age 68) Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; interment, Old Pine Street Presbyterian Churchyard, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. 

Early Career:

Enlisted, Continental Line; rose to Colonel on General George Washington’s staff; commander, of Martha Washington’s bodyguard, Morristown, New Jersey, 1777.  Wounded, arm at Brandywine, the severity of the injury cost the use of the limb; rejoined the general’s staff; accompanied Washington to Yorktown for the capture of Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis, 1781. 

Pennsylvania Politics:

Unsuccessful campaigns, Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, Lancaster County, 1799, 1800.

Elected, Democratic-Republican, Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, 1801-1802. 

Elected, Democratic-Republican, Pennsylvania State Senate, 6th district, Lancaster County, 1802-1806, Senate Speaker, 1805; unsuccessful reelection, 1806. 

Unsuccessful Democratic candidate, three-ballot bid, United States Senate, defeated by Andrew Gregg, 1806-1807; 3rd ballot, tie, December 15, 1806, lost fourth ballot, January 13, 1807. 

Unsuccessful candidate, United States Senate, Special Election, vacancy, Michael Leib, resigned; February 24, 1814. 

Continued Government Service/National Politics:

Appointed, President Jefferson, collector, port of Philadelphia, 1808-1827.  

Pennsylvania House of Representatives Biography:

Currently unavailable 


Refused to collect a pension after the war, noting the ill effect the practice might have on the young nation’s economy.

Sister, Rachel Steele Jordan, son, Benjamin Jordan,Pennsylvania State Senate, 4th district, Dauphin and Northumberland Counties, 1846-1848.

Benjamin Jordan  - Pennsylvania Senate Library (


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

A New Nation Votes (

Gen John Steele (1758-1827) - Find a Grave Memorial