Robert Whitehill Papers

Robert Whitehill Papers
Material: Various papers (1776 – 1808)
Volume: 4 boxes labeled 2b through 2e containing 330 folders


Robert Whitehill (1739 – 1813) was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to James and Rachel Whitehill on July 21st, 1739. He received an early education from Presbyterian preacher, Robert Smith. He then later went on to receive a formal education at the academy of one Rev. Dr. Francis Alison at New London Crossroads. Whitehill would complete his education in 1758 and marry Eleanor Reed shortly thereafter. The couple would give birth to a total of eight children, four boys and four girls.

Whitehill and his family would purchase land on Lowther Manor in 1771. Lowther Manor was a significant portion of land once owned by the Penn family, but as the family had apparently fallen on hard times, the land was sold off with notable Pennsylvanians given priority. There, Whitehill would construct a stone home for him and his family. Whitehill’s house still stands today at 1903 Market Street, Camp Hill, PA.

Robert Whitehill’s political career would officially begin when he was elected to the Pennsylvania State Constitutional Convention as a delegate in July of 1776 and would approve the Declaration of Independence. He would go on to be a delegate of the Council of Security in 1777. In 1789 he would once again be elected as a delegate of the PA State Constitutional Convention after a failed campaign to be elected to the United States House of Representatives as a representative for PA. From 1790 to 1797, Whitehill would campaign for the PA House of Representatives and the State Senate to no success. In 1797, after losing his campaign to join the State Senate, Whitehill would at last be elected to the PA House of Representatives as a representative for Cumberland County. He would lose his seat in 1798 but regained it in 1799 and held onto it until 1801. From 1801 to 1805, he would serve in the State Senate for the 10th district. From 1803 to 1805, Whitehill would act as the Speaker of the Senate during the impeachment trials of the Supreme Court judges of Pennsylvania. In 1805, he would be elected to the Nineth Congress of the US House of Representatives in order to fill a vacancy caused by the death of John Hanna. He could serve in the next four congresses before dying in 1813 at his home at Lowther Manor.

Robert Whitehill’s enduring legacy lies in the influence of his writing, having assisted in the drafting of the PA State Constitution as well as contributions to a paper titled “Minority Dissent,” whose proposed amendments to the United States Constitution are believed to have been incorporated into the Bill of Rights.


This collection, as it is listed below, includes a motley assortment of papers from Robert Whitehill that concern several aspects of his life contained in a series of four boxes and 330 folders. The contents are organized into a total of twelve sections of varying sizes and topics that can stretch from one box into another. Each folder typically contains a single document and is accompanied by a brief description of its contents at the top margin of the folder.

See full inventory here.