Samuel Hepburn, Jr.

Samuel Hepburn, Jr., was born on December 30, 1839, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to Samuel Hepburn and Rebecca Williamson. His father was a prominent judge and a leader in the local Democratic Party. 

Samuel attended public school in Carlisle, and in 1854 he enrolled at Dickinson College along with his brothers Charles and Hopewell. He remained until 1857, when he and Charles transferred to the University of Virginia. He spent a year at UVA, studying Latin, Greek, and mathematics, before withdrawing in June 1858. In 1859, he travelled to Europe to attend the Universities of Berlin and Heidelberg. He travelled extensively throughout Europe, becoming fluent in French, German, and Italian. 

He returned to Pennsylvania by 1862 and began studying law with his father. The outbreak of Civil War had left the family divided. His brother Andrew was a Presbyterian minister in Wilmington, North Carolina, and remained loyal to the Confederacy. His brother Alexander, however, served in the 194th Pennsylvania Infantry. When Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia invaded Maryland in 1862, the Governor of Pennsylvania called for volunteers to defend the state. Samuel and his brother Hopewell enlisted in the 1st Pennsylvania Emergency Militia on September 11, 1862. The regiment never saw combat or left the state, and it mustered out of service after the Battle of Antietam, on September 25, 1862. 

Hepburn returned to Carlisle after his brief military service, and in April 1863 he received admission to the bar. He married Maria Parker Moore around 1865, and they had two children: Maria, born December 1865; and Samuel, born March 1867. His wife died on August 25, 1870, and he married Marie Japy soon after. They had six children together: Charles, born September 1872; William, born November 1873; Louis, born January 1875; Arthur, born October 1877; Marie Louise, born August 1879; and Donald, born June 1881.

Hepburn joined the Democratic Party, and in 1875, Carlisle's Democratic council appointed him town attorney. In July 1876, he delivered a "short and forcible" speech in support of presidential candidate Samuel Tilden. He ran for Congress in 1878 but came in fourth in the district's Democratic primary. Undaunted, he attended a "large and enthusiastic" party meeting that October and delivered an "earnest" address. Then, in October 1880, he made a "powerful" two-hour speech in favor of Democratic presidential candidate Winfield Scott Hancock. He spoke at a Democratic "grand mass meeting" in Carlisle in October 1886 and delivered a long speech on tariff reductions in 1888.

He also became a highly-respected lawyer, arguing several cases before the United States Supreme Court. An early biographer described him as an “original thinker, clear and correct,” whose “frankness of statement and honesty of purpose gave his opinions weight.” Another praised him as a “carefully trained lawyer who brought to his professional career ripe scholarship and wide knowledge of the world; who devoted himself entirely to his profession and won in it with ease an honorable and conspicuous rank.”  

His health, however, began steadily declining, and in 1890 he took a steamship to Florida to recuperate. He died of apoplexy en route, on March 28, 1890, off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. He was buried in the Old Graveyard in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Image: Samuel Hepburn, Jr. (Courtesy of House Divided Project at Dickinson College)


Samuel Hepburn Endorses Democratic Candidate Samuel Tilden

Obituary of Samuel Hepburn

Name:Hepburn, Samuel
Alternative names:
  • Soldier
  • UVA (Union)
1st Pennsylvania Emergency Militia
Branch of service:Army
Residence at UVA:Carlisle, PA
UVA Begin Year:1857
UVA End Year:1858
Residence at enlistment:Carlisle, PA
Rank In:Corporal
Rank Out:Corporal
Highest rank achieved:Corporal
Birth date:1839-12-30
Birth date certainty:certain
Birth place:Carlisle, PA
Death date:1890-03-28
Death place:Charleston, SC
Causes of death:disease: apoplexy
Person 1Relation TypePerson 2
Hepburn, Samuelparent ofHepburn, Maria Moore
Hepburn, Samuelparent ofHepburn, Samuel Moore
Hepburn, Samuelparent ofHepburn, Charles Japy
Hepburn, Samuelparent ofHepburn, William Williamson
Hepburn, Samuelparent ofHepburn, Louis Frederic
Hepburn, Samuelparent ofHepburn, Arthur Japy
Hepburn, Samuelparent ofHepburn, Marie Louise
Hepburn, Samuelparent ofHepburn, Donald McKnight
Hepburn, Maria wife ofHepburn, Samuel
Hepburn, Marie Japywife ofHepburn, Samuel

Compiled Service Records for Samuel Hepburn, RG 94, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.; United States Census, 1850, 1870, and 1880, accessed through; Pennsylvania, Veterans Burial Cards, 1777-2012 for Samuel Hepburn, accessed through; Samuel Hepburn, accessed through; Samuel Hepburn Jr., United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925, accessed through; Samuel P. Bates, History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865 (1869-1871); John F. Meginness, The Historical Journal, vol. 2 (Williamsport, PA: Gazette and Bulletin Printing House,1894); Catalogue of Dickinson College for the Academic Year, 1854-55 (Carlisle, PA: 1855), accessed through; Carlisle Weekly Herald, April 24, 1863; Carlisle Weekly Herald, August 8, 1878; The Perry County Democrat, October 27, 1880; The Valley Spirit, October 18, 1878, October 26, 1888; The Twentieth Century Bench and Bar of Pennsylvania, Vol. I (Chicago: H. C. Cooper, Jr., Bro. & Co., 1903), 36.