Decoding the Myths of Asa Packer, 1805?-1879

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Asa Packer served two terms in Harrisburg, winning election to the 1842 and 1843 Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Starting a trend that lasted his entire political career, Packer did not press for numerous amounts of legislation. In fact, during his time in Harrisburg, Asa only introduced one bill to the House. On January 25, 1843, he presented a bill for the creation of a new county, carved out of Monroe and Northampton counties. For the thirty years before Packer’s election, the people of the northern Lehigh Valley and adjacent areas tried to form a new county. The people presented petitions for a new county every year between 1837 and 1843, but each one failed until Asa Packer joined the House of Representatives.

Created on March 13, 1843, Carbon County, with its seat at Mauch Chunk, became the commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s newest county. Many people wanted the new county and Packer presented no less than 15 petitions on behalf of its formation. However, not everyone agreed with that course of action and Packer dutifully presented a petition from constituents that did not want a new county. Overall, Packer's sparse participation in legislative debates characterized his career as a politician. Having accomplished his goal, Packer did not seek re-election in the fall of 1843. A reflection of his personality in general, he refused to engage in open debates and preferred to stay in the background. However, do not take his silence for apathy. Packer's sense of duty kept him firmly engaged in political life when called on by the people, even if the records reveal a lack of activity once elected.

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