James Ross Snowden

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James Ross Snowden
Portrait of James Ross Snowden
Director of the United States Mint
In office
June 1853 – May 1861
PresidentFranklin Pierce
Abraham Lincoln
Preceded byThomas M. Pettit
Succeeded byJames Pollock
Personal details
Born(1809-12-09)December 9, 1809
Old Chester, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedMarch 21, 1878(1878-03-21) (aged 68)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.

James Ross Snowden (December 9, 1809  – March 21, 1878 ) was treasurer of the United States Mint from 1847 to 1850, and director of the Mint from 1853 to 1861.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Snowden was the son of Sarah (Gustine) and The Rev. Nathaniel Randolph Snowden. He was educated at Dickinson College. Subsequently, he studied law, and, settling in Franklin, Pennsylvania, was made deputy attorney general, elected to the legislature in 1838, and served as speaker in 1842–44.[2][3] He was state treasurer from 1845 until 1847,[2] and was also elected colonel in the state militia.[3]

Snowden developed an interest in numismatics during his work at the United States Mint,[3] and became a noted numismatist of his day. He contributed to such publications as Bouvier's Law Dictionary, as well as publishing several numismatic works of his own.[1] During his tenure as Mint director, he was noted for producing restrikes of older United States coins for collectors, (most notably the 1840s-1850s half cents, 1827 quarter, 1856 Flying Eagle cent and Gobrecht dollars of 1836-39, which he sold to collectors to finance the Mint's own collection.[4]

He married Susan Engle Patterson in 1848. They had five children.[3] His great-grandfather, Nathanael Fitz Randolph, served in the American Revolutionary War, being known as "Fighting Nat," and was presented with a sword by the legislature of New Jersey. He also started the first subscription paper for Princeton College, and gave the ground upon which Nassau Hall, the first edifice of that college, was built. This received its name in honor of William III of England of the "illustrious house of Nassau." It has been twice burned down. His father was curator of Dickinson College from 1794 until 1827. His nephew A. Loudon Snowden became superintendent of the Philadelphia office of the United States Mint.[2]

Published works[edit]

  • A measure proposed to secure a safe treasury and a sound currency (1857)
  • Descriptions of Coin in the U. S. Mint (Philadelphia, 1860)
  • A description of the medals of Washington. (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1861).
  • The Mint at Philadelphia (1861)
  • The Coins of the Bible, and its Money Terms (1864)
  • The Cornplanter Memorial (Harrisburg, 1867)

He contributed articles on the coin of the United States to the National Almanac of 1873.


  1. ^ a b http://www.usmint.gov/kids/teachers/library/libraryDisplay.cfm?mediaID=364. usmint.gov. Retrieved November 20, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1889). "Snowden, James Ross" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  3. ^ a b c d Jackson, Joseph (1935). "Snowden, James Ross". Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  4. ^ Julian, R. W. (March 1, 2022). "James Ross Snowden and the Mint Collection". Numismatic News. 71 (6): 20–24.
Political offices
Preceded by Treasurer of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by Director of the United States Mint
June 1853 – May 1861
Succeeded by