Governors in the Executive Mansion Historical Sketches Page 1 of 2
Term 78, 1861-1867, born in Centre County
Andrew Curtin was governor of Pennsylvania during the Civil War. From his inaugural address: "Ours is a national government. … To permit a State to withdraw at pleasure from the Union, without the consent of the rest, is to confess that our Government is a failure. Pennsylvania can never acquiesce in such a conspiracy, nor assent to a doctrine which involves the destruction of the Government."
A loyal union supporter, Curtin always furnished troops promptly when the Federal Government called. But, he also knew that Pennsylvania was considered a prize for the enemy and he constantly maintained a large state militia.
He was a compassionate leader of our commonwealth. He ministered to the orphans and families of our dead soldiers by creating institutions, including the one at Scotland, Pennsylvania – the Pennsylvania Soldiers’ Orphans School. Such institutions cared for and educated the orphans with the aid of large grants from the legislature.
His caring and compassion was so great that it almost caused him to have a complete breakdown in 1863. During Lee’s great invasion, he sat day and night next to the key of a telegraph operator who was kept right in the Executive Office. Along with him was his young secretary, Quay, who would one day become very powerful in Pennsylvania politics.
An aside: It was Quay in 1898, as a U.S. Senator, who wrote a letter of introduction for Henry P. Fletcher, Greencastle, to Theodore Roosevelt to help gain his admittance into Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. It was successful.
Presidents Lincoln and Johnson offered Curtin foreign missions. He declined Lincoln’s offer till after his gubernatorial term ended (but was re-elected to a second term) and could not accept Johnson’s offer because of ill health that sent him to Cuba to recuperate. President Grant nominated him Minister to Russia and he accepted.
John W. Geary
Term 79, 1867-1873,
born in Westmoreland County
Geary was Pennsylvania’s post-Civil War Governor and most cosmopolitan Governor, as of the mid-twentieth century. He was striking in appearance, had a large body frame, and a strong face with a full, squared-off beard that came down to the second button of his uniform coat. He enjoyed lavish entertaining.
He was the fourth son of a not-so-successful iron manufacturer. His father then opened a select school in Westmoreland and died insolvent while Geary was a student at Jefferson College. He then had to work his way through college and did this by opening a school of his own. Geary studied civil engineering and law and ended up working for a railroad company in Kentucky for a while. He was able to pay off his father’s indebtedness due to a successful land speculation deal while in Kentucky. On his return to Pennsylvania, he became an assistant superintendent and engineer of a Pennsylvania railroad. At this time war broke out with Mexico and Geary raised a company of soldiers from Cambria County that was placed in the Second Pennsylvania Regiment. They saw action in war, and during one of the battles, Geary was wounded. He mustered out in Pittsburgh with the rank of Colonel.
President Polk named Geary postmaster of San Francisco and mail agent for the Pacific Coast. He became the first mayor of San Francisco and a California Judge.
He returned to Pennsylvania where he took up farming till President Pierce appointed him Governor of Kansas. He resigned this position when Buchanan became president of the United States.
As soon as news reached him of Fort Sumter, he again raised a body of troops – a regiment this time. By the end of the Civil War, Geary had been wounded three more times; made a gallant stand with his division at Culp’s Hill during the Gettysburg campaign; and saw his youngest son, eighteen – then a captain in the war, die before him after having been hit in the forehead by a rifle ball.
Major General Geary, upon becoming Governor of Pennsylvania, immediately attacked the staggering debt of the Commonwealth and reduced it by $10,000,000. This was partially accomplished by Geary setting a record, for the times, by vetoing a high number of bills that crossed his desk. Geary did not like special interest bills.
He saw to it that improvements were made to the Executive Mansion during his administration.
One of the big firsts in the history of the Governor’s Office was made when Geary started a detailed record of every official executive act performed by the Governor.
Geary died a few days after his successor was inaugurated.
About the document: This document was on loan to Allison-Antrim Museum from Lynn Moats for the duration of the January 2001 exhibit.
It is dated January 1, 1872 and actually has the signatures of two Pennsylvania governors – Governor Geary and his successor, John F. Hartranft, who, at that time, was the Auditor General of Pennsylvania. The document is a "Certificate of Adjudicated Claim for War Damages." It was issued to John H. Hartle for the amount of $1,464.80 to cover damages, "… as adjudicated under an Act to authorize the liquidation of damages sustained by citizens of Pennsylvania during the late rebellion and payable only when said claims shall be paid by the United States government."
John F. Hartranft
Term 80, 1873-1879,
born in Montgomery County
Hartranft was the second Major General of the Civil War to be elected Governor of Pennsylvania.
After becoming a lawyer he almost immediately took an active interest in the military and at the age of thirty-one became the Colonel of the First Regiment of Montgomery County. He mustered into Federal service in 1861 (one year after the Allison-Antrim Museum house was built) and rose from staff officer to Major General through battles in North Carolina, Antietam, Spottsylvania, and Fort Steadman.
The Constitution of 1873 was adopted during Hartranft’s first year in office. Members of the Legislature had two-year terms instead of annual terms. Senators went from three years to four years. Most important in the Constitution of 1873 was the prohibiting of special and local legislation.
The United States became one hundred years old in 1876 and Hartranft saw that Pennsylvania led the way in the Centennial Celebration that was centered in Philadelphia’s Fairmont Park.
Riots broke out across Pennsylvania caused by coal and railroad strikes. The riots prompted Hartranft to call out the militia. The situation worsened in Pittsburgh causing the Governor to call on the Regular Army to restore order. In Philadelphia, Reading, and Pittsburgh fires burned and eleven people died along the Schuylkill River before the United States troops had taken control.
1877 was one of the darkest years in Pennsylvania’s history. There were widespread killings and all of Pennsylvania’s miners went on strike causing the State Guard to be called out again.
Because of his action, an historic precedent was set when the District Attorney of Allegheny County tried to force Hartranft to appear before a grand jury to tell why the militia was called out in Pittsburgh. The courts backed Hartranft when he refused to appear. It became known as the Hartranft Decision.
Hartranft understood what was happening during these turbulent and changing times. Those with money and those who worked for them would have to come to arbitration to settle their differences for neither party could exist without the other.
Hartranft was concerned with fixing limitations on State banks and trust companies. He also worked on expanding the public school system to educate the large masses of uneducated European labor that was being imported into Pennsylvania. The solution he saw was education.
When his second term ended, Hartranft went to Philadelphia as Postmaster and Collector of the Port.
He died in 1889 – his tenth year as Commanding General of the Pennsylvania National Guard. He is the only Governor honored with a statue in front of the State Capitol where he forever sits on his great stallion.
Henry M. Hoyt
Term 81, 1879-1883, born in Luzerne County
A teacher and lawyer before the Civil War, he helped organize the Fifty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers and became colonel of the regiment. After capture and languishing in a Southern prison until near the end of the war when he was exchanged, he rejoined his outfit and mustered out a Brigadier General
In civilian life he rose quickly in politics. Hoyt’s campaign slogan (based on the issues of the national campaign) was: "Professing to be an honest man, and the candidate of an honest party, I believe in honest money."
The Nation was deep in depression and industry and labor were fighting at gunpoint.He tackled the State debt reducing it by $1,600,000 through strict economic practices leaving a balance at the end of his term of $12,200,000!
He enjoyed the banks of the Susquehannah and often could be found discussing affairs on a bench with his Secretary of the Commonwealth – Quay, his Attorney General – Henry W. Palmer, and passersby.
A perpetual student, Hoyt accumulated the most extensive library in the Executive Mansion’s history.
Robert E. Pattison
Term 82 & 84, 1883-1887 & 1891-1895,
born in Quantico County, MD
Pattison, a Democrat, walked into the Governor’s Mansion because the Democrats had stuck together while the Republicans split and two other parties also ran candidates. The 1882 Pennsylvania political revolution was talked about for many years after.
Thirty-two year old Pattison set the tone for his administration by refusing a carriage for his inauguration and instead chose to walk.
He soon plunged into politics after being admitted to the bar. At twenty-seven, he was elected Philadelphia’s City Controller. During his second term in this position, his party nominated him their gubernatorial candidate.
Being a thrifty person, his administration was characterized by economy, reform, and restraint. But he was a strict partisan politician and swept the State Capitol job holders of their positions and replaced them all with loyal Democrats. It was such a thorough cleaning that "it was talked of for a decade as the example of spoils system operation."
After being asked by Pattison to apportion the Commonwealth, according to the State Constitution, into congressional, senatorial, and representative districts, the Legislature decided to adjourn without attending to it because they couldn’t agree upon how to accomplish it.
Pattison issued a proclamation ordering a special session until the Legislature completed the assigned task. In six months no decision was reached except for the apportionment of judicial districts. This was all at great expense to the taxpayers prompting Pattison at the next session to ask for the passage of a bill that would fix a set salary for the General Assembly.
Pattison reduced the State debt by almost $3,000,000.
When he left office, the President appointed him to the Railroad Commission, and he later returned in 1891 for a second term as Governor of Pennsylvania.
Pattison promptly let it be known that his attitude toward the Legislature had not changed. His agenda included Constitutional enforcement, purification of elections, ballot reform (what’s old is new again), prevention of money misuse in politics, taxation and municipal government.
Pattison had to deal with the failure of the Keystone and Spring Garden National Banks of Philadelphia where city and state money was on deposit.
Strike riots continued to plague the State and Pattison repeatedly had to call out the National Guard to restore law and order.
Under his second administration, the Legislature built the State Museum, a fireproof structure that survived the total fire of the Capitol in 1897.
After his second administration, he became president of the Security Trust and Life Insurance Company and was defeated in his third run for the Executive Mansion in 1902.
James A. Beaver
Term 83, 1887-1891, born in Perry County
Beaver was the second one-legged Governor of Pennsylvania and the last one to date. Peter Stuyvesant was the first. Beaver lost his right leg in battle at Ream’s Station, Virginia. Beaver was made Brigadier General for his bravery during many battles in the Civil War when he was mustered out.
Beaver rebuilt the front of the Executive Mansion to the appearance it held as late as the early 1950’s and re-furnished the mansion in the style of the rococo era. It became known as "Keystone Hall" a social center of the State and certainly of Harrisburg.
Among his many interests were two principal ones – forestry and technical education. The commission that he appointed to address the devastation taking place in forests started the systematic planning of today. Beaver also saw to the establishment of manual training schools across the State.
Horrific, devastating floods inundated the State and on May 31, 1889 the South Fork dam on the Conemaugh broke sweeping Johnstown and 3,000 lives away. Governor Beaver reacted swiftly by appointing the Flood Relief Commission, sent the State Board of Health to Johnstown to take over the sanitation problem, and mobilized the National Guard to protect property under Adjutant General Daniel Hartman Hastings, a soon future Governor.
From the 1700’s was revived the dispute with Delaware over the boundary line. Although a new line was drawn the problem was still not settled.
By the time the next gubernatorial election came around, the Republican Party was again split wide open and instead of Beaver, the Republicans ran George W. Delamater who was defeated by ex-Governor Pattison.
Beaver went back to practicing law. Four years later he was appointed a Judge of the new Superior Court. He was elected two times to full-ten year terms and was a member of the bench when he died, January 31, 1914.
Daniel Hartman Hastings
Term 85, 1895-1899, born in Clinton County
Hastings became a hero during the Johnstown Flood and easily won the election for Governor over his Democratic opponent.
At fifteen, he was a Clinton County teacher; when eighteen, he was principal of the Bellefonte Academy; and at twenty, he was principal of all the Bellefonte public schools, editor of the Bellefonte Republican and law student.
He was admitted to the bar in 1875 but became wealthy from his mining business. From the Adjutant General’s office he looked toward the Executive Mansion and won his second try for the nomination and the race in 1894.
His convictions that State government should be conducted on a business basis and that cabinet officers should also operate their departments in the same way lead to changes.
The Department of Agriculture was created by the Legislature. The number of factory inspectors was increased leading to the discovery that hundreds of children under the age of thirteen were working in manufacturing establishments; the discovery of which, forced the employers to release the children. The election of the first members of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania took place.
Then on February 2, 1897, fire destroyed all of the main Capitol Building. An interim building was erected till the present Capitol was built in 1906.
The Spanish-American War broke out in 1898. When President McKinley sent a requisition for troops to be volunteers from Pennsylvania, Pennsylvanians responded with an outstanding record, exceeding that of any other state. When typhoid fever broke out in the camps, Hastings ordered in the Pennsylvania Sanitary Commission. This Commission eventually developed into a National Relief Commission.
Hastings championed the idea of township schools whereby extending secondary education to agricultural areas and had great success with this program.
Social events with National leaders as guests were frequent.
Hastings is responsible for the squirrel population that inhabits Capitol Hill. After two of his representatives visited the park of the Virginia Capitol and reported having seen squirrels there, Hastings arranged for a pair (a prolific pair) to be brought from Richmond.
Hastings lived for only four years after retiring from office and returning to his mining business.
Observation: During the time that the exhibit was placed for visitors to view between January 11 and February 2, 2001, the transition from the nineteenth century to the twentieth century was definitely defined by how the documents were prepared. Up through Hastings, the documents were predominately preprinted by machine and/or handwritten and then, suddenly, typewritten documents appear. This seems to follow, somewhat, the history and, most especially, the practicality of the typewriter.
Although the first recorded patent was dated 1714, in Britain, for a machine that performed the function of impressing or transcribing letters, singly or progressively, one after the other, typewriters did not become practical or common till the late 1800’s. The first practical typewriter was not invented till 1867. Before that time, the machines were slower than handwriting and cumbersome – some resembling pianos in size and shape. It was not until 1878 that the shift key was invented allowing the typist to choose either the capital or lowercase of the same letter that appeared on each bar. Prior to this, the type was all capital letters. The shift key typewriters competed, for a while, with the double keyboard typewriters that consisted of one keyboard for capital letters and one for lower case letters. The shift key typewriters won the contest when the touch method of typing was developed.
Today’s modern typewriters are most closely related to the visible-writing and front-stroke machines invented in 1878 and 1883, respectively. During this transition period, the secretaries who did all the stenographic office work either had to retrain themselves to learn how to use the newfangled, modern office inventions or become obsolete in the job market.
William A. Stone
Term 86, 1899-1903, born in Tioga County
Stone, a Normal School graduate, soldier, lawyer, and U.S. District Attorney and Congressman, succeeded Hastings.
As had been the practice, Legislatures continued to spend more money than came in.
He chose a drastic solution – to cut the biennial school appropriation. In the next biennium, the State’s finances were in much better shape and he restored the million dollar cut to schools.
By October 1902 the greatest coal strike of the times was well entrenched throughout Pennsylvania’s coal mining counties. The riots precipitated the calling out of nearly nine thousand (90%) National Guard troops. But the area was so great that the units were unable to cover it. John Mitchell, president of the United Mine Workers of America, and George F. Baer, president of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company, were the negotiators for the two parties and they met with Governor Stone at Keystone Hall. With an impending complete coal shortage at hand, President Theodore Roosevelt stepped in and set up a commission to arbitrate; the troops were recalled; and the miners went back to the shafts pending the decision of the commission that was announced in March 1903.
Stone was a robust fighter but basically a shy man. He loved to sing and when people gathered at the Mansion he would lead them in war songs or the music of Pennsylvania’s Stephen Foster.
By the time Stone left office, he had wiped out the State debt. He returned to law practice with his son, Stephen, and died in Philadelphia in 1920.
Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker
Term 87, 1903-1907, born in Chester County
Governor Pennypacker was fated to head what has been described as one of the most turbulent and, both, contradictorily successful and unsuccessful administrations in the state's history.
Pennypacker was an old Pennsylvania gentleman, scholar, and historian, and because of his attributes and background, Pennypacker was able to step back and look at the political and administrative battles that he encountered with a certain amount of objectiveness.
Pennypacker attended both private and public schools as he grew up. He did not have the money to enter Yale so he returned to work again. At nineteen he took a teacher's exam, passed it, and worked for $30 a month as a teacher of a one-room school.
His maternal grandfather eventually loaned him money to read law, and his career was launched.
It was interrupted though when he enlisted in one of the Pennsylvania Emergency Regiments in the Civil War. In hindsight it was ironic that the future Governor of Pennsylvania ended up sleeping on the Capitol steps, wrapped in a red horse blanket, when his outfit was sent to Harrisburg. Pennypacker was transferred, though, to another regiment that was sent to Gettysburg. It was the regiment that first met Lee's army on the historic battleground. His emergency regiment was sent home shortly after the engagement, and Pennypacker, having survived the Battle of Gettysburg, was then to find himself drafted back into the army. Pennypacker's grandfather, at this time, paid $300 for a substitute at Norristown. Pennypacker became active in veterans' affairs and was a post commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Pennypacker was admitted to the bar at the age of twenty-three. Within two years of becoming an attorney, he had built a reputation for himself as a barrister, author, advisor, and leading citizen as well as becoming a member of the executive committee in his ward.
At the age of twenty-seven he married Virginia Earl Bromall who was from a distinguished family. They had four children.
Pennypacker's first step in his dream of becoming a judge was being appointed a member of the Philadelphia Board of Public Education in 1885. Of considerable pride to him was the fact that, during his time on the high schools and normal schools committee, he was able to bring about the building of "decent out-houses" for every school in his ward. Bathroom facilities being something we take for granted today.
In 1887, through U.S. Senator Quay, Pennypacker made his first try for a judicial appointment during the term of Governor Beaver. Quay was a distant relative of Pennypacker and felt gratitude toward the Pennypacker family for a kind act of the past to one of his ancestors. In spite of Quay's backing, the position was given to someone else.
But on January 9, 1889, again with the help of Quay, Pennypacker received a judicial appointment when the next vacancy arose. Within ten months of the appointment, he had to run for election for the judicial position.
Pennypacker won the election and, "set a learned record on the Philadelphia bench which is still referred to as oustanding among those judges who have been erudite and scholarly." During his time as a judge, the court met in Congress Hall of Independence Hall. Pennypacker was always cognizant that George Washington stood in this same room when he was inaugurated the second time as President.
Quay continued to be involved Pennypacker's political career giving him advice, nominating, and supporting him as the Republican candidate for Governor in the 1902 election. It was a hard campaign as Pennypacker was running against ex-Governor Pattison who was seeking a third term - hoping it would be a stepping stone to the Presidency.
Pennypacker ran against Pattison comparing him to the katydid - "there never was any Katie, she never did anything, and yet this absurd insect, year in and year out, kept repeating the same song." His campaign agenda, along with President Theodore Roosevelt's endorsement from Washington that Pennypacker's defeat would be "a national calamity", won him the gubernatorial position.
Pennypacker was responsible for many revisions in the operation and conduct of the office during his term. He refused passes given to him from railroad and express companies and corporations. He paid his own expenses. At the Executive Mansion, the lavish entertainment ended because he cut the state-paid expense account of the Mansion by more than $12,000 per year. The name of the Executive Mansion, Keystone Hall, virtually faded away from lack of use and dislike of the premises. He was also responsible for stopping the habit of the outgoing Governor taking with him his office desk. As of 1951, the desk he put in the Governor's Office was still there.
The unwritten "Law" that the Governor should never appear before the Legislature while it was in session was broken during Pennypacker's term. It was the Legislature that extended the invitation to Pennypacker to attend a session on March 24, 1903 and he accepted with pleasure. This rule still stands today that the Governor, only by official invitation, may appear before the Legislature.
Pennypacker, in different parts of the State, will be remembered for different things like the act he recommended that created the greater City of Pittsburgh. In other parts of the State he will be remembered for the ongoing bitter battle with the newspapers of his day, the double-crosses from his so called "friends", and battles that ensued over appointments he made after careful consideration and doing what he thought was right.
Pennypacker established the State Police putting the enforcement of law and order back in the hands of the Commonwealth. He accomplished this by decommissioning the "authority" that was given to the "coal and iron police". The "coal and iron police" were hired by the coal and iron corporations and commissioned by the State. They had a dishonorable, shameful reputation that was infamous nationwide.
When another coal strike occurred in 1906, Pennypacker refused to let President Roosevelt intervene. Pennypacker wrote letters to both Baer, president of the coal mine, and Mitchell, president of the U.M.W., saying, "the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania expects that every reasonable effort will be made by the parties interested to accommodate the differences between coal operators and coal miners and to avert the strike which is now threatened." The strike was settled without federal intervention.
The commissioning of a new Capitol building begun under Governor Stone was further moved along by the efforts of Pennypacker. The cornerstone for the new Capitol building, a granite structure, was laid on May 5, 1904.
His second gubernatorial race included a battle to overthrow U.S. Senator Boise Penrose and the issue of graft in connection with the furnishing of the huge, new State Capitol. Pennypacker submitted, for public perusal, a detailed statement of the expenditures on the Capitol building.
The Capitol was dedicated on October 4, 1906. President Roosevelt was the principal speaker but it was Pennypacker, himself, who did the actual dedicating even though it had been publicized that Roosevelt would perform the honor. Pennypacker felt it would be quite inappropriate for anyone other than the Governor of the State to do the dedicating.
Roosevelt, on the night of the dedication, was hosted at one of the last gala affairs ever held at the Executive Mansion of that time. Roosevelt sat to the right of Pennypacker.
The last official affair, January 3, 1907, was hosted by Pennypacker at the Mansion for the newspaper correspondents who had become his friends in spite of the newspaper editors.
In his latter years he wrote this about the Executive Mansion. "Each successive Governor, with the aid of his wife, had taken a hand in fixing the Mansion, and my successor made extensive improvements, but nothing except repair was done to it, during my term. In my view it was not worth the expenditure. The space between the Capitol and the Susequehanna River, now occupied by the gentry of the town, ought to be confiscated and thrown into a park and somewhere within the enclosure a home for the Governor erected in keeping with the importance of his office." With Pennypacker's term at the beginning of the new century, Keystone Hall - the Executive Mansion - fell out of style along with the rococo period and the mauve decade. But it would be many years later till a Governor would take on the challenge of building a worthy place in which the Governor of Pennsylvania would reside.
At the time of his death in 1916, Pennypacker was a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania and president of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. He died at Pennypacker's Mills, near Schwenksville, survived by his wife and children.
Edwin Sydney Stuart
Term 88, 1907-1911,
born in Philadelphia County
Governor Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker was a hard act to follow and as a consequence of this along with his own type of personality, Governor Stuart is perhaps the least remembered and least understood latter day Chief Executives. He was, though, one of the State’s most competent Governors and cleaned up the Capitol furnishings graft case.
By the age of twenty-two, he was a partner in a bookstore that became one of the most successful bookstores in the United States. Stuart was a well-known business executive and was financially independent before he entered politics. At this point he felt the call to public service.
He rose though the ranks of the Pennsylvania Republican Party and at the age of thirty-eight was elected mayor of Philadelphia.
Stuart, a man of ethics, upon taking office in the Executive Mansion, announced that his bookstore would no longer sell books to the public schools of Pennsylvania, and then he began the investigation of the Capitol graft charges.
Stuart’s approach to State affairs was firm, forthright, and efficient and except for his prosecution of the graft case, his administration was a quiet one.
An appropriation law that he forced through speaks to his ethics. This law closed the open door to loose and careless spending and would have prevented the Capitol graft case had it been in existence before the Capitol was built.
The graft was actually not in the building of the Capitol but in the furnishing. A considerable portion of the stolen money was recovered.
Stuart returned to semi-private life at the end of his term and kept active in his organizations. He was best described as a gentleman of the old school concerning his personal and social relations. He was very meticulous in his dress and personal appearance and demanded and gave impeccable consideration in social conduct.
His summary of his term as Governor was this: "Had I known what I was getting into when I came I never would have been Governor of Pennsylvania. I have had four unhappy years, sending some men to the State penitentiary, and others to their graves, and I am glad to be at the end of my term."
John Kinley Tener
Term 89, 1911-1915,
born in Tyrone County, Ireland
Tener was the first and only foreign-born occupant of the Executive Mansion and was Pennsylvania’s first foreign-born Governor since the Revolutionary era.
Tener had two careers that were close to his heart – baseball and politics. He played professional baseball from 1885 – 1891 when he quickly moved from being a cashier at the First National Bank of Charleroi to being the bank president. In 1908 he was elected a Representative to Congress and re-elected in two more years.
Tener easily won the gubernatorial race against two other candidates from a split Democratic Party. During his term he was elected president of the National Baseball League at a salary a good deal more than his Governor’s salary. When Tener agreed to accept the presidency with the baseball league, it was agreed that he would serve his final year as Governor without pay from the baseball organization.
Governor Tener is credited for his efforts in behalf of an improved system of highways. The better roads agitation and groundwork in road building led to the highway improvement system put over by succeeding Governors.
Governor Tener died at the age of eighty-two on May 19, 1946, in Pittsburgh.
Martin G. Brumbaugh
Term 90, 1915-1919,
born in Huntingdon County
Martin Brumbaugh’s education included Juniata College, Millersville State Normal School, Harvard University, and the University of Pennsylvania. From the age of twenty-two to twenty-eight he was superintendent of schools in Huntingdon County. He ran teachers’ institutes in Louisiana and taught at Juniata College and then took postgraduate courses. He was thirty-three when be became a Doctor of Philosophy and was appointed professor of pedagogy at the University of Pennsylvania.
President McKinley summoned Brumbaugh to Washington and gave him the assignment of reorganizing the educational system of Puerto Rico. He was the first commissioner of Puerto Rico and, for a while, acting President of the Puerto Rican Assembly.
In 1902, he returned to Philadelphia, where as the superintendent of the public schools, he reorganized the school system and erected almost forty fireproof buildings during his tenure.
He was a prolific author of books – educational and historical.
Brumbaugh was the first gubernatorial nominee elected by direct primary ballot in 1914. Brumbaugh went on in the general election to beat a formidable opponent with national recognition.
During Brumbaugh’s first year, many humanitarian laws were adopted. Among them: the Workmen’s Compensation Act, the Child Labor Law (an act that provided continuing education for children leaving school to go to work). His only defeat was a personally sponsored local option law that would have provided each governmental subdivision in the State the option to decide whether to sell liquor or not.
Brumbaugh was destined to become Pennsylvania’s World War I Governor during which time his administration had countless difficulties with civilian problems. A State Council was set up that only functioned periodically and a small State militia was established. Brumbaugh, perfectly qualified, wanted to write Pennsylvania’s official war history but was prevented from doing so by his political opponents.
The appropriation act under which Governor Brumbaugh submitted bills to be paid by the State for the daily upkeep of the Mansion stated the following things were among those covered, "…for the payment of the traveling and incidental expenses of the Governor, the miscellaneous expenses incurred in the conduct and management of the Executive Mansion, the purchase and maintenance of an automobile…" His political enemies (that included William C. Sproul), in order to embarrass him, introduced a resolution for an investigation of the State administration. Considering that the vouchers were filed with the Auditor General should have been sufficient proof, according to Brumbaugh, that the expenses were proper and honest. But once the newspapers got hold of the story, it did not die down for many years. Although Governor Brumbaugh did nothing unlawful or unethical, it was not until thirty years later that he was vindicated. The Governor, at that time, under a law change and an Attorney General’s ruling, placed himself, his family and all the Mansion servants under full maintenance, with bills submitted to and paid by the State.
At the end of his term, Brumbaugh returned to his first love of teaching at Bates College in Maine and then became president of Juniata College for the second time. He was still president of the college when he died of a heart attack at the age of sixty-seven in 1930.
William Cameron Sproul
Term 91, 1919-1923, born in Lancaster County
Sproul’s resume included cub reporter, newspaper publisher, fruit grower, banker, iron-master, shipbuilder, transit magnet, coal and timber owner, politician, and millionaire.
He was elected a Senator at the
age of twenty-six and held a total of six terms. He held the positions of president pro tem and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. During his Senatorial years he devoted considerable time to Pennsylvania’s road system and as far back as Governor Stuart’s administration, he started introducing legislation that led to a giant road building program.
Sproul’s four-year term was marked by success and achievement and also by an unusual number of complexities. Sproul was the only Pennsylvania Governor to appoint three United States Senators. He could have been President of the United States had he not withdrawn his name from consideration as Warren G. Harding’s running mate. Upon the death of Harding, Sproul could have been President instead of Coolidge.
Upon his death at the age of 57, newspapers listed his three greatest achievements as being former Governor of Pennsylvania, former president of the Union League, and ‘father of good roads’ in Pennsylvania. He died a millionaire without a will.
Term 92 & 94, 1923-1927 & 1931-1935,
born in Simsbury County, CT
Pinchot was born into a family of considerable wealth that enabled him to have his choice of educational facilities at his disposal. He graduated from Yale University with a degree in forestry that eventually led him to the position of chief of the division of forestry of the United States Department of Agriculture. Through this position, Pinchot became nationally known. In 1920 Governor Sproul appointed Pinchot to head the Forestry Department of Pennsylvania. It was while he held this position that he made the decision to step into the Executive Mansion.
Pinchot’s spectacular campaign tactics mimicked those of Theodore Roosevelt whom Pinchot admired. His one-man campaign toured the State in an old touring car wearing a huge hat and greeting crowds.
The era of Pennsylvania politics was unpredictable during his terms and Pinchot painted, with a broad brush, very colorful pages in the history books. One of his first notable successes was the swift settlement of a Pennsylvania coal strike that could have caused serious national problems had it lingered.
Notable highlights of his first term include the adoption of the Administrative Code that required the submission of a budget every two years by the Governor, budgetary controls over expenditures, and a businesslike reorganization of State Government. He also brought about acts that regulated the sale of securities, and established a pension system for State employees.
Pinchot lost a bid for the United States Senate at the end of his first term and returned to Pennsylvania’s political scene in 1930 wining his second term as Governor.
During his second term he reorganized the Public Utilities Commission, had to deal with the effects of the country’s depression and the 1929 stock market crash, and major unemployment across the State.
Pinchot had the best publicity organization of any Governor. No press release was allowed to go out from Harrisburg without prior approval. He even wrote a weekly newspaper column called "What is Going on in Harrisburg and Why." He was the first Governor to use the radio waves as the modern way to reach his constituency. His department heads would report via radio to Pennsylvanians on the work being done in their departments. He lobbied taxpayers via letter writing campaigns to put pressure on their representatives in the General Assembly.
He started another rural road building program "to take the farmers out of the mud." Not only a traveling necessity, road building also won public acclaim.
Pinchot was tall and gaunt with a handlebar mustache. He liked rough tweed suits, colored suits, and soft collars. He was the first Pennsylvania Governor to have his picture hanging in the Governor’s office wearing a colored shirt. "Convention held no terrors for him." Being over six feet, tough, and strong he was described in the following way: "His bright eyes gleam with Rooseveltian vigor, his ready hand clasps acquaintances with Rooseveltian vigor, his thin voice utters Rooseveltian dogma with Rooseveltian determination."
Pinchot’s third run for Governor was unsuccessful. He died of leukemia on October 4, 1946 at eighty-one years of age.
John S. Fisher
Term 93, 1927-1931, born in Indiana County
John Fisher went from being born in a log cabin to sitting in the chair in the oak paneled Governor’s Office.
He was a teacher, principal, principal of county schools, admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar at the age of twenty-six, and became a partner in a law firm. While serving many terms in the State Senate, he became chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and sponsored bills providing for the establishment of the primary election and for the popular election of United States Senators.
It was under Governor Stuart’s administration that he became known statewide when he chaired the committee that investigated the Capitol furniture and fixtures graft.
Upon leaving the Senate he devoted himself to the study of State and national banking laws and in 1919 he was appointed State Banking Commissioner for four years.
Then he emerged victorious as the Governor after surviving the melee campaign (described as "Pennsylvania’s million dollar election") of 1926 that involved six different candidates.
Fisher because of his great interest and knowledge of financial affairs, devoted himself, wholeheartedly, to the State’s fiscal system. He created the Department of Revenue, developed a new fiscal code, and brought about great changes in the State government’s operating machinery. He described his own efforts as his "complete overhauling" of the State’s financial machinery.
His State building programs included erecting two new office buildings on Capitol Hill, the State Farm Products Show Building, and the erection of the Memorial Bridge. Also during his administration, 4,000 miles of roads were built and the capacity of the State’s welfare institutions increased by half.
At the end of his term, he retired completely from politics.
George H. Earle, III
Term 95, 1935-1939, born in Chester County
From Philadelphia, George H. Earle was the first Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania in forty-four years. His family genealogy goes back to the Mayflower and the Welcome. His family was wealthy and powerful. He graduated from Harvard and shortly after marrying, joined the Second Pennsylvania Infantry for duty on the Mexican Border. He advanced to the position of Second Lieutenant. He joined the Navy during World War I and was assigned to submarine chasers also attaining the rank of Lieutenant. He was awarded the Navy Cross by President Wilson for "heroic and inspiring leadership" that saved his ship "with no lives lost."
In 1932 he switched his party affiliation to Democrat and supported Franklin D. Roosevelt. Within a year Roosevelt named him United States Minister to Austria.
He returned to the States to run for Governor and won. There was little compromise between the Democratic House and Republican Senate especially on the issue of the time – financing unemployment relief. It wasn’t till the next November election when the Democrats won a majority in both the House and the Senate that Earle was able to get the unemployment compensation act passed.
Halfway through his administration, in 1936, the worst general flooding of the State swept through the State causing incalculable damage but amazingly, little loss of life. Johnstown was threatened again for the second time but avoided greater damage because the dam did not burst. Brigadier General Edward Martin of the National Guard with his troops took charge of the situation in Johnstown. Martin, like Hastings, would become Governor of the State.
Governor Earle was the first Pennsylvania Governor to become a licensed plane pilot and fly his own aircraft. It was under his administration and that of his successor, Arthur H. James, that Pennsylvania made its most notable strides in aviation progress and, also, became a national leader in the field.
Political charges of graft, shakedowns, macing of employees, and chicanery were made against members of Earle’s administration and within the State Democratic party and involved people who worked for the State. Indictments were made leading to four trials. Only three people were convicted; all the rest were acquitted.
At the end of his term, Earle ran for the United States Senate but lost. But not long after, Roosevelt sent him to Bulgaria as Minister – this being at the beginning of World War II in Europe. Earle returned to active duty as a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy and served till the end of the war performing delicate diplomatic missions.
Earle devoutly proclaimed, on an ongoing basis, the danger of Russian aggression toward the United States and advocated the bombing of Russia unless they agreed to submit to inspections of their armament plants. Earle became president of the Anti-Communist Association.
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