Features appear in each issue of Pennsylvania Heritage showcasing a variety of subjects from various periods and geographic locations in Pennsylvania.

Bill Scranton is precisely what one expects of a diplomat and statesman. He is courtly, not supercilious. He is a good conversationalist, but not loquacious or self-aggrandizing. He is as graceful as he is gracious. His recall of the people and the places and the events in his life is phenomenal. In the best of northeastern Pennsylvania’s vernacular, he is a Class Act – and in a class by himself.

A description of the man who served as governor of the Keystone State from 1963 to 1967 by Richard Austin Smith, which appeared in the February 1964 edition of Fortune magazine has stood the test of time. Written early in Scranton’s foray into public and political life, it remains an accurate portrayal.

Scranton’s personality is some­thing special. He has an easy manner with people, yet manages to remain what he is: a product of Hotchkiss and Yale, a man of wealth and parts. He might tolerate familiarity but permits himself none. However much Secretary of State Christian Herter tried to get his young assistant on a first-name basis during their months of close association in 1959, Scranton kept right on addressing him as “sir.” People feel his personal interest in them, an interest made convincing by a phenomenal memory and a sleepless sense of humor, yet he has no intimate friends; an inbred reserve keeps him from being really close to anyone except his wife Mary, a woman of warmth and perception.

William Warren Scranton was born July 19, 1917, in Madison, Connecticut, the youngest child and only son of Marion Margery (Warren) Scranton and Worthing­ton Scranton. His father was the third generation president of the Scranton Gas and Water Company, and his mother – known in political circles as the Duchess and the Grand Old Dame of the Grand Old Party – was the first woman to serve as vice chairman of the Lackawanna County Republican Committee and later as vice chairman of the Republican National Committee. Bill Scranton’s sisters, Marion (“Em”), Katherine (“Kay”), and Sara (“Sally”), of whom he speaks with quiet devotion, all attended Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

A graduate of Yale University and its law school, he eventual­ly returned to Scranton, where he threw himself into work revitalizing moribund companies. In 1941, he married Mary Lowe Chamberlin, who had been a year behind him at Scranton Country Day. Like Scranton’s sisters, she was also a graduate of Smith College. The Scrantons are the parents of four children, Susan, William Worthington, Joseph Curtis, and Peter Kip. William W. Scranton III served as lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania from 1979 to 1987.

Bill Scranton was first tapped for public service, in 1959, by the State Department during the administra­tion of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The following year, he ventured into the political ring by running for Congress. Next in his sights was Pennsylvania’s governorship.

Winning the Keystone State’s gubernatorial contest by nearly a half million votes (2,424,518 to 1,938,627) over Richardson Dilworth (1898-1974), who had resigned as mayor of Philadelphia to nm, he carried sixty of Pennsylvania’s sixty-seven counties. Beginning with his inaugural address on January 15, 1963, Scranton received favorable reviews by both the state and national press. Business leaders and industrial developers grew enthusiastic, seeing him as the individual best suited to bring Pennsylvania up from its economic slump fomented by the decline in the Common­wealth’s railroad, coal, and steel fortunes. Early on, a writer for the New Republic christened him “The First of the Kennedy Republicans.” His debut as governor was among the most promising – and welcome – that twentieth-century Pennsylvanians had ever witnessed.

Governor Scranton was quick to attack the many problems facing his administration. In his first message to the General Assembly of Pennsylvania, which he delivered one week after his inauguration, he made a number of recommendations for sweeping change, including the reorganiza­tion of the state education agency and the creation of a State Board of
Education; the creation of several state agencies, including the Departments of Mental Health and Community Development; improved medical care for the aged; more stringent strip mining regulations; increased assistance to blind veterans; and the revision of the State Constitution. Governor Scranton also called for revamping and extending Pennsylvania’s civil service, which he decried as “the worst system in the nation.” His messages in following months called for the establishment of community colleges, adjustments in the tax structure, and revision of unemploy­ment compensation.

Before he left office, he delivered his final message to the General Assembly of Pennsylvania on January 3, 1967, in which he enumerated what he believed were the “striking achievements” of his administration. Among his legacies were the creation of the first college loan program in the Commonwealth’s history; an increase of financial support to public schools by more than fifty percent; the reduction of the welfare rolls by more than one hundred thousand; the organi­zation of a comprehensive conservation program, including enacting strip mining regulations, and clean streams and coal mine subsidence laws; the doubling of the number of state employees protected by civil service; and the realization of four balanced budgets, with three year-end surpluses.

He had looked forward to returning to northeastern Pennsyl­vania to devote more time to his family, business interests, and civic and charitable causes. But Wash­ington, D.C. called. And then it called again. And again.

William W. Scranton, statesman and diplomat, was sought by presidents and presidential advisors for a variety of assign­ments, many of which he declined, ever gracious and graceful, the consummate gentleman. Under President Nixon, he assumed the chairmanship of the Commission on Student Unrest, following the tragedies at Kent State and Jackson State Universities. He served as the nation’s representative to a confer­ence of the International Tele-Communications Satellite Consortium (INTELSAT) and joined the general advisory committee concerned with strategic arms limitation treaties (SALT). He accepted an assignment with the executive committee of the Trilateral Commis­sion, which dealt with affairs in Japan, North America, and Europe. From 1971 through 1972, Scranton was a member of the Presidential Price Commission. He acted also as a director of the United States Railway Board and served on the Commission of White House Fellowships. For his participation and contributions, he was accorded accolade upon accolade.

One of Scranton’s most significant assignments was his appointment as United States Ambassador to the United Nations by President Gerald R. Ford, his Yale University classmate. Scranton’s speeches of the period are among the most thoughtful and eloquent commen­taries on human rights.

Although he shies away from awards and honors, preferring his work to speak for itself, William W. Scranton did accept the third annual Pennsylvania Founder’s Award presented by Governor Tom Ridge in Harrisburg on Wednesday, June 7, 2000. (Previous recipients are K. Leroy Irvis, in 1998, and Fred Rogers, in 1999.) “It is difficult to imagine a more deserv­ing recipient,” said Governor Ridge. “Governor Scranton has spent his life in public service to Pennsylvania, to the United States, and to the world.” The award was established by the Pennsylva­nia Historical and Museum Commission to commemorate the ideals of Pennsyl­vania’s founder, William Penn, whose enduring legacy included the principles of individual rights, religious toleration, representative government, and public support for education and free enter­prise.

This interview with Governor Scranton was conducted at the Scranton Family Office in Scranton, Lackawanna County, on Friday, May 19, 2000.


Was there a defining moment when you decided to enter public service?

I had no intention whatsoever of entering public service at all – and as far as running for election is concerned, it never occurred to me, to be honest. When I was asked to run for Congress in 1960, Mary and l talked about it all night because there was a time limit. I talked to Mother the next morning because she was the politician in the family. She said, “Bill, don’t do that.” She was very much opposed to my running. Nobody will believe it, but it’s true. Mother died that year, and I don’t know exactly why she was so opposed to it.

Your mother, Marion Margery Scranton, was an astute politician and many believe she had been grooming you for public life.

Everybody thinks she groomed me to run. I’m afraid that’s bunk. She did take me around to events and things, but I think that was primarily because Mother had a very, very strong feeling that she wanted to do a lot of public work – and she sure did. She never wanted to give up her family. She had an enormous impact on all of us, and was always there when we needed her. The stories about her are incredible. Mother was one of the first women to do a number of things. She was one of the first women to drive a car. Although she later had a chauffeur, that car went ninety-five thousand miles a year in her busy years.

Mother was all over the Common­wealth all the time, primarily because she was so interested in, first, trying to get women into politics and, second, legislation that would be helpful to women. She was not a rabid feminist, though. In 1900, at sixteen years old, she wanted to go to Harrisburg to picket the state legislature for women’s suffrage. Her father, who was a very good lawyer, let her go. This was during the day when no young girl went anywhere without a chaperone.

She did everything she could, when she had time, to get women’s suffrage, until it became a reality in 1920. Then she helped organize the Pennsylvania Council of Republican Women, which is the first women’s political organization. She kept right on going. She eventually became vice chairman of the Republican National Committee, and she traveled all over the country. Then, in 1951, she decided she had to get out. She had been there long enough and so she left – she never did another thing politically. When she quit politics, she destroyed all of the files, the pictures, the documents, the correspondence, everything. The only thing we have left of my mother’s political career is a line-a-day diary, which is one of those five-year diaries where you have just about five or six lines for each day. Sadly, that’s all we have.

Do you think it was difficult for your mother to close the door on her public life?

I don’t think so. Mother was amazing. She was extraordinarily flexible. If Mother had made up her mind to do something, she did it. If something else was interfering with her plans, she handled it. She was very good about her life. She didn’t expect everything to work out perfectly. She was really a very interesting person.

Everyone always thought that she was sort of the commander of the family. She was quite a presence and she’d come into a room and everybody knew she was there, that kind of thing. She not only had a terrific public presence, but also a great public following. When Father died, Mother never had a day of happiness again. Both Mother and Dad did a very good job of bring­ing up their children – at least we thought they did. We were devoted to our parents, and they to us. If there was ever a real problem about something, Mother and Dad talked about it up in their room, at night after dinner. We knew how important he was in her Life, but the public never did. Father was an enormous influence in her life, but very quiet, and quite firm.

Was your father as great of an influence on you and your sisters?

Much the same way as Mother. Dad was terrific. He was marvelous to all of us and we loved him very much. If we were doing wrong, Mother normally was the disciplinarian, but if there was something really important, he was right there and he handled it, quietly, lovingly. He handled himself very well as a father.

Was it hard for you to return to Pennsylvania, after having been away at school?

Oh no, no, it was not at all. As a family we were so deeply entrenched in Pennsylvania. We all – Mother and Dad, as well as my grandfather and grand­mother – cared deeply about our community and about our state. For me, returning home was easy.

I had graduated from Yale and was offered a job at J.P. Morgan. Dad thought I ought to take it up because he was very excited about the Morgan outfit, after he had had some dealings with them. I wanted to come back and be just a normal character living in Pennsylvania. My wife came from here, so she was certainly happy, as her roots were all here.

Did you feel a sense of responsibility being a Scranton in a community bearing your family name?

We were fully infused with the necessity of being responsible. Mother and Dad were acutely aware of such responsibility and filled us full of that. You did your work. They made me, as I’m sure they did my sisters, go out and collect for the Community Chest and that sort of thing. One day Mother told me to go around the block and make sure everybody was registered to vote. This was at the time of the Lindbergh kidnap­ping. Needless to say, they were somewhat worried about that, but they never showed us. She did say, “Remem­ber, don’t talk to strangers.” I went around and was knocking on every door and making sure that they all were registered. When I came back, she asked, “How did you do?” 1 said, “I don’t know. I talked to all of them and I think they’ll register, all right. But, Mother, is Mrs. Moffitt a stranger?”

And your memories of childhood?

Ours was a wonderful life – but it was a hard period of time for many. My family was terribly worried about the Great Depression and what it was doing to the nation and the people. We were always aware of what was going on in the world, and also participated in it as much as we could. Our parents had great foresight. We weren’t locked up in a palace and told that we were different. There was none of that.

Please tell us about your entry into public service.

I had been involved in several businesses here, in Scranton, mostly trying to get them back on track. I’ll never forget that because there’s nothing more important to me than having other people have jobs. Anyway, I just finished one of those stints, five years with a company, the International Textbook Company, and we’d gotten it turned around. I was now involved in too many other things and didn’t think I was paying enough attention to the company and l thought I should get out, and I did. I was starting to run a broadcasting company and a trust company when all of a sudden I took a call from a man in Washington, Ambas­sador Philip Crowe, who said that Secretary of State John Foster Dulles wanted him to come up and see me.

I was asked to come to Washington, and then I was offered a position with a rather peculiar title, the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for the Interpretive Press. That meant working with columnists and the people who ran the network news and all that kind of thing.

I never did actually work for John Foster Dulles, though. Mary and I were about to take a trip abroad, because it was the first time we were free to do so. Halfway around the world I received an “eyes only” message from Dr. Dulles that he was resigning, that he had cancer. He wrote that he would recommend me to his successor. I promptly wired back and asked him not to because I didn’t want anybody to feel indebted to me.

His successor turned out to be Christian Herter, who Mother knew quite well. Chris got a message to me in Paris asking me to come and see him as soon as I returned, which I did, and he offered me the job and I took it. T learned a lot. I only did that for a couple of months and then he brought me into his office and I ran his office, and that was
absolutely wonderful. I learned more in that year than I ever have in my life. He was easy to work for. He told me, “You have to decide what of all this stuff that comes into this office I see and what I don’t see.” Then he added, “Any time you want to come to any meeting that I’m having with anybody from any­where, you just come in and be there,
except for when my family and I want to have a private talk.” Nobody ever had an offer like that.

That time was just super. It was a wonderful education. I went everywhere Chris went, and I had the responsibility not only of everything in that office, but also in the relationship with his office to the White House. So l was over there a lot. It was at the White House that I got to know Eisenhower.

I must admit it was very hard work. Day and night, every day except every other Sunday, but it was absolutely fascinating. It taught me a great deal.

Coming from the private sector, what was your impression of people in government?

This may sound idealistic, but it has my experience that the really good people in government were the people who really deeply cared about America. Sure, they cared about themselves, but they were real patriots. Ike was one of them. Another was Henry Kissinger. You don’t think of him in those terms at all – he had a big ego – but he was absolutely astounded that this country would, pardon my language, adopt a German Jew and make him secretary of state of the United States. Henry was motivated by the basic fact that this was an extraor­dinary country, which gave an extraordinary opportunity to an individ­ual who had not been born here or brought up here.

Did patriotism make a difference to you when you were seating your cabinet in Harrisburg?

I must be frank: for that cabinet in Harrisburg, I was primarily looking for two traits: total honesty and confidence. The only reason I ran for governor was the fact that l was worried about Pennsyl­vania. At the time Pennsylvania was – and had been for several years­ – the second worst in the nation in terms of unemployment. The Commonwealth had a really sick economy. For many years we had been totally dependent on railroads, steel, coal, then textiles, and the first three had declined miserably. Their decline was causing our heavy unemployment. I came from a district that had a lot of unem­ployment. Growing unemployment was a matter of very deep concern to me. It always has been and always will be.

Pennsylvania, next to West Virginia, was the worst in the country and had been for many years. What I was looking for was confidence that we could begin to turn this state around and get it going again. We did an interesting thing, too. l wanted some younger people, in their thirties or forties, in the cabinet, and so I set up a group of people to find such persons, particularly individuals who were already in business and might come and lend leadership. I think they found twenty-four such people they thought might be able to fit in. We discovered­ – much to my utter amazement – that sixteen of them had not voted in the election.

I wasn’t looking to make sure they were Republicans or anything of that sort, but I did want them to be concerned and responsible. If they weren’t going to have that kind of commitment and responsibil­ity, I’m not sure I wanted them. We did get two or three of them to come and they worked out very well.

Your presidential aspirations in 1964 have become the subject of much conjecture, much debate, and much discussion among historians, politicians, and government officials – not to mention the public. Is there a final word?

I become very concerned about things when I think they’re wrong. I was extremely upset by Barry Goldwater’s two votes against the Civil Rights Bill. Barry was the commander of our Air Force Reserve unit when I was in the Congress, and I like him very much. But I did not want the Republican Party to become a white supremacy party. I’m a Lincoln Republican, and I care about all the people being part of it, not just certain individuals.

As long as Nelson Rockefeller and several others were running, it didn’t bother me, because I knew they felt the same way about what would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964. When Nelson had no more opportunity, when he lost the California primary, I felt it was absolutely necessary for someone to take up the gauntlet. The feeling around the country was that the Republican Party was a white supremacist party. I always have fought for inclusion and not exclusion. And, frankly, I didn’t particu­larly want to be president.

The presidency didn’t really interest me, but I sure didn’t want the Republican Party to turn into a monster. 1 felt very strongly about it. Ike knew that. So did a whole lot of other people. I got quite a go­-around about running, but somebody had to do it. Most of the others couldn’t. There wasn’t any other likely person that could do it. I didn’t care about my future in politics. I was primarily a businessman, anyway. If I didn’t get the nomination, it wasn’t going to kill me. Somebody had to raise the standard.

You’ve been labeled everything, including a pragmatist, a visionary, a moderate liberal, a middle-of-the-road progressive, even a “Kennedy Republican.” Do any of those descriptions fit?

I don’t think they do, really.

Let me start with why I am a Republi­can because that might tell you something. I honestly do believe that we shouldn’t have a huge centralized government. The closer you can get to the people and the less government you need, generally speaking, the better. That does not mean, however, and I’m in that group that doesn’t want any government, and I think it’s absolutely necessary for the present government to do many things in order to make sure that the country is doing well and going well. The less we have to do on a governmental basis, the better off we’re going to be. Secondly, I am in the Lincoln tradition. If I have a political hero, he’s it. I’ve read an awful lot about Abraham Lincoln and I just think he’s an extraordinary man indeed. Third and by no means least, I do believe in the free enterprise system. I do believe in free trade for the betterment of people everywhere, including us in America. I think that’s supposed to be the belief of the Republican Party, as I understand it.

On the other hand, I am not one who thinks you can just allow difficult things to happen to people in America without taking some federal action. Neither the states nor the local government’s are adequately supported financially to do everything, especially in the realms of health care and education.

Was there one specific program or initiative that you remember most?

Near the end of my four years as governor, I thought we had put Pennsyl­vania in good enough shape, and that it was coming along all right. That maybe we could do some dramatic things that would help in the future. Not just in the present. We came up with a five hundred million dollar program for a loan-for which I began to be called “the big spender.” About half of the money, two hundred and fifty million dollars, would be used to purchase land and preserve some of our lovely, beautiful state. Second, we could increase the develop­ment of the state parks system. Maurice Goddard, who was then secretary of Forests and Waters, and I got together and we came up with something of which I’m very proud, I admit, but he deserves most of the credit, he did most of the work, which was to launch a program that would create a state park within twenty-five miles of every Pennsylvanian.

In 1994, a year before he died, I called Doc Goddard and asked how far along we were with this wonderful program. Maurice said we had just finished.

One of your greatest traits is your ability to work effectively with others, despite their differing political beliefs or backgrounds.

I happen to believe – and everybody says this is terribly idealistic – that nearly every person has some good in him or her, and if you can accentuate and cultivate that, it’s amazing what they can do. I think I really do try to find the best in people and cultivate it. That’s the way you get the most out of them.

Was it difficult to work with the power brokers and big business interests of the day?

No, they made it easier. Pennsylvania had been through periods when the railroads and the steel corporations and the coal companies had been running it. But these industries were passé and they were experiencing terrible problems in unemployment. I think the business people decided that something had to happen in Pennsylvania and they couldn’t have been better about it.

Did you enjoy your stint as United States Ambassador to United Nations?

It was wonderful. There were many difficult issues that demanded extremely hard work, but on the whole it was marvelous.

I had worked on President Ford’s transition at the White House for twelve weeks, and he kept asking me to come back to the government I kept declining. I did, though, assure him that I might be interested in taking on special assign­ments for a limited time if he encountered some kind of problem. In January 1976, he called and asked me to go to the United Nations as ambassador. Because I’m very interested in international relations, I told him I’d be glad to serve – but that I would only stay until the end of the year, whether or not he was reelected. It was something on which we both could agree.

You are the only twentieth-century governor in Pennsylvania to have been consistently called statesman and diplomat. Does it fit?

I see myself as one who works hard and honestly. I would never call myself by either of those words, but I know I’ve been described as both.

When President Nixon took office, he wanted me very much to come. He asked me to be secretary of state. I said no. He then asked me to be undersecretary of state. Again I said no. Then he sent me as special envoy to the Middle East in December 1968. After I had returned, Bill Rogers – who Nixon had asked to be secretary of state – called and told me that the President was insistent that he get a hold of me because he wanted me as either ambassador to Germany or to Japan. I told Bill I was not interested in any post, which everybody knew because I had already turned down secretary of state and undersecretary of state. “But this is very unusual,” Rogers said, “because they don’t normally ask you what you’d like to do.” I told him I’d talk to Mary about it, but I did say the prospects were doubtful. I didn’t want an ambassadorship, and I didn’t take one. I knew there was a difference between public life and private life; I vowed to protect our private life.

Did Mrs. Scranton enjoy being the wife of a public figure?

Mary did it wonderfully. In campaign­ing she was just absolutely incredible. When I was campaigning for Congress, she went door-to-door, asking people for their support, which was rarely done in those days. During the gubernatorial campaign, she climbed ladders to shake hands with painters and walked through mills to talk with steelworkers. At one steel mill the workers were in the middle of taking showers and so they kept pulling the curtains around them. Mary didn’t miss a beat – she was absolutely super.

She milked a cow in Philadelphia, on City Line Avenue, when WCAU was doing a special promotion and that was publicized all over the country. Everyone there was simply flummoxed when she was asked to milk the poor animal and she replied, “Why certainly I will.” Oh, she was just great. What most people didn’t know was that Mary lived in the country next door to a farm and she spent a lot of time over there. She learned how to milk cows.

Mary loathed the idea of being called first lady. When the press first inter­viewed her, when I became governor, she said, “Don’t call me first lady. T don’t like that idea at all.” “Well, so what can we call you?” the reporters asked. She smiled and said, “Call me governess.” She assumed public life beautifully. She was just terrific. Mary was the best partner a government official could hope for.

When you speak about the Commonwealth and the country, it’s laced with reverence.

I love this state and I love this the country. Pennsylvania and America have been good to my family and me. I devised this beautiful idea of teaching our grand­daughters about America. We all meet – the whole family – in some city or area in the Midwest, where we spend an extended Thanksgiving holiday. We’ve been to Chicago, Kansas City, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, Santa Fe, Dallas, San Antonio. It really works well because they’ve – and I have – learned a lot about the country.

You served on the boards of a number of influential companies – Sun Oil, Pan Am, IBM, Scott Paper, and the New York Times, among others – but twenty years ago you made a startling announcement.

I enjoyed my directorships because I have always found something in every company that I thought I could work on, but in the eighties I announced that when I reached seventy I was going to step down from all of the boards. I strongly believe that young Americans ought to run America, and not old goats. That was all right with some of them, but others were quite upset about it, thought I didn’t like the company or something. Now, thankfully, most of the corporations have done that, put in some kind of a term limitation.

You grew up surrounded by bright and astute women. Did you appoint a woman to your cabinet?

We had a female cabinet secretary. Our insurance commissioner was Audrey Kelly. She came from Susquehanna County. Audrey was a fine insurance commissioner. We really should have had more women in my administration, though.

Did you appoint any minorities as cabinet secretaries?

We had a black who was the secretary of Labor and Industry, Bill Young, of Pittsburgh. He was an older man, and, oh, he was good. He was a graduate of Lincoln University and had been editor of the Pittsburgh American, an African American weekly. Bill was effective because he was forthright and direct. He was only the second African American in the history of the Commonwealth to serve as a cabinet secretary.

Your decision to leave politics, much like your mother’s, in the mid-1960s was resolute.

I was dead tired, and when I made that statement in sixty-six, after the primary was over, that I never would nm again for anything, nobody believed it. But I meant it. I was in public service, and I thought that as a public servant, I ought to be out in the public all the time and visit people and try to work on these things. I was afraid that I wasn’t being a good husband or a good father, and that was bothering me terribly. I was away all the time. I was constantly working and speaking and taking part in meetings. I just wasn’t going have that any more. That’s why I never again did run for anything.

Did you ever think of yourself at any given point as making history?

Whenever T took a job all I was interested in was not what I was doing historically, but really what we needed to accomplish at that particular time. For example, I finally ran for Congress, which I didn’t want to do very much, because we had a congressman who was a very nice man, but he didn’t do enough. We had terrible problems in the region, and before I ran I came up with a list of thirteen things that I thought a congressman could do to help. When I went on television, I listed them all on a blackboard.

Jack Kennedy, whom I knew quite well, was elected president the same year I went to Congress. He gave a reception at the White House for congressional leaders in January. He walked into the Lincoln Room, came up behind me and put his hand on my elbow. I was talking to a group of congressmen when he flashed that famous Kennedy smile. “This is the political miracle of 1960,” he said. I turned to him and said, “No, sir, Mr. President, you are.”

Do you still enjoy politics?

I will never be uninterested. I enjoy being an observer, on the sidelines, so to speak. Yes, I am very interested. I’ve always been especially interested in the local economics and politics. I don’t take any position, though, because that should belong to our young people.

Have you given thought to writing your memoirs?

I didn’t want to do anything about it, but Mary and the children got after me and I finally wrote a small book, which I didn’t enjoy at all, to be honest with you. I found it a bore, really. Anyway, I did write something and then I wrote thirty more stories and appended them to the piece. I gave a copy to all the children and grandchildren, and that’s all. I’m much more interested in history.

Have you always been interested in history?

Absolutely. Almost all my reading now is history and biography. I believe there’s a great value to be placed on history. I don’t think that American youth today knows enough. They don’t teach history any­more. It’s something called social studies.

Do you think the day will come soon when we will see a female governor of Pennsylvania?

Oh, I hope to see it. And a female president too. I’d like it very much. Israel had Golda Meir, India had Indira Gandhi, and Great Britain had Margaret Thatcher. Why don’t we?

Have you ever given any thought to what you’ll be most remembered for?

No, I don’t think that’s important. If you’re a president, I suppose it is, but for a governor I don’t think it matters. What matters is the Commonwealth making progress, not whether you did.

And you’ve never really given any thought to it at all?

No, I have not. I sincerely mean that. I haven’t. If I can be honest, I really don’t care. I was proud of the administration, and I was particularly happy about how much we accomplished. I believed we got a much better Pennsylvania after I left than before I went in. And that’s all I can ask for.

The press regularly asked me for what I most wanted to be remembered. Dave Lawrence, my predecessor, wanted to be remembered for what he did about highway accidents, and the highway strike. George Leader, his predecessor, wanted to be remembered for what he did about mental health. I was trying to bring the whole Commonwealth, every field of endeavor, forward. We had a huge highway program. We ran a whole new banking system. We changed the insur­ance setup. We took more people off welfare – one hundred and seventeen thousand families – with our new welfare plan. And we certainly did a lot about bringing in new business and getting great employ­ment. I wanted all of Pennsylvania to improve.

At our meetings, I kept telling the cabinet secretaries that I wanted to make progress in every depart­ment and in every program. As far as I was concerned, I was interested in getting the entire Common­wealth in better shape than it had been. I wanted to make a difference.


For Further Reading

Alderfer, Harold F. William Warren Scran­ton, Pennsylvania Governor, 1963-1967. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Local Government Service, 1976.

Beers, Paul B. Pennsylvania Politics Today and Yesterday: The Tolerable Accommoda­tion. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1980.

Beers, Paul B., comp. The Pennsylvania Sampler: A Biography of the Keystone State and Its People. Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1970.

____. The Republican Years: The Scran­ton-Shafer Era of Change and Controversy from 1963 Through 1970. Harrisburg, Pa.: The Patriot News Company, 1971.

Cupper, Dan. Working in Pennsylvania: A History of the Department of Labor and Industry. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 2000.


Michael J. O’Malley III, who joined the staff of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1978, has served as editor of Pennsylvania Heritage since 1984.