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

Edward Martin distin­guished himself as soldier, governor, senator and, above all, as honored citizen of the Ten Mile area in Pennsylvania, the small rural community in which he was born. His full and varied life had led him from the front lines of battle to the diplomatic circles of the nation’s capitol. The people whose lives he touched knew him as a dignified, loyal and honest individual, deeply committed to his family and friends. His career spanned more than sixty years, during which he dedicated himself to serving the needs and ideals of his constituents, be it as sol­dier or as politician. His public watched with admiration and pride as Edward Martin hit every step on his rise from private to general and from secretary of the Republican County Committee of Greene County to United States senator.

The qualities and character­istics developed as a boy in the era of rugged individualism were largely responsible for the career of Edward Martin, raised on a farm on the border of Washington and Greene counties. He was born Sep­tember 18, 1879, in the log cabin of his parents, Joseph Thomas and Hannah Bristor Martin, both descendants of pioneer families.

Born during a period in American history when people struggled for even the simple comforts, Martin was much like the other farm boys who followed a strict dawn-to-dusk routine. As soon as he was old enough, he arose by the light of a kerosene lamp to perform his chores, first in the barn and then in the fields. He planted, tended to and har­vested the farm’s crops. Shoes were even a luxury for young Edward whose life was con­sumed by much work and little play.

Despite the hardships of life on the farm, Martin was able to recall its bright moments, claiming they had been en­joyed even more because they were so few and far between. In his autobiography, Always Be on Time, Martin fondly remembered Sunday meetings in church, country dinners with friends and relatives, trips to the country store and visits to neighboring farms. One especially memorable event was a trip taken with his father to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. At one of its ex­hibits, he saw what was then the most advanced in war materials, not realizing that some day he would be using them as a decorated soldier.

Edward Martin was one of thousands of young men who had attained prominent places in life largely through the disciplining received on the farm. Martin’s father special­ized in raising sheep and, had it not been for the lowering of the tariff affecting the price of wool, Edward might have followed in his footsteps. The tariff issue could also be used as an explanation of how Mar­tin, born in Democratic Greene County and raised in a staunch Democratic family, rose to such prominence as a Republican candidate. His son, Edward Scott Martin, remembered one story in which his grandfather, return­ing from a trip northward, complained about there being “too many damn Republicans up there.” In his youth, Edward had become an enthusiastic supporter of Grover Cleveland and actively worked for his campaign until one day when his father cautioned him. “Ed, I don’t think I would yell so loud for Cleveland for I don’t know just what effect the lowering of the tariff will have on the price of wool.” Martin later recalled his father’s state­ment as a “rude awakening.” Not only did the tariff almost completely destroy his father financially, but it made a strong enough impression on Edward to switch his political affiliations to the Republican party.

Young Edward Martin’s first interest in public affairs was developed by the debates at the country store at Ten Mile. “The men who gathered nightly in that lamp-lit store were real patriots,” he remi­nisced. “Most of them served in the Civil War and any stran­ger fool-hardy enough to criti­cize or slander his country took his life in his own hands with men such as these about.” Martin always paid tribute to the venerable citi­zens of the Ten Mile area, declaring that they shaped his thoughts, his philosophy of life and his ambitions. He described the men who gath­ered at Ten Mile’s country store – even though farmers by tradition – as “scholarly prophets and solid patriots, granite-jawed Americans,” who for the most part knew first-hand the hardships of war, the struggle to live off the land, and the privileges of a free country.

As he worked on the farm, clearing land, tending to the livestock, chopping wood and other laborious chores, Martin determined he would attend college. He enrolled first at Monongahela College in Jeffer­son, Pennsylvania, at the age of fifteen, and a year later transferred to Waynesburg College. During his studies at Waynesburg, where he played football and began his study of law, the war between the United States and Spain was declared. Inspired by his asso­ciation with the Civil War veterans of the Ten Mile dis­trict, he quit college at the age of eighteen, on May 9, 1898, and enlisted for service as a member of Company K, of what was then the Tenth Regi­ment, Pennsylvania National Guard.

The members of Company K traveled to Washington, Pennsylvania, over the Waynesburg and Washington Railroad where they joined the members of Company H. The young and inexperienced soldiers, most of whom were in their late teens, were in camp at Mt. Gretna, Lebanon County, then the military center for the state, until they were ordered to the west coast. The “Fighting Tenth” set sail from San Francisco on June 15, 1898, and waded ashore in the Philippines on July 21. Alexander L. Hawkins led the soldiers into their first battle on July 31 at Malate, where they were the first American troops to be fired upon in the Philippines. It was estimated that the enemy expended not less than one hundred thousand rounds of ammunition, matched only by about sixty thousand rounds by the Americans, of which more than half were shot by the Tenth Division. Malate was taken August 13 and the troops advanced to Manila. The Philippine Insurrection began there on the February 4, 1899, and lasted seventy days until Martin’s troop was relieved from duty April 14.

Conditions in the Philip­pines were intolerable for the American soldiers. The fight­ing mainly took place in the dark, wet jungles where nei­ther the enemy fire nor the rain ceased. The area was overrun by lepers and dysen­tery, and malaria crippled many soldiers. For six years after his return from service in the tropics, Martin was to suffer the effects of malaria.

Entering the service an inexperienced youth who had never ventured outside Wash­ington and Greene counties, Martin performed his duties in an exemplary manner and returned home proudly wear­ing the chevrons of a sergeant. Upon his return he resumed his education at Waynesburg College, the only student of the original twenty-six men enlisted in Company K to complete his college courses. He graduated in 1901.

The year 1905 was espe­cially memorable for Martin as he earned his promotion to the rank of captain in Company K and was admitted to the prac­tice of law in Greene County. The same year he held his first political office, although he had always taken an active part and as a young man was interested in public affairs. He was made secretary of the Greene County Republican Committee and the following year he became burgess of East Waynesburg, serving until 1910. In 1907, he was elected county solicitor by the Board of County Commissioners, the majority of which were Demo­crats. He later credited his experience at this level of gov­ernment with giving him a greater appreciation as gover­nor and senator for what local government can do for the state and federal levels.

When Martin departed from Waynesburg for service in the Philippines he carried with him a small pocket New Testament, given to him by his boyhood sweetheart, Charity Scott. In that Bible he recorded the important dates of his service and, also, in the years to follow, the important dates in the history of his family and his career. The small book was always used when Martin took an official oath. On December 1, 1908, almost a decade after his departure, he married Charity in what he referred to in his autobiography as “the most important event of my life.” Their first child was Edward Scott Martin, born on May 2, 1914, at Washington, Pennsylvania, who once served as a captain in the 28th Division, the same in which his father served for more than forty years. A daughter, Mary Charity, was born February 19, 1916, the year her father was made chairman of the Greene County Republican Committee and was again called into war service on the Mexican border under Gen. John J. Pershing.

When the 28th Division was ordered to mobilize in 1917, Martin held the rank of major in the Tenth Pennsylvania Infantry. These soldiers were ordered to Camp Hancock for training in the fall of 1917 and remained there through the following winter. It was at Camp Hancock that the 28th Division was organized and the “Old Fighting Tenth” was made the 110th Infantry. The 28th Division was ordered overseas in spring 1918, arriving in France in time to be thrown into the thick of the fighting on the Chateau Thierry front where the Ger­mans were stopped and finally routed.

Serving as a battalion com­mander in France, Martin led his command through five major offenses during which time he was wounded, gassed and twice received the Distin­guished Service Cross, the second highest military award for heroism in the United States Army. During the American counter-offensive at Courmont, an enemy shell destroyed his battalion head­quarters and killed seventeen of his officers instantly. Martin was buried in the debris of the building. After digging his way out of the wreckage, along with a few other survi­vors, he picked up the first helmet he came across, not realizing it was a German helmet. When the action was over and Martin started to walk away from the captured enemy troops, Lieut. William Pierce, the battalion adjutant, raised his automatic pistol and took aim, thinking the figure he had seen in the enemy helmet was an escaping prisoner.

Years later, Martin recalled his harrowing experience. “As I jerked the German helmet from my head, disclosing my identity to Lt. Pierce, it flashed through my mind how igno­minious it would have been to be killed in action – by one of my own officers.” Pierce, later promoted to the rank of colo­nel in World War II, remained a dose friend of Martin’s throughout his lifetime. Fol­lowing the incident, Martin, even though badly wounded, gathered his men together. Inspired by their commander, the men renewed the attack and captured a large number of enemy prisoners. For “valor under fire” Martin received his first Distinguished Service Cross.

The 28th Division kept moving through the middle of the hand-to-hand fighting in the dense Argonne Forest where Martin became a lieu­tenant colonel of the 110th Infantry. Despite being badly gassed by the German forces, Martin maintained the offen­sive for fourteen days, still choking and with a tempera­ture that registered 104 de­grees. In recognition of his strength and bravery, Lieut. Col. Martin had the Oak Leaf Ouster added to the first Dis­tinguished Service Cross awarded him at Courmont.

As an officer of the 110th Infantry, Martin served through the Champagne­-Marne, the Aisne-Marne, the Oise-Marne and the Argonne­-Meuse actions. He was then ordered back to the United States with a group of officers selected for the organization of additional divisions, for Gen­eral Pershing at the time was planning and making prepara­tions for a new campaign in 1919 . The Armistice of 1918 halted these plans. On Decem­ber 16, 1920, at the conclusion of World War I, Martin was commissioned to reorganize the 110th Infantry, and was placed on the General Staff eligible list of officers of the Regular Army, National Guard and Officers Reserves Corps. He was elevated to full colonel on October 16, 1919, and pro­moted to the rank of brigadier general, commanding the 55th Infantry Brigade of the 28th Division, Pennsylvania Na­tional Guard, on August 17, 1922.

Despite the fact his political and military life had led him to far and high places, he en­joyed most the quiet of his home and the companionship of his family and friends. Edward Martin returned to the quiet of civilian life but still continued to move forward at his usual active pace. He soon became involved in banking, transportation and the oil industry in western and south­western Pennsylvania. Eventu­ally, his absorbing business interests forced him to give up the active practice of law. Even more active politically, he became a candidate for auditor general on the Republican ticket in 1924 and was elected by a majority of nearly one million votes, his first statewide victory.

Martin ran for state trea­surer in 1928 and was elected by another near million vote majority. During his incum­bency he was selected as presi­dent of the Gasoline Tax Collectors’ Association of North America and president of the Auditors, Controllers and State Treasurers’ Associa­tion. The same year he became candidate for state treasurer he was the unanimous choice of his party for chairman of the Republican State Committee, a position he held until 1934. He served as delegate to the Re­publican National Conven­tions of 1932, 1935 and 1940, and was chairman of the con­vention in 1932.

The country was in the midst of a depression when Edward Martin served his term as state treasurer. Despite the financial catastrophe – 145 banks that held state funds closed and ten bonding com­panies doing business with the state went down – none of the Commonwealth’s money kept by the state treasurer’s office was Jost. Despite the fact he was able to protect the state’s money, Martin lost all of his own, as did countless others. He was forced to start finan­cially again from scratch. Out of its gratitude for his service, at the Chicago convention of 1932, the Pennsylvania delega­tion gave him a unanimous complimentary vote for the vice-presidential nomination.

Early in 1930, while serving as commanding officer of the 55th Infantry Brigade, General Martin realized that Mt. Gretna, used for so many years, would be inadequate for the army of the future. Even when the 28th Division was at peace-time strength, Mt. Gretna did not provide facili­ties for the training of its troops. Although the artillery trained at Pine Grove and cavalry units elsewhere, only the infantry companies assem­bled at Mt. Gretna. Martin sensed the need for a military center where all of the state’s troops could assemble and train together for proper coor­dination among the various units. He became chief pro­moter of the Indiantown Gap Military Reservation and among the first to advocate locating the 28th Division headquarters there.

Indiantown Gap was made possible through negotiations between Martin and area farmers and by the allocation of federal funds for the build­ing of permanent barracks and the promise of improved high­ways. Construction was com­pleted at the time the 28th Division was mustered into service as a part of the United States Army. The completion of Indiantown Gap Military Reservation was a realization of Martin’s vision which, for many years, became his driv­ing ambition. Those who had been closely associated with Martin in his military career declared it was only fitting that he should be commander of the 28th Division at Indian­town Gap during that period­ – the mobilization of the famous “Iron Men” in preparation for World War II – when the sprawling military center was fully developed. His command began with a promotion to major general. Consequently, Gov. Arthur H. James, while selecting his cabinet, chose General Martin as adjutant general of Pennsylvania. Mar­tin became the first adjutant general to also serve as com­mander of the 28th Division.

General Martin had the satisfaction of hearing his division commended as one of the outstanding units in the “Battle of the Carolinas,” major maneuvers conducted in the fall of 1941. In preparation for World War ll, he took the divi­sion through elaborate maneu­vers at Manassas, Virginia, and Ogdensburg, New York, deliberately making his train­ing the most realistic ever. At the conclusion of the maneu­vers, General Martin himself was cited for “especially meritorious and outstanding serv­ice.” He was in the middle of his term as adjutant general when the National Guard divisions were ordered to active service, and the 28th Division was inducted into the United States Army.

When, by virtue of the army’s age regulations, he was relieved of his command in January 1942, he transferred to the Fifth Corps Area Head­quarters at Fort Hayes, Ohio. Still in the Army service, he was directed to consolidate civilian defense activities in the Fifth Corps Area, which included Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio.

General Martin was on duty at Fort Hayes when the suggestion arose that he be­come the Republican candi­date for wartime governor of Pennsylvania. At the urging of his longtime friend and confi­dant, George I. Bloom, Martin left his post and traveled to a Philadelphia hotel where nearly twenty people had gathered to pledge their sup­port for his candidacy. Martin’s reaction, charged with emo­tion, was distinctly remem­bered by Bloom. “When he got up he had tears going down his cheek and he said, ‘I didn’t think that I deserved all the nice things you said about me and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it, but if I have to give an answer now, the an­swer is no. But if you’ll come back tomorrow morning and we have another meeting I may have a different answer.'” On the return to their hotel afterwards, Martin told Bloom that he would not think of accepting the candidacy with­out first speaking with Gen­eral Marshall, then chief of staff and a close friend of Martin’s.

The following morning, Martin contacted Marshall whose reply encouraged his candidacy. “Martin, where do you think you can serve best? On that swivel chair at Fort Hayes or as governor of that great arsenal of defense, the Commonwealth of Pennsylva­nia? I think you ought to do what they ask you to do and r wish you’d send in your re­quest to be placed on the inac­tive list.” The conversation was to be the deciding factor in his acceptance of the nomination.

After General Marshall promptly relieved him of his Ohio civilian defense work, Martin wasted no time in launching a vigorous cam­paign for the governorship. He ran for office opposite Sen. James J. Davis, with whom he had been good friends during his earlier years in politics. Some of the more influential Pennsylvanians backing Mar­tin as a candidate included Governor James, Richard K. Mellon, Sen. Joseph R. Grundy, Joseph N. Pew, Sen. M. Harvey Taylor, James H. Duff, David Harris, Margery Scranton and, of course, George Bloom.

Martin’s close affiliation with Bloom dated to the days when Bloom acted as secretary of the Washington County Republican Committee; their friendship continued on through the years. When Mar­tin was looking for a secretary, Bloom seemed the natural choice and was given much authority while Martin concen­trated on the war effort. Gov­ernor Martin often referred to Bloom as his “chief of state” during his term of office. The campaign was successful. Martin won the primary by a majority of nearly one hun­dred thousand votes and the general election by more than two hundred thousand votes. It was the worst defeat an incumbent Pennsylvania United States senator had ever received.

Edward Martin was inaugu­rated January 19, 1943. He was the first governor inaugurated in the Forum of the Education Building in a quiet, dignified ceremony. Martin decided that the money spent on an extrav­agant inaugural would be put to better use if it purchased “war bonds and bullets.” Be­cause the troops were away, he preferred to have no inaugural parade. The ceremony was solemn, reflecting the war concerns and the fact that Pennsylvania’s history was entering in the time-honored tradition of Pennsylvania’s war-general governors.

The rigid theme of Martin’s inaugural address was distinc­tive. “Right now, nothing matters but winning the war, because if we do not win it, nothing else will matter.” The succinctness of that message set the pace by which he ran Pennsylvania while the war raged throughout Europe and the Pacific. The most immedi­ate task which confronted him was the further mobilization and return of Pennsylvania’s resources to the war effort, a task made easier by the effec­tive steps taken by the pre­vious administration of Governor James. All depart­ments of the Commonwealth’s government redoubled efforts to adjust current functions and develop additional programs to meet wartime needs.

During Martin’s administra­tion, the revenue from the prosperity of the wartime economy poured in, as the Commonwealth produced about twenty-five percent of the nation’s war materials. The entire excess of Pennsylvania’s general fund was ultimately set aside for post-war restora­tion and improvements, as well as the liquidation of the forty-eight million dollar Gen­eral State Authority debt, which remained defunct for a brief period. The administra­tion succeeded in reducing or abolishing many taxes, which in two years resulted in sav­ings to the taxpayers of more than two hundred and eleven mil1ion dollars. Due to the lack of material and manpower for civilian use, plans were laid out for Pennsylvania’s post­war programs. When the United States’ involvement in World War II ended in Septem­ber 1945, the plans for these improvements were put into full swing by Martin’s hand­picked Post-War Planning Commission.

An efficient use of indus­trial and agricultural resources enabled the committee to overcome problems of adjust­ment and the shock of indus­trial reconversion to peace. Between May 1, 1940, and October 1, 1945, a total of 204,599 Pennsylvanians were discharged from the armed forces. The Commonwealth had taken steps to prepare for this by liberalizing and extend­ing unemployment compensa­tion to include veterans covered at the time of entry into the service. The Martin administration also developed a program for the care and counsel of needy veterans and their families. The legislature provided additional educa­tional programs for the vet­erans, set up an absentee ballot system, and guaranteed preference for veterans in Civil Service examinations.

Outside of the war effort, Gov. Edward Martin was able to appropriate generous funds for education and teacher salaries, improved healthcare for school age children, enact­ment of the Brunner Act for stream purification and con­servation of natural resources, aid to mental and penal insti­tutions, installment of a five­-year highway program, the building of low-cost housing, and increased benefits under Workmen’s Compensation. In addition to these achievements there were improvements made to the Capitol Park and State Capitol.

Throughout his travels around Pennsylvania, Martin gained a great interest in its history and historic preserva­tion. He arranged for the con­solidation of the former Pennsylvania Historical Com­mission, created in 1913, and the State Museum and State Archives units formerly ad­ministered by the State Library in the Department of Public Instruction. He authorized funds for the preservation of Drake Well, Old Economy Village, the Daniel Boone Homestead and Ephrata Clois­ter as historic sites, now ad­ministered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Dis­mayed by the condition of the Point at Pittsburgh, arrange­ments were made to restore Fort Pitt, transform the sur­rounding area into a park and establish the Gateway Center. Construction began on the Penn-Lincoln Parkway bisect­ing Pittsburgh and connecting with Philadelphia around Independence Hall, where a beautification project was undertaken. During his gover­norship, Martin encouraged the erection of two thousand state historical markers, believ­ing they would encourage a better understanding of Penn­sylvania’s history.

Nineteen days before his term expired, Governor Martin left Harrisburg for Washing­ton, D.C., as a candidate for the United States Senate. He was the ninety-seventh gover­nor and the fourth governor in the history of Pennsylvania to resign. Although many gover­nors had fought to go to the Senate, only William Findlay, in 1821, and William Bigler, in 1855, had succeeded in doing so. It was Edward Martin’s newest career move that gave Pennsylvania its ninety-eighth governor, former Lieut. Gov. John C. Bell, Jr., whose nine­teen day term was the second shortest in the Common­wealth’s history. He served as governor until the inaugura­tion of James H. Duff.

Governor Martin’s term ended on January 21, 1946, but the United States Senate, to which he had been elected by a plurality of 608,120 votes, was scheduled to organize on January 2. Martin realized that if he waited until the end of his term of office to be sworn in as a senator, he would lose out on the strict seniority rules. He announced his deci­sion to resign in order to estab­lish his seniority in the United States Senate, and in its more important committee assign­ments, thus hoping to be able to better represent the Commonwealth.

As a member of the upper house of Congress, Martin continued to fight for those things which he believed for the betterment of the commu­nity, and being from a rural based constituency, he be­lieved strongly in public works programs that benefited all citizens. It came as no great surprise to his supporters when Martin was re-elected for a second term. Taking on two opponents in the primary, he carried every county but one, beginning his second term in the senate on November 4, 1952.

Of the seventeen Republi­can senators entering the United States Senate in Janu­ary 1947, Edward Martin was the only one to receive two senior appointments: the first as a member of the Finance Committee and the second on the Public Works Committee. He served continuously on both committees upon enter­ing the senate. When chair­man of the Public Works Committee in 1954, Martin played a major role in laying the groundwork for the inter­state highway system. He claimed that the highway system was “the greatest thing ever contemplated for this country” and would be fi­nanced on a “pay-as-you-go” basis. This type of policy taught to him by his father who never purchased any­thing on credit – was to guide both Martin’s political and private life. As a member of the Special Committee to Study the Problems of Small Business, Martin supported governmental encouragement to business but was outspoken in his opposition to govern­ment competition with private industry.

On March 10, 1948, a reso­lution was passed by the Pennsylvania Republican dele­gation in Congress, suggesting Senator Martin as a candidate for president of the United States. An endorsement was made for his candidacy on May 22 by the Republican State Committee. He was also endorsed by the Pennsylvania, as well as several other state, delegation to the convention, receiving about one hundred votes. Martin, however, was soon to come to the conclusion that deadlock for candidacy with Thomas E. Dewey would prove detrimental to the party and pledged his full support for Dewey.

Upon retirement from the United States Senate, Edward Martin and his wife, Charity, returned to their Washington, Pennsylvania, home, only fourteen miles from where he was born. Within its walls, the Martins’ had collected a virtual history of the country as a result of their varied hobbies. Their collections included more than two thousand pitchers, collected by Mrs. Martin and her friends from all over the world, Pennsylvania German furniture that once filled the Governor’s “Summer Mansion” at Indiantown Gap, old books, daggers, sabers, guns, dolls, rare stamps and more than three hundred Currier and Ives prints. Edward Martin collected hand­written letters from every president of the United States, plus signatures of one hun­dred and twenty-five Civil War leaders and other individuals of significance. His “scrapbook of presidents” contained, in addition to the letters, a pic­ture and biography of each president and photographs of their homes. The Martins’ had also acquired the gates that stood at the carriage way to Edward’s headquarters at Courmont, France, which were destroyed by German shell fire.

During Martin’s retirement years, he set aside time to write his memoirs, reflecting upon a distinguished career and expressing his life’s philos­ophy. He credited his high expectations for himself as the result, to a great extent, of his father’s teachings. Joseph Martin’s words – “be on time, be loyal, and speak the truth” – became the basis, and were largely responsible, for his son’s successful and acclaimed career. Edward Martin optimis­tically believed that the Ameri­can people could be depended on to make the proper deci­sions when the time came and followed this philosophy throughout his service in the military service and in the field of law, business and govern­ment. In each of these activi­ties he advocated decency and truthfulness, regardless of his rank or office, and remained committed to the public’s best interest.


For Further Reading

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

Greene, LeRoy. Shelter for His Excellency. Harrisburg: Tele­graph Press, 1951.

Martin, Edward. Always Be on Time. Harrisburg: Telegraph Press, 1959.

“Sees Demand for Cut in Spend­ing.” Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph. Nov. 10, 1953: 1.

Stevens, Sylvester K. Pennsylva­nia: Birthplace of a Nation. New York: Random House, 1964.

Temple, Wick. “Plain Dignified Inaugural.” The Morning Ob­server. Jan. 19, 1943: 16.


Elizabeth A. Early, a resident of Hummelstown, Dauphin County, is a 1989 graduate of the Univer­sity of Delaware, where she spe­cialized in the American Studies Program. This article resulted from a paper she originally pre­pared as part of her internship with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s collec­tions services division during summer 1988. The author plans to pursue a career in the museum field.