thing special.He has an easy manner
with people, yet manages to remain
what he is:a product of Hotchkiss and
Yak,a man of ...
v .4 . ,= s,". QZ,
year, he ventured into the political ring by running for to the ~ e ~ ...
Fellowships.For his participation and
contributions, he was accorded accolade
upon accolade.
One of Scranton's most signif...
our parents, and they to us. If there was
ever a real problem about something,
Mother and Dad talked about it up in
their ...
"The closeryou can get to thepeople
and the lessgovernmentyou need,
generally speaking, the better "
vania. At the time Pe...
in people and cultivati interest(
you get the most out or mem. ments for a mm
some kind of DI
Was it difficult to work wit...
Withthe Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission's chairman,JamesB. Stesenm
(left),and its executive director, S.K. S...
I was dead tired, and when I made that
statement in sixty-six, after the primary
was over, that I never would run again fo...
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The Gentleman from Pennsylvania: An Interview with William W. Scranton


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Pennsylvania Heritage magazine interview with former Pennsylvania Governor William W. Scranton. This interview appeared in the winter 2001 issue of the magazine.

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The Gentleman from Pennsylvania: An Interview with William W. Scranton

  1. 1. thing special.He has an easy manner with people, yet manages to remain what he is:a product of Hotchkiss and Yak,a man of wealth and parts. He might toleratefamiliarity but permits himself none. However much Secretay of State Christian Herter tried toyet his I young assistanton a associationin 1959, Scranton kept right on addressing himas "sir."peoplefeel his personal interest in them,an interest made convincing by aphenomenal memoryand a sleepless sense of humor,iet he has no intimatefriends; an inbred reserve 1 keeps himfrom being really close to anyone except his wife Mary,a woman of warmth and perception. William Warren Scrantonwas 1 born July 19,1917,in Madison, ~onnecticut,the youngest child and onlv son of Marion Mareerv" J (Warren)Scrantonand Worthing- s the third generation president of the mnany, and his mother-known in &si aid the Grand Old Dame of the is courtly, not supercilious.He is a Grand Old Party-was the first woman to serve as vice chairman 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 of the ~ackaw&a CountyRepublican Committeeand later as vice chairman of the Republican National Committee.Bill Scranton's sisters, Marion ("Em"), Katherine("Kay"), and Sara ("Sally"), of whom he speakswith quiet devotion, all attended SmithCollege in Northampton, Massachusetts. A graduate of Yale University and its law school, he eventual- ly returned to Scranton,where he threw himself into work revitalizingmoribund 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 SmithCollege.The Scrantonsare the parents of four children, Susan,William Worthington, JosephCurtis, and Peter Kip. William W. ScrantonI11 served as lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania from 1979to 1987. 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 1963to 1967by Richard Austin Smith, which appeared in the February 1964edition 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.
  2. 2. INTERVIEWWITH ~VLLIAM W. CRANTON v .4 . ,= s,". QZ, year, he ventured into the political ring by running for to the ~ e ~ & lAssemblyof Pennsylvania on January 3, Congress.Next in his sightswas Pennsylvania's 1967,in which he enumerated what he believedwere gov&norship. 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 Philadelphiato run, he carried sixty of Pennsylvania's sixty-sevencounties. Beginning with his inaugural address on January 15,1963, Scranton received favorable reviews by both the state and national press. Business leaders and industrial the "striking achievements" of his adtninistration. Among his legacies were the creation of the first college loan program in the Commonwealth'shistory; an increaseof financialsupport to public schoolsby more than fifty percent; the reduction of thewelfare rolls by more thanone htindred thousand;theorgani- zation of a comprehensive conservationprogram, includingenacting strip miningregulations,and.clean streamsand coal mink subsidencelaws; the doubling developersgrew enthusiastic, seeing him as the individual best suited to bring Pennsylvania up from its economic slump fomented by the decline in the Common- wealth's railroad, coal, and steel fortunes.Early on, a writer for the New Republic christenedhim "The First of the Kennedy Republicans." His debut as governor was among the most - promising-and welcome-that twentieth-centuryPennsylvanians had ever witnessed. Governor Scrantonwas quick to * attack the many problems facing of thenumber of state employees protected by civil-service; and die realization of four balanced budgets, with theeyear-end surpluses. Hekstd looked forward to retumihg t&ndrtheasiern vania to devote more tun family,business interests and charitable causes. But ington, D.C. called.And theftit 1 called again.
  3. 3. Fellowships.For his participation and contributions, he was accorded accolade upon accolade. One of Scranton's most significant assignmentswas his appointment as United StatesAmbassador to the United Nations by PresidentGerald R. Ford, his Yale University classmate.Scranton's speeches of the period are among the most thoughtful and eloquent commen- taries 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 deserv- ing 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 establishedby the Pennsylva- nia Historical and Museum Commission to commemorate the ideals of Pennsyl- vania's founder,William Perm, whose enduring legacy included the principles of individual rights, religious toleration, representativegovernment, and public support for education and free enter- prise. This interviewwith Governor Scranton was conducted at the Scranton Family Office in Scranton,Lackawanna County, on Friday, May Was there a defining moment when you decided to enter public service? I had no intention whatsoeverof 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 I talked about it all night because there was a time limit. I talked to Mother the next morning because she was the politicianin the family.She said, "Bill, don't do that." She wasvery much opposed to my running. Nobody will believe it, but it's true. Mother died that year, and I don't know exactlywhy she was so opposed to it. Your mother, Marion Margery Scranton, was an astute politician and many believe she had been groomingyou 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 strongfeeling that she wanted to do a lot of public work-and she sure did. She never wanted to give up her family.Shehad 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 Common- wealth all the time, primarily because she was so interested in, first, trying to get women L into politics and, second, legislation that would F be helpfulto women. Bill and May Scranton with three of tkeir four children (fromleft):Peter, William,and Joseph.(Missingis their eldest child, Susan.) Shewas not a rabid feminist,though. In 1900,at sixteenyears old, she wanted to go to Harrisburgto 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 anywherewithout a chaperone. She did everythingshe 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 firstwomen'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 i d 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. Shewas extraordinarily flexible.If Mother had made up her mind to do something, she did it. If somethingelse was interferingwith her plans, she handled it. She was very good about her life. She didn't expecteverythingto work out perfectly.She was really+,a very iteresting person. ~veryonealwaysthought 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 terrificpublic presence, but also a great public Following. When Father died, Mother never had a day of happiness again. Both Mother and Dad did a {erygood job of bring- ing up their children-at least we thought they lid. We were devoted to
  4. 4. 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 somethingreally 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 grand- mother~careddeeply about our community and about our state. For me, returning home was easy. I had graduated fromYale 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 dealingswith them. I wanted to come back and be just a normal characterliving 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 responsibilityand 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 everybodywas registeredto vote. This was at the time of the Lindberghkidnap- ping. Needless to say,they were somewhat worried about that, but they never showed us. She did say, "Remem- ber, don't talk to strangers." I went around and was knocking on every door and making sure that they all were registered.When I cameback, she asked, "How did you do?" I 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?" Ours was a wonderfullife-but it was a hard period of time formany. My family was terriblvworried about the Great Depression and what it was doingto the nation and the people.We were always aware of what &asgoing 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. Therewas none of lic I had been involved in several businesseshere, in Scranton,mostly trying to get them back on track. I'll never forget that because there's nothingmore importantto me than having other people have jobs. Anyway, Ijust finished one of those stints, five years with a company, the InternationalTextbook 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 I thoughtI should get out, and I did. I was startingto run a broadcastingcompany and a trust companywhen all of a sudden I took a call from a man in Washington,Ambas- sador Philip Crowe, who said that Secretaryof StateJohnFoster Dulles wanted him to come up and see me. I was asked to come to Washington, and then I was offered a positionwith a rather peculiar title, the SpecialAssistant to the Secretaryof State for the Interpre- tive Press. That meant working with columnistsand the people who ran the network news and all that kind of thing. I never did actuallywork for John Foster Dulles, though. Mary and I were about to take a trio 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 successorturned out to be ChristianHerter, who Mother knew quite well. Chris got a message to me in Paris askingme to come and seehim as soon as I returned, which I did, and he offered me the job and I took it. I 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 tha I'm having with anybody from any- where, you just come in and be there except for when my family and I to have a private talk." Nobody e 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 everythingin that office, but also in the relationship with his office to the White House. So I 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, everyday except every other Sunday,but it was absolutely fascinating.It taught me a great deal. Comingfrom the private sector, what was your impression of people in government This may sound idealistic, but it my experience that the really good people in government were the people who really deeply cared aboutAmerica. 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 e g o ~ b u the was absolutely astounded that this countrywould, pardon my language, adopt a German Jew and make him secretaryof state of the United States.Henry was motivated by the basic fact that thiswas an extraor- dinarycountry, which gave an extraordinary opportunity to an individ- ual 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 cabinetin Harrisburg, I was primarily lookingfor two traits: total honesty and confidence.
  5. 5. "The closeryou can get to thepeople and the lessgovernmentyou need, generally speaking, the better " vania. At the time Pennsylvania was-and had been for several years- the second worst in the nation in terms of unemployment. The Commonwealth h a really sick economy. For many years we had been totally dependent on railroads. steel, coal, then textiles, and the first th had declined miserably. Their decline v causing our he?-- --inemployment. --from a district t had a lot of une ployment. ( I - Penr was the worst i been for many y LuL for was confidence turn this state around and get it going again. We did an interesting thing, too. J wanted some younger people, in their thirties or forties,in the cabinet, and so set up a group of people to find such persons, particularly individuals who were already in business and might coi and lend le. 'ship. I think they fc " much t( sixteen of tl election. I wasn't were Republicans or anything of that SJ aise the standard but I did want them to be concerned anu responsible. If they weren't going to have You've been labeled everything, including a that kind of commitment and responsil pragmatist, a visionary, a moderate liberal, a I wanted them. We did middle-of-the-road progressive, even a ^them to come and thev "Kennedy Republican." Do any of those ell. descriptions fit? " untry is doing well and going well. 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 ve a political hero, he's it. I've read an ctivful lot about Abraham Lincoln and I just think he's an extraordinary man indeed. Third and bmy no means least, I dc 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 I belief of the Republican Party, -- understand it. On the other hand, I am not one who minks 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 financiallyto do everything, especiallyin 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 ivernor, I thought we had put Pennsyl- urda in good enough shape, and that it was coming along all right. That maybe e could do some dramatic things that would help in the future. Not just in the vresent. We came up with a five hundred illion dollar program for a loan-for which I began to be called "the big -ender." About half of the money, tvn mdred and fifty million dollars, we b used to purchase land and preserl some of our lovely,beautiful state. Second,we could increase the develop- ent of the state parks system. Maurice Goddard, who was then secretary of ^crests and Waters, and I got togethe" id we came up with something of hich I'm very proud, I admit, but he ueserves most of the credit, he did m--" of the work, which was to launch a ¥ograthat would create a stat1 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 don't think f 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 everybc I becomi
  6. 6. in people and cultivati interest( you get the most out or mem. ments for a mm some kind of DI Was it difficult to work with the power brokers called a and big business interests of the day? No, they made it easier.Penns] had been through periods when tliL railroads and the steel corporationsar the coal companie: d been running But these industrieb were passe and they were experiencing terrible problems in unemg t.11 <tht ss people decided that somethinghad to happen in Pennsylvania and they couldn't have been better about it. Did you enjoy your stint as Uniteu 91, Ambassador to United Nations? It was wonderful. There w( ficult is: hard work, bu marvelous. I had worked o transition at the White House for twel weeks, and he kept asking me to come back to the government.I kept declining. I did, though, assure him that I might Because I'n ifll relatipno uiti- rent door-to-door, asking people foi lich was rarely done in ,~ ~ - i gthe gubernatorial ie climbed ladders to shake s with painters and walked througl to talk with steelworkers. At one , when WCAU romotion and tl er the count was simply flummoxedwhen she You are the only twentietn-ce / governor .-.~skedto milk the poor animal and in Pennsylvania to have been -....sistently he replied, "Why certainly I will." Oh, called statesman I dip at, D it fit? shewas just great' What most people -U.dn'tknow was that Mary lived in the I see my woi lard ountry next door to a farm and she spent me over there. Shelearned à ‘ h e idee. .- .When the press fir; when I became 5 :all me first lad! 11." "Well, so w sortersasked. She s Lau me governess." She vublic life beautifully.She I Aary was the be
  7. 7. Withthe Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission's chairman,JamesB. Stesenm (left),and its executive director, S.K. Stevens (right),Governor WilliamW.Scmnton lays th cornerstoneof the WilliamPenn Memorial Museum Building, now The State Museum of Pennsylvania. I enjoyed my directorshipsbecause I haye always found somethingin every company that I thought I could work on, but in the eightiesI announced that when I reachedseventy I wasgoing to step down from all of the boards. I strongly b e h e that youngAmericans ought to run America, and not old goats. That was allright with someof them, but others were quiteupset about it, thought I didn't like the companyor something.Now, thankfully,most of the corporationshave donethat, putin somekind of a term limitation. You grewup srrounded by brightand astute women. Didyou appoint awomanto your cabinet? We had a femalecabinetsecretary.Our insurance commissionerwas Audrey Kelly. She came fromSusquehanna County.Audrey was a fine insurance commissioner.We really should have had ,morewomen in my administration, though. Did you appointanyminorities ascabinet secretaries? We had a black who was the secretary of Labor and Industry, BillYoung, of Pittsburgh.He was an older man,and, oh, he was good. He was a graduate of I ~colnkniversityand had been editor of the PittsburghAmerican,anAfrican Americanweekly.Billwas effective because he was forthrightand direct. He was only the secondAfrican~mericanin On WC-..-;day, October 13, ---5,four fc....-T go-. of th. -.-ysto~..tote joined Governor the history of theCommonwealthto serve Scrantonfor the dedicationof the museum. They were (seated,from left):JamesH.~ u f f(served as a cabinetsecretary. 1947-1951)and Arthur H.James(served 1947-1951);and (standing,from left to %ht) Edward Martin (served 1943-1947),Scranton, and David L. Lawrence (served 1959-1963). Your decisionto lea* politics, muchlikeyour mother's, inthe mid-1960s was resolute. 12-
  8. 8. I was dead tired, and when I made that statement in sixty-six, after the primary was over, that I never would run 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 constantlyworking and speakingand taking part in meetings.I just wasn't goinghave that any more. That's why I never again did run for anything. Didyou ever think of yourself at any given point as making history? Whenever I took a job all I was interestedin 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 congressmanwho 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 congressmancould do to help. When I went on television, I listed them all on a blackboard. JackKennedy,whom I knew quite well, was elected president the same year I went to congress. He gave a receptionat 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 alwaysbeen especially interested in the local economicsand politics. I don't take any position, though, because that should belong to our youngpeople. Have you given thought to writing your memoirs? I didn't want to do anythingabout it, but Mary and the children got after me and I finally wrote a smallbook, 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 (.(. ng the entire ^Commonwealthin bettershape than it had been. I wanted to make a difference." had Golda Meir, m. As far as I was concerned, I was and Great Britain erested in gettingthe entire Common- Why don't we? alth in better shape than it had been. I ted to make a difference."fl" Have you ever given any thoughtto you'll be most remembered for? No, I don't think that's import Michael J. O'Malley III, whojoined the staff of you're a president, I supposeit is, ania Historical and Museum a governorI don't think it matter in 1978,has served as editor of matters is the Commonwealth making ia Heritage since 1984. progress, not whether you did. a much better Pennsylvania after I left and Yesterdav:The ~olerable~ c c o m m o d ~ - highway accidents,an strike. GeorgeLeader, wanted to be remembered did about mental health. ance setup.We took more p w e l f a r ~ n ehundred and