Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A Pennypacker Saved Is a Pennypacked Earned (Not That Politicans Then Could Be Bought)

Samuel W. Pennypacker. The Autobiography of a Pennsylvanian. (Harvard Law School Library Reproduction). Philadelphia: The John C. Winston Company, 1918.

The author worked in his Grandfather's store, became a school teacher, and then served in the Civil War. He went to Harrisburg as a Sergeant in a Phoenixville company. He slept on the Capitol steps. It was declared that they were required to be sworn into service, and the company he was with refused to be sworn. Pennypacker then joined a group of strangers and served in a Pottstown company as a Private. A few days later, he fought a division of Lee's army as it advanced towards Gettysburg. The inexperienced soldiers delayed the Confederate division a day by fighting them, in Chambersburg Pike and then in Dillsburg.

Pennypacker was active in a literary society. At a convention of literary societies, he was instructed to vote against the admission of African Americans including Octavis Catto. He refused. The society then unseated him and others who favored admitting African Americans.

Pennypacker studied law. He noted "a lawyer sees much of the tragedy of existence". Three people he sued for debts killed themselves.

Pennypacker wrote how Republicans viewed Democrats as part of a "wicked attempt to destroy the government". Reformers sought to "purify" the Republican Party by seeking to remove Simon Cameron as its state party leader. Pennypacker ran as an independent against the Republican organization for nomination to Council. He helped rally many Republicans to attend the nomination meeting but his ticket lost.

Pennypacker wrote that Philadelphia Republican leader James McManes "was an absolute autocrat who tolerated no difference in the ranks."

Pennypacker supported civil service. Pennypacker stated he did not remove anyone for political reasons while Governor. He had a plank adopted by the National Republican League that public employees should be hired for life while maintaining good behavior and that they should be provided merit promotions and pensions.

Pennypacker ran for the Assembly. He was nominated by the Independent Republican and was endorsed by Democrats, temperance voters including the Liquor Men's League, and the Committee of 100. He lost to James Romig.

Pennypakcer was appointed to the Philadelphia Board of Education by the Board of Judges in 1885. He represented the city's 29th Ward.

Pennypacker served on the Board with Richardson Wright, a former State House Speaker. Wright was known to have assisted helped a woman onto a coach and then telling her "and now, Madam, when you reach the bosom of your family, you will be able to tell them that you have been helped on your way by the Honorable Speaker of the House of Representatives."

Pennypacker was appointed as a Judge in 1889. Republican leader Matt Quay approved the appointment. As a Judge, he imposed mandatory fines where other Judges did not impose him. He felt an obligation to the written law. After 14 years as a Judge, he concluded the legislature had created too many technical crimes, he doubted that judicial punishment prevented crimes, special evils such as prostitution should not be assumed to ever be resolved since the burden was seldom placed on on those causing the crime, and that press sensationalism distorted jury verdicts. The press was owned by corporations and operated for profit rather than for providing information.

Attorney General John Elkin wanted to be Governor. Quay objected and sought a candidate, according to Pennypacker, "against whom nothing could be said." Quay approached Pennypacker and assured his concerns that the campaign would not cost him anything. Pennypacker accepted being a candidate.

The Republican Party contributed $5,000 to Pennypacker's campaign. Pennypacker asked Quay about the origins of those funds. Quay replied "I do not see the matter need concern you in any way." Pennypacker was nominated over Elkin in a contentious meeting that Pennypacker wrote in which he "had no part or parcel." An Elkin supporter who switched to Pennypacker asked Quay if he should return money Elkin had given him. Quay replied "No. If you return that money Elkin will use it somewhere else against me."

Pennypacker made a different speech at each event. He let his surroundings dictate what he would say. He campaigned with Senator Boies Penrose. His Democratic opponent, former Governor Robert Pattison delivered the same memorized speech each time. Pennypacker likened Pattison to the katydid, an insect that repeated the same noise and seemingly never did anything.

Pennypacker claimed Quay made only one request of him, and that was to allow betting on horse races. Pennypacker replied "if you choose to introduce an act which abolishes our laws against gambling, I will carefully consider the question. But, remember, that permits the Negro to shoot craps. I think it would be a mistake to allow betting on horses and not on craps." No proposal for allowing gambling was presented to Governor Pennypacker.

Pennypacker did not like the Executive Mansion, He wrote "there was not a single feature about it which had the slightest attractiveness for me. All over it were manifestations of great outlay, awkwardness and bad taste."

Pennypacker turned to advice from many politicians and not just Quay. In his Inaugural address, he called for less legislation, for creating districts for legislators, maintaining the right to vote for a straight party ticket, restricting the right of corporations to use eminent domain on private property, for increased wages paid from profits, that employees should not be prevented from going to work and that labor violence should be harshly dealt with, that a tax should be placed on state products sold to foreign corporations, that the Camp Grounds of Valley Forge and Bushy Run should be cared for, that the University of Pennsylvania should receive state funds as required in the 1776 State Constitution, that the names of owners of newspapers should be printed in each issue, that Pittsburgh and Allegheny should unity into one municipality, and state support should be provided for a Philadelphia seaport.

As Governor, Pennypacker updated the State Library and granted charters only when he agreed they should be granted rather than just ascertaining the paperwork was in order. The state laws were reduced while he was Governor from 1,200 pages to 700 pages. Under the next Governor, the laws increased to their previous size. The Health Department was created under Governor Pennypacker.

Pennypacker was the first Pennsylvania Governor invited by the legislature to address the legislature.

The University of Pennsylvania Trustees met once a year in the Governor's office as they began receiving state funds that for years had only been provided for their hospital., The legislature also appropriated funds to another institution, the Medico Chirurgical College. Pennypacker agreed so long as he could scrutinize their finances and bills, The college agreed to this,

As Governor, he vetoed a bill allowing railroad companies to use eminent domains on homesteads.

Pennypacker sated he consulted Quay and Penrose on filling judicial vacancies, Pennypacker wanted to be a candidate for a state Supreme Court Justice position, He was widely criticized for politicizing the judicial appointment process for his political advantage. He was most hurt by these charges, especially from people who knew his work as a Judge.

Senaor Quay died. Senator Penrose gave Pennypacker a list of recommended nominees. Pennypacker chose somoene not on the list, Phllander Knox. The legislature confirmed Knox 223 to 23. Pennypacker insists Knox was unaware he was under consideration and denies Knox paid to become a Senator.

Pittsburgh and Allegheny were merged with a strong Mayor under Governor Pennypacker. The Mayor could appoint 12,000 positions.

Pennypacker was unsatisfied with the lack of time, not even one day a week, that Israel Durhan was spending as head of the Insurance Department. Durham was a powerful Philadelphia leader. Senator Penrose defended Durham noting Durham was too ill to travel to Harrisburg. When Durham traveled to California for political purposes, Durham then resigned.

Pennypacker also urged the legislature to create primary elections, establish civil service, and require detailed campaign spending reports. Most of his policies were adopted.

A scandal emerged over spending on the new Capitol. Furniture, metal cases, and furnishings were overcharged. Governor Pennypacker dedicated the new Capitol and President Roosevelt spoke at the dedication.


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