Original Document
Original Document
Governor Arthur H. James, Inaugural Address, 1939.

Harrisburg Pa., January 17, 1939.

Seventy days ago the people of this Commonwealth wrote a second Declaration of Independence. This declaration in effect was a statement of principles; not new ones, but an affirmation of faith in those unfailing guideposts along the lanes of human rights and constitutional government.

On November 8th last, you voted for the principles of honesty, thrift and integrity in government; for reawakened initiative; for commonsense in the relations of your government with industry, labor, agriculture and all the other groups which make up our population....

A few minutes ago, I took the oath of office and now address you as your Governor. I desire that my first act as executive head of Pennsylvania be to reaffirm all the pledges which I have made to the men and women of this state, as well as those contained in the Republican platform, and to promise you that I will spare no effort in attempting to return Pennsylvania to her proper place in the sun.

The problems facing our state are large and complex. They are far more than one man, unaided, could hope to solve. I have no magic wand, no rabbit-in-a-hat, no Aladdin's lamp. But I do have faith in the courage and enterprise of the people of Pennsylvania, in their intelligence and spirit of cooperation, and I bring to the office of governor a full measure of my own courage and energy.

In the tasks before our state, I want to help–and I want also to be helped. I will need, and I now call for, the aid and support and encouragement and patience and cooperation of all the men and women of this state, of whatever race, creed, party or color, that together we may do for Pennsylvania the things which need to be done.

Especially do I call for cooperation by those who are in business and commerce–who, whether in a large way or a small, are employers. It is through the instrumentality of business and industry that Pennsylvania can hope to free herself from the distressing twin burdens of taxation and human misery which are presented by widespread unemployment.

Previous administrations have placed emphasis upon unemployment. Today I should like to place the emphasis upon employment. I hope to see employment grow steadily until every idle man who wants a job can have one. To accomplish that, we need the aid and confidence and forbearance of business men throughout the state,

The administration is going to try to help industry, and in return, industry must try to help the state.

In line with campaign promises, I propose the organization of a new branch of state government, a Department of Commerce, which will strive to halt the flight of industry from Pennsylvania and which likewise will endeavor to bring back to our state industries which already have left. ...

What Pennsylvania needs is a new kind of pump-priming. She needs a Private Pump-Priming Program for Property in Pennsylvania–and I believe that the new Department of Commerce can promote exactly that. The pump which needs priming in this state is the pump of confidence. The springs of hate and fear and discouragement have been flowing freely, and their bitter waves have left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. We need now to build for the future with hope and faith and courage. We need to bring private money out of hiding and put it to work. We want more pump-priming by private capital and individual initiative, and less of it by public moneys and partisan greed.

Overspending and overtaxation have dried up the wells from which the waters of industrial life should flow. If the many experiments which have been tried upon us in recent years have no other value, they at least have demonstrated that neither man nor state can get rich by spending all he owns or can barrow. In the words of the famous Pennsylvanian whose birthday this is–as Benjamin Franklin wrote in his Poor Richard's Almanac: "He who goes a-borrowing goes a sorrowing,"

Overspending is only another name for all evil philosophy of government which is as old as civilization–and which never has been known to work successfully, the theory of inflation. It remained for the New Deal philosophy to re-dress inflation and to rename it pump-priming.

By means of constitutional principles first set down on Pennsylvania soil more than a century and a half ago, Pennsylvania and the United States grew great together. Issues and crises were taken in their stride. But in the midst of the world-wide economic depression of a few years ago our people suffered from a still more distressing depression–a spiritual depression–which led them to harken to the voice of the charmer and to abandon the one beacon which had always guided Pennsylvania aright, the guiding principles of constitutional American government.

Driven by fear and hopelessness and self-pity, which were fostered and nurtured for political advancements, Pennsylvania has spent years of time and millions of dollars in hysterical experimentations which have accomplished but few of the benefits promised by their promoters, and instead have mortgaged our future, weakened the control of the people over their own government, and threatened us with chaos.

We know now how unwise most of this conduct was. Instead of striving so hard to attain blessings which we had not, we would have been wiser to count the many blessings we had, the loss of which has been so seriously threatened by certain governmental policies and experiments.

One of the theme songs heard during this period was a hymn of hate against industry, sung into the ears of the men and women of this state until they were beguiled into forgetting that when we burn down the house of industry, we are burning down the house in which all of Pennsylvania lives ...
Last November, Pennsylvania voted for a more sane and helpful relationship between business and the state government. She voted for encouragement of job-giving industries, and for an end to punitive taxation, over-regulation, and other sprags in the wheels of industry.

But the men and women of this state accepted at its full face value an implied promise from industry and business and Commerce–a promise that operators of business would do their share in helping find employment for the states idle. Industry must contribute to, as well as benefit from the resumption of normal activity in Pennsylvania.

Let there be no misunderstanding on another point: business in Pennsylvania must not attempt to escape proper responsibility to its employees, proper methods and proper working conditions; it must not try to dodge reasonable taxation.

Certain acts which have been passed in recent years, covering the relations between employers and employees, will have to be amended, but this is not because fault is to be found with the purposes of these laws, nor with the protections they attempt to offer. Instead, the reason these laws must be changed is that as they now stand they not only are not workable, but are so burdensome that they prevent the attainment of the very objectives for which they were enacted.

I do not propose to weaken proper regulation of business, either by ignoring the enforcement of just and sound laws, nor by placing my signature on legislation which in my judgment would weaken such proper regulation.

We will have no return to rule by overlords of industry during my administration.

But neither will we have rule by overloads of labor. The men and women of Pennsylvania have voiced in no uncertain terms their conviction that political bosses have no place in labor unions. We have seen too many of the evils caused by the activities of politically-inspired, power-seeking labor 1eaders–especially when their greedy enterprises are backed and subsidized with public money. Labor spokesmen of this type do not speak for the working men and women of the state, but only for themselves and for the selfish cliques arid purposes which they openly or secretly represent.

For too long, labor and industry have suffered and in the end both have registered net losses from failure to cooperate with each other. The vote cast by the men and women of Pennsylvania last fall was an appeal for labor and industry to clasp hands in cooperation and to refrain from controversy at least until normal employment is re-established. The tyranny of either group call be tolerated no longer in Pennsylvania–and it is unmistakably to the advantage of those who make up these groups that they be led to work in harmony with each other, with the state government standing by as the impartial friend of both ..

Much has been said about governmental spending, and Pennsylvania last summer and fall saw methods which raised grave doubts of the propriety and impartiality of the Federal disbursements. But the question of Federal taxation is quite as important to Pennsylvania. It may be that at the seat of Pennsylvania's financial problems lie national taxation policies which fall too heavily upon industrial states such as ours.

Pennsylvania wants to pay her proper share of the national costs. She is more than willing even anxious, to extend her helping hand to all other communities which may have more distress and suffering than Pennsylvania has. But in the present crisis in which we have fallen far behind most other states in employment, in which we ourselves may be in grave need of help, it would be manifestly unfair for this state to be expected to pay a disproportionately large share of national costs without an equally large ratio of return.

At the proper time I shall submit to Washington Pennsylvania's requests for further PWA, WPA and similar grants. There is no reason to expect anything but a favorable response to these requests, since it is my intention to do my full share in seeing that such moneys are expended for precisely the purpose for which they were raised–honestly expended for worth-while projects that will furnish employment to men and women who otherwise would have to be supported by relief.

It is to be hoped that Congress will see the wisdom of putting control of the WPA back into the States and removing it completely from political domination.

We recognize the relief problem as one of the most pressing confronting us, and it shall receive our constant attention to the end that justice may be done to all concerned.

The vote of Pennsylvania last fall was an edict that politics must be banished from direct relief and from made-work relief as well. We have promised to divorce relief from politics, and I am glad to take the opportunity afforded by this address to carry out that pledge....

It is common knowledge that a large share of the relief funds in this state have been diverted to political purposes. A survey will be needed to determine how much saving can be effected by confining relief expenditures to relief purposes, and I shall instruct the New Secretary of Public Assistance to take such steps as are necessary to make such a survey and report his findings at the earliest possible moment.

In this connection, however, I want to repeat my pledge and that of the Republican party, that every person in Pennsylvania who needs relief will get it; there is no thought of curtailing relief to the unfortunate.

It is even more to the advantage of those dependent upon relief than to those who pay the bills, that Pennsylvania get its money's worth out of these expenditures; and that waste, straw bosses and political misuse of the funds be eliminated. We must see to it that political drones improperly placed upon the relief rolls are ousted, and at the same time we must put on the relief rolls all unfortunates who were taken off or kept off for political reasons.

Relief must be humanized; it must be prompt and adequate, honestly and fairly administered; and it must come out of politics.

During the campaign repeatedly I pledged myself to restore the tri-part form of government divided by the constitution into executive, legislative and judiciary.

I reiterate my pledge of not permitting the executive hand to interfere with the functions of either of the other two branches, I ask and shall accord full cooperation with those branches, to the end that the best interests of the whole people may be served.
For the past few years we have seen executive interference and domination of the legislative and judicial branches carried to a point which put us on the brink of disaster. That practice here and now comes to an end, so far as Pennsylvania is concerned.

The objectives ahead of Pennsylvania are well known, and the voice of the people as expressed in last Fall's election was unmistakable. I pledge my full cooperation with the legislature in working for those objectives. I am fully convinced that your Senators and Representatives will likewise strive to steer your government towards those goals.

I can pledge also the cooperation of that extension of executive authority, the new cabinet. The personnel of this body I submit to you as evidence of my good faith when I said during the campaign that I have no interests in the creation or furtherance of a political machine. Those whom I have named are competent, experienced, and qualified for their duties. They had been chosen because of their character and ability, and because of their interest in seeing that the responsibilities of these departments are fully and properly met.

Credit: "Inaugural Address of Arthur H. James, Governor of Pennsylvania," Journal of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the Session Begun at Harrisburg on the Third Day of January, 1939. Harrisburg, PA, 1939.
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