Original Document
Original Document
Governor Gifford Pinchot, from his Inaugural Address, 1923.

"The people of Pennsylvania have declared for a new order in the government of their commonwealth. Their decision was forecast in the primary and confirmed in the general election. Their mandate is binding and final. It has become the duty of all their public servants to carry that mandate into effect.

"The decision of the people to establish a new order was made concrete in form and direction by the approval of the Republican majority given to the platform upon which I ran in the primary campaign. The program thus adopted as sound Republican majority was my public pledge, if elected, to use every power of the Governorship in an honest effort:

To drive all saloons out of Pennsylvania.

  • "To prevent and punish bootlegging.

  • "To maintain and secure good laws for the protection of working children, women, and men.

  • "To safeguard the industries of Pennsylvania and promote the prosperity of the State.

  • "To advance the interests of the farmers, who feed us all.

  • "To give our children the best schools in America.

  • "To check centralization and give more home rule to counties, townships, and school districts.

  • "To maintain the direct primary and protect the rights of women voters.

  • "To meet the just needs of those who served in the World War.

  • "To revise and equalize taxes, establish a budget system, and reorganize the State Government on a business basis.

  • "To keep the expenses of the State within its income.

  • "To get a dollar's worth of service for every dollar spent.

  • "In addition I said that as Governor I would appoint no one to public office whom I knew to be unfit, I would move to Harrisburg and be on the job, and I would earnestly strive to give due consideration and a Roosevelt square deal to every man, woman, and child in the State.

    "The same platform without change of any sort, became the program which the Republican Party submitted for the approval of all the voters at the general election. It was approved by the largest vote ever given to a Governor in Pennsylvania. It has thereby become the declared policy of the Commonwealth and the chart of the new order upon which the Government of this State is about to enter.

    "As I undertake the duties of the great office to which the people of Pennsylvania have elected me, I here solemnly repeat to them the pledge made in the primary campaign and reasserted in the general election. That pledge is not a promise to accomplish all things that are necessary or desirable for the advantage of our people. It is a solemn undertaking to use in good faith, and use to the utmost, every legitimate means to accomplish the purposes of the Republican Party and the people of Pennsylvania as they were adopted and declared by them in the recent elections.

    "In addition to my platform pledge, I repeat in this presence in like manner every other pledge or promise made in either campaign. I have made no pledge or promise of any sort except in public. I enter upon the Governorship completely unhampered by any private or personal engagement, understanding, or undertaking whatsoever, and wholly free .to serve the Commonwealth according to the will of the people and the dictates of my own conscience.

    "I was elected to carry out the program briefly set forth above. That is my first duty. It has become evident, from the number of courteous and attractive invitations to speak which are daily received, that I must choose between doing that duty and talking about doing it. However hard it may be, however much I may regret to decline, there is but once choice to make. I must stick to my work and let the talking go.

    "The discussion of many questions which might well be considered here must be deferred to future messages to the Legislature, but there are three matters of prime importance which require brief mention.

    "The first is the financial condition of the State Government.

    "Appropriations in Pennsylvania have exceeded revenues in the last few years. Therefore we have accumulated liabilities amounting to many millions which must be paid off before the State can meet its bills as they fall due. Neither sound business principles nor the honor of the State will permit us to delay the necessary readjustment, however uncomfortable that readjustment may be. We must return to the healthy basis of pay-as-you-go at the earliest possible moment.

    "In accordance with my campaign pledge, I shall submit a budget to the Legislature in the near future, and shall refuse to approve any appropriation bill, or any item in any appropriation bill, that does not fall squarely within the estimated revenues of the Commonwealth. We are going to live within our income as every family should.

    "The second question is the reorganization of the State Government.

    "Much of the machinery by means of which the Commonwealth serves its people has become antiquated, ineffective, and wasteful of the people's money. It needs to be recast into a form that will make possible a dollar's worth of service for every dollar spent. That is impossible now. Such recasting, to be successful, will require extended study, and prolonged practical attention. It cannot be done hastily if it is to be done well. For that reason it will not be possible, in the time we have, to prepare and submit for legislative action a plan completely worked out, but only an outline by Departments, leaving the lesser parts to be filled in by the Executive. That outline is in preparation.

    "The third question relates to the liquor traffic.

    "Power and responsibility for enforcing the Volstead Law rest in the Nation and also in the State. Under the Eighteenth Amendment the two have concurrent jurisdiction. Both are at fault for the intolerable situation which confronts us.

    "A general conviction exists throughout this Commonwealth not only that the Volstead Act is not enforced but that no vigorous effort has ever been made to enforce it. Our people have seen men known to be opposed to the enforcement of the laws selected to compel obedience to it on the part of others. They are told that appointments to the position of enforcement agent are treated as political spoils, and that politicians opposed to all that the law stands for are permitted to name such agents. They believe that persons high in official place are constantly and openly violating the spirit if not the letter of the laws, and winking at its violation by others. They understand that liquor is sold almost as freely and openly as it was before the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment.

    "With such beliefs in mind, the people are necessarily led to conclude that the law is systematically disregarded by those whose peculiar duty it is to respect or enforce it, and in consequence the general disregard for all law grows steadily worse.

    "I regard the present flagrant failure to enforce the Volstead Law as a blot on the good name of Pennsylvania and the United States. If allowed to continue it will amount to a serious charge against the fitness of our people for genuine self-government. I share in the belief that no determined concerted effort to enforce the law has yet been made, and I propose not only to press with all my power for the abolition of the saloon but also to make sure that the Government of this State takes its full and effective part in
    such an effort.

    "Pennsylvania must either control the criminals who are openly breaking the law or be controlled by them. With all good citizens I believe that this Commonwealth is greater and more powerful than any band of law-breakers whatsoever, and I intend to act on that belief.

    "This administration will be dry. The Executive Mansion will be dry, and the personal practice of the Governor and his family will continue to be dry, in conformity to the spirit and letter of the Eighteenth Amendment.

    "The law is the law. It is the foundation of order, safety, prosperity, and of the Commonwealth itself. Every State official takes oath, and is in honor bound, to obey it. I shall expect and demand from every public servant appointed by me, or subject to removal by me, from the highest to the lowest, entire ungrudging obedience to the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Law. They are part of the law of the land. . . .

    "Pennsylvania is too great a Commonwealth to be permanently satisfied with less than the best. Her people are too sound at heart, her resources and her industries too commanding, her place in the sisterhood of States too high, to permit us to consider for a moment the acceptance of any standards but the highest, any procedure but the most thoroughly approved. The Government of Pennsylvania must be in detail what the Commonwealth is in general - the leader and exemplar of the Nation. Nothing inferior is good enough for the Keystone State.

    "My sole ambition is to help toward making our State Government what it ought to be, to serve the people honestly and intelligence, to contribute at least by a little to the safety, honor, and welfare of our Commonwealth. I desire and earnestly entreat the good will, the co-operation, and the support of all well disposed citizens, men and women alike. With their assistance, and above all with the blessing of Him in whose hands are the plans of and the fate of Nations, I shall approach my task with eagerness to be useful, with determination to be fair, and with strong confidence in ultimate success."

    Credit: Pennsylvania State Archives
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