Saturday, August 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

PA history buffs alert

The Pennsylvania Cable Network has posted a 1955 film of the late Gov. George Leader's inaugural address; it's worth watching.

PA history buffs alert

With the death of former PA Gov. George Leader, a York County Democrat revered during his time in office in the 1950's and until his death Thursday at the age of 95, the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) is offering a fitting tribute.

It's Website -- pcntv.com -- includes a film of Leader's inauguration day, January 18, 1955, that PA history buffs will enjoy.

It was sponsored by a union, the Glass Bottle Blowers Association of United States and Canada, and is striking for a number of reasons.

The narrator, the union's international president, notes PA at the time was the nation's third-largest state (today, we're sixth); the new governor, his family and others are seen riding in open cars, waving to a crowd of 40,000 lining downtown Harrisburg streets.

Almost every man and woman in the crowd wears a hat. Some men are seen smoking cigars or pipes.

The "pledge" Leader takes (then signs) as part of his oath of office includes a promise not to accept any money or anything of value in connection with actions or non-actions as governor.

His speech talks of full employment, environmental protection, expanding PA's competitiveness and -- as proof some things never change -- inheriting a budget deficit, in his case of $86 million.

Leader promised to restore fiscal stability, not tolerate "laziness of sloppiness of duty" in government and vowed that during his tenure state workers would work tirelessly: "This administration will be no hayride for anyone."

(He grew up on a farm. He was only 37 when elected. The Inky has a nice piece on his life and times.)

Leader ended his inaugural address with a quote from Proverbs: "Where there is no vision, the people perish," and he said, "In Pennsylvania, I promise you there will be vision."

After the speech, the film shows lots of shots of a parade that lasted four and a-half hours and included floats, bands, tanks and, of course, the Mummers.

The film is a piece of history that state history buffs will enjoy.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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