Former George M. Leader is only York countian to serve as Pennsylvania governor
Democrat George Leader of York County, Pa., earned the Nov. 15, 1954, Time magazine cover after his election as Pennsylvania’s governor. (See additional photo below). Also of interest: Wolf would join long list of Yorkers to gain political posts and York native, Pa. Gov. George Leader cleared dam plan and List of luminaries with Dover-area links lengthens.
Pennsylvania, an old, populous state near everything, is sometimes faulted for not producing more U.S. presidents.
James Buchanan, the state’s only entry, doesn’t count for much, often rated in the lower tier of U.S. presidents. Neighboring Ohio, in contrast, has produced six U.S. presidents.
Likewise, York County, an old, populous county near the political power centers of Harrisburg and Philadelphia, has not had the success one might expect in producing large numbers of ranking state officials since 1800.
Gov. George M. Leader is an exception, the only York County-produced holder of the state’s top office, and a respected one at that… .
George and Mary Jane Leader pose with their sons, Frederick, left, and Michael, at Leader’s inauguration as Pennsylvania’s governor 50 years ago. This photo, and the one above, ran in the York Daily Record/Sunday News in coverage of the 50th anniversary of Leader’s election as governor.
In comparison, Bellefonte in Centre County has produced five Pennsylvania governors.
York County has been home to five state Supreme Court justices — Hugh Henry Brackenridge, Jeremiah S. Black, Herbert Cohen, Ellis Lewis, and Jacob Hay Brown. Brackenridge made his political mark in Pittsburgh, and Black arrived here late in life after his stint as Buchanan’s attorney general.
The county has produced two lieutenant governors – Chauncey Forward Black in the 19th century and Samuel S. Lewis in the 20th.
In the 1970s, Robert P. Kane was Pennsylvania’s attorney general, and Albert R. Hydeman, Jr., served as secretary of the state Department of Community Affairs.
Shifting to the federal level for a moment, the county produced at least four U.S. senators in the 18th and 19th centuries. But they all moved from the county when young and gained election in other counties – or other states. James Ross, John Rowan, David Holmes and Matthew Quay make up that list.
Those are many of the ranking office-holders who contributed to state government in the past 200 years.
That is, until recently.
Tom Wolf gained the state revenue secretary’s position in the Rendell administration in 2007. That was big news – a fairly unusual event around here.
When he resigned to consider a run for governor last year, fellow York countian Steve Stetler took his seat. That seemed to be a compliment to York County — that it could produce back-to-back top level officials in Harrisburg.
Then disappointment set in last week when Stetler vacated his seat amid corruption charges.
But back to Buchanan.
Early in his political career, the longtime Lancaster resident’s U.S. congressional district included York County.
If hisBuchanan’s White House years had been successful, York County would have laid local claim to a piece of his presidency long ago.
But his weak leadership in the buildup to the Civil War has ensured that York County’s contributions to the development of a future U.S. president remain largely forgotten.