Legislation Quick Search
07/29/2021 06:07 AM
Pennsylvania State Senate

Charles H Kline


Session Position District Party
1907-1908 38 Republican
1909-1910 38 Republican
1911-1912 38 Republican
1913-1914 President Pro Tempore 38 Republican
 Counties   Allegheny


1870 - 1933

Known as “the Pittsburgh mayor who dared to compete with the Mellon machine and lost,” Charley Kline’s controversial mayoral career unfairly overshadows prominent state senatorial service. The son of a second generation Rhineland German immigrant from Indiana (Pennsylvania), Charles Howard Kline was the son of Wellington B. Kline and Maria Margaret Kuster, born December 15, 1870. His father, a successful dry goods merchant in Indiana, provided Charley with a well-rounded education. He attended local public schools, the state normal school (Indiana University), Kiskiminetas Spring School at Saltsburg, and the University of Michigan Law School. Obtaining a law degree in 1897, Charles became a member of the Philadelphia bar in 1898 and the Allegheny bar in 1899.  He married Katherine Whitsell Johnson of Pittsburgh in 1900. Kline practiced law for four years, developing a keen interest in Republican politics. He represented his Pittsburgh district for successive terms in the state House of Representatives, 1904 and 1905. At the end of his introductory stint in the House, Kline received the honor of being elected to the Senate of Pennsylvania, 1906 through 1918. Senator Kline became President pro tempore of the Senate in 1914 and 1915. He chaired the powerful 1915 Appropriations Committee, successfully guiding legislation for increased educational funding. Kline’s visionary legislative efforts included a 1913 resolution of instruction to Congress, requesting federal lawmakers to enact a “uniform system of National Public Highways or roads, connecting the Capitol of the several states of the Union with the National Capitol at Washington, and with each other, and also with the principal National Parks.” Kline saw the plan as a benefit to promoting interstate commerce, reducing transportation costs, and that would “facilitate and cheapen travel and social intercourse, discourage sectionalism, and render the people more cosmopolitan, intellectually, morally, and politically.” Leaving the state Senate in 1918, Governor Sproul appointed Kline to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. In 1925, during a hard-fought mayoral battle, pitting Pittsburgh Republican boss Andrew Mellon against Independent Republican William McGee, Kline entered the fray as a compromise candidate; Mellon agreeing to throw his significant support behind the ex-state senator, as long as Charles agreed to retain 25 of Mellon’s handpicked city officials. The deal struck, Kline experienced only light competition in the primary and general elections, gaining the mayoral seat. Despite Mellon’s show of support, the “King” characteristically retained all disciples on a short leash – especially the ambitious Kline. Not long after Charley received Mellon’s encouragement, he began building a patronage system of his own through a $19 million Pittsburgh improvement bond-issue program – one that promoted the building of much needed roads and bridges. Under Kline’s direction, the city grew in leaps and bounds. A Department of City Planning and Recreation Bureau emerged, a playground system, and the annexation of new townships: altogether representing a huge number of plum jobs for Kline’s political supporters. The second time Kline chose to run, the Mellons opposed him; however, Kline’s abilities and patronage were adequate for victory. Broadening his improvement scope to include a rapid transit system, widening highways, permitting movies on Sunday night, and creating a regional metropolitan Pittsburgh government, Kline delivered the most progressive municipal program of the century at that point. On the way, he gained absolute control of the city council, county commission, and state house and senate delegations; a truly powerful man. The astronomical growth and power attained by Mayor Kline had its unfortunate downside. His managerial capabilities were not suited to the task of preventing breakdowns within the huge system. In 1931, a grand jury charged Kline and a supplies department head with 43 counts of misfeasance and malfeasance in office. The court convicted the mayor in March 1932. Attempts at appeal finally exhausted within 12 months, so was the seemingly tireless Kline. In declining health, the Honorable Charles Howard Kline died four months later, July 22, 1933.