Gifford Pinchot’s anti-spending arch enemy as 1933-34, Senate Finance Committee Chair, Harry B. Scott of Centre County might be referred to as the pioneer of the modern Appropriations battles; once accusing Governor Pinchot of arrogance, obstinacy, advancing his own political interests similar to “Adolf Hitler,” and serving as “the greatest single hindrance in the path of corrective legislation” during the great Depression. The Honorable Harry B. Scott presents fair evidence that it is a mistake to stereotype the personal lives of legislators with their professional agenda as lawmakers. While Pinchot vilified Scott and others as uncaring of the plight of so many victimized by the Great Depression, in actuality, Scott’s untiring devotion to the less fortunate is a shining example of the true spirit of the public servant. Senator Scott was the son of George and Catherine Patten Scott, born September 17, 1878 at Eagle Hill, Schuylkill County. Educated in public schools, Scott engaged in a successful contracting business by the time he reached 21. In 1900, he moved to Philipsburg, Centre County, joining his father in a lucrative coal business. A successful industrialist by 25, Harry’s pursuits led him to equal accomplishment as a newspaper publisher, banker, civic leader, and state legislator. Harry’s career in the GOP began in 1914, receiving Centre County’s nod as county committee delegate to the Republican State Convention. He served as a member of the Philipsburg Borough Council, preceding his election to the State House of Representatives in 1915. After serving two terms, President Wilson appointed Harry volunteer district fuel administrator during World War I, a period in which he married Ida Jones McCausland of Philipsburg. After the war, Harry pursued personal and community business interests, achieving financial success in the family coal business and serving as publisher of the local newspaper. Additionally, he was president of the Citizens Building and Loan Association (Philipsburg), president of the Moshannan National Bank (Philipsburg), treasurer and director of the Pennsylvania General Casualty Company, treasurer of the Penn General Fire Insurance Company, and director of the American Re-Insurance Company. A Mason, he also held memberships in the Penn-Atlantic Club and the Manufacturers Club of Philadelphia. Senator Scott’s proudest accomplishments included his advocacy of building the state’s hospital system, and a life-long passion for helping crippled children, the sick, and physically challenged. One of his most controversial (even today) bills established the state liquor store system, legislation succeeding ratification of the 21st Amendment. Relevant to hospital aid, he not only presented legislation for the statewide improvement of hospitals but donated considerable personal wealth and time to the Philipsburg Hospital, at one point, contributing the full amount for a new wing. Harry participated as a member of the Crippled Children’s Association of Pennsylvania, served as president of the Pennsylvania Society for Crippled Children, and filled the same capacity for the Clearfield-Centre Counties Society for Crippled Children. In May 1926, Scott accepted the Republican State Committee’s nomination as a candidate for the Senate of Pennsylvania. Elected in November, he eventually served the 34th District eight years, twice as Appropriations chairman, playing a key role during the highly charged 1933 session, embroiled in a tense personal debate with Governor Pinchot over emergency relief funding. He became interim president pro tempore in May 1933, presiding over two important extraordinary sessions. While serving as the Senate’s duly elected pro tem in 1934, he ran for lieutenant governor but lost to Democratic labor leader Tom Kennedy and the emerging Earle administration. The Honorable Harry B. Scott passed away in Philipsburg, March 4, 1945.
[i] SJ, April 18, 1933
[ii] SJ, April 18, 1933, 2859-2862, 2990-2993.
[iii] SJ, April 18, 1933, 2861.
[v] SJ, April 18, 1933, 2861.
[vi] History of Senate Bills, 1945, Senate Resolution 48, March 19, 1945, 163.
[vii] Clearfield Progress, March 5, 1945.
[viii] SJ, January 29, 1935, 236.