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02/24/2021 07:34 PM
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Robert S. Spangler

(unseated on April 26, 1921)

Born: May 10, 1882, York, York County, PA.  Died: February 22, 1961, Spring Garden Township, York County, PA.  Member of the House: York County, 1st District, 1913-1924 and 1929-1932.  Affiliation: Republican.

Robert Spangler was educated in the public schools of York County and at the York Collegiate Institute.  He studied one year of law at University of Virginia, and then returned to York to study law as a clerk in his father’s law office.   Upon completing his clerkship, he was admitted to the York County Bar on August 29, 1905, and began to practice law with his father, Edwin C. Spangler.  After his father’s death in 1907, he joined the firm of Walter Hays, N. Sargent Ross and H. C. Brenneman.  In November of 1912, Spangler was elected to serve York County in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the 1913-1914 session, and was re-elected to 7 subsequent terms, from 1915-1924 and 1929-1932.

During his first term, Spangler was appointed chairman of the Retrenchment and Reform Committee.  In the 1915-1916 session, he was the chairman of the Legislative Apportionment Committee, and in 1917-1918 he was the chairman of the Public Roads Committee.

Spangler was the prime sponsor of legislation, which became Act 13 of 1923, to allow county commissioners to create plans for public buildings prior to entering into a contract.  He also sponsored a bill, which became Act 228 of 1929, which regulated loans by building and loan associations.  In 1931 he introduced a bill, which became Act 336, which prohibited the use of counterfeit coins in automatic machines.  Spangler also led reapportionment efforts after the 1930 census, serving as Chairman of the Congressional Apportionment Committee in 1931-1932, and was the prime sponsor of legislation that reshaped the congressional districts, known as Act 361 of 1931.  

On January 7, 1919, Spangler was elected as the Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the 1919-1920 session.  Spangler was the first Speaker elected from York County.  As Speaker, he oversaw the passage of Act 179 of 1919, which reorganized the State Police.  This legislation created a Bureau of Fire Protection, which transferred the State Fire Marshall’s duties to the State Police.  In the same year, Spangler witnessed Act 34 of 1919 become law, which established a Bureau of Municipalities in the Department of Internal Affairs.

At the start of the 1921 session, Spangler was re-elected as Speaker but was then unseated in an infamous “rump session” of the House on April 26, 1921.  Due to split factions in the Republican caucus, Samuel A. Whitaker was nominated by the House to replace Spangler immediately.  After losing his Speakership, he was re-elected to the House for the 1923-1924 session, but chose not to run again in the 1924 election.  In 1928 Spangler campaigned for re-election to the House and was chosen to represent York County for the 1929-1930 session.  During this time, Spangler was selected as chairman of the Judiciary Local Committee.  He was re-elected in 1930 and was chosen to serve as the chairman of the Congressional Apportionment Committee for the 1931-1932 session, in which capacity he led the reapportionment process following the 1930 United States Census.

Robert S. Spangler returned to practice law in York County until shortly before his death on February 22, 1961 in Spring Garden Township, York County, Pennsylvania.  He is interred at Prospect Hill Cemetery in the city of York, York County, Pennsylvania.

Historical Member Biography

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