Joseph F. Guffey

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Joe Guffey
Joseph Guffey.jpg
United States Senator
from Pennsylvania
In office
January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1947
Preceded by David Reed
Succeeded by Edward Martin
Member of the
Democratic National Committee
from Pennsylvania
In office
May 18, 1920[1] – May 20, 1928
Preceded by A. Mitchell Palmer
Succeeded by Sedgwick Kistler
Personal details
Born (1870-12-29)December 29, 1870
Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania
Died March 6, 1959(1959-03-06) (aged 88)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Democratic

Joseph Finch "Joe" Guffey (December 29, 1870 – March 6, 1959) was an American business executive and Democratic Party politician from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He represented Pennsylvania in the United States Senate from 1935 until 1947.

Early life[edit]

Joseph Finch Guffey was born December 29, 1870, at Guffey Station in Sewickley Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania to John and Barbaretta (Hough) Guffey. He was the last born of his brothers; James C, and Alexander S, and sisters; Ida Virginia, Pauletta, Mary Emma, Jane Cambell, and Elizabet Irwin. He attended but did not graduate from Princeton University. As a Princeton student, he became a disciple of Professor Woodrow Wilson. During Wilson's tenure as Princeton president, Guffey, and other former students were vocal supporters of Wilson's Quad Plan. He was instrumental in helping Wilson to secure the Democratic presidential nomination in 1912.

World War I[edit]

He was a member of the War Industries Board (Petroleum Service Division), as well as the Director of the Bureau of sales in the Alien Property Custodian's office during World War I.

Guffey, who owned an oil company with his two sisters, suffered financial setbacks in oil speculation during WWI and was indicted by a federal grand jury for mis-use of the funds under his control as Sales Director. The charges were later dropped as part of a deal made during the Harding/Coolidge Administrations' Teapot Dome Scandal. He was a member of the Democratic National Committee from 1920 through 1928.

United States Senate[edit]

He was elected to the United States Senate in 1934, unseating Republican Senator David Reed.

He was the chairperson of the Mines and Mining committee, and was a fervent supporter of the President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s. He supported the aggressive politics of Henry Wallace, who compared the Republicans with fascists.

Guffey spoke out against Harry Anslinger (who had been appointed to lead the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics by his father-in-law Andrew Mellon) for referring to "niggers" in official correspondence. He caused a controversy in Pennsylvania when he backed Charles Alvin Jones for the Democratic nomination as governor in 1938, instead of Lieutenant Governor Thomas Kennedy, who was a close associate of mine workers union head John Lewis. As the leader of the Democratic political machine, his endorsement gave the nomination to Jones, who later lost the general election (to Republican Arthur James). Guffey was at the same time working with Lewis, demanding that Pleas E. Greenlee replace Charles F. Hosford Jr. who had been ineffective as chairman of the National Bituminous Coal Commission.

In 1943, Isaiah Berlin wrote a confidential analysis of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the British Foreign Office, and stated of Guffey:

a noisy Administration supporter who wraps himself in the Roosevelt flag and has been advocating for a fourth term for some time. A very typical Pennsylvania politician who has decided to throw his lot in with the President and has thus become an obedient party hack not of the purest integrity. Consistently votes in the opposite direction to his fellow Senator from Pennsylvania, James Davis (q.v.).[2]

He was reelected in 1940, with Claude Pepper campaigning with him. Guffey was less influential after the Republicans took control of the Congress and reversed some of the laws helping labor unions, eventually passing the Taft-Hartley Act after Guffey was defeated by Governor Edward Martin by a wide margin in 1946.

Retirement[edit]

After leaving the Senate, Guffey retired to Washington, DC, where he died in 1959. Upon his death, he was returned to West Newton, Pennsylvania for burial in the West Newton Cemetery.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Palmer's Foes Take Control In Georgia". The Baltimore Sun. May 19, 1920. Retrieved January 14, 2012. 
  2. ^ Hachey, Thomas E. (Winter 1973–1974). "American Profiles on Capitol Hill: A Confidential Study for the British Foreign Office in 1943". Wisconsin Magazine of History 57 (2): 141–153. JSTOR 4634869. 
  • Joseph Guffey Papers: Seeley G. Mudd Library, Princeton University
  • National Archives: College Park, MD
  • United States Senate Archives
  • American National Biography; Dictionary of American Biography
  • Charles Halt, Seventy Years on the Red-Fire Wagon: From Tilden to Truman, Through New Freedom and New Deal.
  • Joseph F. Guffey, New Deal Politician From Pennsylvania. Ph.D. dissertation, Syracuse University, 1965.
  • Claude Pepper Center at Florida State University Library (text of campaign speech given March 11, 1940).
  • Time Magazine: February 28, 1938; March 28, 1938; June 3, 1946.

External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
David Reed
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Pennsylvania
1935–1947
Served alongside: James Davis, Francis Myers
Succeeded by
Edward Martin
Party political offices
Preceded by
A. Mitchell Palmer
Member of the Democratic National Committee
from Pennsylvania

1920–1928
Succeeded by
Sedgwick Kistler
Preceded by
William McNair
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania
(Class 1)

1934, 1940, 1946
Succeeded by
Guy Bard