Raymond P. Shafer

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Ray Shafer
Raymond P. Shafer.jpg
39th Governor of Pennsylvania
In office
January 17, 1967 – January 19, 1971
LieutenantRaymond Broderick
Preceded byBill Scranton
Succeeded byMilton Shapp
23rd Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
In office
January 15, 1963 – January 17, 1967
GovernorBill Scranton
Preceded byJohn Morgan Davis
Succeeded byRaymond Broderick
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 50th district
In office
January 6, 1959 – November 30, 1962
Preceded byRowland Mahany
Succeeded byRowland Mahany
ConstituencyParts of Crawford and Mercer
Personal details
Raymond Philip Shafer

March 5, 1917
New Castle, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedDecember 12, 2006(2006-12-12) (aged 89)
Meadville, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Jane Harris Davies (m. 1941)
Alma materAllegheny College (A.B.)
Yale Law School (LL.B.)
ProfessionAttorney, Politician
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service1942–1945
RankUS Navy O3 infobox.svg Lieutenant
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsBronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart Medal
Governor Raymond P. Shafer at Neshaminy High School, Langhorne, PA, May 1967.

Raymond Philip Shafer (March 5, 1917 – December 12, 2006) was an American attorney and politician who served as the 39th Governor of Pennsylvania from 1967 to 1971. Prior to that, he served as the 23rd Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania from 1963 to 1967 and a Pennsylvania State Senator from 1959 to 1962. He was a national leader of the moderate wing of the Republican Party in the late 1960s.

Early life and career[edit]

Shafer was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania, the youngest of the five children of the Rev. David Philip Shafer and his wife Mina Belle (Miller).[1] In 1933, Shafer's father moved the family to Meadville, Pennsylvania to accept a position as pastor of the First Christian Church. Shafer became an Eagle Scout and as an adult was presented the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award by the Boy Scouts of America. He graduated from high school in Meadville in 1934 as valedictorian of his class.[2]

After finishing high school, Shafer attended Allegheny College from 1934 to 1938, where he was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and served as class president. He graduated, Phi Beta Kappa, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science and was a candidate for a Rhodes Scholarship.[3] At Allegheny, Shafer was an accomplished athlete, achieving all-Pennsylvania honors in basketball and all-American honors in soccer. In 1938, Shafer enrolled at Yale Law School and earned a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1941.[2] Several Yale classmates, such as William Scranton and Gerald Ford, would help shape his future political career.[4] The summer after graduating law school, on July 5, 1941, Shafer married Jane Harris Davies, whom he had met at Allegheny.[2] The couple had three children together.[5]

In 1942, Shafer entered the United States Navy as a naval intelligence officer and later served on PT boats. He participated in over 80 combat missions during World War II on PT boats as commanding officer of PT-359 and later as executive officer of Squadron 27. As Squadron XO, Shafer sailed aboard PT-375, one of the first PT boats to penetrate the defenses of Manila Bay, Philippines, during the Battle of Manila. Shafer earned the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, as well as the rank of lieutenant during his tour in the Pacific theater.[2][6][7]

Shafer returned to Meadville after the war and entered private law practice. His political career began in 1948 when he was elected district attorney of Crawford County, a position in which Shafer would serve two terms. In 1958, he was elected to the State Senate to represent the 50th District, consisting of portions of Crawford and Mercer counties, and while in that office began to amass a liberal-tending voting record in support of such initiatives as anti-housing discrimination.[2][8]

Governor of Pennsylvania[edit]

1966 campaign[edit]

In 1962, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Scranton tapped Shafer as his running mate. Scranton had been Shafer's classmate at Yale, and both were considered moderate Republicans. The Scranton/Shafer ticket won the election over the Democratic ticket led by Philadelphia Mayor Richardson Dilworth and State Representative Stephen McCann, the House Majority Leader.[2]

Scranton was limited to one term under then-existing state law and Shafer was considered the most likely choice to succeed him as the Republican nominee. In the general election, he faced wealthy Philadelphia businessman Milton Shapp. The 1966 election was marked by tragedies. Pennsylvania Attorney General Walter Alessandroni, Shafer's running mate, was killed in an aviation accident during the campaign[9] and won the nomination for Lieutenant Governor posthumously; Ray Broderick was named to replace him on the ticket.[2] Former governor David L. Lawrence collapsed and fell into a coma during a campaign appearance for Shapp, and died later that November.[10] On election day, Shafer was victorious by a margin of nearly a quarter of a million votes.[11]

Tenure (1967–71)[edit]

Shafer was inaugurated in January 1967 and became the first governor to reside in the modern Governor's Mansion in Harrisburg. As governor, Shafer was best known for championing reforms to the state constitution. In 1963, Lieutenant Governor Shafer had chaired a bipartisan committee to explore constitutional reforms and had made reforms a part of his campaign platform in 1966. By the end of Shafer's first year as governor, in December 1967, a constitutional convention was meeting to overhaul state government. Reforms approved by the electorate following this convention, in April 1968, included revisions to home rule, audit of state finances, and a new unified judiciary under the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.[2]

Shafer emerged as a national figure in the moderate wing of the Republican Party during the 1968 election, giving the nominating speech for New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller at the 1968 Republican National Convention, although the delegates instead chose former Vice President Richard Nixon as the party's presidential candidate.[12][13] Shafer himself had received votes in Pennsylvania's presidential primary and initially received support from a majority of Pennsylvania's 64-member convention delegation as a favorite son candidate;[14] he used this leverage in a partially successful attempt to move the Pennsylvania delegation into Rockefeller's column.[15] After Shafer's death, his surviving children told The New York Times that Nixon had offered Shafer the vice presidential spot to balance the ticket with an Eastern moderate, though there is no surviving record to that effect. Nixon ultimately chose Maryland governor Spiro Agnew.[16]

Shafer oversaw an expansion of Pennsylvania's highway system, dedicated several portions of the Interstate Highway System in the state, and authorized a merger of four agencies to form the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Large expenditures for education and health programs Shafer authorized caused budget deficits by the 1969–70 fiscal year. To balance the budget, Shafer sought Pennsylvania's first state income tax, a move that made him unpopular with many voters, though later settled for an increase in the state sales tax.[2] Ultimately, Shafer's successor as governor, Milton Shapp, would sign into law a state income tax.[17] Shafer also dealt with the 1969 York Race Riot in which Shafer declared a state of emergency and sent 200 National Guard troops into the city.[18] In 1969, Shafer ascended to the vice-chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association and succeeded California governor Ronald Reagan as chair in 1970.[2]

Although the new 1968 constitution allowed incumbent governors to run for reelection, Shafer was bound by the previous rules and was limited to one term. He campaigned for Ray Broderick, his lieutenant governor, as his successor. Although Broderick publicly opposed a state income tax, he was unable to escape the shadow of Shafer, who had proposed it. The 1970 election saw a Democratic sweep, with Milton Shapp elected governor and Democrats gaining control of both houses of the General Assembly for the first time in over 30 years. Shafer left office following the expiration of his term and inauguration of governor-elect Shapp in January 1971.[2]

Post-gubernatorial career[edit]

Shafer Commission[edit]

After leaving state government, Shafer had initially hoped to be appointed to a federal judgeship on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, though he ultimately did not receive an appointment and withdrew his candidacy for the bench in 1972. In the meantime, President Nixon appointed Shafer as chairman of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, also known as the Shafer Commission.[19] He was criticized in this role by many conservatives after the panel recommended the decriminalization of marijuana use. The commission's recommendation was ultimately not followed by the Nixon administration,[19] though some, such as Eric Sterling of HuffPost, argue that the proposal was "ahead of its time."[20]

Later life and legacy[edit]

Later, Shafer served a brief stint as CEO of financially troubled TelePrompter company. Following Watergate, he returned to public service after being named special counsel to new Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, a position he held from 1974 to 1977.[19] From 1977 to 1988 he was a partner and senior counselor with the accounting firm of Coopers & Lybrand and also maintained a law practice in Meadville. He served briefly as president of his alma mater, Allegheny College, from 1985 to 1986,[3] and on the Council on Foreign Relations. Shafer died at the age of 89 in Meadville, Pennsylvania, on December 12, 2006. He was buried with military honors at St. John's Cemetery in Union Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania.[12]

Shafer was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Drexel University in 1968.[5] In addition, a section of Interstate 79 in Pennsylvania is named "The Raymond P. Shafer Highway" after him, as are residence halls at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the auditorium at Allegheny College.[2] Pennsylvania House Bill 1652 of 2011, introduced by Democratic State Rep. Mark B. Cohen, and Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1003 of 2011, introduced by Democratic State Senator Daylin Leach, are both named "The Governor Raymond P. Shafer Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act."[21]

See also[edit]

  • Interstate 79 – the Raymond P. Shafer Memorial Highway in Pennsylvania


  1. ^ "Raymond Philip Shafer". Pennsylvania State Senate. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Raymond P. Shafer Papers". Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Raymond P. Shafer: 1917-2006". Allegheny Magazine. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Raymond P. Shafer: Yale Law School". Allegheny College. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Shafer to Speak at Founder's Day" (PDF). The Drexel Triangle. S2CID 32286143. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 April 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2018. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ "Raymond P. Shafer: Military Career". Allegheny College. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Raymond P. Shafer Papers". Syracuse University Libraries. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Raymond P. Shafer: Elected Offices". Allegheny College. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  9. ^ AP (13 June 1966). "Broderick is Opening Pa. Tour". Gettysburg Times. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Ex-Gov. David L. Lawrence Dies; 4-Term Mayor of Pittsburgh, 77". The New York Times. 22 November 1966. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Election Returns 1966". Wilkes University Election Statistics Project. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Governor Raymond Philip Shafer". Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Raymond P. Shafer: Republican". Allegheny College. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Results of the 15 Presidential Primaries in 1968". CQ Almanac. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  15. ^ "A Chance to Lead". Time Magazine. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  16. ^ Hamill, Sean D. (14 December 2006). "Raymond P. Shafer, 89, Governor of Pennsylvania, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  17. ^ Pierre-Pierre, Garry (26 November 1994). "Milton J. Shapp is Dead at 82: Ex-Governor of Pennsylvania". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  18. ^ McClure, James (4 January 2018). "York's Race Riots Were a War that Left Dozens Injured and Two People Dead". York Daily Record. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  19. ^ a b c "Raymond P. Shafer: Continued Public Service". Allegheny College. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  20. ^ Sterling, Eric E. "Shafer Commission Report on Marijuana and Drugs, Issued 40 Years Ago Today, Was Ahead of its Time". HuffPost Blog. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  21. ^ Newton, David E. (2017). Marijuana: A Reference Handbook (2nd ed.). ABC-CLIO. p. 227. ISBN 9781440850523. Retrieved 3 April 2018.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Pennsylvania State Senate
Preceded by Member of the Pennsylvania Senate for the 50th District
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Preceded by Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania