Reviving Liberal Republicanism in America

William Scranton

William Scranton


William Warren “Bill” Scranton (July 19, 1917 – July 28, 2013) was a Republican politician. Scranton served as the 38th Governor of Pennsylvania from 1963 to 1967. From 1976 to 1977, he served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

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Scranton represented Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1961 to 1963. Though a freshman Republican, he quickly gained a reputation as an outspoken centrist and supported much of President John F. Kennedy’s social agenda, including civil rights and the Peace Corps. The media quickly dubbed him a “Kennedy Republican.”

Later, as Governor of Pennsylvania, Scranton signed into law legislation expanding and reforming the state’s education system. He also created a program designed to promote the state in national and international markets.

Although Scranton did not actively seek the 1964 Republican nomination for President, a “Draft Scranton” movement quickly gathered momentum among moderate and liberal Republicans who saw him as an alternative to the conservative front-runner, Senator Barry Goldwater. This gained speed after the campaign of Goldwater’s liberal opponent, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, floundered. Scranton won the support of ten state delegations, but Goldwater went on to win the nomination on the first ballot.

Under a then-existing Pennsylvania law, Scranton was limited to a single term and could not run for reelection in 1966. He announced shortly thereafter that he would never again seek elected office. (He kept his promise and never did.) In 1968, President-elect Richard Nixon asked Scranton to become Secretary of State, but Scranton declined.

In 1976, Scranton was chosen by President Ford to become United States Ambassador to the United Nations. His moderation and focus on human rights earned him much respect while in office. Some in the Republican Party pushed for Scranton to be named as Gerald Ford’s running mate for the 1976 presidential election, but Ford instead chose Senator Robert Dole of Kansas.