A lot of Oregon’s governors have sucked. Here are two that didn’t.

Sylvester Pennoyer (1887 - 1895)

  • In 1891, President Benjamin Harrison wanted to visit the governor as part of his campaign tour. Oregon wasn’t a part of Harrison’s campaign, and Sly Penn refused to travel to the state line to meet him.
  • Harrison figured “What the hell” and caught a train to Salem to meet with Pennoyer.
  • Pennoyer couldn’t be bothered by anyone as useless as the president of the United States, and left Harrison standing in the rain before he decided to get around to showing up.
  • He abandoned the Democrats and was reelected on a third party ticket.
  • When Grover Cleveland was inaugurated as president in 1893, Sly Penn refused to let state Democrats use the ceremonial cannon to fire a celebratory salute.
  • "No permission will be given to use state cannon for firing a salute over the inauguration of a Wall Street plutocrat as president of the United States," he growled (I assume) at a newspaperman, before locking up the cannon and placing it under armed guard.
  • A few months after that, Cleveland asked Pennoyer to use state resources to fix a federal government problem. Cleveland has decided to extend the Chinese Exclusion Act ten years, which barred Chinese workers from immigrating to America, and wanted governors to use state funds in preventing riots. Pennoyer telegraphed a response: “Washington: I will attend to my business. Let the president attend to his.”
  • The next year, Coxey’s Army, a march of unemployed workers, was en route to Washington D.C. The Oregon component evidently didn’t feel like walking, and they hijacked a train. The federal government asked Sly Penn to deal with this, to which he replied “let Cleveland’s army take care of Coxey’s army.”
  • This same year (1894) he moved Oregon’s Thanksgiving one week ahead of the national holiday as an extended “Fuck you” to the White House.
  • Became known as “His Eccentricity” and “Sylpster Annoyer” by political rivals.

General Charles Martin (1935 - 1939)

  • In his one term, he restored the state’s finances.
  • In May 1935, timber workers began to strike. The General’s view of this was that “These pestiferous peewees would go to any lengths to embarrass me and my administration.”
  • Railed against the National Labor Relations Board, crying their leaders to be a bunch of Bolsheviks and gangsters.
  • Threatened to fire Columbia County Sheriff Oscar Weed for not responding harshly enough to striking workers, instructing the state’s sheriffs to “beat hell out of ‘em!” and “crack their damn heads! Those fellows are there for nothing but trouble – give it to them!”
  • On May 23, 1935, ordered the state police and National Guard to protect strikebreakers at the Stimson Mill strike in the Washington County town of Gaston.
  • Called the National Guard again in 1937 to deal with striking longshoremen.
  • Opposed FDR’s New Deal and prevented a set up like the Tennessee Valley Authority from happening in Oregon.
  • Also in 1937, the National Labor Relations Board failed to settle a dispute between the CIO and the AFL that had shut down all of Portland’s sawmills. The General stepped in with all of his impressive machismo, and held a labor election, reopening the mills himself.
  • He corrected Roosevelt’s famous pronouncement on fear, saying instead, “We have nothing to fear from the future except our own foolishness and slothfulness.”