Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Oregon Republican League: History 104 Biographies

Every Wednesday, the Oregon Republican League will post the biographies of important figures, in the League's/State of Oregon's history. Feel free to comment or share stories of your family's Republican affiliation.

Governor Earl W. Snell
Biographical Note

Earl Snell was Oregon's governor from January 11, 1943 to October 28, 1947.

Earl Snell was born in Olex, Oregon on July 11, 1895. Snell served in the Army during World War I, coming back to Gilliam County at war's end. He tried the newspaper business before entering the automobile business in Arlington and Condon. From 1915 to 1945 he operated a dealership with a partner.

Snell served on Arlington's City Council. Snell began his political career in 1927 when he was elected state representative. Snell remained in the Legislative Assembly until 1934 when he left his position as Speaker of the House to take the elected position of Secretary of State. He served as Secretary of State from 1934 to 1942, then was elected Oregon's twenty-third governor in 1942. Governor Snell was re-elected in 1946 and served until October 28, 1947, when he was killed in a plane crash in the wild terrain east of Klamath Falls along with Secretary of State Robert S. Farrell Jr., President of the Senate Marshall E. Cornett, and their pilot Cliff Hogue.

Snell was vitally interested in Oregon's forests and the problems facing the state in managing forest lands, including the effects of the 1933 Tillamook Burn, which devastated 240,000 acres. He charged a Special Forestry Committee with the responsibility of making a complete survey and analysis of Oregon's forestry program, with particular emphasis on the Tillamook burn, fire prevention, and reforestation. The lumber industry consistently occupied first or second place in the commercial activities of the state's economy and Oregon's forestry laws and policies were recognized as outstanding in the nation.

In addition to his environmental legacy, Snell also campaigned for old-age relief without increasing taxation; post-war aid in education; home ownership; and liberalization of unemployment compensation. Governor Snell placed emphasis on improving winter travel by developing and improving roads and resorts. He wanted Oregon to become the winter wonderland for vacationers, and expand tourism to become more than a summer industry. A state employees' retirement system was also adopted during Snell's tenure as governor.

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