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Martin Grove Brumbaugh


Martin Grove Brumbaugh

Martin Grove Brumbaugh
26th Governor of Pennsylvania
In office
January 20, 1915 – January 15, 1919
Lieutenant Frank McClain
Preceded by John Tener
Succeeded by William Sproul
Personal details
Born (1862-04-14)April 14, 1862
Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania
Died March 14, 1930 (aged 67)
Pinehurst, North Carolina
Political party Republican
Alma mater Huntingdon Normal School
University of Pennsylvania
Religion Church of the Brethren
Martin Grove Brumbaugh

, A.M., Ph.D. (April 14, 1862 – March 14, 1930) was an American Republican politician who served as the 26th Governor of Pennsylvania from 1915 until 1919. He is frequently referred to as M.G. Brumbaugh, as is common in the Brumbaugh family. He was president of Juniata College and the first education commissioner for Puerto Rico.[1]


  • Biography 1
  • Legacy 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Brumbaugh grew up in rural Huntingdon County and worked in the combination country store-post office that was operated by his father. He was raised in a small pacifist faith with German roots that was popularly called the New Dunkers. Brumbaugh attended Huntingdon Normal School, graduating in 1881. A voracious reader and researcher, he later earned degrees in mechanical engineering, philosophy, and the general sciences before earning a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1894. He returned to Huntingdon Normal School, now renamed Juniata College, in 1895, and continued at the post until 1910. He remained closely connected to the college, returning to the position of the president in 1924.

Martin Grove Brumbaugh

A leading proponent of educational modernization, Brumbaugh oversaw reform of the teacher training curriculum for the state of Louisiana. After the American Invasion of Puerto Rico, then a most wealthy overseas province of Spain, and the Treaty of Paris of 1899, Brumbaugh was charged with implemented an American-style educational system in Puerto Rico. What did that mean for the Island? At that time, and since the early 1500s the Island's educational system was based in the Castilian Spanish. By order of king Ferdinand the Catholic, every church ad to have a School Parish and all children were to be educated -"in letters and numbers, in science and Faith"- up to 6th grade. There had been a close coordination between the civil authorities and the Catholic Church parish schools and since the mid 1700s Puerto Rico had a semi-public school system. Along the 19th century education was modernized and the Civil authorities took over a greater role, with the aide of the Church. By the 1880s every Mayoralty had its own Education Board, coordinated with the island's Education Ministry, and with that of Spain's. When Brumbaugh took over, Puerto Rico's alphabetization levels in the urban centers was of 98%. The first thing done by Gen. Brooks, the newly appointed military occupation governor by Pres. McKinley was to fire and deport the entire priesthood that managed parishes and their schools, who at the time depended on the civil government for their salaries. 36 of the 74 Island paishes and parish schools were left without a priest and teacher. Upon taking over the first thing Martin G. Brumbaugh did was to dissolve the entire Education Ministry that had been in place for centuries. Then Brumbaugh had the entire public school faculty, most of whom were trained professors of either Antillean or Peninsular Spanish origins, fired and deported. He then brought from the US a great number of Anglophone school teachers, more "friendly to the American cause". The problem was that he American school teachers only spoke English, and the island's language was Spanish, with great numbers of French and Italian speakers. In less than 18 months, after Brumbaugh took over, school absenteeism shot up to 98% with the ensuing performance collapse of a population that spoke one language and the teachers another. Those children who did go to school were punished for speaking Spanish, and put down for their culture. The next thing Brumbaugh did, with the backing of the US Military Government, was to change the entire curriculum, to "Americanize it". He re-wrote the entire Puerto Rican history curriculum, sanitized it and purged it from any data threatening to the "American cause". In addition, he began to edit and doctor data so as to exacerbate anything political or social by the former Spanish Authorities, making it negative, out of context and proportion, in a national humiliation process that caused tremendous public outrage and protests. To this day, the island's educational system is still suffering from Brumbaugh's "reforms". After he left Puerto Rico he held lecturer positions at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University. In 1906, he became superintendent of the Philadelphia Public Schools and gained statewide recognition for his performance in this role. A conservative and religious but usually nonpolitical man, Brumbaugh was nevertheless courted by the Republican Party to run for governor in 1914, after corruption and infighting marred the 1910 campaign.

While in office, Brumbaugh fought to expand educational funding, spur highway construction, and support farmers but also blocked labor reform and supported alcohol prohibition.

Brumbaugh died of a heart attack on March 14, 1930 while playing golf on vacation in Pinehurst, North Carolina.[1]


Brumbaugh Hall is one of the 14 residence halls in the East Halls area of the Pennsylvania State University University Park campus, all named after Pennsylvania Governors. In the college town of Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, Calle Brumbaugh is a street named after Brumbaugh.


  1. ^ a b "M. G. Brumbaugh, Ex-Governor, Dies. Former Head of Pennsylvania Government Stricken While Playing Golf in South. Prominent As Educator. President of Juniata College. Was First Education Commissioner to Porto Rico.".  

External links

  • Works by Martin Grove Brumbaugh at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about Martin Grove Brumbaugh at Internet Archive
  • Earl C. Kaylor (1996). Martin Grove Brumbaugh: A Pennsylvanian's Odyssey from Sainted Schoolman to Bedeviled World War I Governor, 1862-1930. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. Press. 
  • "Governor Martin Grove Brumbaugh". Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. Retrieved 28 Jan 2014. 
  • Martin Grove Brumbaugh at Find a Grave
Political offices
Preceded by
John Tener
Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
William Sproul
Party political offices
Preceded by
John Tener
Republican nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
William Sproul
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