WILLIAM CAMERON SPROUL was born in Octoraro, Colerain Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and educated at Swarthmore College. After initially buying part interest in the Chester Times
, he purchased the newspaper and then bought and published the Chester Morning Republican
. Among his other business ventures were railroads, banking, shipbuilding, and iron. Sproul’s political career began with his 1896 election to the state Senate, where he remained for twenty-two years (two as President Pro Tempore) until winning the governorship. While he was governor, the state Assembly endorsed the eighteenth and nineteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Also during his administration, legislation was enacted reorganizing the public school system, providing for the relief and care of disabled World War I veterans, enabling massive road building, and establishing a public welfare department. Sproul was governor during the steel strike of 1919 and the coal strike of 1922. In both cases he sent National Guard units and sheriffs to help maintain control. He also appointed a commission to arbitrate the disputes—an action that helped settle the strikes. Sproul returned to his business interests after leaving office.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 21. New York: James T. White & Company.
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission