The first Italian-American to serve as a governor or member of the U.S. Senate, JOHN ORLANDO PASTORE was born in Providence, Rhode Island. He received a law degree from Northeastern University in 1931 and went on to practice law in Providence. He served in the Rhode Island House of Representatives from 1935 to 1937, and was Assistant Attorney General of the state from 1937 to 1938 and again from 1940 until 1944, when he was elected Lieutenant Governor. As Lieutenant Governor, he succeeded to the governorship in late 1945 upon the resignation of James McGrath, who had been appointed U.S. Solicitor General. Although he initiated an unpopular one-percent sales tax during his first year in office, Pastore was elected governor in his own right in 1946, winning reelection in 1948. During his administration, the state’s first primary election law was enacted, as were a corporate income tax, a program to combat water pollution, and a $20 million bonus for World War II veterans. When James McGrath—who had left his post as Solicitor General to run successfully for the U.S. Senate—resigned his Senate seat to accept appointment as U.S. Attorney General, Pastore appointed his Senate replacement but later ran successfully for the seat himself, winning reelection to four full terms before retiring. Considered an influential member of the Senate, Pastore was known for his support of the peaceful use of atomic energy. He was Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, a Senate participant in the first conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1957, and a delegate to the Geneva Conferences on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in 1955, 1958, and 1961. Pastore also was known for his efforts to secure ratification of the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963 and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1969. And as Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, he was considered the conscience of the television industry. Pastore also was keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention of 1964.
Mohr, Ralph S. Governors for Three Hundred Years (1638-1954): Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.State of Rhode Island, Graves Registration Committee, August 1954.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. I. New York: James T. White & Company.
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.