About this Collection
Water M. Phillips interviewed over 150 civic and political leaders on subjects related to Philadelphia city government and history between the late 1930s and the 1970s. Related collection: Walter M. Phillips, Sr. Papers (Acc. 527)
About this Interview
Sheriff William M. Lennox was not in politics to start--he began as a business manager of intercollegiate athletics at the University of Pennsylvania, where he got to know many of Penn's distinguished alumni. In 1947 Lennox was asked by the chairman of the Democratic Committee, if he would be their candidate for the sheriff of the city and county of Philadelphia. He declined, but was asked again in 1949, and was subsequently asked to join the City Council three times before he joined. Lennox served on the City Council for thirteen months from 1950 to 1951. In the Spring of 1951 Lennox was again nominated by the Democratic City Council to run as Sheriff and this time he agreed. He was elected into office in January 1952. According to Lennox, he immediately started firing all the Republicans in the office. This led to a court case called the Lennox-Clark decision, which declared the workers civil servants and not politicians. Therefore they could not be fired under Lennox's terms. Lennox went on to serve as Sheriff for twenty years, having been elected to office five times. He discusses at length the importance of the office.
Biographical / Historical Note
Walter M. Phillips, Sr. (1912-1985) was active in Philadelphia civic and political life for over thirty years. He worked and volunteered in a variety of city and regional organizations. After retiring, Phillips initiated an oral history project, interviewing in the 1970s many individuals with whom he had worked.
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This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview. The interviewee/narrator read the transcript and made minor corrections, but the reader should bear in mind that it represents a transcription of the spoken word.
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