Gregory Zatkovich was born in
Austria-Hungary and "immigrated to Pennsylvania with his parents at age 2. His father was the editor of an activist
journal supporting Rusyn-Americans, an ethnic group from Carpathian Ruthenia,
an area now within Slovakia and western Ukraine. Zatkovich grew up in Pittsburgh, received his
bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1907, and earned his
law degree there three years later. He
entered the Pittsburgh bar in October 1910.
In July 1918, as the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was on the verge of
collapse, Rusyn-Americans began to agitate for the independence of Carpathian
Ruthenia. As a leader of the Rusyn
movement, however, Zatkovich was convinced by members of the Wilson
administration that merging Carpathian Ruthenia into a new Czech state was the
only viable option, and he was convinced to sign the “Philadelphia Agreement”
with Czech president Tomas Masaryk, upon the promise that Carpathian Ruthenia
would be granted autonomy within the new Czech state. Masaryk appointed Zatkovich governor of the
province on April 20, 1920. He served
for a little less than a year, resigning on April 17, 1921 over disagreements
on the border with Slovakia, and returned to his practice in Pittsburgh."
"He has the distinction of being the only
American citizen to have presided as governor over a province that would later
become a part of the U.S.S.R."
Zatkovich later served as Pittsburgh city solicitor during the administration of Mayor William McNair in the 1930s.
From THE STEEL BAR: PITTSBURGH LAWYERS AND THE MAKING OF MODERN AMERICA
Labels: Legal History, Pittsburgh History, Pittsburghiana, Steel Bar