List of Governors of Minnesota

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Number of Governors of Minnesota by party affiliation[1]
Party Governors
Republican/Independent-Republican 25
Democratic-Farmer-Labor 6
Democratic 5
Farmer-Labor 3
Reform/Independence 1

The following is a list of Governors of the state of Minnesota and Minnesota Territory. The governor serves as head of the executive branch of the state's government and is charged with ensuring the faithful execution of the state's laws.[a] He or she is empowered to name state commissioners and department heads and to approve or veto bills passed by the legislature.[b] The governor also serves as commander-in-chief of the state's armed forces.

Henry H. Sibley was elected the first governor in a statewide election held on October 13, 1857 and took office following Minnesota's entry into the Union as the 32nd state on May 11, 1858.[c] At the time, the governor and lieutenant governor were elected on separate ballots to terms lasting two years. Prior to 1886, statewide elections were held on odd years. Because of this change (the result of an 1883 state constitutional amendment), Lucius F. Hubbard's second term as governor lasted three years. With the passage of a 1958 state constitutional amendment, the terms of governor and lieutenant governor increased to four-years in 1963.[b] A 1972 state constitutional amendment provided for the joint election of the governor and lieutenant governor starting in 1974.

The numerals indicate the consecutive time in office served by a single person. For example, William R. Marshall served two consecutive terms and is counted as the fifth state governor (not the fifth and sixth). Henry A. Swift assumed the governorship after the resignation of Alexander Ramsey, serving out the remainder of what would have been Ramsey's second term. The fact that Swift was not voted into office does not affect the numbering, which makes him the 3rd governor. Rudy Perpich served two non-consecutive terms and is counted chronologically as both the 34th and the 36th governor. Because of this, the list below contains 40 governorships, but only 39 people.

Prior to its organization as a territory, portions of Minnesota were part of the Northwest Territory, Indiana Territory, Louisiana Territory (later renamed Missouri Territory), Illinois Territory, Michigan Territory, Wisconsin Territory, and Iowa Territory; see the lists of governors of Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa for this period.

Four governors were born outside the United States: Knute Nelson was born in Norway, John Lind and Adolph O. Eberhart were born in Sweden, and Hjalmar Petersen was born in Denmark. Fifteen of the thirty-nine governors to date were actually born in Minnesota. Five governors have resigned from office, and three have died in office.

Territorial Governors[edit]

# Governor Took office Left office Party Appointed by Notes
1 Alexander Ramsey Alexander Ramsey - Brady-Handy.jpg June 1, 1849 May 15, 1853 Whig Zachary Taylor
2 Willis A. Gorman WillisGorman.jpg May 15, 1853 April 23, 1857 Democratic Franklin Pierce
3 Samuel Medary SamuelMedary.jpg April 23, 1857 May 24, 1858 Democratic James Buchanan

State Governors[edit]

# Governor Took office Left office Party Date of Birth Place of Birth Date of Death Lieutenant Governor(s) Notes Term
1 Henry H. Sibley HHSibley-official.jpg May 24, 1858 January 2, 1860 Democratic February 20, 1811 Michigan February 18, 1891 William Holcombe 1
2 Alexander Ramsey RamseyOilCrop.jpg January 2, 1860 July 10, 1863[2] Republican September 8, 1815 Pennsylvania April 22, 1903 Ignatius L. Donnelly 2
Ignatius L. Donnelly[2]
Henry A. Swift[3]
3
3 Henry A. Swift HASwift-official.jpg July 10, 1863[3] January 11, 1864 Republican March 23, 1823 Ohio February 25, 1869 vacant
4 Stephen Miller StephenMiller.jpg January 11, 1864 January 8, 1866 Republican January 7, 1816 Pennsylvania August 18, 1881 Charles D. Sherwood 4
5 William R. Marshall WRMarshall.jpg January 8, 1866 January 9, 1870 Republican October 17, 1825 Missouri January 8, 1896 Thomas H. Armstrong 5
6
6 Horace Austin HAustin.jpg January 9, 1870 January 7, 1874 Republican October 15, 1831 Connecticut November 2, 1905 William H. Yale 7
8
7 Cushman K. Davis CushmanDavisOil.jpg January 7, 1874 January 7, 1876 Republican June 16, 1838 New York November 27, 1900 Alphonso Barto 9
8 John S. Pillsbury JohnSPills.jpg January 7, 1876 January 10, 1882 Republican July 29, 1827 New Hampshire October 18, 1901 James B. Wakefield 10
11
Charles A. Gilman 12
9 Lucius F. Hubbard LFHubbard-official.jpg January 10, 1882 January 5, 1887 Republican January 26, 1836 New York February 5, 1913 Charles A. Gilman 13
14
10 Andrew R. McGill AndrewMcgill.jpg January 5, 1887 January 9, 1889 Republican February 19, 1840 Pennsylvania October 31, 1905 Albert E. Rice 15
11 William R. Merriam WilliamMerriam.jpg January 9, 1889 January 9, 1893 Republican July 26, 1849 New York February 18, 1931 Albert E. Rice 16
Gideon S. Ives 17
12 Knute Nelson Knute Nelson portrait 1895.jpg January 9, 1893 January 31, 1895[2] Republican February 2, 1843 Norway April 28, 1923 David M. Clough 18
13 David M. Clough DMClough-official.jpg January 31, 1895[3] January 2, 1899 Republican December 27, 1846 New Hampshire August 28, 1924 Frank A. Day 19
John L. Gibbs 20
14 John Lind JLind-official.jpg January 2, 1899 January 7, 1901 Democratic[4] March 25, 1854 Sweden September 18, 1930 Lyndon A. Smith 21
15 Samuel R. Van Sant SRVanSant-official.jpg January 7, 1901 January 4, 1905 Republican May 11, 1844 Illinois October 3, 1936 Lyndon A. Smith 22
Ray W. Jones 23
16 John A. Johnson JohnJohnson.jpg January 4, 1905 September 21, 1909[5] Democratic July 28, 1861 Minnesota September 21, 1909 Ray W. Jones 24
Adolph O. Eberhart 25
17 Adolph O. Eberhart AOEberhart-official.jpg September 21, 1909[3] January 5, 1915 Republican June 23, 1870 Sweden December 6, 1944 Edward E. Smith[3] 26
Samuel Y. Gordon 27
J. A. A. Burnquist 28
18 Winfield S. Hammond WinfieldSHammond.jpg January 5, 1915 December 30, 1915[5] Democratic November 17, 1863 Massachusetts December 30, 1915 J. A. A. Burnquist 29
19 J. A. A. Burnquist JAABurnquist-official.jpg December 30, 1915[3] January 5, 1921 Republican July 21, 1879 Iowa January 12, 1961 George H. Sullivan[3] 29
Thomas Frankson 30
31
20 J. A. O. Preus JacobPreus.jpg January 5, 1921 January 6, 1925 Republican August 28, 1883 Wisconsin May 24, 1961 Louis L. Collins 32
33
21 Theodore Christianson TheodoreChristianson.jpg January 6, 1925 January 6, 1931 Republican September 12, 1883 Minnesota December 9, 1948 William I. Nolan 34
35
William I. Nolan[2]
Charles Edward Adams[3]
36
22 Floyd B. Olson Painting of Governor Floyd B. Olson..jpg January 6, 1931 August 22, 1936[5] Farmer-Labor November 13, 1891 Minnesota August 22, 1936 Henry M. Arens 37
Konrad K. Solberg 38
Hjalmar Petersen 39
23 Hjalmar Petersen Hjalmar Petersen.jpg August 22, 1936[3] January 4, 1937 Farmer-Labor January 2, 1890 Denmark March 29, 1968 William B. Richardson (acting)[6]
24 Elmer A. Benson Elmer Austin Benson.jpg January 4, 1937 January 2, 1939 Farmer-Labor September 22, 1895 Minnesota March 13, 1985 Gottfrid T. Lindsten 40
25 Harold E. Stassen HaroldStassenOfficialOil.jpg January 2, 1939 April 27, 1943 Republican April 13, 1907 Minnesota March 4, 2001 C. Elmer Anderson 41
42
Edward J. Thye 43
26 Edward J. Thye EdwardThye.jpg April 27, 1943 January 8, 1947 Republican April 26, 1896 South Dakota August 28, 1969 Archie H. Miller
C. Elmer Anderson 44
27 Luther W. Youngdahl Luther Youngdahl 1949.jpg January 8, 1947 September 27, 1951[2] Republican May 29, 1896 Minnesota June 21, 1978 C. Elmer Anderson 45
46
C. Elmer Anderson 47
28 C. Elmer Anderson September 27, 1951[3] January 2, 1955 Republican March 16, 1912 Minnesota January 22, 1998 vacant
Ancher Nelsen
vacant
48
Donald O. Wright
29 Orville L. Freeman Orville L. Freeman, Secretary of Agriculture (1961-1969).jpg January 5, 1955 January 2, 1961 Democratic-Farmer-Labor May 9, 1918 Minnesota February 20, 2003 Karl F. Rolvaag 49
50
51
30 Elmer L. Andersen January 2, 1961 March 25, 1963[7] Republican June 17, 1909 Illinois November 15, 2004 Karl F. Rolvaag 52
31 Karl F. Rolvaag Karl Rolvaag 1963.jpg March 25, 1963[7] January 2, 1967 Democratic-Farmer-Labor July 18, 1913 Minnesota December 20, 1990 Alexander M. Keith 53
32 Harold LeVander January 2, 1967 January 4, 1971 Republican October 10, 1910 Nebraska March 30, 1992 James B. Goetz 54
33 Wendell R. Anderson Wendell Anderson.jpg January 4, 1971 December 29, 1976[2] Democratic-Farmer-Labor February 1, 1933 Minnesota Rudy Perpich 55
Rudy Perpich 56
34 Rudy Perpich Rudy Perpich 1978.jpg December 29, 1976[3] January 4, 1979 Democratic-Farmer-Labor June 27, 1928 Minnesota September 21, 1995 Alec G. Olson[3]
35 Al Quie Albert Quie (2014).jpg January 4, 1979 January 3, 1983 Independent-Republican September 18, 1923 Minnesota Lou Wangberg 57
36 Rudy Perpich Rudy Perpich 1978.jpg January 3, 1983 January 7, 1991 Democratic-Farmer-Labor June 27, 1928 Minnesota September 21, 1995 Marlene Johnson 58
59
37 Arne H. Carlson ArneCarlson.jpg January 7, 1991 January 4, 1999 Independent-Republican/
Republican
September 24, 1934 New York Joanell M. Dyrstad 60
Joanne E. Benson 61
38 Jesse Ventura (James Janos)[8] Jesse Ventura.jpg January 4, 1999 January 6, 2003 Reform/Independence July 15, 1951 Minnesota Mae A. Schunk 62
39 Tim Pawlenty Tim Pawlenty official photo.jpg January 6, 2003 January 3, 2011 Republican November 27, 1960 Minnesota Carol Molnau 63
64
40 Mark Dayton Mark Dayton official photo.jpg January 3, 2011 Incumbent Democratic-Farmer-Labor January 26, 1947 Minnesota Yvonne Prettner Solon 65

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Table lists John Lind as a member of the Democratic Party. He was also endorsed by the Populist Party and the Silver Republican Party. Jesse Ventura left the Reform Party in the middle of his term and later joined the Independence Party of Minnesota.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Resigned.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Succeeded to office following death or resignation of previous officeholder.
  4. ^ Lind was also endorsed by the Populist Party and the Silver Republican Party.
  5. ^ a b c Died in office of natural causes.
  6. ^ Served as acting lieutenant governor and never took the oath of office.
  7. ^ a b A recount and subsequent litigation lasting 139 days delayed Karl Rolvaag's inauguration as governor.
  8. ^ Ventura's birth and legal name is James George Janos.

Notes on Minnesota political party names[edit]

Other high offices held[edit]

This is a table of congressional and other federal offices held by governors. All representatives and senators mentioned represented Minnesota except where noted. * denotes offices that the governor resigned to take.

Name Gubernatorial term U.S. Congress Other offices held
House Senate
Alexander Ramsey 1849–1853 (territorial)
1860–1863
H S* U.S. Secretary of War
Willis A. Gorman 1853–1857 (territorial) U.S. Representative (Indiana)
Henry H. Sibley 1858–1860 U.S. Congressional Delegate (Wisconsin Territory, Minnesota Territory)
Cushman K. Davis 1874–1876 S
Knute Nelson 1893–1895 H S*
John Lind 1899–1901 H
Winfield S. Hammond 1915 H
Theodore Christianson 1925–1931 H
Elmer A. Benson 1937–1939 S
Edward J. Thye 1943–1947 S
Luther W. Youngdahl 1947–1951 U.S. District Court Judge*
Orville L. Freeman 1955–1961 U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
Karl F. Rolvaag 1963–1967 U.S. Ambassador to Iceland
Wendell R. Anderson 1971–1976 S*
Al Quie 1979–1983 H
Mark Dayton 2011– S

Living former governors[edit]

As of August 2014, five former governors were alive, the oldest being Al Quie (1979–1983, born 1923). The most recent governor to die was Elmer L. Andersen (1961–1963), on November 15, 2004. The most recently serving governor to die was Rudy Perpich (1976–1979, 1983–1991), on September 21, 1995.

Name Gubernatorial term Date of birth
Wendell R. Anderson 1971–1976 (1933-02-01) February 1, 1933 (age 81)
Al Quie 1979–1983 (1923-09-18) September 18, 1923 (age 90)
Arne H. Carlson 1991–1999 (1934-09-24) September 24, 1934 (age 79)
Jesse Ventura 1999–2003 (1951-07-15) July 15, 1951 (age 63)
Tim Pawlenty 2003–2011 (1960-11-27) November 27, 1960 (age 53)

References[edit]

General
Specific