John Albert Johnson
|John Albert Johnson|
Governor John Albert Johnson
|16th Governor of Minnesota|
January 4, 1905 – September 21, 1909
|Lieutenant||Ray W. Jones
Adolph Olson Eberhart
|Preceded by||Samuel Rinnah Van Sant|
|Succeeded by||Adolph Olson Eberhart|
September 21, 1909
|Spouse(s)||Elinore "Nora" Preston|
John Albert Johnson (July 28, 1861 – September 21, 1909) was an American politician. He served in the Minnesota State Senate from January 1897 to January 1901. He was the 16th Governor of Minnesota from January 4, 1905 until his death on September 21, 1909. He was a Democrat.
He was the first governor born in Minnesota to serve in office. He was only the second non-Republican governor in the previous 50 years and third since statehood. Lieutenant Governor Adolph Olson Eberhart became Governor upon the death of Governor Johnson.
Even if he had not been the first governor born in Minnesota, the first to serve a full term in the present state capitol, and the first to die in office, Johnson would still be remembered as one of the state's most courageous and charismatic leaders. He also was the first Minnesota governor to bask, fleetingly, in the national spotlight when he sought the 1908 Democratic presidential nomination but lost to William Jennings Bryan.
The eldest child of an impoverished Swedish family abandoned by an alcoholic father, Johnson left school at 13 to support his mother and siblings. Local Democrats, impressed with the enterprising young store clerk, asked him to join their party and edit the strongly Democratic St. Peter Herald. His journalistic success attracted statewide attention and fostered political aspirations.
He failed in early campaigns for state office from his heavily Republican home county but finally was elected to the state senate in 1898, indicating his growing bipartisan appeal. Elected governor three times—in 1904, 1906, and 1908—Johnson's ability to reason and work with legislators of both parties resulted in such reform legislation as reorganization of the state's insurance department to the benefit of policyholders, reduction of railroad passenger and freight rates, and removal of constitutional restraints on the legislature's power to tax.
Johnson began his third term with reservations. His health was precarious, and he wanted to pursue a promising sideline as a public orator. When he died suddenly at the age of 48 following surgery at the Mayo Clinic, the state's citizens—whom he had served and charmed—were grief-stricken.
Governor John Johnson was the first of three governors to die in office. Governor Winfield Scott Hammond was the second Minnesota governor to die in office after suffering a stroke in 1915. Floyd B. Olson was the third and most recent governor to die in office when he died of cancer in 1936.
Statues of him are prominently located on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol and on the grounds of the Nicollet County Court House. Johnson Senior High School in St. Paul is also named for him. The portion of U.S. Route 169 from Saint Peter to the Twin Cities is named in his honor.
The John A. Johnson School in Virginia, Minnesota was built in 1907.
- Schmahl, Julius. Legislative Manual Minnesota 1909. Harrison & Smith Company. p. 662.
- John Albert Johnson on Find-A-Grave
- Minnesota Legislators Past and Present
- John Albert Johnson photos at the Minnesota Historical Society.
- Biographical information and his gubernatorial records are available for research use at the Minnesota Historical Society.
Samuel Rinnah Van Sant
|Governor of Minnesota
1905 – 1909
Adolph Olson Eberhart