Orville L. Freeman Photograph in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
|16th U.S. Secretary of Agriculture|
January 20, 1961 – January 21, 1969
|President||John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
|Preceded by||Ezra Taft Benson|
|Succeeded by||Clifford M. Hardin|
|29th Governor of Minnesota|
January 5, 1955 – January 2, 1961
|Preceded by||C. Elmer Anderson|
|Succeeded by||Elmer L. Andersen|
|Born||Orville Lothrop Freeman
May 9, 1918
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
|Died||February 20, 2003
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
|Resting place||Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.|
|Political party||Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party|
|Spouse(s)||Jane Shields Freeman (m. 1942 – 2003; his death)|
|Children||Michael Orville Freeman
Constance Jane Freeman
|Parents||Orville Freeman (merchant)
Frances Schroeder Freeman
|Alma mater||University of Minnesota (B.A, J.D)|
|Battles/wars||World War II
* Battle of Bougainville
Orville Lothrop Freeman (May 9, 1918 – February 20, 2003) was an American Democratic politician who served as the 29th Governor of Minnesota from January 5, 1955 to January 2, 1961, and as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1961 to 1969 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He was one of the founding members of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and strongly influential in the merger of the pre-DFL Minnesota Democratic and Farmer-Labor Parties. Freeman nominated Kennedy for President at the 1960 Democratic Party national convention.
Freeman was born on May 9, 1918, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was of Swedish and Norwegian ancestry. Freeman is best remembered for initiating the Food Stamp Program for the poor, which is still in use today. Freeman was a 1940 graduate of the University of Minnesota, where he met his lifelong friend and political ally, Hubert H. Humphrey. He also met his wife, Jane Charlotte Shields, in college. They married on May 2, 1942. Orville and Jane Freeman had two children, Michael Orville and Constance Jane Freeman. During World War II, Freeman served as a combat officer in United States Marine Corps and achieved the rank of Major.
Marine Corps service
Figuring that the United States would eventually become involved in World War II, Freeman signed up for the Marine Reserves in late 1940 with the understanding he could finish law school before fulfilling his required service. The attack on Pearl Harbor changed that agreement, and on December 31, 1941 he received orders to report to Officer Candidate School at Marine Corps Base Quantico.
After graduating OCS and follow training to be an infantry officer, he reported to Camp Elliot which was just outside San Diego, California. He was soon assigned to the 9th Marine Regiment, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines. His unit eventually shipped out overseas for periods of training in New Zealand and Guadalcanal.
On November 1, 1943 he saw his first combat when his unit came ashore at Torokina on Bougainville in what were the first battles of the Bougainville Campaign. A few days later, while leading a patrol, he encountered a group of 5 or 6 Japanese soldiers in a clearing. An exchange of gunfire followed, and Freeman was wounded in the jaw and left arm. Eventually, he was evacuated to an Army hospital on New Caledonia and then to a Naval hospital on Noumea. He returned to the United States in 1944 but never recovered enough movement in his arm to pass a Marine Corps physical and return to combat.
Post-war and political career
He earned his LL.B. from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1946. Freeman went on to practice law in Minneapolis. He ran unsuccessfully for attorney general of Minnesota in 1950 and for governor in 1952.
Freeman was elected Governor in 1954, and was subsequently re-elected in 1956 and 1958. As governor, Freeman took the unusual action of declaring martial law in the city of Albert Lea on December 11, 1959, to maintain law and order during a strike at the Wilson Packing Company. After twelve days, a federal court ruled that the Governor's imposition of martial law was inappropriate. Also while serving as governor, on November 13, 1955, Freeman was a guest on the variety show Toast of the Town (which would later be called The Ed Sullivan Show). In July 1960, Freeman nominated then-U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts for President at the Democratic National Convention. Following his defeat for re-election as Governor in 1960, Freeman was appointed as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture by the newly elected President John F. Kennedy, and was retained in that post by President Lyndon B. Johnson following Kennedy's assassination in November 22, 1963 serving until January 21, 1969.
Awards and decorations
Known decorations and medals include:
|Purple Heart||Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ service star||World War II Victory Medal|
- Berry (1982), p.149-162.
- Stout, David (February 22, 2003). "Orville Freeman, 84, Dies; 60's Agriculture Secretary". The New York Times. p. B6. Retrieved January 30, 2010.
- "Martial Law Ordered in Meat Strike", Oakland Tribune, December 11, 1959, p1; "Court Ends Wilson Closure", December 23, 1959, p4
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Orville Freeman.|
- The Personal papers of Orville Freeman are available for research use at the Minnesota Historical Society.
- Oral History Interviews with Orville Freeman, from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library
C. Elmer Anderson
|Governor of Minnesota
1955 – 1961
Elmer L. Andersen
Ezra Taft Benson
|U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
Served under: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson
Clifford M. Hardin
|Party political offices|
Harry H. Peterson
|Endorsed Gubernatorial Candidate,
Minnesota DFL State Convention
1952, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960
|DFL nominee for Governor of Minnesota
1952, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960