List of Governors of Minnesota

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Number of Governors of Minnesota by party affiliation[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 military and navy 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 not born in the United States: Knute Nelson in Norway, John Lind and Adolph O. Eberhart in Sweden and Hjalmar Petersen in Denmark. Sixteen out of forty governors who served in office were born in Minnesota. Five governors have resigned from office and three have died in office.


Territorial Governors

#GovernorTook officeLeft officePartyAppointed byNotes
1Alexander RamseyAlexander Ramsey - Brady-Handy.jpgJune 1, 1849May 15, 1853WhigZachary Taylor
2Willis A. GormanWillisGorman.jpgMay 15, 1853April 23, 1857DemocraticFranklin Pierce
3Samuel MedarySamuelMedary.jpgApril 23, 1857May 24, 1858DemocraticJames Buchanan

State Governors

#GovernorTook officeLeft officePartyDate of BirthPlace of BirthDate of DeathLieutenant Governor(s)NotesTerm
1Henry H. SibleyHHSibley-official.jpgMay 24, 1858January 2, 1860DemocraticFebruary 20, 1811MichiganFebruary 18, 1891William Holcombe1
2Alexander RamseyRamseyOilCrop.jpgJanuary 2, 1860July 10, 1863[2]RepublicanSeptember 8, 1815PennsylvaniaApril 22, 1903Ignatius L. Donnelly2
Ignatius L. Donnelly[2]
Henry A. Swift[3]
3Henry A. SwiftHASwift-official.jpgJuly 10, 1863[3]January 11, 1864RepublicanMarch 23, 1823OhioFebruary 25, 1869vacant
4Stephen MillerStephenMiller.jpgJanuary 11, 1864January 8, 1866RepublicanJanuary 7, 1816PennsylvaniaAugust 18, 1881Charles D. Sherwood4
5William R. MarshallWRMarshall.jpgJanuary 8, 1866January 9, 1870RepublicanOctober 17, 1825MissouriJanuary 8, 1896Thomas H. Armstrong5
6Horace AustinHAustin.jpgJanuary 9, 1870January 7, 1874RepublicanOctober 15, 1831ConnecticutNovember 2, 1905William H. Yale7
7Cushman K. DavisCushmanDavisOil.jpgJanuary 7, 1874January 7, 1876RepublicanJune 16, 1838New YorkNovember 27, 1900Alphonso Barto9
8John S. PillsburyJohnSPills.jpgJanuary 7, 1876January 10, 1882RepublicanJuly 29, 1827New HampshireOctober 18, 1901James B. Wakefield10
Charles A. Gilman12
9Lucius F. HubbardLFHubbard-official.jpgJanuary 10, 1882January 5, 1887RepublicanJanuary 26, 1836New YorkFebruary 5, 1913Charles A. Gilman13
10Andrew R. McGillAndrewMcgill.jpgJanuary 5, 1887January 9, 1889RepublicanFebruary 19, 1840PennsylvaniaOctober 31, 1905Albert E. Rice15
11William R. MerriamWilliamMerriam.jpgJanuary 4, 1889January 9, 1893RepublicanJuly 26, 1849New YorkFebruary 18, 1931Albert E. Rice16
Gideon S. Ives17
12Knute NelsonKnute Nelson portrait 1895.jpgJanuary 4, 1893January 31, 1895[2]RepublicanFebruary 2, 1843NorwayApril 28, 1923David M. Clough18
13David M. CloughDMClough-official.jpgJanuary 31, 1895[3]January 2, 1899RepublicanDecember 27, 1846New HampshireAugust 28, 1924Frank A. Day19
John L. Gibbs20
14John LindJLind-official.jpgJanuary 2, 1899January 7, 1901Democratic[4]March 25, 1854SwedenSeptember 18, 1930Lyndon A. Smith21
15Samuel R. Van SantSRVanSant-official.jpgJanuary 7, 1901January 4, 1905RepublicanMay 11, 1844IllinoisOctober 3, 1936Lyndon A. Smith22
Ray W. Jones23
16John A. JohnsonJohnJohnson.jpgJanuary 4, 1905September 21, 1909[5]DemocraticJuly 28, 1861MinnesotaSeptember 21, 1909Ray W. Jones24
Adolph O. Eberhart25
17Adolph O. EberhartAOEberhart-official.jpgSeptember 21, 1909[3]January 5, 1915RepublicanJune 23, 1870SwedenDecember 6, 1944Edward E. Smith[3]26
Samuel Y. Gordon27
J. A. A. Burnquist28
18Winfield S. HammondWinfieldSHammond.jpgJanuary 5, 1915December 30, 1915[5]DemocraticNovember 17, 1863MassachusettsDecember 30, 1915J. A. A. Burnquist29
19J. A. A. BurnquistJAABurnquist-official.jpgDecember 30, 1915[3]January 5, 1921RepublicanJuly 21, 1879IowaJanuary 12, 1961George H. Sullivan[3]29
Thomas Frankson30
20J. A. O. PreusJacobPreus.jpgJanuary 5, 1921January 6, 1925RepublicanAugust 28, 1883WisconsinMay 24, 1961Louis L. Collins32
21Theodore ChristiansonTheodoreChristianson.jpgJanuary 6, 1925January 6, 1931RepublicanSeptember 12, 1883MinnesotaDecember 9, 1948William I. Nolan34
William I. Nolan[2]
Charles Edward Adams[3]
22Floyd B. OlsonPainting of Governor Floyd B. Olson..jpgJanuary 6, 1931August 22, 1936[5]Farmer-LaborNovember 13, 1891MinnesotaAugust 22, 1936Henry M. Arens37
Konrad K. Solberg38
Hjalmar Petersen39
23Hjalmar PetersenHjalmar Petersen.jpgAugust 22, 1936[3]January 4, 1937Farmer-LaborJanuary 2, 1890DenmarkMarch 29, 1968William B. Richardson (acting)[6]
24Elmer A. BensonElmer Austin Benson.jpgJanuary 4, 1937January 2, 1939Farmer-LaborSeptember 22, 1895MinnesotaMarch 13, 1985Gottfrid T. Lindsten40
25Harold E. StassenHaroldStassenOfficialOil.jpgJanuary 2, 1939April 27, 1943RepublicanApril 13, 1907MinnesotaMarch 4, 2001C. Elmer Anderson41
Edward J. Thye43
26Edward J. ThyeEdwardThye.jpgApril 27, 1943January 8, 1947RepublicanApril 26, 1896South DakotaAugust 28, 1969Archie H. Miller
C. Elmer Anderson44
27Luther W. YoungdahlJanuary 8, 1947September 27, 1951[2]RepublicanMay 29, 1896MinnesotaJune 21, 1978C. Elmer Anderson45
C. Elmer Anderson47
28C. Elmer AndersonSeptember 27, 1951[3]January 2, 1955RepublicanMarch 16, 1912MinnesotaJanuary 22, 1998vacant
Ancher Nelsen
Donald O. Wright
29Orville L. FreemanOrville L. Freeman, Secretary of Agriculture (1961-1969).jpgJanuary 5, 1955January 2, 1961Democratic-Farmer-LaborMay 9, 1918MinnesotaFebruary 20, 2003Karl F. Rolvaag49
30Elmer L. AndersenJanuary 2, 1961March 25, 1963[7]RepublicanJune 17, 1909IllinoisNovember 15, 2004Karl F. Rolvaag52
31Karl F. RolvaagMarch 25, 1963[7]January 2, 1967Democratic-Farmer-LaborJuly 18, 1913MinnesotaDecember 20, 1990Alexander M. Keith53
32Harold LeVanderJanuary 2, 1967January 4, 1971RepublicanOctober 10, 1910NebraskaMarch 30, 1992James B. Goetz54
33Wendell R. AndersonWendell Anderson.jpgJanuary 4, 1971December 29, 1976[2]Democratic-Farmer-LaborFebruary 1, 1933MinnesotaRudy Perpich55
Rudy Perpich56
34Rudy PerpichDecember 29, 1976[3]January 4, 1979Democratic-Farmer-LaborJune 27, 1928MinnesotaSeptember 21, 1995Alec G. Olson[3]
35Al QuieJanuary 4, 1979January 3, 1983Independent-RepublicanSeptember 18, 1923MinnesotaLou Wangberg57
36Rudy PerpichJanuary 3, 1983January 7, 1991Democratic-Farmer-LaborJune 27, 1928MinnesotaSeptember 21, 1995Marlene Johnson58
37Arne H. CarlsonArneCarlson.jpgJanuary 7, 1991January 4, 1999Independent-Republican/
September 24, 1934New YorkJoanell M. Dyrstad60
Joanne E. Benson61
38Jesse Ventura[8]Jesse Ventura.jpgJanuary 4, 1999January 6, 2003Reform/IndependenceJuly 15, 1951MinnesotaMae A. Schunk62
39Tim PawlentyTim Pawlenty official photo.jpgJanuary 6, 2003January 3, 2011RepublicanNovember 27, 1960MinnesotaCarol Molnau63
40Mark DaytonMark Dayton official photo.jpgJanuary 3, 2011IncumbentDemocratic-Farmer-LaborJanuary 26, 1947MinnesotaYvonne Prettner Solon65

See also


  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

Other high offices held

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

NameGubernatorial termU.S. CongressOther offices held
Alexander Ramsey1849–1853 (territorial)
HS*U.S. Secretary of War
Willis A. Gorman1853–1857 (territorial)U.S. Representative (Indiana)
Henry H. Sibley1858–1860U.S. Congressional Delegate (Wisconsin Territory, Minnesota Territory)
Cushman K. Davis1874–1876S
Knute Nelson1893–1895HS*
John Lind1899–1901H
Winfield S. Hammond1915H
Theodore Christianson1925–1931H
Elmer A. Benson1937–1939S
Edward J. Thye1943–1947S
Luther W. Youngdahl1947–1951U.S. District Court Judge*
Orville L. Freeman1955–1961U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
Karl F. Rolvaag1963–1967U.S. Ambassador to Iceland
Wendell R. Anderson1971–1976S*
Al Quie1979–1983H
Mark Dayton2011–S

Living former governors

As of April 2011, 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.

NameGubernatorial termDate of birth
Wendell R. Anderson1971–1976(1933-02-01) February 1, 1933 (age 79)
Al Quie1979–1983(1923-09-18) September 18, 1923 (age 89)
Arne H. Carlson1991–1999(1934-09-24) September 24, 1934 (age 78)
Jesse Ventura1999–2003(1951-07-15) July 15, 1951 (age 61)
Tim Pawlenty2003–2011(1960-11-27) November 27, 1960 (age 51)