March of the Governors #25: Harold Stassen

March of the Governors #25: Harold Stassen
Paul Nelson with Ken Peterson

March of the Governors
Harold Stassen, Governor #25
March of the Governors Podcast #27
Harold Stassen, Minnesota’s twenty-fifth governor, is among our most intriguing. He sprang to national attention as the state’s “Boy Governor,” elected in 1938 at the age of thirty-one. Stassen was very popular in his time as governor because of success with the legislature and in administering state government. He went on to be a US Navy commander in WWII; one of eight US delegates to the 1945 UN Charter Assembly; a top presidential candidate in 1948; president of the University of Pennsylvania; and a member of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s cabinet. Stassen also is credited by many with leading and inspiring a long line of progressive leaders in Minnesota’s Republican Party.

Today, however, Stassen is sometimes remembered not for his political accomplishments but for the many unsuccessful runs for political office in his last three decades. As a result, Stassen has become a bit of a joke to some political observers instead of the multi-talented politician and public policy thinker that he was.

Official portrait of Harold Stassen by Carl Bohnen (1871-1951). Oil painting, 1943. Wikimedia Commons.