John A. Johnson: The People’s Governor
by Winifred G. Helmes
University of Minnesota Press, 1949
Paper: 978-0-8166-5784-1


John A. Johnson was first published in 1949. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

The first native-born governor of Minnesota, and the only Democrat to have been elected to that office three times, was also the first Minnesotan to have a presidential nomination within his grasp.

This study of a man who was, perhaps, the state's most beloved chief executive is a warm, fast-moving personal biography and an engrossing piece of political history.

The issues, personalities, shifting political currents, and party cleavages, state and national, of the early 1900s live again in the full recounting of the political campaigns of that era. One chapter is devoted to the 1908 Democratic National Convention at which Johnson's name was place in nomination for the presidency—the convention which chose William Jennings Bryan as its standard-bearer for the third and last time.

Johnson was a man of buoyant spirit and great personal charm, and the story of his life again dramatizes the American tradition that by force of character a man can lift himself from the humblest beginnings. At the time of his death in 1909 the warships in New York harbor dropped their flags to half-mast, and hundreds of memorial services were held throughout the nation. Many believed that, had he lived, Johnson would have won the presidential nomination and election in 1912.

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