Harold E. Stassen

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Winning Nomination

Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen transformed our state by providing quality, honest, and intelligent leadership. He transformed our country through his service as a serving line officer during World War II, as a candidate for U.S. President in 1948, and as an advisor to presidents from the time he was governor to his years with President Eisenhower. He transformed our world by being largely responsible for the creation of the United Nations and his long fight to make sure that there would be no Third World War. He interacted with all the great and terrible leaders of the world from 1938 - 1960, and many beyond that time. In the end he was a decent, honest, brilliant, capable, and dedicated public servant that typifies the best of Minnesota and Minnesotans!

I would like to add that I had the great pleasure and deep honor to have known and worked with Governor Stassen, from his 1986 endorsement for Congress to his death. I have a personal video interview with him from 1995 on the anniversary of the end of World War II. I have heard and have written about his many stories from the time he was a County Attorney to the end. He was the greatest man I have ever, or will ever, meet.
~Warren N. Anderson, Jr., St Paul, MN

Runner-up Nominations

He was elected Governor of Minnesota at age 31 - the youngest to serve in U.S. history.

He served as a Commander and Captain in World War II and served under Admiral Halsey.

He was chosen by F.D. Roosevelt to be U.S. representative in the creation of the United Nations charter.

He was a contender to represent the Republican Party as a presidential candidate in 1948.

Despite the ridicule he received as a prennial office seeker in his later years of life, he left a legacy of national significance and is one of the most distinguished Minnesotans in the last 150 years.
~Brian Pease, St. Paul, MN

Arguably, one of the most significent Minnesotans in the 20th century. Not only was he an intellectual politican and far- thinking, he transformed Minnesota politics - serving as the youngest Governor in U.S. history, served in WWII under Admiral Halsey - in command of rescue operations to free U.S. POWS in Japan, the last surviving signer of the UN Charter,and a presidential contender. I have a hard time seeing those Minnesota political leaders already on the list having as much impact as this native son of the state of Minnesota. Besides, it might balance your exhibit ticket politically to include at least one prominent Minnesota Republican politican.
~Brian Pease

Harold Stassen did many things for our state and our country, not the least of them being his efforts to establish the United Nations. Although some ridiculed him as a perennial non-winning candidate for president, he sacrificed his own power at times for things such as service to his country in the Navy during WWII and marching to Washington DC alongside Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights Era. He was the youngest man ever voted governor of Minnesota and he was married to his wife for 70 years! He always strove to reach his potential, whatever that might be, and never gave up. I think that we can be proud of him on several counts, but most especially for the hand he had in establishing the United Nations and for the example he set as a man who lived his values and didn't just mouth them.
~Elizabeth Fisher, Brooklyn Park, MN

Reform governor of the 1930s. Tank Commander World War Two. Signer of the United Nations Charter. Perennial candidate for President.
~Joseph M. Kustritz, Saint Cloud, MN

In many ways, Harold Stassen introduced the political world to Minnesota by being elected the youngest person ever to serve as governor, by positioning himself for worldwide media coverage on the national scene during his WWII escapades and his renowed work at the United Nations Charter meetings as he headed into the 1948 Republican Convention. Generations of brash, young attorney types followed in his footsteps on both sides of the political aisle for generations. I still find activists who talk about him and his solid foundation in the old moderate Republican party that always made Minnesota a great place to enjoy politics. Of course, his contributions to the United Nations, to the Eisenhower presidency and to the University of Pennsylvania are part of his legacy as well. Stassen, Anderson, Humphrey, Mondale, Wellstone - they were all part of Minnesota's political legacy that has shaped our reputation to the rest of the country.
~Lois Glewwe, South St Paul, MN




He started early and never gave up

"He ran for president in 1948, and really didn't stop." That's how Chris Georgacas, a longtime member of the Metropolitan Council, once described Harold Stassen in the second half of his long political career. But to characterize Stassen as only a perennial presidential candidate--he ran nine times--is to leave out the most significant details of his life story.

Harold Stassen grew up on a farm in what is now West St. Paul and finished high school when he was fourteen. He graduated from the University of Minnesota at nineteen; by the time he was twenty-one, he had completed his law degree. In 1930, at age twenty-three, Stassen was elected Dakota County attorney. He was a moderate Republican who shared beliefs with members of the Democratic and Farmer-Labor parties that then dominated Minnesota politics. "I was always an advocate of the right of labor to organize, and more liberal and humanitarian policies for the country," Stassen said in 1997.

A charismatic public speaker with a passion for politics, Stassen was only thirty-one when he was elected governor of Minnesota in 1938. He was re-elected twice; in 1943, four months into his third term, he resigned and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He distinguished himself as a soldier and as a statesman during the war years, serving as Admiral William F. Halsey's assistant chief of staff, receiving six major battle stars, and heading the navy's prisoner evacuation program in Japan.

Stassen's most significant moment during his military service, however, came when President Franklin Roosevelt picked him as one of eight American delegates to the United Nations charter conference in 1945. Long an advocate for world peace, Stassen had spoken of a world association of free nations in his 1940 keynote address at the Republican National Convention; after addressing the U.S. Senate on the topic in 1943, he authored "We Need a World Government" for the Saturday Evening Post. Stassen was a key player as the UN charter took shape, later being named one of the group's two most effective delegates by a journalists' group, and on June 26, 1945, he signed the charter. Stassen died in 2001 and he was the last living American signer of that historic document.

Harold Stassen was a strong contender for the 1948 Republican presidential nomination but lost to Thomas Dewey. He was president of the University of Pennsylvania from 1948 to 1953 and then served under Dwight Eisenhower as a cabinet member and on the National Security Council until 1958. He returned to St. Paul in 1978, where he maintained a law practice until his death at age ninety-three.

Resource Links

Harold Stassen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

MNHS.ORG : Governors of Minnesota | Harold E. (Edward) Stassen

May/June Gazette: Obits: Harold Stassen

Truman Library - Harold Stassen Oral History Interview

United Nations : Library : MNHS.ORG

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