John Albert Johnson (March of the Governors Series #17)
Minnesota’s sixteenth governor, John Albert Johnson, was our fourth from St. Peter. He had a “rags-to-riches Horatio Alger life.” The son of Swedish immigrants, he quit school at age twelve to support his mother and siblings. Self-educated, he eventually became a newspaper editor, state legislator, and was elected governor three times. If he hadn’t died during his third term at the age of forty-seven, Johnson would have likely been a serious candidate for the presidency in 1912. His priorities in office were those of the Progressive Era—improved conservation, making the tax system more fair, better regulation of business, and protection for workers. Johnson unsuccessfully urged women’s suffrage, ending capital punishment, and direct election of US senators. One of our most popular governors, today, his statue stands in front of the state capitol.