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Harold E. Stassen: "Boy Governor" & Presidential Hopeful: Overview

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Harold Stassen, 1939

Harold Stassen is known for his many contributions to Minnesota and to the United States in his long career. Born in 1907 on a farm in Dakota County, Stassen graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1929. An attorney in South St. Paul, Stassen was elected Governor of Minnesota in 1938 at the young age of 31. Known as the “boy governor,” Stassen was the youngest person elected to that post. Stassen was reelected in 1940 and in 1942.

He resigned as governor of Minnesota in 1943 to take a key post in the Navy, serving as chief of staff for Admiral William F. Halsey in the South Pacific. Stassen had an illustrious military career and was appointed by President Roosevelt as a delegate to the United Nations charter conference in 1945. There, he played key roles in the development of the United Nations Charter and positioning the United States as a world leader.

Stassen was a strong contender for the Republican nomination for president in 1948 but was defeated by Thomas Dewey at the G.O.P. national convention. He went on to serve as president of the University of Pennsylvania from 1948-1953. Stassen also ran a strong campaign against Senator Robert Taft of Ohio for the 1952 Republican presidential nomination, but both Stassen and Taft were defeated by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Stassen continued to run for the Republican nomination for President until 1992.

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