Harold Stassen

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Harold Edward Stassen​

In office
Preceded by George William McClelland​
Succeeded by William Hagan DuBarry (acting)​

In office
January 7, 1941 – June 21, 1942
Preceded by ​William Henry Vanderbilt, III, of Rhode Island
Succeeded by Herbert O'Conor of Maryland

In office
January 2, 1939​ – April 27, 1943
Preceded by Elmer Austin Benson​
Succeeded by Edward John Thye

Born April 13, 1907​
West St. Paul, Dakota County, Minnesota​
Died March 4, 2001 (aged 93)
Bloomington, Hennepin County
Resting place Acacia Cemetery in Mendota Heights, Dakota County, Minnesota
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Esther Ethel Glewwe Stassen (married 1929–2000, her death)​
Children Glen Harold Stassen (deceased)
Alma mater University of Minnesota (B.A. and LLB)
Occupation Attorney; Educator; Politician

United States Navy in World War II

Military Service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1942–1945
Rank Captain
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Legion of Merit

Harold Edward Stassen (April 13, 1907 – March 4, 2001) was a Moderate Republican who was the youngest person elected as the governor of a U.S. state – Minnesota – in 1938.[1][2] He still holds that designation.[3] Democrat Bill Clinton was elected in Arkansas in 1978, the second youngest person elected as a governor. Despite his early success in Minnesota politics, over the years the Moderate Republican Stassen became known as a perennial candidate for many offices, including U.S. President, U.S. Senator, and governor of Pennsylvania and mayor of Philadelphia, where he moved in 1948 to become the president of the University of Pennsylvania.[1]

Early life and career

Stassen was the third of five children of German and Czech extraction born in West St. Paul in Dakota County, Minnesota, to William Andrew Stassen (1873–1962), who was the mayor of West St. Paul, and the former Elsie Emma Mueller (1876–1959). Stassen married the former Esther Ethel Glewwe (1906–2000). The Stassens had a son, Glen Harold Stassen (1936–2014).

Political career

He was elected to three two-year terms as governor but resigned in 1943 to join the United States Navy,[1] in which he became an aide to Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr. In 1940, he had delivered the keynote address at the Republican National Convention held in Philadelphia.[1] In 1952, Stassen again ran for president but shifted his support at a critical time in the convention in Chicago to Dwight Eisenhower, who then won the nomination over Robert A. Taft of Ohio and the general election over the Democrat former governor of Illinois, Adlai Stevenson. Stassen then served in the Eisenhower administration as the director of the United States Foreign Operations Administration and the Mutual Security Agency.

His strongest of the losing campaigns occurred in 1948, when Stassen, initially favored to win the presidential nomination, lost out on the third convention ballot to fellow Moderate Republican Thomas E. Dewey, then the governor of New York. In that race, the two debated on radio days prior to the Oregon primary, the first time candidates had faced off in the media. An issue that separated them was Stassen's support for outlawing the Communist Party in the United States. Dewey took the view that regulation of the communist activities should be monitored but that the radical elements could not be simply be "outlawed."

In 1956, Stassen launched his unsuccessful "Dump Nixon" movement intended to convince Eisenhower to drop Vice President Richard M. Nixon from their reelection bid, again against Adlai Stevenson. Between 1958 and 1990, he campaigned unsuccessfully for a plethora of political offices. He ran again for the presidential nominations in 1964, losing to Barry Goldwater of Arizona, in 1968 against the victorious Richard Nixon, in 1976 against Gerald Ford, who won the nomination against Ronald W. Reagan but then lost in the fall to Georgia Democratic former Governor Jimmy Carter, and in 1980 against the victorious Reagan. In 1992, Stassen opposed the re-nomination of President George Herbert Walker Bush and ran in the primaries, along with the journalist, Pat Buchanan, who finished with only eighteen delegate votes.

Stassen died at the age of ninety-three in Bloomington in Hennepin County, Minnesota. He and his family are interred at Acacia Cemetery in Mendota Heights in Dakota County.[4] He received his bachelor's degree and LLB from the University of Minnesota.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Harold Edward Stassen. Penn University Archives & Records Center. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  2. MN Governor Race - Nov 08, 1938. Our Campaigns. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  3. Harold E. Stassen: "Boy Governor" & Presidential Hopeful: Overview. Minnesota History Center: Gale Family Library. Retrieved on June 5, 2020.
  4. Harold Edward Stassen. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on June 5, 2020.

External links