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Alexander Ramsey

Gov. Alexander Ramsey

  • January 2, 1860 - July 10, 1863
  • Republican
  • September 8, 1815
  • April 22, 1903
  • Pennsylvania
  • Lafayette College
  • Married Anna Earl Jenks; three children
  • Resigned
  • Representative, Senator, Cabinet secretary


ALEXANDER RAMSEY, the second governor of Minnesota, was born in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania on September 8, 1815. His early education was attained in the common schools of his native state, and later at Lafayette College in Easton. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1839, and then established his legal career in Harrisburg. Ramsey entered politics in 1840, serving as the secretary to the electoral college of Pennsylvania. He was the clerk of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1841 and served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1843 to 1847. He also served as the territorial governor of Minnesota from 1849 to 1853 and was the mayor of St. Paul in 1855. Ramsey next secured the Republican gubernatorial nomination and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 8, 1859. He was elected to a second term in 1861. During his tenure, tax reduction was promoted; and fiscal economy was endorsed. Also, the Civil War started and troops were raised for the war effort. Ramsey resigned from office on July 10, 1863, upon his election to the U.S. Senate, a position he held until 1875. From 1879 to 1881 he served in President Hayes’ cabinet as secretary of war. He also chaired the Edmunds Commission that dealt with the question of Mormonism in Utah. Governor Alexander Ramsey passed away on April 22, 1903 and was buried in the Oakland Cemetery in St. Paul, Minnesota.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Minnesota Historical Society

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