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Elmer Austin Benson

Gov. Elmer Austin Benson

  • January 4, 1937 - January 2, 1939
  • Farmer-Labor
  • September 2, 1895
  • March 13, 1985
  • Minnesota
  • St. Paul College
  • Married Frances Miller; two children
  • Senator
  • Army


ELMER A. BENSON, the twenty-fourth governor of Minnesota, was born in Appleton, Minnesota on September 2, 1895. His early education was attained in the Minnesota public schools, and later at St. Paul College, where he earned a law degree in 1918. During World War I, he served two years in the U.S. Army as a private. After his military service, he established a career in the banking industry and in the retail sales business. Benson entered into a public service career in 1933, serving as the state commissioner of securities, as well as serving as the state commissioner of banks from 1933 to 1935. He also was appointed to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate, a position he held from 1935 to 1936. Benson next secured the Farmer-Labor gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 3, 1936. During his tenure, a state geographic board was formed; county welfare boards were organized; compensation insurance for employers was initiated; and state taxes on homesteads was eliminated. After running unsuccessfully for reelection, Benson left office on January 2, 1939. He also was defeated in his 1940 and 1942 bids for the U.S. Senate. Governor Elmer A. Benson passed away on March 13, 1985, and was buried in the Appleton Cemetery in Appleton, 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.

Minnesota Historical Society

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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