JESSE FULLER MCDONALD, Colorado’s 16th governor, was born in Ashtabula, Ohio, on June 30, 1858. After completing his education in Ohio’s public school system, he studied civil engineering and surveying. McDonald moved to Leadville, Colorado, in 1879, and started his career in mining. Five years later, he formed a partnership with George M. Robinson, and became the owner of several lucrative mines, including the Harvard, Penrose and El Dorado. McDonald entered politics as mayor of Leadville, a position he held from 1899 to 1905. He served in Colorado’s senate in 1902, and as Colorado’s lieutenant governor in 1904. Alva Adams won the 1904 gubernatorial election and took office on January 1905. However, the Republican candidate James H. Peabody contested the election, and the predominately Republican legislature forced Governor Adams to step down. The office was allocated to Peabody on the condition that he would immediately resign. Lieutenant Governor Jesse F. McDonald succeeded him, and in the span of one day Colorado had three different governors. During McDonald’s tenure, he advocated the protection of state lands, and personally appraised property guaranteeing the state would be granted a reasonable price. A law was enacted making it illegal for employees to picket and hinder workers who were trying to enter mines, and Colorado’s income flourished with the arrival of several large sugar beet companies into the area. McDonald did not seek reelection in 1906 but ran unsuccessfully in the 1908 gubernatorial election. He stayed active in public service, serving as chair of the Republican State Central Committee from 1910 to 1914, and again from 1931 to 1934. He also devoted his time to the American Mining Congress, the Colorado Mining Association, and the State Metal Mining Fund. Governor Jesse McDonald died on February 25, 1942 and had his ashes scattered around Denver.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.