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John Burke
North Dakota

Gov. John Burke

  • January 9, 1907 - January 8, 1913
  • Democratic
  • February 25, 1859
  • May 14, 1937
  • Iowa
  • University of Iowa
  • Married Mary E. Kane; three children


JOHN BURKE, the tenth governor of North Dakota, was born in Sigourney (now Harper), Iowa on February 25, 1859. His education was attained at the University of Iowa, where he earned a law degree in 1886. After establishing his legal career in Iowa and Minnesota, Burke moved to Rolette County, North Dakota. He first entered politics in 1891, serving as a member of the North Dakota House of Representatives, a position he held two years. He also was a member of the North Dakota State Senate from 1893 to 1897; and served as a Rolette County judge for two terms from 1889 to 1891 and 1897 to 1899. Burke next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote in the 1906 general election. He went on to win reelection to a second term in 1908, as well as to a third term in 1910. During his tenure, a state tuberculosis sanitarium was initiated; child labor laws were improved; a juvenile court system was established; and a corrupt practice bill was sanctioned. After leaving the governorship, Burke served as the U.S. treasurer, an office he held from 1913 to 1921. He also served on the North Dakota Supreme Court bench from 1924 to 1937, serving as chief justice from 1929 to 1931 and 1935 to 1937. Governor John Burke passed away on May 14, 1937, and was buried in the St. Mary’s Cemetery in Bismarck, North Dakota.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

University of North Dakota

North Dakota State Government

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