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John Sargent Pillsbury

Gov. John Sargent Pillsbury

  • January 7, 1876 - January 10, 1882
  • Republican
  • July 29, 1827
  • October 18, 1901
  • New Hampshire
  • Married Mahala Fisk; four children


JOHN S. PILLSBURY, the eighth governor of Minnesota, was born in Sutton, New Hampshire on July 28, 1827. His education was limited and attained in the common schools of his native state. In 1855, Pillsbury moved to Minnesota and settled in St. Anthony. He established a successful business career with holdings in the lumber, real estate and hardware industries. He eventually formed the C.A. Pillsbury Mill Company, which became the largest flour-milling business in the world. Pillsbury entered politics in 1858, serving as a member of the St. Anthony City Council, a position he held until 1864. He also was a member of the Minnesota State Senate from 1864 to 1868, 1871 and 1874 to 1875; and served on the board of regents of the University of Minnesota from 1863 to 1901. Pillsbury next secured the Republican gubernatorial nomination and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 2, 1875. He was reelected to a second term in 1877, and to a third term in 1879. During his tenure, biennial legislative sessions were authorized; an ongoing railroad bond issue was settled; construction on a state hospital for the insane in Rochester was completed; and a department for the feeble-minded was organized at the Faribault state school. After completing his term, Pillsbury left office on January 10, 1882, and retired from political life. Governor John S. Pillsbury passed away on October 18, 1901, and was buried in the Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, 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.

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