MARTIN FREDERICK ANSEL was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He was educated in the common schools of Walhalla, South Carolina, going on to study law and winning admission to the South Carolina Bar in 1870. He practiced law in Franklin, North Carolina for a number of years, after which he opened a law office in Greenville, South Carolina. He was a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives for three terms and served for more than a decade as Solicitor for the Eighth Judicial District of South Carolina. Although an unsuccessful candidate for governor in 1902, he won election to the office in 1906 and was reelected in 1908. During his administration, the dispensary system for liquor that had been established during the administration of Governor Benjamin Tillman was abolished, and statewide prohibition was adopted. Also, the state Audubon Society was chartered, high schools were placed under state supervision, a Confederate Veterans Home was established, a State Health Office was appointed, and the State Insurance Department was organized. After leaving office, Ansel returned to his private law practice in Greenville.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 14. New York: James T. White & Company.