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Samuel Moffett Ralston

Gov. Samuel Moffett Ralston

  • January 13, 1913 - January 8, 1917
  • Democrat
  • December 1, 1857
  • October 14, 1925
  • Ohio
  • Central Normal College
  • Married twice--Mary Josephine Backous, Jennie Crave; three children
  • Senator


SAMUEL MOFFETT RALSTON, Indiana’s twenty-eighth governor, was born near New Cumberland, Tuscarawas County, Ohio, on December 1, 1857. His early education was attained in the common schools of Owen County, Indiana, where his parents settled in 1865. He attended the Northern Indiana School in Valparaiso, and graduated from Central Normal College in Danville in 1884. He then studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1886, and established a successful legal career in Lebanon. Ralston entered politics in 1888, serving as a presidential elector on the Democratic ticket, a position he held again in 1892. He ran as an unsuccessful candidate for secretary of state in 1898, and was unsuccessful in his bid for governor in 1908. However, four years later he won the 1912 Democratic gubernatorial nomination and was sworn into the governorship on January 13, 1913. During his tenure, the Indiana historical commission was established, as well as a public service commission and a highway commission. Several laws were enacted, which included a workmen’s compensation act, an inheritance tax law, a vocational training law, and a primary election law. Also, the state park system was initiated, industrial aid for the blind was sanctioned, and a state farm for short-term criminals was created. After Ralston left office on January 8, 1917, he returned to his law practice in Indianapolis. In 1922, he won election to the U.S. Senate, serving until his death. Governor Samuel M. Ralston passed away on October 14, 1925, and was buried at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Lebanon, Indiana.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 17891978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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