SAMUEL R. VAN SANT, the fifteenth governor of Minnesota, was born in Rock Island, Illinois on May 11, 1844. His early education was attained in the public schools of his native state, and later he attended Knox College for two years. Van Sant worked with his father in the steamboat building business. During the Civil War, he served in Company A, of the 9th Illinois Cavalry as a corporal. Van Sant entered politics in 1893, serving as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, a position he held two years. He also served as speaker of the house in 1895. Van Sant next secured the Republican gubernatorial nomination and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 6, 1900. He was reelected to a second term in 1902. During his tenure, a state board of control was formed; tax reform measures were sanctioned; and a railroad consortium was disbanded. After declining to run for reelection, Van Sant left office on January 4, 1905, and retired from political life. He later served as the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a post he held from 1909 to 1910. Governor Samuel R. Van Sant passed away on October 3, 1936, and was buried in the Glendale Cemetery in LeClaire, Iowa.
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.