WILLIAM R. MERRIAM, the eleventh governor of Minnesota, was born in Wadham’s Mills, New York on July 26, 1849. His education was attained at Racine College, where he graduated in 1871. He established a successful banking career in St. Paul, Minnesota, and became president of the Merchants National Bank in 1880. Merriam first entered politics in 1883, serving as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, a position he was reelected to in 1886, and in which he also served as speaker in 1887. He next secured the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 6, 1888. He was reelected to a second term in 1890. During his tenure, the state deficit was reduced; the state’s iron ore industry flourished; a state hospital for the insane was established in Fergus Hills; and the Australian ballot system was implemented. After completing his term, Merriam left office on January 4, 1893. He continued to stay politically active, serving as a delegate to the 1903 Republican National Convention, as well as serving as the U.S. Census director, a position he held from 1899 to 1903. Governor William R. Merriam passed away on February 18, 1931 in Fort Sewell, Florida.
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.