Black and white photograph of Governor Elmer Benson (center right) at a conference with American Gas Machine Company strike representatives in Albert Lea, 1937.

Elmer Benson with strike representatives

Governor Elmer Benson (center right) at a conference with American Gas Machine Company strike representatives in Albert Lea, 1937.

Black and white photograph of Governor Elmer Benson with Vice President Henry Wallace, c.1939.

Governor Elmer Benson with Vice President Henry Wallace

Governor Elmer Benson with Vice President Henry Wallace, c.1939.

Black and white photograph of Governor Elmer Benson eating breakfast with his family at their cabin on the North shore of Lake Superior, 1937.

Governor Elmer Benson eating breakfast with his family

Governor Elmer Benson eating breakfast with his family at their cabin on the North shore of Lake Superior, 1937.

Black and white photograph of Elmer Benson waving from a campaign train, c.1936.

Elmer Benson waving from a campaign train

Elmer Benson waving from a campaign train, c.1936.

Black and white photograph of the inauguration of Elmer Benson as governor of Minnesota,1937. Photographed by the St. Paul Daily News.

The inauguration of Elmer Benson

The inauguration of Elmer Benson as governor of Minnesota,1937. Photographed by the St. Paul Daily News.

Black and white photograph of Elmer A. Benson during his tenure as state banking commissioner, c.1934. Photographed by the St. Paul Daily News.

Elmer A. Benson as state banking commissioner

Elmer A. Benson during his tenure as state banking commissioner, c.1934. Photographed by the St. Paul Daily News.

Black and white photograph of Elmer Benson giving a speech, c.1937.

Elmer Benson giving a speech

Elmer Benson giving a speech, c.1937.

Black and white photograph of Elmer Benson at his desk, c.1934. Photographed by the St. Paul Daily News.

Elmer Benson at his desk

Elmer Benson at his desk, c.1934. Photographed by the St. Paul Daily News.

Black and white photograph of Governor Elmer Benson, c.1938.

Governor Elmer Benson

Governor Elmer Benson, c.1938.

Benson, Elmer (1895–1985)

Elmer Benson was elected in 1936 as Minnesota’s second Farmer-Labor Party governor with over 58 percent of the vote. He was defeated only two years later by an even larger margin. An outspoken champion of Minnesota’s workers and family farmers, Benson lacked the political gifts of his charismatic predecessor, Floyd B. Olson. However, many of his proposals—at first considered radical—became law in the decades that followed.

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