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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 58


This is the grave of Harold Stassen.


Born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1907, Harold Stassen attended the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1929. He became a fast riser in the Minnesota and national Republican Party. He was elected governor of Minnesota in 1938, at the very young age of 31. He gave the keynote at the RNC in 1940 and was a big booster of Wendell Willkie. He won reelection in 1940 and 1942 and supported FDR’s foreign policy of internationalism. Seeking military service, he left the statehouse in April 1943 and joined the U.S. Naval Reserve. He then joined the staff of Admiral William Halsey, leaving the military with the rank of Captain in 1945. He was involved in the creation of the United Nations and one was on the signatories on the UN Charter. But he also lost of his political base during the war. He was no longer a rising star. But that was not for lack of trying. He ran for the Republican nomination in 1944. And then again in 1948. And then in 1952. And then in 1964, 1968, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992. After 1952, he was not a legitimate contender any more and became known as a joke, which is a bit sad given his star power earlier in his career. In 1948, he came legitimately close to taking the nomination away from Thomas Dewey and the debate between the the two the night before the Oregon primary was the first recorded debate in presidential history. As we saw in 2016, this tradition has only led the most dignified moments over the years. Stassen also ran for governor of Pennsylvania, where he moved after the war, in 1958 and 1966 but wasn’t successful in his new home either.

Sadly, no one has ever played Harold Stassen in the movies or TV. He was however evidently on Letterman in 1980 and appeared in a couple of newsreels earlier in his career.

Harold Stassen is buried in Acacia Park Cemetery, Mendota Heights, Minnesota.

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