A Great Danish American Birthday - Hjalmar Petersen

  • January 02, 2022
  • January 02, 2025
  • 4 sessions
  • January 02, 2022 (CST)
  • January 02, 2023 (CST)
  • January 02, 2024 (CST)
  • January 02, 2025 (CST)


Hjalmar Petersen (January 2, 1890 – March 29, 1968) was an American politician who served as the 23rd Governor of MinnesotaPetersen was born in Eskildstrup, Denmark (Island of Falser) and came to America as an infant when his parents immigrated. His formal schooling ended at age fourteen, when he became an employee of the Tyler Journal in the community where his parents had settled.His career in journalism culminated in his purchase in 1914 of the Askov American in Askov, Minnesota, a weekly newspaper he owned for the rest of his life.

After serving as Askov's village clerk and mayor, Petersen won two terms in the Minnesota Legislature, where he sponsored the state income-tax law and urged that tax revenues be spent on public education. Before he ran for the Minnesota Legislature he had been a member of the Republican Party. By the time he ran for office he was a member of the Farmer-Labor Party. He served in the legislature from 1931 to 1934, representing the old House District 56.

Petersen was elected the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota in 1934 and served with Governor Floyd B. Olson. He was sworn in as governor two days after Olson died of cancer on August 22, 1936.  During his tenure, the federal unemployment insurance law was initiated; several labor disputes were dealt with; and significant judicial appointments were approved. After serving 134 days as governor, Petersen left office on January 2, 1936.  He served the remainder of Olson's term but declined to run for governor himself in the November general election, opting instead to launch a successful bid for Railroad and Warehouse Commissioner, a position he then assumed after leaving the governship on January 4, 1937. He later ran for governor in 1940 and 1942, losing both times to Harold Stassen.  After his term as governor, he served as the president of the American Publishing Company.

As the home of Hjalmar Petersen, Askov played an important role in Minnesota’s political life during the 1930s and 1940s. Hjalmar Petersen was a leader in the Farmer-Labor party, and was the founder and editor of the local newspaper, the Askov American, in which he expressed his political philosophy and which, for a time, had the largest circulation in the country for a newspaper published in a community of its size. The newspaper has never missed an issue since 1914 and is the most widely read newspaper in northern Pine County. The newspaper continues to play an important part in Askov’s economic and cultural life.

Petersen was married twice, first to Rigmor C. Wosgaard in 1914 and later to Medora Grandprey in 1934. He died in 1968 in Columbus, Ohio. - Wikipedia

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