NELSON, Knute (1843-1923)
Senate Years of Service: 1895-1923

NELSON, KNUTE, a Representative and a Senator from Minnesota; born in Voss, Norway, February 2, 1843; immigrated to the United States in 1849 with his mother, settled in Chicago, Ill.; moved to Wisconsin in 1850; attended the common schools and Albion Academy, Albion, Wis.; taught school; served as a private and noncommissioned officer with the Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War; wounded and taken prisoner at Port Hudson, La., 1863; at the close of the war he returned to Albion College and completed the course; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1867 and commenced practice in Cambridge, Wis.; member, Wisconsin assembly 1868-1869; moved to Alexandria, Douglas County, Minn., in 1871; county attorney 1872-1874; member, State senate 1874-1878; presidential elector on the Republican ticket in 1880; member of the board of regents of the University of Minnesota 1882-1893; elected as a Republican to the Forty-eighth, Forty-ninth, and Fiftieth Congresses (March 4, 1883-March 3, 1889); was not a candidate for renomination in 1888; elected Governor of Minnesota in 1892; reelected in 1894 and served until January 31, 1895, when he resigned, preparatory to becoming Senator; elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1895; reelected in 1901, 1907, 1912, and 1918 and served from March 4, 1895, until his death; chairman, Committee on the Improvement of the Mississippi River and Its Tributaries (Fifty-fourth through Sixtieth Congresses), Committee on Public Lands (Sixtieth through Sixty-second Congresses), Committee on Commerce (Sixty-second Congress), Committee on the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians (Sixty-third through Sixty-fifth Congresses), Committee on Private Land Claims (Sixty-fifth Congress), Committee on the Judiciary (Sixty-sixth and Sixty-seventh Congresses); died on a train near Timonium, Md., April 28, 1923, while en route to his home; interment in Kinkead Cemetery, Alexandria, Minn.

Columbia University
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
New York, NY
Papers: 1 official letter (July 7, 1897) in the Holls collection; and 1 official letter (July 26, 1886) in the Charlemagne Tower collection.

Minnesota Historical Society
St. Paul, MN
Papers: 1861-1924 (bulk 1916-1923). 82 feet. Correspondence and papers chiefly relating to Senate service. Topics include relations with the Scandinavians in the U.S., legal problems concerning land, the Republican party and politics in MN, World War I, tariff legislation, currency, banking, taxation, labor issues, foreign relations and trade issues, Indian conditions, prohibition, and agriculture. Also 2 boxes of gubernatorial papers, 1892-1895, including materials relating to an assassination plot, appointments, Board of State Capitol Commissioners, and the Coal Combine Investigating committee. Letters sent as governor available on microfilm. Also portrait. Finding aids for senatorial and gubernatorial papers available online.
Papers: Political correspondence in papers of Simon Michelet, 1908-1943, secretary to Senator Nelson from 1918 to 1923; items in Channing Seabury and family papers, 1854-1955; Solon J. Buck papers, 1902-1935; Sons of the American Revolution, Minnesota Society records, 1889-1966; Mathias N. Koll papers, 1880-1971 (bulk 1910-1934); and Minnesota State Board of Immigration correspondence, 1911; and several others.

Norwegian-American Historical Association
Northfield, MN
Papers: 1860-1966. 40 items. Biography, clippings, correspondence, genealogy, and speeches.

State Historical Society of Wisconsin
Madison, WI
Papers: In Julius Emil Olson papers, 1871-1941.

University of Oklahoma
Carl Albert Center Congressional Archives
Norman, OK
Papers: In William August Schaper papers, 1909-1957.

  • Adams, Elmer Ellsworth. "The Nelson-Kindred Campaign of 1882.'' Minnesota History Bulletin 5 (1923): 87-107.
  • Andersen, Arlow W. "Senator Knute Nelson: Minnesota's Grand Old Man and the Norwegian Immigrant Press.'' In Makers of an American Immigrant Legacy: Essays in Honor of Kenneth O. Bjork, edited by Odd S. Lovoll, pp. 29-49. Northfield, MN: Norwegian-American Historical Association, 1980.
  • Bjorgan, George R. "The Success Story of an Immigrant.'' Ph.D. dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1967.
  • Gieske, Millard Louis. "The Politics of Knute Nelson, 1912-1920.'' Ph.D. dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1965.
  • Gieseke, Millard L., and Steven J. Keillor. Norwegian Yankee: Knute Nelson and the Failure of American Politics, 1880-1923. Northfield, MN: Norwegian-American Historical Association, 1995.
  • Odland, Martin Wendell. The Life of Knute Nelson. Minneapolis: Lund Press, 1926.
  • Preus, Jacob A.O. "Knute Nelson.'' Minnesota History Bulletin 5 (February 1924): 329-52.
  • Stenholt, Lars A. Knute Nelson. Minneapolis: W. Kriedt, 1896.
  • U.S. Congress. Senate. Knute Nelson. Memorial Addresses Delivered in the United States Senate in Memory of Knute Nelson, Late a Senator from Minnesota. 68th Cong., 1st sess., 1923-1924. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1925.