Alexander Ramsey

American politician (1815-1903)

Alexander Ramsey (September 8, 1815– April 22, 1903) was an American politician. He was born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Alexander Ramsey
Alexander Ramsey - Brady-Handy.jpg
34th United States Secretary of War
In office
December 10, 1879 – March 4, 1881
PresidentRutherford B. Hayes
Preceded byGeorge W. McCrary
Succeeded byRobert Todd Lincoln
2nd Governor of Minnesota
In office
January 2, 1860 – July 10, 1863
LieutenantIgnatius L. Donnelly
Preceded byHenry Hastings Sibley
Succeeded byHenry Adoniram Swift
1st Territorial Governor of Minnesota
In office
June 1, 1849 – May 15, 1853
Succeeded byWillis A. Gorman
Personal details
Born(1815-09-08)September 8, 1815
Hummelstown, Pennsylvania
DiedApril 22, 1903(1903-04-22) (aged 87)
St. Paul, Minnesota
Political partyWhig, Republican
Spouse(s)Anna Jenks
ProfessionPolitician, Lawyer

Ramsey was elected from Pennsylvania as a Whig to the U.S. House of Representatives and served in the 28th and 29th congresses from March 4, 1843 to March 3, 1847. He served as the first Territorial Governor of Minnesota June 1, 1849 to May 15, 1853 as a member of the Whig Party.

In 1855, he became the mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota. Ramsey was elected the second Governor of Minnesota after statehood and served from January 2, 1860 to July 10, 1863. Ramsey is credited with being the first Union governor to commit troops during the American Civil War (he happened to be in Washington, D.C. when fighting broke out). He resigned the governorship to become a U.S. Senator, having been elected to that post in 1863 as a Republican. He was re-elected in 1869 and held the office until March 3, 1875, serving in the 38th, 39th, 40th, 41st, 42nd, and 43rd congresses.

Ramsey served as Secretary of War from 1879 to 1881, under President Rutherford B. Hayes.


The Minnesota Historical Society preserves his home as a museum. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. Alexander Ramsey Park, located in Redwood Falls, Minnesota, is the largest municipal park in Minnesota. Ramsey County, Minnesota, Ramsey County, North Dakota, the city of Ramsey, Minnesota, the city of Ramsey, Illinois,[1] Ramsey Park in Stillwater, Minnesota, and Alexander Ramsey Elementary School in Montevideo, Minnesota are also named for him.


  1. Allan H. Keith, Historical Stories: About Greenville and Bond County, IL. Consulted on August 15, 2007.