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Lucius Hubbard Biography

The life of Lucius Hubbard typified that of many Minnesota leaders during the late 19th century. He was an easterner who moved west to seek his fortune, served with distinction in the Civil War, and possessed business and political acumen, considerable ambition, and a high level of energy.

Orphaned at ten, Hubbard first worked as a tinsmith in the east and then in Chicago. At age 21 he moved to Red Wing with an old hand-operated printing press and some type; within two months he was publisher and editor of the Red Wing Republican, in which he promoted his strong political views.

After serving in the Fifth Minnesota Regiment during the Civil War–rising to the rank of Colonel–Hubbard returned to Red Wing, where he simultaneously engaged in milling and railroading. He won election to the state senate, completing his second term in 1875. A partner in the Midland Railroad, he also presided over operations of the Cannon Valley Railroad until his gubernatorial election in 1881.

Hubbard forcefully urged government intervention in public health, corrections, charities, railroads, agriculture, and commerce, and the legislature complied by increasing the state's regulatory and licensing powers. His second term lasted three years, in accordance with a state constitutional amendment to have state, county, and federal biennial elections all coincide.

In 1887 Hubbard took over operations of yet another railroad. When America declared war against Spain in 1898, President William McKinley asked the 62-year-old brigadier general to oversee a military post in Florida. Two years later, Hubbard moved to St. Paul and then to Minneapolis, where he died at 77.