David M. Clough Biography

What Minnesota's thirteenth governor lacked in polish and erudition he made up for in drive and common sense. The fourth of fourteen children of New England farmers who resettled near the Rum River, David Clough helped his family eke out a scanty living from the land by raising crops and cutting timber. His boyhood experiences would serve him well as both an entrepreneur and public servant in a state where agriculture and lumber dominated the economy.

Clough’s first business venture, a logging operation he founded at twenty, lifted him from poverty and launched him on a path toward wealth and political prominence. He moved to Minneapolis in 1872 and was elected to the city council eleven years later and then to the state Senate. From the Senate, he advanced to the office of lieutenant governor under Republican Knute Nelson, whose election to the U.S. Senate moved Clough, also a Republican, into the governor’s office.

Clough’s first administration was notable for the ratification of significant amendments to the state constitution, including those establishing a Board of Pardons, withdrawing the right of aliens to vote, and authorizing municipalities to frame “home rule” charters. During his second term, narrowly won in 1896, the legislature raised taxes on several private industries and enacted child-labor laws.

In 1900 the redoubtable railroad magnate James J. Hill urged Clough to establish a lumber operation near Puget Sound. Until his death in 1924 at age 78, the logger-turned-lumber-baron lived in Everett, Washington, where he championed the interests of the mill owners against their employees’ unionization efforts.