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Harold Stassen Biography - Page 1

Harold Stassen was born on a farm in Dakota County, Minnesota on April 13, 1907, the fourth of William A. and Elsie (Mueller) Stassen's five children. He graduated from St. Paul's Humboldt High School at the age of 14 and received his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1929.

Stassen opened his first law office in South St. Paul in November 1929, with Elmer J. Ryan as his partner. He was elected Dakota County attorney the same year and served two terms. In 1938, at the age of 31, Harold Stassen was elected governor of Minnesota, the youngest governor in the state's history. He was re-elected governor in 1940 and again in 1942.

Four months into his third term Stassen resigned and enlisted in the Navy (April 27, 1943). He served as Admiral William F. Halsey's assistant chief of staff, was decorated three times, awarded six major battle stars, and was in charge of the Navy's prisoner evacuation program in Japan. He was released from active service on November 15, 1945. During his Naval service Stassen was selected by President Roosevelt as a delegate to the United Nations charter conference in San Francisco (April-June 1945).

Stassen was a strong contender for the 1948 Republican nomination for U.S. president but was defeated by Thomas Dewey at the G.O.P. national convention. Following the campaign Stassen served as president of the University of Pennsylvania (1948-1953). Stassen also ran a strong campaign against Senator Robert Taft of Ohio for the 1952 Republican presidential nomination, but both Stassen and Taft were defeated by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In 1953 President Eisenhower chose Stassen as a member of his cabinet and the National Security Council. He served as director of the Mutual Security Agency and the Foreign Operations Administration. In 1955 Eisenhower appointed Stassen as Special Assistant to the President for Disarmament Policy and was the chief U.S. negotiator at the 1957 London Arms Control Negotiations.