Civil War Minnesota Prisoner Governor Senator Congressman Signature Autograph For SaleKnute Nelson
(1843 - 1923)
Powerful United States Congressman, Senator, and Governor of Minnesota! Nelson served as an officer with the Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War; was wounded and taken prisoner at Port Hudson, La., 1863! He went on to be a driving influence in the United States Senate! Here's an Autograph Signature Card Signed by Nelson, "Knute Nelson, Minnesota" The Tariff referenced by Nelson in the letter is the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act of 1909 which began in the United States House of Representatives as a bill lowering certain tariffs on goods entering the United States. It was the first change in tariff laws since the Dingley Act of 1897. Because the Republican Party had called for reduction of the tariff in 1908, President William Howard Taft held a special session in Congress in 1909 to discuss the issue. Thus, the House of Representatives immediately passed a tariff bill sponsored by Sereno E. Payne calling for reduced tariffs. However, the United States Senate speedily substituted a bill written by Nelson W. Aldrich calling for fewer reductions and more increases in tariffs. By the time it ran through the Senate, there had been tacked on so many amendments to the original bill that it raised many tariff standings. 650 tariff schedules were lowered, 220 raised, and 1,150 left unchanged. Congress passed the bill officially on April 9, 1909. The bill greatly angered Progressives. The debate over the tariff split the Republican Party into Progressives and Old Guards and led the split party to lose the 1910 congressional election. In the 1912 presidential elections, because of the split votes amongst Republicans in most states, Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson was elected as president in 1912. The DOCUMENT MEASURES 4" X 2 1/4" & IS IN VERY GOOD, CLEAN CONDITION - APPEARS NICER THAN THE SCANNED IMAGE! A RARE PIECE OF MINNESOTA POLITICAL HISTORY TO ADD TO YOUR AUTOGRAPH & MANUSCRIPT COLLECTION! <<<>>> BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF THE HONORABLE KNUTE NELSON FROM MINNESOTA <<<>>> Nelson, Knute (2 Feb. 1843-28 Apr. 1923), congressman, U.S. senator, and governor of Minnesota, was born in Evanger, Voss, Norway, the illegitimate son of Helge Knudtson and Ingeborg Kuilekval Johanson, probably farmers. His mother brought him to the United States in 1849. After a brief sojourn in Chicago, the two moved to La Grange, Wisconsin, where Ingeborg married Norwegian immigrant farmer Nels Nelson, whose surname was taken by young Knute. Removing to Deerfield, Wisconsin, near Madison, the young man labored on his stepfather's farm and attended the local common school and Albion Academy, where he worked for the principal to earn tuition and room and board. After teaching in a district school during the winter of 1860-1861, Nelson enlisted in the Fourth Wisconsin Infantry and served from 1861 to 1863, rising to the rank of corporal. He participated in the operations against New Orleans and Vicksburg under Generals Benjamin Butler and William Tecumseh Sherman, respectively, and was wounded and taken prisoner for a month during the siege of Port Hudson. Returning to Wisconsin at the completion of his enlistment, Nelson reentered Albion Academy and completed his Ph.B. in 1865. After reading law with future U.S. senator William F. Vilas in Madison for two years, he was admitted to the state bar in 1867 and practiced in Cambridge, Wisconsin. During his four years there, Nelson served a term in the state legislature, launching a political career that was to span over a half-century. In 1869 he married Nicoline Jacobson; they had six children, of whom only two survived into adulthood. In 1871 Nelson relocated to Alexandria, Minnesota, a frontier county seat, where he served as county attorney, state senator, and University of Minnesota regent during the next decade. In addition, he homesteaded on government land and practiced law, managing "to get on one side or the other of about every case of importance in the six or seven counties in my part of the country." Elected to Congress as a Republican in 1882 after a bitter nomination battle that split the party, he served three terms, declining a fourth in 1888. Representing a new rural, agricultural district consisting of twenty-nine northern counties that were heavily Norwegian and Swedish, Nelson, the first immigrant from either of these countries to serve in the Congress, was something less than a heavily partisan Republican congressman. He favored lower tariff rates and railroad regulation while seeking to open American Indian lands to white settlement and to construct a canal linking Lake Superior to interior waters. After practicing law for four years, Nelson was nominated by his party for governor in an effort to prevent Norwegian-American defections to the burgeoning People's party. As chief executive, he strove to co-opt and moderate Populist proposals, favoring state inspection and ownership of grain elevators and a tax on the gross earnings of corporations. Elected governor in 1892 and 1894, he resigned in 1895 after being chosen for the U.S. Senate, a position he held until his death. Independent, forthright, and politically astute, Nelson generally succeeded in remaining in the good graces of both regular and insurgent Republicans during the titanic struggle that rent the party in two during the height of the Progressive Era. A member of the committees on Indian Affairs and Public Lands and eventual chairman of the Judiciary Committee, he diligently pursued the interests of midwestern farmers and merchants while steering a middle course on the divisive issues of the period. Although generally voting with the regular Republicans on economic matters, Nelson supported tariff reduction, the federal income tax amendment, strengthening the Interstate Commerce Commission, and enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. He authored the Nelson Bankruptcy Act of 1898 to permit debtors to achieve solvency and the legislation establishing the Department of Commerce and Labor in 1902. He also led the unsuccessful opposition to the adoption of the Adamson Act, providing for an eight-hour day for railroad employees, because he opposed the growing power of the Railway Brotherhoods and saw the act as a possible step toward nationalization. True to his Scandinavian Protestant roots and those of much of his constituency, Nelson strongly advocated the national Prohibition amendment and the Volstead joint federal-state enforcement legislation. A "mild reservationist," Nelson generally backed Democratic president Woodrow Wilson during the bitter struggle over the Versailles treaty and the League of Nations and was the only Republican to oppose the Knox Resolution, which would have allowed the United States to retain "all the advantages accruing to it" upon ratifying either the treaty or the league charter. Dubbed "the Grand Old Man of Minnesota" and the "hardest working man on the Hill" by journalists, Nelson was so unassuming that he frequently signed his name "K. Nelson, farmer." At home in Minnesota, he generally donned boots and overalls to work with the hired men on his farm and insisted on being called "Uncle Knute" rather than "Senator" or "Governor." He died on a train near Timonium, Maryland, en route to his home in Alexandria, Minnesota. Bibliography All previous writings on Nelson's life and career are superseded by Millard L. Gieske and Steven J. Keillor, Norwegian Moses: Knute Nelson and the Failure of American Politics, 1860-1923 (1995). This biography is firmly grounded in materials found in the seventy-nine boxes of Nelson's personal papers housed in the Archives Division of the Minnesota Historical Society. It greatly expands on Gieske's "The Politics of Knute Nelson, 1912-1920" (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Minnesota, 1965), which concentrates heavily on Nelson's role in the political conflict over U.S. involvement in World War I and the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles. The earliest biography, Martin W. Odland, The Life of Knute Nelson (1926), is generally uncritical but useful for its reproduction of numerous letters by and about Nelson. While Rolfsrud Erling Nicolai, Scandinavian Moses: The Story of Knute Nelson (1986), stresses Nelson's skillful practice of ethnocultural politics, it provides little scholarly analysis. A laudatory contemporary account is "Knute Nelson," Minnesota Historical Society Bulletin 5 (1924): 329-47. Nelson's obituary is in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, 29 and 30 Apr. 1923. [Source: American National Biography]
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