J.A.A. Burnquist

Joseph Alfred A. Burnquist, St. Paul, 1922. Location no. por 7733 Lee 2 J.A.A. Burnquist was born in Dayton, Iowa, on July 21, 1879, but he received his post secondary education in Minnesota, earning his B.A. from Carleton College in 1902 and his LL.B. from the University of Minnesota in 1905. He began his career as a lawyer that same year, and within four years he won his first race for public office, as a Minnesota state representative. After winning re-election in 1910 Burnquist was nominated to be the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in 1912. He won that office and served first under Adolph Eberhart (1913-1915) and then under Winfield Hammond (1915). When Governor Hammond died unexpectedly at the end of 1915, Burnquist assumed the governor's office. He won re-election himself two more times, serving for a total of just over five years (1915-1921). While governor, the legislature passed important legislation, including the Equal Suffrage Amendment—giving women the right to vote—and a uniform sales act designed to break up monopolies. The act for which he is best known, though, was his creation of the Minnesota Commission of Public Safety. Although it was formed to maintain law and order and ensure that Minnesota would contribute to the war effort, it soon gained a reputation for repressing German-Americans, pacifists, and radicals, including members of unions, the Nonpartisan League, and the Industrial Workers of the World. After his tenure as governor, Burnquist went back to his law practice. In 1939, he re-emerged from private life to become Minnesota's attorney general, a post he held until 1955. He died January 12, 1961, in Minneapolis.


  • Minnesota Biographical Dictionary
    New York: Somerset Publishers, 1993.
    MHS call number: Reading Room F605 .M72 1993
  • Minnesota and its People, edited by J.A.A. Burnquist.
    This book is a compilation of short biographies edited by Gov. Burnquist, including one he wrote about himself.
    Chicago: S.J. Clark Publishing Co., 1924.
    MHS call number: F606 .B96
  • Watchdog of Loyalty, by Carl H. Chrislock.
    St. Paul, Minn.: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1991.
    MHS call number: Reading Room D570.8.C8 M63 1991


  • J. A. A. Burnquist Papers
    These are Gov. Burnquist's personal papers documenting his life and the progression of both his private public careers. Some topics include the League of Nations, the soldiers' bonus bill, and his activities in the Republican Party, but perhaps most notable are those papers from 1917 to 1920 covering the Minnesota Commission of Public Safety.
    MHS call number: P448; see the green Manuscripts Notebooks-filed under P448 (there are 28 boxes of material).
  • Records of Governor J.A.A. Burnquist
    Gov. Burnquist's official records consist mostly of correspondence on public policy matters and official documents relating to state departments and agencies.
    MHS call number: See the black State Archives Notebooks-filed under Governor: Burnquist (1915-1921).
  • Inaugural Messages of J.A.A. Burnquist
    The Minnesota Historical Society has copies of the inaugural addresses delivered by Gov. Burnquist in 1917 and 1919.
    MHS call number: J87 .M62 1917 and J87 .M62 1919
  • E. George Hall Papers
    Hall was deeply involved in the labor movement in Minnesota. His papers contain mostly newspaper clippings regarding organized labor's attitudes toward World War I, the League of Nations, and the Nonpartisan League as well as information about people either involved in the labor movement or politics, including Gov. Burnquist.
    MHS call number: M493 (there are three rolls of microfilm).
    Note: Microfilm may be borrowed on Interlibrary Loan.
  • Pamphlets
    The Minnesota Historical Society has a number of pamphlets concerning Gov. Burnquist. Some attack him or his positions; others elucidate his own stance. A few of these are:
    • "Aiding the Enemies of Our Nation," by J.A.A. Burnquist.
      MHS call number: JK2391.N42 N39 No.158
    • "What Will You Do About This?" by C.W. Barnes.
      MHS call number: JK2391.N42 N39 No.189
    • "Why Burnquist Cannot Run on His Record," by C.W. Barnes.
      MHS call number: JK2391.N42 N39 No.41
  • Newspapers that may be useful for this topic:
    • Minneapolis Journal
    • Minneapolis Labor Review
    • Minneapolis Star
    • Minneapolis Tribune
    • St. Paul Dispatch
    • St. Paul Pioneer Press
  • Visual Resources Database subjects that may be useful for this topic:
  • Check the library catalog for other materials.