We make the following excerpts from the "Lives of the
Governors of Minnesota," written by Gen.
J. H. Baker in 1906 and 1907, for the
Minnesota Historical Society:
ANDREW RYAN McGILL—Tenth Governor—
* * * * *
But the tocsin of war roused his
patriotic heart, and we find him deserting the school room and enlisting as
a private in Captain Asgrim K. Skar’s Company "D" of the Ninth Minnesota
Regiment, August 19, 1862, at the age of twenty-two. He was elected first
sergeant. His service was on the frontier against the Sioux Indians in their
memorable outbreak. He was posted at St. Peter and was present as a guard at
the hanging of the condemned Sioux at Mankato, December
where the writer, who was in command at that most
extraordinary execution first knew young McGill.
He served with fidelity for
one year and was discharged for serious disability August i8, 1863, and none
too soon, for only nursing and care for weeks and months brought him back to
health, but not to a degree to make it advisable for him to re-enlist, which
was to him then, and afterwards, a great regret.
* * * * *
Andrew R. McGill was
inaugurated as Governor January 5, 1887. A careful examination of his
inaugural address and the regular biennial address January 9, 1889, exhibit
the character and purposes of the man in an exalted light. With unfaltering
resolution he intelligently maintained his principles. The record shows
* * * * *
administration was characterized by faithful and meritorious work in many
other directions. He urged the simplification of the tax laws, the
abolishment of contract prison labor and the establishment of that noble
institution, the Soldiers' Home. These all stand to his favor and credit.
The wisdom of these measures is more apparent as time advances and their
repeal has never been attempted. He advocated greater supervision of
railroads, as to transportation, freight and passenger rates, and was the
first Governor to recommend the abolishing of the issuance of free passes.
His friends may well be proud
of his fearless and manly records, and the judgment of posterity will crown
his name with honor. No odor of jobbery, nor fumes of the political pit rise
against him ; no private or public scandal ever raised a whisper against his
* * * * *
In 1898 and again in 1903 he
was elected State Senator for the 37th Senatorial District. His legislative
career was marked by a close application to duty and a conscientious
exercise of his senatorial prerogatives. He was the pronounced enemy of all
vicious legislation, and the friend of all needful reforms. He was the
spokesman of the old soldier on the floor of the Senate. It was chiefly
through his influence that the noble monument was erected to the Minnesota
soldiers who fell at Vicksburg.
He participated influentially
in the movement to organize Acker Post 21, G. A. R., and always took an
active interest in its proceedings.
* * * * *
He took a profound interest
in the public schools and had served as President of the St. Paul Board of
Governor McGill was justly
esteemed as a citizen and a man. His affections bound him to his country and
to his friends and family-always kind and considerate of friend or foe, with
a personal deportment beyond the reach of criticism, his constant civilities
won upon all. Anger and resentment were unknown to him in his conduct of
life. He was always, and at all times, and above all, a gentleman. He was
truly the gentleman in politics.
Modest by nature he was truly
indifferent to publicity and notoriety. Above all, he possessed a spotless
character; and character, like gold coin, passes current among all men and
in all countries. His private life was pure and sweet and his friendship a
* * * * *
Governor McGill died suddenly
on the morning of October 31, 1905, at his residence, No. 2203 Scudder
avenue, St. Anthony Park, with scarcely a
premonition of his end. An affection of the heart with
which he had suffered for years was the cause of his death. His wish that he
might be at home when the end came was gratified.
By order of the Governor of the State,
the flags on both the old and new Capitols were drooped at half-mast, and
the Governor’s office was appropriately draped in black. His funeral rites
were very simple, in strict accordance with his own often expressed
wish. There were no public services, and the Rev. S. G. Smith, pastor of the
People’s church, officiated at the family residence.
Four men who had been Governors of
Minnesota were among the honorary pallbearers, namely:
Horace Austin, L. F. Hubbard, S. R.
Van Sant and John A. Johnson. Members of the Acker Post G. A. R., attended
in a body, as did also the Post-office employes.
(From The National Tribune,
March 15, 1906.)
Death of a Minnesota Comrade
Whose Life Was One of Good Works.
By Captain Henry A. Castle.
(Formerly Auditor of the
Treasury for the Post-office Department).
Few members of the Grand Army
of the Republic have the disposition and the opportunity to practice all its
principles on so extended a scale and with such beneficial results as may be
truthfully recorded of a distinguished ex-soldier, who is now sincerely
mourned by his comrades and fellow-citizens of Minnesota.
Andrew Ryan McGill, First
Sergeant, Company D, 9th Minnesota, State Senator, Postmaster of St. Paul
and ex-Governor of Minnesota, died suddenly Oct. 31st, 1905, at his
residence in St. Paul, at the age of 65 years.
Andrew R. McGill was born in
Pennsylvania of Revolutionary ancestry, February 19, 1840. He grew up in
that state, came to Minnesota in 1861, and settled at St. Peter, Nicollet
county. Here he served in a number of capacities, being Superintendent of
Schools and Clerk of Courts. He studied law and was admitted to the bar, but
other activities prevented the career he had mapped out for himself in that
honorable profession. He was for a considerable period editor of the St.
When Horace Austin became
Governor of Minnesota in 1870, he made Mr. McGill his private secretary. In
I873 he was appointed Insurance Commissioner, in which position he served
till 1886, when he was himself nominated and elected Governor of the State.
Governor McGill's previous
experience admirably equipped him for the position. His administration of
the Executive Office was independent and able, commanding respect at the
time and approved by impartial history.
Retiring from the Executive
Chair in 1889, Gov. McGill embarked in active business enterprises.
But he was not left in
retirement. He was elected to the State Senate in 1898 and re-elected in
1902 without opposition either at the primaries or at the polls. His
legislative career of seven years was marked by a close application to duty,
a full appreciation of his relations to the State and his constituents and a
conscientious exercise of his senatorial prerogatives.
In 1899, during his term as
Senator, Gov. McGill was appointed Postmaster of St. Paul. After serving
four years he was reappointed and occupied the dual offices of Senator and
Postmaster at the time of his death.
It is a significant tribute
to his worth, that both President McKinley and President Roosevelt issued
special orders suspending in his case the executive regulation which
prohibits the holding of a State and a Federal office at the same time.
When he was 21 years old,
Andrew McGill enlisted August 19, 1862, as a private in Company D, 9th
Minnesota, for three years, or during the war. The terrible Indian outbreak
on the Upper Minnesota River occurred within three or four days, and the
company returned to St. Peter, where it served as a garrison during the
Autumn and Winter of 1862-3. He was actively engaged during the early days
of the Indian War in the work of rescuing wounded settlers and driving off
the prowling bands of savages who infested the region between St. Peter and
New Ulm. It was a dangerous duty, exposed to assault and ambush, often
performed at night, while the horizon was lighted by the flames of burning
As First Sergeant of his
company, all the detailed labors usually performed by others fell on him as
the quickest learner and most willing worker, where all were new to the
complicated service. For a long period, although ranking as an "enlisted
man" he was Acting Adjutant of the Military Post at St. Peter, his Captain
having been placed in command. Here his work was of the hardest, but it was
so well performed that it was found impossible to replace him by any
Commissioned Officer available.
The exposure of camp life,
combined with overwork, brought young McGill down with a serious illness.
This illness was long continued and left effects from which he always
suffered. For a considerable period his recovery seemed impossible and his
restoration to health was so slow that it became manifest that he must leave
the service. Accordingly, he reluctantly accepted a discharge from the Army
August 18, 1863, and it was a life-long subject of regret that he was not
privileged to be with his regiment in the campaigns and battles which
followed and which included some of the most decisive of the war.
On April 8th, 1870, Gov.
McGill, who was then private secretary to Gov. Horace Austin, and resided at
St. Paul, participated in the movement to organize Acker Post 21, Department
of Minnesota, G. A. R. He became a charter member, and his active interest
is attested by the fact that he was Chairman of the first committee
appointed. The principal officers chosen to guide the new enterprise were:
Henry A. Castle, Commander; Hiram A. Kimball, Senior Vice Commander; True S.
White, Junior Vice Commander; Mark D. Flower, Adjutant; A. R. McGill,
Comrade McGill remained a
faithful and exemplary member of Acker Post until his death, a period of
more than thirty-five years. He thoroughly believed in the principles of our
noble order, and embraced all the numerous opportunities afforded by the
exalted public positions held by him to exemplify those principles in
practical beneficent acts.
In his inaugural message as
Governor of Minnesota in 1887, he strongly urged the establishment of a
State Home for disabled and destitute veterans. He gave valuable assistance
to the Committee of the G. A. R., which drafted the law, being specially
interested in the "family relief" feature. He did all an Executive could
properly do to secure its passage by the Legislature and he promptly
approved it when finally enacted.
Governor McGill appointed
from his wide circle of acquaintances among the comrades the first seven
trustees of the Minnesota Soldiers' Home in April, 1887. During the official
term and ever afterwards he showed an affectionate interest in this model
institution, visiting it often, rejoicing in its success, and recurring with
pride to the fact that it was established during his administration.
As Postmaster he cheerfully
gave that preference in employment or promotion which the law permits to
worthy and efficient ex-soldiers. As State Senator he was the recognized
champion of all reasonable demands made by or in behalf of the veteran
defenders of the Republic. The following are some of his achievements in
that line during a single session, that of last winter : He introduced and
had passed the bill which made an appropriation for a monument to the
Minnesota soldiers who fought at Vicksburg. He secured the passage of the
bill providing a separate home at Minnehaha for the widows of soldiers. He
proposed and warmly supported the measure which assigned, free of rent, the
splendid quarters in the old Capitol building, now occupied by the St. Paul
Posts of the Grand Army of the Republic and their affiliated societies and
other ex-soldier organizations. The same law makes similar provision for
Posts throughout the State in available portions of City or County
In grateful recognition of
the last mentioned service, a reception and banquet had been arranged for
Nov. 17th, and its program announced before Senator McGill's unexpected and
untimely decease. He was to have been one of the honored guests on that
occasion. To him, to others who ably cooperated with him in procuring for
the veterans this appropriate and most acceptable concession, the reception
was tendered. The others were present, but his seat was vacant, and the
occasion became in effect a memorial service to Comrade McGill. We may
cherish the fond belief that his glorified spirit hovered near, rejoicing in
the benefaction commemorated and modestly accepting a share in the
EXTRACT FROM THE OFFICIAL
JOURNAL OF THE STATE.
March 15th, 1907.
MEMORIAL SERVICES - A. R.
The hour having arrived for
the memorial services in memory of the late Andrew R. McGill, addresses were
made by Messrs. Hackney, Wilson, Thorpe, Fitzpatrick and Dunn.
Mr. Hackney offered the following preamble
During the interim between
the Legislative sessions of 1905 and 1907, and while a member of the Senate
of this State from the 37th Senatorial District, the Hon. Andrew R. McGill
was stricken with death.
He took up his residence in
this State very early in its history, and during his long residence occupied
many positions of great trust and great honor, including that of the
Governorship of the State.
In every position in which he
served, whether by appointment or chosen thereto by the people, he fully met
all its requirements. He never disappointed his friends nor betrayed the
confidence reposed in him. His integrity and sincerity of purpose no one
ever questioned. He had the unbounded confidence of his colleagues in the
While loyal and devoted in
his personal friendships, he would not allow them in matters of important
legislation to override his judgment and sense of duty. When confronted by
difficult problems his strong, common sense and intuition to deal justly
always enabled him correctly to solve them. His example, both in public and
private life, was beneficial and helpful to all who knew or came in contact
In his untimely death this State
lost one of its most honorable, useful and best beloved citizens.
Therefore, be it resolved by
this Senate, That the foregoing brief and imperfect statement of the life
and virtues of our deceased brother and friend be spread upon the records of
this body, and an engrossed copy thereof be forwarded by the Secretary to
the widow of the deceased, and to each Senator who was a member of the
Senate during the thirty-fourth session of the Legislature of Minnesota.
J. M. Hackney:
Mr. President, Andrew R.
McGill was born in Crawford county, Pennsylvania, February 19, 1840. In 1859
he went to Kentucky, where he secured a position as teacher. In 1861 Mr.
McGill returned North and on June 10, 1861, arrived in Minnesota. In 1862 he
enlisted in Company D, Ninth Minnesota Volunteers, and became First Sergeant
of his company. The following year he was discharged on account of failing
health, and soon after was elected County Superintendent of Public Schools
for Nicollet county, and filled the position for two terms. From 1865 to
1866 he edited the St. Peter Tribune, which he continued to publish for a
number of years afterward. He was also elected clerk of the District Court
of Nicollet county, which position he held for four years, devoting much of
his time to the study of law under the direction of Hon. Horace Austin, by
whom he was admitted to the bar in 1868. Two years later judge Austin became
Governor of this State, and Mr. McGill was appointed his private secretary.
In 1873 he was chosen for the office of Insurance Commissioner for the
State, and discharged the duties of the office for thirteen years with great
efficiency, his reports being accepted as among the most valuable issued on
In 1886 Mr. McGill was
nominated for the office of Governor by the Republicans. It was a critical
time for his party; the temperance question cut a large figure, and the
Republican party had declared in favor of local option and high license.
This was sufficient to array all Prohibitionists against the party and
enlist all friends of the saloon against the Republican ticket.
Governor McGill was a man of
unassailable character and conducted his campaign upon a dignified plan. He
was elected, and the records of his term of office show much accomplished.
Of the important measures enacted during his term of office were the high
license law, the railroad laws relating to transportation, storage, wheat
grading, watering of railroad stock, etc. Other significant measures were
also passed during his administration. Amendments simplifying the tax laws,
regulating the control of the liquor traffic, establishing the Soldiers'
Home and the Bureau of Labor Statistics were passed. The State Reformatory
was established and other measures of importance were undertaken during his
administration. On his retirement from office at the end of his two years'
term, he organized the St. Paul and Minneapolis Trust Company, of which he
was President. In 1897 he was elected State Senator from the 37th District,
which now I have the honor to represent, and served that district in this
body for eight years: Upon recommendation of United States Senator C. K.
Davis he was appointed by President McKinley, in 1900, as Postmaster of St.
Paul, and four years later was reappointed to the same position by President
Mr. McGill was a resident of
St. Anthony Park, St. Paul, when he died. I did not have the honor of
knowing him as did his colleagues on this floor, and for that reason I shall
leave to others who sat with him in this body the duty of speaking more
fully concerning him. As one of his constituents while he was Senator, I
knew him well. He was nearly always on the right side of every important
question. The people of the 37th district always felt that they had a
Senator they could trust. It is a significant fact to point to, that in this
age, when so many men holding public offices are falling by the wayside or
are having the finger of suspicion pointed at them, that in all the years
that Mr. McGill served the State of Minnesota in different capacities, no
one ever heard of his integrity being questioned.
He was honest, capable and
conscientious in everything he undertook. I consider it an honor to be able
to occupy the seat he so ably filled while a member of this body.
Mr. President, I move the
adoption of the resolution as read.
George P. Wilson:
Mr. President, to those who
knew Senator McGill well, both in public and private life, no encomium or
eulogy is necessary. They will ever fondly cherish his memory. His
colleagues in the Senate not only honored and respected him, but greatly
beloved him. Hs was a man of great personal dignity, but always extremely
courteous. All his colleagues, present here today, will bear witness to the
fact that he always treated his fellow members with the utmost consideration
During the last session in
which he served as a member of this body, he was not an active nor
aggressive member. While he had the outward appearance of being in excellent
health, it was not so. He disclosed to some of his colleagues that his heart
action was so weak that he had to be extremely cautious. I think it is
fitting that we should pause here today and lay upon the grave of our
deceased brother and friend a wreath of our personal affection and love.
L. O. Thorpe:
Mr. President, when we set
aside a few minutes to let some of the memories we have of a departed friend
pass in review, it is not necessary that they should be sad and sorrowful.
It may, on the contrary, as in this case, be inspiring and beneficial;
recollections tending to make us both individually and collectively, as a
state, thankful for the faithful services rendered, and the example in
honesty will strengthen our purpose to do right. I cannot think of Andrew R.
McGill in any other way. We remember that the stirring political events of
1886 brought him prominently before the people as the Republican candidate
for Governor. I remember the excitement and scheming for political advantage
among the different factions struggling for supremacy at that time. He was
apparently little concerned and always calm, dignified, going about his duty
in a manner that commanded respect and admiration. He did not cater to the
base elements in politics. Would that we could always say the same
truthfully about our public men. His administration was admitted, even by
the opposition, to be clean and businesslike. He, nevertheless, suffered the
humiliation of being denied the usual renomination from his party. Parties,
like men, have their sins of omission and commission to account for, and one
of the dark spots on the Republican party in this State was its treatment of
How much he suffered without
complaining and how much this unusual and uncalled-for action tended to
shorten his days, I will leave those who value their duties and privileges
as American citizens, and are cognizant of their rectitude in private and
public life to imagine. Although for the time being apparently discredited
by his party, he became more popular and has ever since been held in higher
esteem than ever before. His neighbors selected him to represent them in
this Senate. His valuable services to his district and the State are
recognized by all. We, his associates, learned to know him as kind, careful
and deliberate. Without pretending to be brilliant or a leader, he became
such by force of character, and his good judgment is reflected in many of
our most beneficent laws on the statute books to-day. The influence of such
men cannot be estimated. We have the benefit of their work and their
example. Men die and are laid away in the resting place prepared for the
body and the soul goes to its reward, but the good done while among us will
not die. It is with pleasant recollections and gratitude for having had him
among us that I place this humble tribute to his memory. May we have many
such safe and consistent guides as A. R. McGill.
P. Fitzpatrick :
Mr. President, while I did
not know the late Governor McGill as long or as intimately as some of the
other members of this Senate knew him, it was my privilege to serve with him
during five sessions of the Legislature, and to observe him from day to day
in the performance of his official duties as a lawmaker. He occupied many
positions of trust in the State and in the nation which required varied
talents of a high order in their filling. When a young man, at a time when
hopes are bright and life seems worth living, he risked his life and gave
his services to the nation in the days of its direct necessity. He enjoyed
the confidence of his fellow citizens and of the people of this State in a
marked degree, and he repaid that confidence by bringing to the discharge of
his duties a keen and discriminating intelligence, unswerving fidelity to
the trusts reposed in him, rare integrity and the courage of honest
If I may trust the accuracy
of my somewhat limited observations and the soundness of my judgment on such
matters, I should say that our dead friend and former fellow-Senator was a
man who performed more than he promised-a man of few words, but lucid
thoughts clearly expressed-one who went directly to the point at issue
without unnecessary circumlocation or apologies, yet having a ready wit and
a keen sense of humor on occasions. He was a brave soldier and a good
citizen, a model public officer and an honest man. It may not be
inappropriate for me on this occasion in this chamber, the scene of his
later public activities, and in the presence of his former associates who
honored and respected him, in the presence of friends who loved and mourn
him, to say what we said on a former occasion and many times repeated, "Well
done, thou good and faithful servant."
W. W. Dunn :
Mr. President, in the death
of Senator Andrew R. McGill the State of Minnesota lost one of its useful
and distinguished officials and one of its quiet, unpretentious and modest
citizens-a gentle, courteous and lovable gentleman, a man "not too great or
good for human nature's daily food."
My acquaintance with him
before becoming his colleague in the Senate was very limited and of such a
nature as to give me no opportunity to obtain an insight into his character.
I must confess that up to that time I was inclined to harbor a feeling of
prejudice against him-not because of any specific act or word of his, but
because of his prominence in public life, and the exalted positions held by
him, I had the feeling that he would outclass and overshadow me to such an
extent that he could never descend to the humble plane of life that I
expected to occupy, so that in reality in the fullest sense he could be my
colleague and companion.
A little incident occurred
shortly before the opening of the session that gave me an insight into his
character and immediately changed my feelings, so that from that time on he
had my highest regard and deepest affection. I was called to the telephone
one day and a peculiarly soft and pleasant voice informed me that Senator
McGill was at the phone. He said: "I hope you will not think me
presumptuous, but when I selected my seat to-day in the Senate Chamber I
thought of you, and it occurred to me that you might not know of the
practice of choosing seats in the Senate, so I took the liberty of selecting
a seat for you near to me, subject to your approval." Simple as was this
act-almost too trifling to mention on such an occasion as this-it at once
changed the thread of my thoughts and feelings, and demonstrated to me that
his was a kindly, thoughtful nature, willing and ready to do the simple
things that go to make up a useful daily life-one of the essentials without
which no true greatness can endure.
It is my hope that he has
taken with him into eternal rest the same regard and respect for me that I
have and forever shall retain for him.
(Mr. Durment seconded the
adoption of the resolution as read, and the motion was unanimously carried
by a rising vote of the Senate).