1881 Election Cycle

In January, the state legislature reelected Republican U.S. Senator Samuel McMillan to a second term. In October, the state legislature elected former Republican U.S. Senator William Windom in a special election caused by his own resignation in March 1881 to become Secretary of the Treasury under President James Garfield.

In November, Republicans enjoyed their most dominating sweep of Minnesota’s eight partisan statewide offices on the ballot with their nominees winning each contest by between 26 and 30 points and setting records for the largest victory margins to date for each of these eight offices. Elected were Lucius Hubbard for Governor, Lieutenant Governor Charles Gilman, Secretary of State Fred Von Baumbach, W.W. Braden for Auditor, Attorney General William Hahn, Treasurer Charles Kittelson, James Baker for Railroad Commissioner, and Clerk of the Supreme Court S.H. Nichols.

The Apportionment of 1881 increased the number of state Senate districts by six from 41 to 47 and reduced the number of state House districts by three from 106 to 103.

Congressional apportionment, meanwhile, increased the size of the state’s U.S. House delegation from three to five seats.

Appointed Associate Justice William Mitchell was elected to the Supreme Court along with appointed Associate Justice D.A. Dickinson and Fourth Judicial District Judge Charles Vanderburgh. Appointed Associate Justice Greenleaf Clark was defeated.


Date Office Stage Winners Details
11/08/1881 Attorney General General William J. Hahn (Republican) won with 66,812 votes (63.05%) and a winning margin of +29.14
Candidate Gender Party Votes Percent
William J. Hahn Incumbent Man Republican 66,812 63.05
George N. Baxter Man Democrat 35,936 33.91
Joseph McKnight Man Greenback 2,598 2.45
Alfred W. Bangs Man Prohibition 572 0.54

Hahn was an attorney in Lake City and former Wabasha County Attorney who was appointed by Governor John Pillsbury to the post of attorney general following the resignation of Charles Start in March 1881.

Baxter was a former Rice County Attorney.

McKnight was an attorney from LeRoy and candidate for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 1886.

Bangs was also the Prohibition Party nominee for attorney general in 1879 and was later elected to the South Dakota Senate as a Democrat (1889-1890).

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11/08/1881 Secretary of State General Fred Von Baumbach (Republican) won with 66,284 votes (62.66%) and a winning margin of +28.47
Candidate Gender Party Votes Percent
Fred Von Baumbach Incumbent Man Republican 66,284 62.66
Alfred J. Lamberton Man Democrat 36,170 34.19
George C. (G.C.) Chamberlain Man Greenback 2,542 2.40
William (W.W.) Regan Man Prohibition 734 0.69

Secretary of State Von Baumbach was reelected to a second term.

Lamberton was a merchant and Mayor of St. Peter.

Chamberlain was an owner of the Mankato Free Press and Greenback candidate for the 2nd CD in 1878 and 1880.

Regan was a reverend at the Temple of Honor.

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11/08/1881 Lieutenant Governor General Charles A. (C.A.) Gilman (Republican) won with 66,677 votes (62.85%) and a winning margin of +28.93
Candidate Gender Party Votes Percent
Charles A. (C.A.) Gilman Incumbent Man Republican 66,677 62.85
Edward (E.P.) Barnum Man Democrat 35,990 33.92
Alexander (A.P.) Lane Man Greenback 2,591 2.44
George B. Kingsley Man Prohibition 768 0.72

Lieutenant Governor Gilman was reelected to a second term.

Barnum, a resident of Sauk Centre, was Chairman of the Board of Stearns County Commissioners and Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 1879.

Lane was a reisdent of Champlin, the Republican nominee for state Auditor in 1857, and the Greenback nominee for Secretary of State in 1879.

Kingsley was an attorney and former justice of the peace from Blue Earth City and former state Representative (HD 14, 1858).

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11/08/1881 Clerk of the Supreme Court General Samuel H. (S.H.) Nichols (Republican) won with 64,783 votes (63.21%) and a winning margin of +29.74
Candidate Gender Party Votes Percent
Samuel H. (S.H.) Nichols Incumbent Man Republican 64,783 63.21
John J. (J.J.) Thornton Man Democrat 34,303 33.47
C.C. Brackett Man Greenback 2,536 2.47
A.C. Dunn Man Prohibition 756 0.74

Clerk of the Supreme Court Nichols was reelected to a third term by the largest victory margin for the office in state history at that point.

Thornton was an attorney from St. James.

Brackett was a professor from Hennepin County.

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11/08/1881 Governor General Lucius Hubbard (Republican) won with 65,025 votes (61.53%) and a winning margin of +26.36
Candidate Gender Party Votes Percent
Lucius Hubbard Man Republican 65,025 61.53
Richard W. (R.W.) Johnson Man Democrat 37,168 35.17
Charles (C.H.) Roberts Man Greenback 2,676 2.53
Isaac C. (I.C.) Stearns Man Prohibition 708 0.67

Hubbard was a grain dealer from Red Wing and former state Senator (SD 16, 1872-1876).

Johnson was a West Point graduate who rose to the rank of Major General during the Civil War, former professor, and Ramsey County Commissioner (1878).

Roberts was also the Greenback nominee for the 1st CD contests of 1880 and 1882.

Stearns was a resident of Zumbrota and 1879 Prohibition nominee for Secretary of State.

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