Andrew McGill Biography

Andrew R. McGill was born on February 19, 1840, in Saegertown, western Pennsylvania, where his parents had homesteaded several hundred acres. In 1859, at the age of nineteen, he moved from Pennsylvania to Kentucky to become a schoolteacher. When the Civil War began and teaching was no longer feasible in Kentucky, McGill left for Minnesota, arriving in June 1861. He became principal of the public school in St. Peter in August 1862. In that same year, at the age of twenty-two, McGill enlisted in Company D, Ninth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment. In 1863 he was discharged for disability.

Soon after his discharge he was elected county superintendent of public schools (Nicollet County), a position he filled for two terms. From 1865 through 1866 McGill was the editor and proprietor of the St. Peter Tribune. In 1865 he was also elected clerk of the district court of Nicollet County for a term of four years. McGill took the opportunity to study law under Judge Horace Austin and was admitted to the bar in 1869.

In 1870, when Austin was elected governor of Minnesota, he selected McGill to be his private secretary. In 1873 McGill was appointed insurance commissioner of the state, a position he held for thirteen years. In 1886, the Republican state convention nominated McGill for governor. He won the nomination and the election, serving a single, two-year term.

During his tenure he recommended a revision of the railroad laws pertaining to transportation, storage, and grading of wheat and the artificial inflation of the value of railroad stocks. He favored a simplification of the tax laws; regulation of liquor; abolition of contract prison labor; establishment of a soldiers’ home; and creation of a Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even though he was not re-nominated, McGill remained active in political circles, supporting the presidential candidacy of Cushman K. Davis (1896) and serving as state senator from the thirty-seventh district, St. Paul (1899–1905). McGill was appointed postmaster of St. Paul (1900) while concurrently serving as senator. He died while still in office, in 1905.