A.O. Eberhart Biography

As a student at St. Peter’s Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota’s seventeenth governor gave himself a new surname so he would not be confused with the abundance of other Olsons on campus. Already grooming himself for public life, Albert Olson Eberhart graduated with top honors after completing seven years of academic work in four.

Elected the youngest member of the state Senate in 1902, the Republican Eberhart was chosen as lieutenant governor four years later in the administration of the legendary Democrat, John A. Johnson. Although his first partial term as governor resulted from Johnson’s untimely death in 1909, he subsequently won the office twice on his own merits.

An efficient administrator, Eberhart was also a consummate politician, and his detractors, including many Republicans, questioned his sincerity as well as the reputation of certain close associates. To assure his re-nomination in 1912, he called a special thirteen-day legislative session and deflated his critics by bulldozing through such progressive reforms as rural school consolidation and primary elections. Eberhart’s strategy worked; he avoided the censure of his own party and was re-nominated for a second full term in the first statewide primary.

Eberhart lost his re-nomination bid for a fourth term as governor. A second defeat in the 1916 U.S. Senate primary marked the end of his political career. After working as a real estate and insurance executive in Chicago, he retired to a rest home in Savage.