MN Gov. Olson, 80 years ago, proposed progressive taxes and unemployment insurance

This week in 1933, Minnesota’s charismatic young governor took the oath of office for the second time. In his inaugural speech Floyd Olson embraced a progressive agenda as Minnesotans struggled with high unemployment and foreclosed farm mortgages.

Two years earlier, in November 1930, Olson had been elected governor just days after his 39th birthday. That year, Olson and his Farmer Labor Party had prevailed in three-way race with the long-dominant Republicans and the anemic Democrats, just as the Great Depression was tightening its grip. Now, he was beginning his second term while his state was reeling under the Depression’s full force.

Olson had run unsuccessfully for governor in 1924, before his newly created party had established a firm political footing in Minnesota. Over the next six years, the Farmer-Labor leader would make a name for himself as a crusading Hennepin county attorney, who battled municipal corruption in City Hall....

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