January 5, 1921
“J. A. O. Preus takes office as the state’s 20th governor.” *
When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7 NIV
“When Preus first ran for governor in 1920, he adamantly opposed the Farmer-Labor Party, a coalition of discontented farmers and laborers who had formed a new political organization. The party, he declaimed, represented “socialism – a political cult that would destroy the principles of private property, our religion, and our homes.”
Despite his reservations about the Farmer-Labor philosophy, Governor Preus nonetheless encouraged the legislature to meet some of the farmers’ demands by broadening the legal powers of cooperatives, making low-interest loans available through the Rural Credit Bureau, and creating the Department of Agriculture. Preus also demanded higher taxes from the owners of ore-rich mines on the Iron Range, expanded highway construction, and improved equal rights and election procedures. His political savvy, combined with an apparent desire to correct inequities, made Minnesota’s twentieth governor a surprisingly prolific reformer.
After completing his second term, Preus became an insurance executive in Chicago. He returned to Minneapolis in 1958 and served until his death as board chairman of Lutheran Brotherhood, a fraternal insurance society he had co-founded in 1917. He also founded the Aid Association for Lutherans, which consolidated in the 1990s to become Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.”**
The actions of Governor Preus are a testimony of his character. He saw the people behind the labels of politics, and helped them. He listened to those whose ideas were diametrically opposed to his concepts of civic order, economic laws, and even his faith. He loved his political enemies, and did good to those who opposed him.
Lord of Governors, G-d of all Farmers and Laborers, will You bless the personal and figurative heritage of Governor Preus? Will You raise up wise elected officials, like Preus, who see their critics as You do; human beings with thoughts and needs worthy of respect and careful consideration?
Will You have mercy on our heritage of bitter partisanship? We have loved our parties more than our neighbors! We have perpetuated a circle of judgment from this era to the present: the Progressives to the DFL and Republicans, the DFL to the Republicans and Progressives, and the Republicans to the Progressives and the DFL? We have defied aspects and reflections of Your image as expressed through our parties. Though imperfect and inconsistent, they often encapsulate our good will towards our neighbor. Will You bless the real, the good, the faithful and true within our system?
Will You bless us in our co-ops? Will You bless our Rural Credit Bureau and Department of Agriculture and family farms? Will You give us Your balanced view of taxation; may we adequately fund government while not punishing the rich, poor, or in between? Will You bless our infrastructure and those who build it? Will You bless the integrity of our elections and counting votes?
Will You forgive our judgments of the Lutheran Church of Minnesota? Will You bless its’ heritage of doing good for Minnesota’s citizens? Will You bless the heart of Martin Luther expressed through Governor Preus and the Lutheran Brotherhood?