Harold Stassen
Historical Figure
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: 1907
Date of Death: 2001
Cause of Death: Natural causes
Religion: Baptist
Occupation: Educator, Lawyer, Politician
Parents: William Stassen, Elsie Mueller
Spouse: Esther G. Glewwe
Children: Glenn, Kathleen
Political Party: Republican Party
Political Office(s): Governor of Minnesota
Fictional Appearances:

Harold Edward Stassen (April 13, 1907 – March 4, 2001) was the 25th Governor of Minnesota from 1939 to 1943 and a later perennial candidate for other offices, most notably and frequently President of the United States in the Republican primaries. He attempted to run for president in the 1940, 1944, 1948, 1952, 1964, 1968, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992 elections.

Born in West St. Paul, Minnesota, Stassen was elected as the district attorney of Dakota County, Minnesota after graduating from the University of Minnesota. He won election as Governor of Minnesota in 1938. Stassen was then and remains the youngest person elected to that office. He gave the keynote address at the 1940 Republican National Convention. He resigned as governor to serve in the United States Navy during World War II, becoming an aide to Admiral William Halsey. After the war, he became president of the University of Pennsylvania, holding that position from 1948 to 1953. Concurrently, he was the second and last director of the Mutual Security Agency (1951-1953), and then the only director of the United States Foreign Operations Administration.

Stassen sought the presidential nomination at the 1948 Republican National Convention, winning a significant share of the delegates on the first two ballots of the convention, but ultimately losing to Thomas Dewey. During the Republican primaries preceding the convention, he engaged in the Dewey–Stassen debate, the first recorded debate between presidential candidates.

Harold Stassen in The Man With the Iron Heart[]

The Man With the Iron Heart
POD: May 29, 1942;
Relevant POD: May, 1945
Type of Appearance: Contemporary reference

Harold Stassen, along with Thomas Dewey and Robert Taft, was an early contender for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 1948.[1]

Harold Stassen in Worldwar[]

Harold Stassen was President Earl Warren's Vice President, and succeeded Warren when he committed suicide in the wake of the explosive-metal bomb destruction of Indianapolis by the Race in 1965.[2]

POD: May 30, 1942
Appearance(s): Aftershocks
Type of Appearance: Direct
Political Office(s): Governor of Minnesota,
Vice President of the United States,
President of the United States

Stassen was not privy to Warren's decision to attack the Race's Colonization Fleet in 1962.[3] In the aftermath of Warren's death, Stassen set about removing those members of the administration who had known about Warren's actions. Stassen was already certain that he wouldn't be elected in 1968, a fact that he privately shared with his Soviet counterpart, Vyacheslav Molotov.[4]

Stassen soon learned of the new American use of rocket propelled asteroids as weapons. During a meeting with Sam Yeager, the man who blew the proverbial whistle on Warren, Yeager attempted to broach the subject with Stassen. Stassen pointedly shared nothing with Yeager.[5]

Literary Comment[]

Harry Turtledove's use of the then-living Stassen as a character in a work of fiction, using both first and last name without obscuring his identity, is unusual.

Harold Stassen in Joe Steele[]

Joe Steele
POD: 1878;
Relevant POD: July, 1932
Novel or Story?: Novel only
Type of Appearance: Direct

Governor Harold Stassen received the Republican nomination for the 1948 presidential election just days before the outbreak of the Japanese War. As Stassen was a complete unknown outside of Minnesota, incumbent President Joe Steele had anticipated an easy victory.[6] However, the new war meant that Steele actually had to campaign.

Stassen did somewhat better than expected, picking up states that the Steele machine had believed were securely Democratic. He was also able to pick up some of the states that contained resettled wreckers.

However, Steele handily carried the rest of the vote, and won his fifth term.[7]

Harold Stassen in Southern Victory[]

Southern Victory
POD: September 10, 1862
Appearance(s): In at the Death
Type of Appearance: Contemporary reference (unnamed)
Political Party: Republican Party
Political Office(s): Governor of Minnesota

Minnesota's enthusiastic young governor was the Republican nominee for the United States presidency in 1944. While he didn't win, he did comparatively well, taking his home state and the usual Republican strongholds in the midwest. More impressively, he took incumbent President Charles W. La Follette's home state of Wisconsin, a traditionally Socialist state.[8]

Literary Comment[]

This minor character is not named, but his description matches Harry Turtledove's other treatments of Harold Stassen.

See Also[]


  1. The Man With the Iron Heart, pg. 353.
  2. Aftershocks, pg. 292.
  3. Ibid., pg. 296.
  4. Ibid., pg. 305.
  5. Ibid. pgs. 405-409.
  6. Joe Steele, pg. 354.
  7. Ibid., pg. 359.
  8. In at the Death, pg. 527.