I’m Mr. Beat About a year and a half ago, I made a video about the worst ten governors in American history. There I am. Yes, look at that baby face. “I’m running for governor of Kansas in 2018.” I was so young back then. Anyway, I am NOT running for governor In fact, I’m not running for anything…except maybe class clown. Heh! Anyway, yeah, so… It’s long overdue for a sequel to that video. So here are the ten BEST governors in American history. Before I get into these ten, a couple of disclaimers. First of all, if a governor later became President, they were automatically disqualified from this list, ok? So, I’m sorry Thomas, James, Martin, John, James, Andrew, Rutherford, Grover, William, Teddy, Woodrow, Calvin, Franklin, Jimmy, Ronald, Bill, and George. Also, if a governor is still in office or recently got out of office, I excluded them from this list as well. Alright? So that all said, here are the ten best governors in American history in my humble opinion. Let’s do this. #10 James Beaver Governor of Pennsylvania from 1887 to 1891, he was a Civil War hero. In fact, he lost a leg in that war. Beaver was a modest man who never wanted to run for public office, who only gave into the pressure when his friends and colleagues kept bugging him to run. Once in office, he made big improvements to the state’s education system and roads. He also was a conservationist before it was cool, promoting initiatives to set aside forests, regulate the coal industry, and clean the states’ waterways. He reduced the state’s debt. Oh, and Beaver showed excellent leadership after the horrible Johnstown flood of 1889. When strikes broke out, he didn’t send in the militia to stop them like his predecessors. I bet the vast majority of you haven’t heard of Beaver, but I think the great impact he made is worth remembering. #9 Ann Richards Governor of Texas from 1991 to 1995, Richards has a special place in my heart since before she got into politics, she was a social studies teacher. She also battled through many trials and tribulations in her life, such as alcoholism. But her accomplishments as governor were many. First of all, she helped the state’s economy rebound. She got rid of government waste through strict auditing of every state agency. She reformed the Texas prison system, creating a substance abuse program for inmates. She helped start the Texas lottery to fund education, even buying the first Texas lottery ticket. Speaking of education, it was during her administration that Texas implemented the so-called Robin Hood plan, that redirected property tax revenue from rich school districts to poor school districts throughout the state. Now, that all said, she was far from perfect… in some cases, MORE people ended up in prison because of her. And she also signed a law that made illegal to have same-sex relations. Still, her assertive leadership really helped elevate women overall in politics in this country and so I feel her impact was just amazing. And you all are going to make fun of me for this one, but
#8 Jesse “The Body” Ventura Ventura first rose to fame as a professional wrestler, but did you know that he also used to be a bodyguard for the Rolling Stones? He was governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003. As a gubernatorial candidate, he was a huge underdog and surprised the country with his win. I mean, he ran as a third party candidate for crying out loud. But as governor, he was a no-nonsense guy who did not apologize for his stances or policies. He cut income taxes for most Minnesota residents, even giving them rebates when the state had a surplus. He expanded light rail in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro. He fought gerrymandering. He was able to separate public school funding from local property taxes, which ultimately led to more fair educational opportunities across the state. Ventura was also ahead of his time speaking out for LGBTQ rights and ending the War on Drugs. Sure, today some folks assume that Ventura is crazy due to his passionate rants, occasional dive into conspiracy theories, and…you know…working for the Russians with his RT show. But what I like most about Jesse Ventura is that he’s always been a pragmatic and reasonable guy who could never be lumped into one category. He’s always been a true maverick, doing his own crazy thing, and he was a darn good governor. And he’s more intelligent than most folks give him credit for. Plus, I agree with him on almost every issue. Alright, so this one I think the Cynical Historian brought my attention to, so thanks Cypher. #7 Clyde Tingley Clyde served as governor of New Mexico during the Great Depression, from 1935 to 1939. He simply got stuff done, putting those New Deal funds to good use. He helped bring improvements to the state’s tourism industry, water conservation, law enforcement, and infrastructure. However, his two biggest achievements were probably the way he transformed education and health care in New Mexico. During his tenure, the state either built or renovated 700 schools…most of them in rural areas. He made dramatic improvements to healthcare in the state, especially for children, as seen with the Carrie Tingley Hospital, which specialized in helping kids diagnosed with tuberculosis. It was named after his wife, who had TB herself and was the one who convinced Clyde to support it to begin with. Clyde cared deeply about New Mexico, and did more to help it progress than any other governor of the state. Although I do have to give a shout out to Governor Gary Johnson. He was pretty good, too. #6 Percival Baxter I think I said his name right? Governor of Maine from 1921 to 1925, today he’s probably best known as the passionate conservationist dude who literally bought more than 200,000 acres of land with his own money and donated it to the state. Today that land is a beautiful wilderness known as Baxter State Park, named after Percival of course. But yeah, he was a governor, too, known for his limited government approach and for fighting corrupt special interests. During his time, the Ku Klux Klan was gaining a lot of power, and he actively fought against them. He also was a big animal rights activist. That’s his actual official governor photo, with his beloved dog Garry, by the way. But overall, Baxter’s legacy is about conservation, and Maine residents should be forever thankful for Baxter’s dedication to protecting the state’s natural beauty and resources. #5 DeWitt Clinton Also probably one of the most FAMOUS governors in American history, Dewitt had a huge impact. Governor of New York from 1817 to 1822 and again from 1825 to 1828, when he died suddenly while in office. He was the nephew of New York’s first governor, the legendary FIRST Founding Father George Clinton. No, wrong George Clinton. There you go. George didn’t quite make this list but he did a solid job as governor as well. Anyway, back to DeWitt. DeWitt Clinton’s political career began as George’s secretary. He later served as a U.S. Senator, the mayor of New York City, and Lieutenant Governor. He also was so popular he ran against James Madison for the Presidency in 1812. But of course lost. As governor, Clinton’s biggest accomplishment was the construction of the Erie Canal, which ended up being huge for the economy of the state. He also helped establish public schools for all kids, regardless of their income, and this was before Horace Mann did his thing. He fought for funding for the arts. Most importantly, he dedicated much of his life to helping the underprivileged and working class. #4 George Romney Yep, Senator Mitt Romney’s dad. Ok, hear me out. This guy is incredibly underrated in American history. This dude Romney was governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969 and actually was a frontrunner for President himself in 1968 for a short while. Romney was blunt and passionate. He many ways, he wasn’t your typical politician, and he was often at odds with not only his own political party, but his own church. When it came to civil rights and helping the poor, he walked the walk, joining protests as one of the leading advocates for the Civil Rights Act, and expanding social programs and education in Michigan. He brought Republicans and Democrats together for tax reform. He entered office with a deficit and left it with a surplus. He got stuff done, man. Sure, there was the 1967 Detroit riot that did not go so well, but he did the best he could, and no one is perfect. Still, Romney was great. And now we’re going back to New York. New York did really well with this list.
#3 William Seward More famously known as Lincoln’s Secretary of State during the Civil War and and the dude who later bought Alaska, Seward nationally made a name for himself as governor by being outspoken against the spread of slavery and sticking up for immigrants. He was governor of New York from 1839 to 1842. When he took over, pretty much only Protestant children were getting public education…and the Irish Catholic immigrant kids were not. Well he changed that, getting them public education as well. He also was able to get laws passed in his state that further protected African Americans, and he made it so fugitive slaves were guaranteed jury trials in New York. He was outspoken and did not apologize for these policies, which is why he got a lot of crap from nativists and Southerners, of course. #2 Huey Long Yeah, I know, Huey Long has basically turned into a meme at this point, and he’s very controversial, even to this day but the more I’ve researched about him over the years, the more I’ve learned…hey, he was actually a pretty great guy. Governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932, today he is known as your standard populist…or even demagogue. And that’s fair, he often told people what they wanted to hear, but I think he really believed what he said. When he ran for governor, he ran under the slogan “every man a king, but no one wears a crown.” His whole thing was that the rich were exploiting the poor in his state, so it was time the poor finally got their due. He campaigned in the rural areas of the state often neglected by the New Orleans and Baton Rouge elite. It’s important to realize that in 1928, during a time of widespread poverty and 75% illiteracy in Louisiana, a poll tax and literacy tests kept most of the poor from voting in the state. But Long handily won in the election thanks to those rural voters, and he scared the crap out of the political establishment, especially with all this talk of taxing the rich more. Long got a bad rap since he did fire many of his opponents once in office. Loyalty was huge to him. But once he consolidated his power, he got lots done, creating a free textbook program for schoolchildren and building up roads, bridges, hospitals, and schools. He literally would show up announced to the Senate or House to almost bully his legislation through when opponents tried to block it. He didn’t feel bad, though, since these opponents were usually funded by business interests. Long also expanded Louisiana State University and lowered tuition there so poor students could attend. He established the LSU med school. As the Great Depression was devastating the country, Louisiana was one of the few places where folks were optimistic, as everywhere you looked public works were being built, and he paid for it by more taxes on the super wealthy and industrial elite- all the new problems didn’t end up costing the state that much overall. And let me just say this…If The Kingfish ran for President today, he would probably get elected. And speaking of passionate dudes, we are up to #1. #1 Robert La Follette Fighting Bob Robert La Follette cared. And he was extremely influential. Governor of Wisconsin from 1901 to 1906, La Follette was one of the key figures of the entire Progressive Era. He became the poster child of “The Wisconsin Idea,” which called for the breaking up of monopolies and trusts and an end to out of control income inequality. La Follette also believed it was due time that democracy had expanded in the country. As governor, he was able to weaken the railroad monopoly by taxing and regulating the industry. He also made direct primary elections a thing and reformed the state civil service. Fighting Bob was also a charismatic speaker who inspired tens of thousands. He had integrity, making a career later in the Senate of fighting corruption and corporate power, sticking up for ordinary people. But you know, pretty much what I just said could be said about all of my top 10 American governors, so yeah a solid list. You probably noticed some patterns on there. I tend to favor governors who are more concerned with public education. I’m a little biased ’cause I’m a public school teacher. But yeah, I tend to like politicians that that stick up for ordinary people. They fight for you and I and just try to make society better. So that’s it. The ten best governors in American history. In my humble opinion. Before I go, I want to point out that this type of video has never been done before that I could tell. As well as my other video about the worst governors. There are not a lot of videos about American governors. And I had to do a lot of research with this video. I learned about probably hundreds of governors And so I did have a lot that didn’t quite make the list that were also pretty solid governors. The top comment has my honorable mentions. If you have other governors that you think should have made this list let me know in the comments. I love to read all the other possibilities. This video was requested by one of my Patreon supporters. One of my long-time Patreon supporters, Elcaspar. Elcaspar, thank you so much for your support. And if you want your suggestions heard you can also donate on Patreon. Speaking of my $15 a month or more Patreon supporters, here is my monthly shout out. In the $15 bracket, the Grover Cleveland level. I’ve got Andrew Schneider, Cjkavy, John Johnson Kit Walker, PresidentStorm and Zackary Parker. At the George Washington level, the $20 a month level I’ve got Alicia Solberg, Austin Rudolph Elcaspar, who I mentioned Matt Standish Nik Everett Sean Conant and a special shout out to Eric B. Wolman. Who has been paying me $35 a month. I’m not even sure he still realizes he’s been doing that. So thanks Eric! (laughs) That’s it, I’m gonna stop talking now. Thanks for watching. If you can’t afford to support me, don’t worry about it. It’s ok.