John Burke, Governor

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John Burke, Jr.

Birthdate: (78)
Death: 1937 (78)
Immediate Family:

Son of John Burke, Sr. and Mary Ryan
Half brother of Edmund Burke

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About John Burke, Governor

John Burke (February 25, 1859 – May 14, 1937) was an American lawyer, jurist, and political leader from North Dakota. He was the tenth Governor of North Dakota.


Burke was born in Keokuk County, Iowa, of Irish ancestry, to John Burke and Mary Ryan Burke. He graduated from the University of Iowa with a law degree in 1886. He married Mary E. Kane, a teacher, on August 22, 1891, and they had a son, Thomas, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Marian.


Burke's legal career was established in Iowa and Minnesota before he moved to the Dakota Territory. After North Dakota was admitted to the union, he served in the state's House of Representatives in 1891 and in its Senate from 1893 to 1896. He served three terms (1907–1913) as the tenth Governor of North Dakota.

At the 1912 Democratic National Convention in Baltimore, Burke enthusiastically supported the candidacy of Woodrow Wilson. Burke swung all of North Dakota's votes to Wilson on the first ballot. William Jennings Bryan, himself a supporter of Wilson and also a good friend of Burke's, wanted Burke to run for Vice-President. Burke demurred, however, due to a promise he had given Indiana delegates for their votes. As a result, Thomas Marshall of Indiana was chosen for Vice-President. Burke was named United States Treasurer following Wilson’s election victory in November 1912. From 1913 to 1921 Burke was Treasurer of the United States, under President Woodrow Wilson. Burke ran for the United States Senate in 1916 but lost.

Death and Legacy

He later served as a justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court from 1924 until his death on May 14, 1937. Burke County, North Dakota is named in his honor. His remains are interred in Saint Mary's Cemetery, Bismarck, Burleigh County, North Dakota.

The State of North Dakota donated a statue of Burke to the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection in 1963.

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John Burke, Governor's Timeline

Age 78