Nelson, Knute (kənōtˈ) [key], 1843–1923, U.S. Senator (1895–1923), b. Voss, Norway. He was brought to the United States at the age of six, grew up on a Wisconsin farm, and served in the Union army in the Civil War. Admitted (1867) to the bar, he served (1868–69) in the Wisconsin legislature before moving to Minnesota, where he practiced law and entered Republican politics. After service (1875–78) in the Minnesota state senate, he was (1883–89) a U.S. Congressman and became (1893) governor of Minnesota. He resigned the governorship to serve in the U.S. Senate, where, dissenting from orthodox Republicanism, he defended U.S. acquisitions of the Philippines, favored a modified tariff, supported antitrust and income-tax legislation, backed U.S. membership in the League of Nations, and helped create the Dept. of Commerce and Labor.
See biography by M. W. Odland (1926).