Eli C. D. Shortridge grew up in Monroe County, Missouri, and finished his education at an academy near Paris, Missouri. He came to Larimore with his family in 1882. He ran for governor on a "fusion ticket" composed of Populists, Democrats, and the Farmers' Alliance, who fused into a single political party. During his administration Shortridge approved the issuance of $50,000 in bonds to construct the south wing of the state capitol. He approved the purchase of an executive mansion for the governor's residence. He also supported an appropriation for a state elevator at Duluth, Minnesota. An out-of-state terminal elevator was not constructed largely due to a provision requiring North Dakota sovereignty over any elevator site. The bill passed, but with the provision that Minnesota or Wisconsin would have to cede sovereignty over the site created an unacceptable situation for both states. That provision was inserted by agents of political boss Alex McKenzie, who functioned as a representative of railroads and corporations. Governor Shortridge retired from office after one term. He was appointed clerk of the United States Land Office at Devils Lake. Eli C. D. Shortridge was elected to try and fight the influence of early Dakota political boss Alexander McKenzie. McKenzie represented the interests of railroads and corporations. Governor Shortridge represented the "fusion" party - a mixture of Populist farmers and Democrats.
Eli C. D. Shortridge was the first governor to live in the executive mansion. In 1893 the state purchased the house from Asa Fisher for use as the official residence of North Dakota governors.
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