Why did I create this blog?
One of my hobbies over the past several years has been to study the history of South Dakota’s governors. I’ve tried to collect as much information about them as I can, looking to published books and articles, unpublished manuscripts and documents, and conversations and questions with former governors, their families, and their staff members. My involvement with state government and politics has given me the privilege of getting to know quite a few of them.
I also enjoy serving as a board member for the Trail of Governors project in Pierre, which is raising funds to erect life-size bronze statues of each former governor throughout the capital city. I have helped to draft the short biographical sketches of each governor, which are used at the unveiling ceremonies and on the Trail’s website. The Trail is a great way to encourage visitors to Pierre to not only visit our state’s capitol building and state memorials, but to learn a little bit about the state’s history.
A few years ago, Dr. Jon Lauck invited me to write an essay for publication in The Plains Political Tradition: Essays on South Dakota Political Culture, Vol. 2. Lauck, along with Drs. John Miller and Donald Simmons, have edited two excellent editions of these collections of essays on South Dakota’s political history, and a third is forthcoming from South Dakota Historical Society Press. My article is entitled Leaders in the Land of Infinite Variety: A Collective Portrait of South Dakota’s Governors. As I wrote in the introduction to that essay:
Since statehood, thirty-one men have served South Dakota’s governor. Their personal biographies reflect the history of the state, even as their political careers directed it. A few left an indelible mark on South Dakota. Others are nearly forgotten by history. Taken together, the stories of South Dakota’s thirty-one governors create a cumulative portrait of the state’s first 125 years. The Plains Political Tradition: Essays on South Dakota Political Culture, Vol. 2, p. 242.
A few months ago, I created a Twitter account, @SoDakGovs. My goal for that account is to share some of the history I have learned, to retweet interesting historical tidbits tweeted by others, and to promote awareness of the Trail of Governors project.
That is also the goal of this blog. I would like to have an online platform where I can post information about South Dakota history that exceeds 140 characters. As I wrote in my essay, we can learn a great deal about South Dakota history through the study of our governors. I will also branch out from that focus to post information of general historical interest.