This week, South Dakota History published its Spring 2021 edition. The edition is made up almost entirely of a 20,000 word set of excerpts from the autobiography of W. J. Bulow, South Dakota’s 12th Governor.
I received the original manuscript, never before published, from his granddaughter several years ago, and agreed to edit and annotate the entire document for publication. The manuscript is approximately 165,000 words, and I selected excerpts for the journal to publish.
Bulow was governor from 1927-31 (the first Democrat to hold that office) and then a U.S. Senator from 1931-43. The excerpts of his autobiography in South Dakota History include accounts of his arrival in Sioux Falls and encounters with Joe Kirby and Charles A. Christopherson, his move to Beresford, and his extremely bizarre and unlikely entry into gubernatorial politics. As governor, he took on the State Legislature to reduce spending, pardon “Poker Alice,” welcomed Calvin Coolidge to the Black Hills, and dealt with Peter Norbeck and Gutzon Borglum during the early years of the carving of Mount Rushmore. Following his time as governor, he served in the U.S. Senate from 1931-43 where, as an old-fashioned “Jeffersonian Democrat,” his belief in isolationism, small government, and balanced budgets led him to be a vocal critic of fellow Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt.
If you are reading this blog, you are obviously interested in South Dakota history and you should already be a subscriber to South Dakota History! If for some reason you are not, you can purchase a copy of the new edition (or buy a subscription) at this link.