© 2024
Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Statehood Thanksgiving

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving. On this date in 1889, North Dakotans were also celebrating their first Thanksgiving as members of a new state.

North Dakota had become a state earlier in the month. The Bismarck Tribune reported on that by saying, "No sooner was the news of the receipt of this telegram upon the streets than Bismarck was one grand cyclone of cheers and shouts, music and cannonading."

Becoming a state so close to Thanksgiving made the holiday that much sweeter. Governor John Miller issued the state's first Thanksgiving proclamation, signed under the new "great seal of the state of North Dakota."

And newspapers noted with some wit how thankful different parties of the new state must be. Here are some examples. In response to the political tides, "the Republicans will give thanks for their 15,000 majority" in the population. And in response to news of a Republican loss, "The Democrats will sing praises over the Iowa election." In regards to North Dakota entering as a dry state, "The prohibitionists thank the Lord that they are, at last, masters of the situation." And in offering a tongue-in-cheek bright side for saloonkeepers, " … thank heaven that there is no law preventing their departure for more congenial climes." And regarding the new government, "The members of the legislature will rejoice that they were elected to the first assembly of the state. (Before the session ends, many of them will give thanks that there is no law compelling them to return to another.)"

And more solemnly, there was this:

"Of all the Thanksgiving days that have been observed in North Dakota, none has been so happy and appropriate as this. ...On this bright day of thanks and praise the people of the new born states have the full and recently acquired rights of American citizenship for which to express their gratitude. They have a state constitution of their own making, state officers of their own election, a member of congress and two United States senators, the right of self government in its broadest sense and the right to make and pay their own bills ... And even the destitute settler ... will thank God that if he must starve to death as the eastern press would make him believe, he will do so in a free and independent state."

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker


Bismarck Weekly Tribune, November 8, 1889, p1, 7

Bismarck Weekly Tribune, November 15, 1889, p7

Bismarck Weekly Tribune, November 29, 1889, p8

Prairie Public Broadcasting provides quality radio, television, and public media services that educate, involve, and inspire the people of the prairie region.
Related Content