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First Two Senators


On this date in 1889, the North Dakota State Legislature elected Gilbert Pierce and Lyman Casey as North Dakota’s first U.S. Senators. The McKenzie political gang was in power on one side, and on the other was the Farmer’s Alliance, whose slogan was “The Farmers Must Rule North Dakota.”

Pierce was the choice of the Northern Pacific Railroad and had been popular when he earlier served as Territorial governor; his selection met with little opposition. Casey, a Carrington rancher, was a bit different. McKenzie considered him a compromise when he failed to get his friend, Nehemiah Ordway, elected. Although Casey was actually a member of the Farmers’ Alliance, the Grand Forks Herald wrote that he was a part of the “old gang element.”

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm