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Thomas Moodie


Thomas Moodie, the nineteenth governor of North Dakota, took office on this date in 1935. Moodie is best known as the state’s shortest-serving governor, serving only five weeks before being removed from office by the state’s Supreme Court.

Born in Winona, Minnesota, in 1878, Moodie left school at the age of sixteen and moved west to Wadena. There, he began work in the printing department of the Wadena Pioneer and also as a brakeman for the Northern Pacific Railroad. Eventually, Moodie took his newspaper career to North Dakota, working as a reporter for the Bismarck Tribune. After working for several newspapers, including the Minneapolis Tribune, Moodie served as editor of two of his own weekly North Dakota papers.

In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed the newsman to a committee overseeing the distribution of government grants to public buildings. The following year, Moodie secured the Democratic nomination in the race for North Dakota’s governorship. He ran against Republican Lydia Langer, wife of Governor William Langer, who had been removed from office only months before on charges of defrauding the government. Moodie won the election, but his victory was short-lived. Soon after his inauguration on January 7th, 1935, rumors began to circulate that the Governor had not met the residency requirements. By North Dakota law, a candidate for governor must reside in the state for at least five consecutive years prior to election. Finally, evidence came forward proving that Moodie had indeed cast a vote in a 1932 city election in Minnesota, proving that he had been a resident there only two years prior to running for governor in North Dakota. Lieutenant Governor Walter Welford took over for Moodie on February 2nd, until a decision could be made regarding Moodie’s eligibility. The State Supreme Court eventually determined that Moodie was ineligible to serve, and on February 16th, 1935, he was officially removed from office, becoming the third North Dakota governor to be removed from office in only fourteen years. This is a significant number considering that only fourteen U.S. governors have been removed from office in U.S. history.

Moodie went on to serve as an administrator for the North Dakota Federal Housing Administration and the State War Finance Committee in Montana. Later, he moved to Spokane, Washington, and served as Financial Editor of the Spokane Chronicle until his death in 1948.

Dakota Datebook written by Jayme L. Job