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William Purcell


William Purcell was appointed to the U.S. Senate on this date in 1910. Purcell’s appointment was made to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Fountain Thompson, who had been appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Martin N. Johnson; this made Purcell the third man to fill North Dakota’s junior Senate seat during a single term.

Born in New Jersey, Purcell moved to Wahpeton in 1881. He was appointed by President Grover Cleveland as the U.S. Attorney for Dakota Territory in 1888. In 1889, he was elected as a member of the North Dakota constitutional convention, where he was charged with dividing the property and assets between the states of North and South Dakota.

His time as a U.S. Senator was short-lived. He served only one year before losing the seat to challenger Asle Gronna.

Dakota Datebook written by Jayme L. Job


Lounsberry, Clement Augustus, 1919. Early History of North Dakota: Essential Outlines of American History. Washington, DC: Liberty Press.