25th Anniversary of Statehood
One hundred years ago, the City of Bismarck was filled with activity concerning the Fourth Annual North Dakota Industrial Exposition. They were also commemorating the 25thanniversary of statehood. Many of the members of the constitution convention returned to visit the scene where they worked so hard to place the 39thstar on the national flag. Not only did they honor the delegates to the convention, they also honored the members of the first state legislature who had the burden of completing the statehood process – enacting the laws mandated by the Constitution.
The events began with a procession to the Capitol, where Governor Hanna oversaw the afternoon program in the House chambers. Burleigh F. Spaulding, a member of the convention from Fargo, now serving as chief justice of the state supreme court, spoke of the struggles and triumphs of the convention. He spoke of the railroad bills, women’s suffrage and the placement of state institutions through constitutional mandate. Many of those issues still persisted. The NPL, a resurrection of the Farmers Alliance, was securing the reins of state government, and constitutional measures were on the ballot concerning state institutions and suffrage.
A 25th anniversary banquet was held at the Grand Pacific Hotel, where Reuben N. Stevens, a former delegate from Lisbon, served as master of ceremonies. R. M. Pollock of Fargo remarked that in the twenty-five years since the delegates met, only fifty of the original seventy-five were still living. Although many of the delegates opposing the Constitution had refused to sign it, over the years they had returned, adding their names. A special moment came that evening when Martin V. Linwell of Northwood, one of the seventy-five delegates who helped frame the Constitution, finally signed his name at the bottom of the document.
Although Dennis Hannifin, the Squatter Governor, had never served a minute in any official political office, and had been both scorned and revered by politicians, he was asked for a few comments. The so-called Third House he pretended to preside over had yielded significant political influence. He commented that his title would die with him, for there was no provision to elect a successor. He stated that North Dakota had made wonderful progress, and as for its future, the old gambler hoped the state would play an open game, let the sky be the limit, and stand pat to the end of the deal … there should be no welching.
The 25thAnniversary of Statehood lacked the pomp and circumstance of the original event, but it served to honor all the participants of the Constitutional Convention of 1889.
Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis
The Bismarck Tribune October 21, 1914