Peter Norbeck

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Peter Norbeck
PeterNorbeck R-SD.jpg
9th Governor of South Dakota
In office
January 2, 1917 – January 4, 1921
Lieutenant William H. McMaster
Preceded by Frank M. Byrne
Succeeded by William H. McMaster
Personal details
Born (1870-08-27)August 27, 1870
Clay County, South Dakota
Died December 20, 1936(1936-12-20) (aged 66)
Redfield, South Dakota
Political party Republican
Religion Lutheranism

Peter Norbeck (August 27, 1870 – December 20, 1936) was an American politician from South Dakota. He served one term as the ninth Governor of South Dakota and three terms as a United States Senator. Norbeck was the first native-born Governor of South Dakota to serve in office. He is best remembered as "Mount Rushmore's great political patron", for promoting the construction of the giant sculpture at Mount Rushmore and securing federal funding for it.[1]

Biography[edit]

Norbeck was the oldest of six children born to immigrants George (born in Jämtland, Sweden) and Karen (Larsen) Norbeck, who was Norwegian. At the time of Peter's birth, his family was living in a dugout on the family's 160 acres (0.65 km2), located eight miles (13 km) northeast of Vermillion, Dakota Territory. He attended the public schools and the University of South Dakota at Vermillion.[2] In 1895 he was a contractor and driller of deep water, oil, and gas wells. He moved to Redfield, South Dakota in 1900 and added agricultural pursuits.

In June, 1901 he married Lydia Theresa Anderson[3] and they had three daughters, Nellie, Ruth, and Selma (aka Sally); and one son, Harold.[4]

Career[edit]

On May 9, 1908, Norbeck ran for the South Dakota State Senate from Spink County. After being elected to the first of three terms, he joined Coe Crawford's inner circle of Progressives. In 1914, Norbeck reluctantly accepted Governor Frank Byrne's invitation to run for Lieutenant Governor on the Republican ticket; they ended up winning.

In 1916, Norbeck ran for governor and beat Democratic candidate W.T. Rinehart, becoming the ninth Governor of South Dakota. He served in that office from 1917 to 1921.

In 1920, Norbeck was easily elected United States Senator. He won the election with 50% of the vote, running against a Democrat and two fairly strong independent candidates; the Democrat finished third. Norbeck was re-elected to the Senate in 1926 and 1932. Norbeck made a number of contributions to South Dakota's tourism industry. He worked with sculptor Gutzon Borglum to help him create his huge sculpture at Mount Rushmore, convinced presidents Calvin Coolidge and Franklin D. Roosevelt to support it, and shepherded through Congress multiple bills to provide federal money for it.[1] He encouraged the development of the Iron Mountain Road in the Black Hills. He also pushed for the development of Sylvan Lake, Needles Highway, Badlands National Park, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, and the Game Sanctuary in the Black Hills.[5]

As outgoing Republican chairman during the last months of the Herbert Hoover presidency, Norbeck appointed Ferdinand Pecora as Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate's Committee on Banking and Currency. The Committee investigated the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

Death[edit]

Norbeck died of cancer in Redfield, South Dakota during his third term as United States Senator in 1936.[3] He is interred at Bloomington Church Cemetery, Platte, South Dakota.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Biography:Senator Peter Norbeck". American Experience: Mount Rushmore. PBS. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Peter Norbeck". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Peter Norbeck". Find A Grave. Retrieved 1 September 2012. 
  4. ^ "Peter Norbeck". Soylent Communications. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "Peter Norbeck". National Governors Association. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 

External links[edit]


Political offices
Preceded by
E. L. Abel
Lieutenant Governor of South Dakota
1915–1917
Succeeded by
William H. McMaster
Preceded by
Frank M. Byrne
Governor of South Dakota
1917–1921
Succeeded by
William H. McMaster
United States Senate
Preceded by
Edwin S. Johnson
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from South Dakota
1921–1936
Served alongside: Thomas Sterling, William H. McMaster, William J. Bulow
Succeeded by
Herbert E. Hitchcock