Leslie Jensen

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Leslie Jensen
Leslie Jensen.jpg
15th Governor of South Dakota
In office
January 5, 1937 – January 3, 1939
Preceded by Tom Berry
Succeeded by Harlan J. Bushfield
Personal details
Born (1892-09-15)September 15, 1892
Hot Springs, South Dakota, U.S.
Died December 14, 1964(1964-12-14) (aged 72)
Rapid City, South Dakota, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Ward
Alma mater University of South Dakota
  • Attorney
  • Businessman

Leslie Jensen (September 15, 1892 – December 14, 1964) was an American bussinessman and politician who served as the 15th Governor of South Dakota.


Leslie Jensen was born in Hot Springs, South Dakota. In 1916 and 1917, he was a Second Lieutenant in the South Dakota National Guard 4th Infantry Regiment during the 1916 Mexican border expedition. He was a Captain with the American Expeditionary Forces from 1917 to 1919. He received an LL.B. degree from the University of South Dakota School of Law in 1921. He married Elizabeth Ward and they had three children.[1]


From 1922 until 1934 Jensen was a collector for the Internal Revenue Service. He became president and general manager of the People's Telephone and Telegraph Company.[2]

In 1936, Jensen, a Republican, defeated incumbent Governor Tom Berry as South Dakota Governor. He served from 1937 until 1939. During Jensen's single term as governor, the legislature created a state department to implement the new federal Social Security Act. In addition, despite the financial demands of the relief effort, the Jensen administration was able to balance South Dakota's general fund and eliminate a twenty-year-old overdraft as well as to reduce the state's bonded indebtedness and provide for refunding of rural credit bonds at lower rates of interest. In 1938, the South Dakota Division of the Motor Patrol was formed under Governor Jensen. Harlan J. Bushfield, former Republican state chairman, succeeded Leslie Jensen as governor.[3]

In 1938, Jensen opted to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate, rather than seek reelection to the governorship, but he was defeated in the election. In the primary election held on May 3, 1938, Chan Gurney defeated Governor Jensen for the Republican nomination as United States Senator. Jensen went on to serve as a Colonel during World War II in the U.S. Armed forces from 1941 until 1945, when he returned to Hot Springs.


Jensen died in an automobile accident in Rapid City and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Hot Springs, Fall River County, South Dakota, US. The Leslie Jensen Scenic Highway, part of US Route 18, was named in his honor. In 1987, the Governor Leslie Jensen House, his family residence was registered in the National Register of Historic Places listings in Fall River County, South Dakota.


  1. ^ "Leslie Jensen". National Governors Association. Retrieved 2 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Governor Leslie Jensen(Guide to the Governors Papers at the South Dakota State Archives)[1]
  3. ^ South Dakota Governor Leslie Jensen (National Governors Association) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-02-15. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Tom Berry
Governor of South Dakota
Succeeded by
Harlan J. Bushfield