New pin for my collection, and a familiar story to go with it…

While I was out at convention, I received a much anticipated pin I’d bought on e-bay, the purely local counterpart to one in the State Museum which also includes Taft on it:


Governor Vessey and US Senator Coe Crawford were Republicans, and during their time in office were mired in a controversy that sounds oddly familiar:

During an interview with a news correspondent in early September, Crawford talked candidly about the political situation in his state. He excoriated Taft’s managers at the Republican convention for “fraudulently and illegally forcing the nomination of Taft” by unseating delegates in certain states who were pledged to Roosevelt.


Crawford also explained that all Republicans, whether stalwart or progressive, who were legally nominated in the primary should be favored by the party in the general election. In other words, he was willing to give loyal Republican stalwarts the full support of the party.

Unfortunately. Crawford’s reasoning did not convince the conservatives, for an editorial in the Daily Huronite on 4 September, the day of the publication of his interview, described the Senator as, among other things, “a combined republican-bull-moosie.”

A week later, the editors commented that the South Dakota factions of Republicanism had reached “the parting of the ways” and that there would be “no further overtures for a settlement of differences.”

Unable to conceal their abhorrence of the Progressive campaign, approximately two hundred and fifty conservative supporters of Taft gathered in Mitchell, South Dakota, on 19 and 20 September to lodge an official protest. Meeting at the Gale Theatre, the delegates chose Charles M. Day, editor of the Sioux Falls Daily Argus-Leader, as chairman of the convention. Senator Gamble also attended and delivered an address. The conservative spokesmen then passed a resolution that read: “That we condemn the action of Governor Vessey [and] Senator Crawford .. . in escorting and supporting the Bull Moose candidate for Vice President through this state in his campaign against the republican national nominees.”


South Dakota stalwarts sought revenge for Crawford’s refusal to endorse Taft. Their opportunity to strike back came in the 1914 senatorial primary. Congressman Burke defeated the incumbent senator in that contest, but Burke in turn lost the general election to Edwin S. Johnson, the Democratic challenger. When Crawford’s single term as Senator ended in March 1915. he returned to his law practice in Huron.

Read the entire story of Coe Crawford and the Campaign of 1912 here.

A fuss over a nominee? A split in the party between “Stalwarts” and “Progressive Republicans?”

Naaahh…  Could never happen in South Dakota again.

5 Replies to “New pin for my collection, and a familiar story to go with it…”

  1. Lee Schoenbeck

    Edwin S Johnson, mentioned in your story, was a banker in Charles Mix County. he had been a Republican, but reregistered at some point (he’d been a Democrat candidate earlier, so it wasn’t for that election). He lived to a ripe old age in western Nebraska, when his senate service was over. He had many children, spread over a bunch of years. His youngest son’s son is a Republican doctor in Watertown, and is the treasurer of my campaign committee —- for a little additional campaign trivia.