When the good people of our state, who remained at home, heard that a few young up-stars in attendance at the Republican state convention held in Sioux Falls in June 1906, had actually hissed Congressman Burke when he arose to speak, and that John Lockart had been compelled to rise up in the midst of the tumult and plead for a higher expression of citizenship, they said quietly to themselves, "If we ever get a chance, we'll right that wrong." The chance came. Mr. Burke became a candidate for congress again in 1908. The public righted this wrong at the June primaries of that year; they righted it again at the primaries this year, and they will right it again in November.

Mr. Burke is a born vote-getter. He knows nothing about the tricks of the average politician in this regard. He gets them on the strength of his past record, on his ability to assimilate good hard work, on his political consistency; in fact they just sort o' come to him. Any man who would hestitate to vote for Charlie Burke, either doesn't understand Mr. Burke, or else he has a grudge at himself, commonly known as "political dyspepsia."

Charlie's political career is not at an end in South Dakota yet. Oh! no; not by any manner of means. In a large number of states, the capital thereof is not the metropolis. It is true in New York, in Illinois, in North Dakota, and in a long list of other states. It is equally true in South Dakota. Every state capital wants a senator or a congressman, so does every metropolis. Tnere is a lot of good political prestige goes with a senatorship that is worth looking into. The capital of South Dakota has a congressman. The metropolis had a senator. She deliberately threw him overboard. Today, Sioux Falls' loss is Huron's gain. Nevertheless, the time may not be far distant when the city of Pierre will be clamoring for a senator. If she does, keep your eye on Charlie Burke.

It has been a great many years since Congressman Burke entered public life. During this long interval of time there has been a steady influx of settlers into our state. Many of them know little about him or his public work; therefore, we deem it proper to give him a little biographical introduction.


Burke is an Irishman. (Hardly necessary to mention his nationality, so long as he spells his name exactly like Edmund Burke, the famous Irish leader in the House of Parliament during the latter part of the eighteenth century.) He is just in the prime of life—forty-nine years of age.

Born in New York state, he, too, saw the advantages to a young man in going west, and so in 1882 he settled on a homestead in Beadle county, South Dakota. In 1883 he removed to Hughes county, where he has since resided. He is married and has four children.


Congressman Burke was admitted to the South Dakota bar in 1886, but he has never been active as a practitioner. Charlie is, first of all, a business man. In his own private business affairs, he has been pre-eminently successful,—just the kind of a man we need on our congressional delegation.


Mr. Burke was elected to our State Legislature in 1894, was re-elected in 1896, and two years later, he was sent to congress; was re-elected in 1900, in 1902, in 1904, (missed in 1906), in 1908, and he will be again on November 8, 1910.

When he left the national capitol, March 4, 1907, after his temporary defeat in 1906, the men in congress, with whom he had trained for so many years, gathered about him and bade him an affectionate farewell, each one saying as he shook hands with him, "Charlie, I hope you'll come back at the next election." As he walked down the capitol steps. he said to a friend, "I'll never come back to this building again so long as I live, unless I can with a commission from my state." Charlie came back, and he'll keep coming. Why not? Look at his record. Following are only a few of the splendid measures which he favored and worked hard to have enacted into law:

The extension of rural free delivery of the mails;

The Act prohibiting freight rebates by railroads;

The Act to expedite the hearing and determination of suits in equity brought under the Sherman anti-trust act of 1890 to protect trade and commerce against unlawful restraints and monopolies;

The Act to promote the safety of employees and travelers upon railroads by compelling common carriers to equip their cars with automatic couplers and continuous brakes, and their locomotives with driving wheel brakes;

The Act authorizing the Interstate Commerce Commission to employ safety-appliance inspectors;

The Joint Resolution directing the Interstate Commerce Commission to investigate and report on block signal systems for the control of railroad trains;

The Act requiring common carriers engaged in interstate commerce to make full reports of all accidents, both as to the nature and cause;

The Joint Resolution directing the Interstate Commerce Commission to make investigations into the subject of railroad discrimination and monopolies in coal and oil;

The Act to promote the security upon railroads engaged in interstate commerce and to encourage the saving of life;

The Act to regulate commerce, approved June 30, 1906, commonly known as the Railway Rate Legislation of the Roosevelt administration;

The Act establishing the Department of Commerce and Labor and authorizing the Bureau of Corporations therein to exericse the same power and control in respect to corporations, joint stock companies and combinations subject to the provisions of the act, as the Interstate Commerce Commission exercieses over common carriers;

The Meat Inspection Act;
The Pure Food Act;

The Employer's Liability Act;
The Denatured Alcohol Act;
The Oleomargerine Act;
The Reclamation Act;
Postal Savings Banks.

Again the skeptic says: "I don't care what he has done in the past, what I desire to know is what he is going to do with regard to the reform measures that will come up for enactment during the next session of congress. Very well, Mr. Radical, here is what he has pledged himself to work for, and Charlie has never yet broken faith with his constituents:

Support President Taft"s administration;

Revision by the Tariff Commission of the Payee-Aldrich tariff law, after it shall have been thoroughly tested and its weak points ascertained;

Amendment of the Interstate Commerce law;

Conservation of National Resources;

Improvement of the Missouri river as a public highway so as to hold down freight rates;

New laws making the American Indian self-supporting;

The early opening for settlement of the remainder of the Indian reservations of the state.

When Mr. Burke was returned to congress in 1909, he was offered a position on the Ways and Means Committee, one of the most influential and important committees in our national congress. He refused this honor, saying: "By refusing this appointment I may get the chairmanship of the Committee on Indian Affairs. I can then be of far greater service to the people of my state." Always a practical politician, he got the Indian assignment, succeeding Mr. Sherman, vice-president of the United States, who had held the position for fourteen years. It was a well-deserved promotion, and it gave to South Dakota a recognition never before equalled, except in the appointment of Senator Kittredge to the chairmanship of the Committee on Interoceanic Canals. Speaking of his appointment, our newspapers, without regard to politics or to factionalism, were unstinted in their praise. Among the hundreds of beautiful comments were the following extracts:

Aberdeen American: South Dakota has been given notable recognition in the appointment of Congressman Burke to be chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, one of the big plums of the House register. Mr. Burke has long served upon this committee, and his place of seniority recommended the post and his ability and careful participation in the duties of his past membership counseled that the honor go to him. Some idea of the importance of the position held by the head of that committee may be gained when it is known that the committee has the direction of the expenditure of about $10,000,000 anually.

Blunt Advocate: The elevation of Congressman Burke to the chairmanship of the Indian Committee is certainly a great honor, considering the importance of that committee, and it brings to South Dakota the highest recognition in a national way that has ever been given the State.

Hot Springs Star: Congressman Burke has been appointed chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs. Mr. Burke was a member of this committee during his first term in Congress, before insurgency put him out for a term, and he exhibited such a thorough knowledge of Indian affairs and the government's dealing with them, that he was the logical man for the chairmanship. He is a keen Congressman, whose push, pull and ability are for the state

Northwest Blade (Leola): Congressman Charles H. Burke, of South Dakota, has been made chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, one of the very best and most important committees in the House of Representatives. The honor is no small one to confer but all who know Mr. Burke will agree that the appointment was the right man in the right place.

Mitchell Republican: The Republican is exceedingly glad to know that Mr. Burke has been honored and that he has brought additional honor and credit to the state. As chairman of the committee, the South Dakota Congressman will be the chief factor in Indian legislation and an appropriation bill which carries $10,000,000 annually. The utmost confidence is placed in his ability and business capacity to handle the chairmanship of this very important committee to the end that it will result in credit to himself, his state, and benefit to the Indian affairs of the government.

Ft. Pierre Stock Growers' News: This was the most important appointment to be made at this session and it is certainly a high honor coupled with a great responsibility. Mr. Burke has shown himself to be the man best fitted for this position, and we are of the opinion that no other man so well understands the Indian's status and needs. His ability to allow competent Indians to title to their lands has done more toward placing them where can take care of their own affairs than all other legislation during the last twenty-five years

Huronite: Whether it was an exhibition of wisdom or compensation for being good, Mr. Cannon has conferred service on the red people by substituting a Western Congressman for an Eastern Congressman at the head of this important committee.

Cresbard Beacon: This is not Mr. Burke's first experience in the lower House; our peope concluded to try another set of Congressmen, but before their first term had expired they found out their mistake and hurried to remedy it by returning Martin and Burke to their old positions. We congratulate Mr. Burke and the Indians at the same time.

The above are only a few of the several hundred choice editorial bouquets which were thrown at "our Charlie" by the newspaper fraternity of the state. We wish that space would grant the publication of them all.


While addressing the citizens of Mitchell and the surrounding country, during his presidency, Colonel Roosevelt said: "It takes three things to make a good citizen—honesty, courage and common sense." We just believe he had Congressman Burke in mind.

The reason Mr. Burke has been so effectual in legislation is because of this inherent honesty; his manly courage to stand up for what he thinks is right; and his good, common-sense, in not antagonizing the administration with which he is compelled to work and at whose hands he must look for favors for himself and through himself for his constituents.

No other congressman in all history has been so successful as he in securing "unanimous consent" for the enactment of his proposed bills. It is because his colleagues—Democrats and Republicans alike—have learned to trust him. They know he is honest; they make him a law-making body unto himself; what Charlie Burke asks for he gets.


Whether you meet Mr. Burke on the porch of his own magnificent home at Pierre, on the streets of his home town, on the train, in Chicago, or at Washington, he is always the same Charlie— always in the same pleasing mood—always a man. He is better than the good, as good as the best, and he side-steps for no man.


©2002, Virginia A. Cisewski
All Rights Reserved