C. N. HERREID
A MANLY MAN
One of America's most gifted orators, Col. Robert Ingersoll, standing beside the bier of his dead brother,
delivering a funeral oration over the deceased, said, "There never was a manlier man." These
inspiring words could never have had a more perfect application than to be applied to Charles N. Herreid
ex-governor of South Dakota. How passionately fond we all are of him, not merely for the unexcelled record
which he made as governor, but for his manly virtues.
As governor of the state, Mr. Herreid made an enviable record. Undoubtedly his greatest service to the state
was in the unusually large number of legislative enactments which he vetoed. True: the legislators who served
during this time were equally intelligent with those that have served under other governors; but many of them,
as will always be the case, had never been trained in the interpretation of law.
During Governor Herreid's predecessor's administration, that of Governor Lee, the Initiative and Referendum
had been enacted. Nobody paid much attention to them during Governor Herreid's two terms. Why? Well, simply
because everybody was contented; and, above all, they had confidence in Herreid. He scrutinized every act of
his two legislatures with the eye of an eagle. Every law enacted, that conflicted with the constitution,
virtually repealed some other law, or within itself bore obnoxious features, was promptly vetoed by the
Governor. He didn't wait for the referendum nor for the supreme court. He was a court unto himself. Let it be
said for Governor Herreid that he vetoed more bills than all of the other governors of the state put together.
CHARLES N. HERREID
On the other hand this may be accounted for from another standpoint. In his three messages to the legislature
he recommended far more legislation than any other governor. His last message, delivered as he turned the
reins over to Governor Elrod, is the finest state document on record. It will remain for the future historian
to bring out and properly classify this able state paper.
HERREID, THE PATRIOT
More or less trouble has arisen during the several administrations of our various governors since statehood,
with the state appointees. Governors Sheldon and Lee each one asked the state legislature to enact a law
authorizing the governor to remove any one or all of his own appointees at will, but they refused. Charles
N. Herreid renewed this recommendation; it was done. The wisdom of it became apparent more quickly than its
legislators anticipated. President McKinley was assassinated shortly thereafter. A notary public at Sturgis,
an appointee of Governor Herreid'supon hearing the sad news of the president's assassination,
exclaimed, "It served him right!" No sooner had the news of the fellow's reprehensible conduct
reached Governor Herreid, than he issued an executive order revoking the fellow's commission and removed him
from office; at the same time notifying him by wire of what he had done, in advance of the mails. This one
instance justified the enactment of the law.
FRIEND OF EDUCATION
Just before the legislature of 1901 adjourned, the commitee on education, thought to slip one over on the
governor and get through a sweeping change in our educational laws, that would make our school children
assets to local politicians; but, O! no, not while the scrutinizing Herreid was governor. Here is what the
records in the Secretary of State's office reveal:
"Having received said bill and having only a few moments in which to return it to the house of
Representatives, in which it originated, before its adjornment, sine die, I can only very briefly mention a
few of the many serious objections to the bill. This bill provides that educational institutions 'may
receive, free of tuition, ten students appointed by each State Senator and ten students appointed by each
Representative of the State Legislature,' *** 'not more than three of whom shall be students of the same
"Our educational institutions are supported by the people and for the people of our state. That tuition
should either be free to all or all should pay tuition equally. This bill discriminates and the discrimination
will almost invariably be against those who are poor and without friends of prominence and influence; in other
words, against those who are specially entitled to sympathy and assistance. Why should those only having a
political 'pull' receive free education at the expense of the state? Why should the young men and women of our
state, who seek an education at our institutions, become the political trading stock of politicians?"
* * * * * *
"The iniquity of this bill is indeed complete. Those who desire to pay must be excluded for those
receiving free tuition! A senior who has paid his tuition may be forced to leave to make room for some one on
the 'free list' and graduate from some institution in another state where the Legislative 'pass' system
does not exist.
CHARLES N. HERREID,
Pierre, March 8, 1901."
Again in order to show the extremely careful analysis which he gave to all bills coming up to him for his
signature, we have only to cite the following:
"To the Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives:
"I am unable to approve House Bill No. 90, which is herewith returned to the House of Representatives,
although the record does not show a vote against said bill in either branch of the Legislature."
Think of it! Every vote in both branches of the legislature cast in favor of a bill concerning taxation, etc.,
and not one of them saw a flaw in it. Back it goes to the House, vetoed, with a 1,000-word opinion from
Governor Herreid attached to it shooting it so full of holes that it looked like an old fish net which
had been caught in the snags at the bottom of some limpid stream, and then torn to shreds in trying to pull
it out, so as to save the floaters. Here is an exposure of only one of its 'dodgers':
"This bill aims to give peculiar meaning to certain letters and characters but specifically states that
it shall apply only to tax proceedings.
* * * * * *
The concluding portion of said bill reads as follows:
Whenever the abbreviation "do" or the character ",," or other similar abbreviations or
characters shall be used in any such proceedings, they shall be respectively construed and held as meaning
and being the same name, word, initial, or letter or letters, abbreviations, figure or figures as the last
proceeding such "do" or ",," or other similar character.
"Here again we have a remarkable perversion of well-known marks and abbreviations. 'Do.' is an abbreviation
for 'ditto,' but 'do' is a syllable attached to the first tone of the major diatonic scale for the purpose of
solmization, or solfeggio,' and the marks ",,", doubtless intended for 'turned commas' are, as found
in this remarkable bill, the last half of quotation marks!"
In his inaugural address to the Seventh Biennial Legislature, in 1901, touching upon 'The Pardoning Power"
of the executive, Governor Herreid said:
"The pardoning power is a consequence of 'the imperfection of law and human nature.' A person may be
convicted of a crime on false testimony. After sentence by the Court, the falsehood may be discovered, but
the Court cannot reverse its decree. Reprieves may become necessary or expedient on account of doubt of guilt,
arising from the discovery of new testimony after sentence and before execution, or considerations of public
policy may demand an exemption from punishment. The pardoning power exists, and was conferred by the
constitution upon the Governor, not for exercising his tenderness of heart but to further the ends of justice.
Of late years there has been an increasing tendency towards executive clemency, resulting in gross abuse of
this important prerogative. A convict with numerous friends and abundant means promptly begins preparations
for securing a pardon after he has had a fair trial, and his gulit has been legally established. The
Governor's office becomes an appellate court, where the case is re-tried, largely in the nature of an ex parte
proceeding. The victim may be slumbering in a forgotten grave. Human sympathy is apt to be with the living
rather than the dead. Or the injured party is persuaded to join the forces appealing for sympathy, ignoring
the no less sacred rights of society.
"These observations are for the purpose of announcing to the people of this state that it is not the
purpose of the Executive to usurp the functions of courts and juries; that the pardoning power will be
exercised strictly according to the theory of our system of jurisprudence and the spirit of our constitution."
In keeping with these sentiments, Governor Herreid was firm in his dealings with offenders. He granted fewer
pardons than any other governor we have ever had. In fact the pardons granted by other executives stand about
"16 to 1" as compared with those extended by him. His refusal to "pardon," and his readiness
to "veto," kept his two administrations consistent through out, and left behind him an unsullied
record of administrative justice.
But Herreid had had great training for his work as governor. He had previously been elected lieutenant-governor
for two consecutive terms. In this capacity, he had been schooled in handling legislation.
"As president of the state senate in 1893 and 1895 he displayed in a marked manner his fitness and
capacity to deal with public affairs. His failures and candor as well as his evident comprehension of purpose
to decide all questions without bias or prejudice in conformity with the rules of the senate, were recognized
by men of all political parties, and so well did he succeed in the task that no appeal was ever taken from any
of his rulings at either session of the legislature. It is said that no other president of a state senate in
the United States has ever made a similar record."
Ordinarily, any man who accepts the second place on the state or on a national ticket, digs his own political
grave, and the bells which peal forth his success at the polls, at the same time tingle out his political death
knell. But Herreid was born to be an exception. The ability and fairness which he displayed as president of the
senate commended him to the people of the state as the logical man for the higher field of responsibilities.
Think on it! Lieutenant-Governor for two terms, Governor for two terms. No doubt many decades will have passed
into state history before his record will have been duplicated.
Each of Governor Herreid's public documents is a literary gem. He stands in a class by himself as a classical
writer. No other public official in the state has ever equalled him as a man of letters.
The most perfect style of diction is demanded of the state supreme court, so that no possible misinterpretation
can be placed upon any of their opinions. Yet Judge Fuller, (deceased, whom we all now mourn) said to us one
day in his official chamber: "This man Herreid beats anybody I ever knew in his diction. Frequently he
comes to me and asks about a certain point, yet it is never for information direct that will enable him to
reach a conclusion, but merely to see if my judgment re-inforces his own."
His public letters and addresses are so evenly balanced throughout that it is hard for any man to select from
the many passages more choice than the rest, any which might tend to emphasize his style. We think a couple
extracts taken from the Address of Welcome in behalf of the state which he delivered to the American Mining
Congress which convened at Deadwood during his governorship, will suffice:
"We all rejoice over the prevailing universal prosperity. I am proud of the fact that I can welcome you
to a state where the people are superlatively prosperous, contented and happy; where the spirit of success
dominates the commercial and industrial atmosphere; where everybody has surrendered to the magnificent energy
which is building a new and splendid empire. I welcome you to the people who for six years have produced more
wealth per capita than any other state in the Union; to a state famous for the large number, according to
population, of newspapers, churches, colleges and school houses; to a state absolutely free from conflict
between labor and capital; to a state settled largely by the children of the pioneers who were the empire
builders of the great westchildren who from infancy were taught the lesson of vigorous manhood; a people
who adopted as the state motto: 'Under God the People Rule,' and who, as individuals and communities, with
reverence for all law, human and divine, are living up to their high standards of right.
* * * * * *
"Ten years ago the real value of all property within the state was less than one hundred million dollars;
to-day it is one thousand millions!
"To-day every South Dakotan is proud of his state and with joy and devotion ready to join the grand chorus
of thanksgiving and praise:
'I love every inch of our prairie land.
Each stone on her mountain side,
I love ev'ry drop of her water clear
That flows in her rivers wide.
I love ev'ry tree, ev'ry blade of grass
Within Columbia's gates,
The queen of the earth is the land of my birth
My own United States.' "
Governor Herreid is a Wisconsinite by birth and a South Dakotan by adoption. Again, the old Badger state has
shown her marked influence over the new territories that one after another were gradually carved out of the
great domain to her westward. A proud father and mother, calmly viewing their baby boy on October 20, 1857,
evidently little dreamed that they were the parents of a future South Dakota governor.
His boyhood was spent knocking around on the farm, developing a good healthy physique. Later, he spent three
years at Galesville University. Then he read law for one year in a law office. Afterwards, he graduated in
1882 from the law department of the Wisconsin University.
The same year that he graduated he was married to a Wisconsin lady who has since blessed Dakota with her happy
traits, noble womanhood, and her charming example, Miss Jeanette Slye. The next year the young couple decided
to cast their fortune in the "golden west," and so they packed up and went to Dakota, settling in
McPherson county, where they became a part of our sturdy pioneers.
Mr. and Mrs. Herreid's neighbors soon learned to esteem them. Then their neighbors' neighbors found out about
them, and so on until like a pebble dropped in the center of a still pool, their influence radiated itself in
a succession of wavelets until it had reached the far distant shoals of the state.
As a result, here is what happened: Charles N. Herreid elected States Attorney of McPherson county, then
county judge; next a member of the Board of Trustees of our State University, and later a Regent of Education;
elected and re-elected Lieutenant governor, member of the Republican State Central Committee; member National
Republican Committee; elected and re-elected Governor. He has also been Grand Chancellor K. of P., of the
domain of South Dakota. He is a member of the A. O. U. W. and was chairman of the committee to revise the
constitutional statutes of the grand lodge, and has held various important positions in this organization.
He is also a member of the Eastern Star and a thirty-third degree Mason. He and his family are members of the
Governor and Mrs. Herreid are the proud parents of two childrena daughter, Miss Grace, and her loving
and affectionate brother whom the state will recall as having died during Mr. Herreid's incumbency of the
governor's office, as the result of an operation for appendicitis. He was a charming lad, universally beloved
and a general favorite among the South Dakota National Guard, in which he held the rank of Captain.
After retiring from the governor's chair in 1904, Mr. Herreid removed to Aberdeen and took up again the
practice of his chosen profession which he followed for three years. During this time he gradually and rapidly
became so interwoven in the business affairs of Aberdeen that he has been obliged to drop his law practice for
other enterprises. He is secretary of the corporation that recently built at Aberdeen the beautiful Citizens's
Bank Building, which, including the basement and roof garden, is eight stories high. Governor Herreid is also
president of the Aberdeen Railway Company which has built five miles of street railway in that city and which
contemplates the construction of three or four miles in the early spring. In addition to these responsibilities,
he is a director and Vice-President of the Dakota Central Telephone Co., and the Citizens Trust and Savings
Bank, and he is, in other ways, not herein enumerated, identified with the business interests of Aberdeen.
Such has been the phenominal career of a young man who was not afraid to break away from "dad" and
to strike out into the world for himself. It has been repeatedly asserted by careful political students throughout
the state, and it is now quite generally admitted by both factions of the Republican party, that had the city
of Aberdeen forced him into the race for the governorship nonination at the June primaries in 1908, he would
have swept the state and easily have become governor for at least a third termsimply on the strength of
his past record as a public servant, which is untarnished by a single blot, and which will stand for years
hence among the most illustrious pages of our state's history.
"There never was a manlier man!"