A. B. KITTREDGE
A CAESAREAN SENATOR
"The president," said Senator Kittredge-and nothing more
as he introduced President Roosevelt, a few years since to a large out-door audience that had gathered
in Sioux Falls to hear him speak. This is the shortest public speech introductory, or otherwise, on record.
It reminds one of that dainty scriptural passage, the shortest verse in the Bible, "Jesus wept."
Incidentally, it also suggests the speech made recently by Lieutenant Governor Horace White, of New York state,
while introducing Colonel Roosevelt to an up-state audience. He said, "We are here today to welcome and
to honor Theodore Roosevelt." Without adding another syllable, he sat down. "Do I speak now?"
interrogated the Colonel. This style of speaking is characteristic of "Kit." He is the briefest man
on earth. To him words are jeweled instruments for the conveyance of thought, and he uses them sparingly.
"A" is an indefinite article, "the" is a definite one. Many a man has been "a"
president, but just at that psychological moment Mr. Roosevelt was "the" president. How apt! How
significant! Just so in trying a lawsuit, the Senator has little to say; yet we doubt if any man in the state
has won so large a percentage of the cases he has tried.
Kittredge's ascendency to the United States senate, as an appointee of Governor Herreid, soon won for him
recognition as a man of great brain power and a tireless worker. His early appointment to a position on the
judiciary committee bore prima facie evidence that he was at once regarded at Washington as an able constitutional
lawyer. Likewise, his immediate selection for a place on the Committee on Inter-Oceanic Canals, awakened to
him the opportunity of a life-time.
Quietlymeditatinglymanfully Mr. Kittredge went to work, and the pulse of South Dakota was
soon throbbing with the recognition which her junior senator was receiving at our national capitol. Old soldiers
got their pensions increased, public buildings were springing up here and there; new political life was in evidence.
But it was not until the senate called for the brief on the purchase of the Panama canal from the French company
that Senator Kittredge's great legal ability excited public comment. Here was a young lawyera senator,
if you pleasefrom the "wild and woolly" west. The senate has in it some mighty clever legal
talent. When the "bachelor senator" from South Dakota arose to make his report, all ears were at
eager attention. It was an herculean proposition to draw up a brief on such a technical, complicated,
international proposition. Not a word was struck out, not a syllable added. It was perfect; and it will be
referred to as authority by coming generations when Senator Kittredge has embarked for another world lo!
these hundred years.
But Mr. Kittredge performed another public act while senator that will bless mankind forever. He introduced and
secured the passage of a new copyright law which gives authors, artists and musicians ample protection for the
products of their efforts. Two South Dakotans were among the very first to take advantage of the new law when
it went into effect, July 1, 1909.
Largely on account of his silent nature, Senator Kittredge has never been properly understood, except by his
nearest associates. He is a man of great poise. He can stand more fire without flinching during a political
battle than any man in the state. During that eventful, personal campaign of 1908, while Mr. Kittredge was
addressing an audience in Lincoln county, he was violently interrupted by State Treasurer Cassill who sat in
the audience, and whose official record Mr. Kittredge was fear1ess1y exposing. Calm, cool headed, collected,
he retained his poise and in a sober, dignified manner, characteristic of his great personality, the speaker,
without stopping to "swear" his witness, cross-examined Mr. Cassill so closely about his own record,
in the presence of his neighbors and his friends, that the latter lost his renomination and had to leave the
During his official life Senator Kittredge was openly accused of being a "corporation hireling,"
etc. A few months ago he tried a personal damage suit at Flandreau, against the Milwaukee railroad company,
and he won his case, securing a verdict of $22,000 damages in favor of two orphan children whose parents were
killed by a train. After the trial, an old Norwegian farmer came up to him and said, "Why Mr. Kittredge,
Ay always heard that you bane for the railroad company and against the people. Ay voted against you the last
time, but Ay bet your life Ay bane going to vote for you next time."
Senator Kittredge is distinctly a self-made man. To begin with he was only a poor
farmer's son down in Cheshire county, New Hampshire, where he came into being just one week to the day
before Abe Lincoln was first inaugurated president of the United States. His early education was acquired
in the rural schools of his native state. A private tutor prepared him for Yale which he entered in June
1878, graduating from the academic department with the class of '85.
Young Kittredge was twenty-four years of age when he had finished his education. Tired of the wind-swept
"copjes" of old New England and being thrilled with the inspiration of "Young man, go west, and
grow up with the country," he at once struck for South Dakota. At that time the territory had not been
divided. It was a vast empire carved from what was geographically known in the old geographies as "The
Great American desert."
A. B. KITTREDGE
Settling in Sioux Falls he stuck out his shingle
Long years ago he pulled down this sign, his whereabouts were known; his record as an attorney had been made.
From this time on we see him climbing the political ladder. Politics were his natural choice; he couldn't keep
out. When the doctor vaccinated him against the small pox he must have injected into him some political virus,
for it is in his blood. Possessed of all the sturdy instincts of a natural born leader, he soon forged his
way to the front.
In 1888 he was made chairman of the Minnehaha county republican committee. Later he was state senator from that
county during the first two terms of our state legislature, after the division of Dakota.
His ability commanded attention and respect. From 1892 to 1900 he was national committeeman. It has often been
said that "He made Herreid governor." He did! But Herreid made him a senator and cancelled the
obligation. When Senator Kyle, a democrat of life-long training, but a compromise, semi-republican legislative
senatorial creation, suddenly died at Washington in 1901, there was a great scramble among politicians for an
appointment to the vacancy. Herreid was unyielding. He simply said, "I'll give the appointment to the man
who has done more for me politically than all others, A. B. Kittredge."
The appointment was made; the commission was written out, and all was overfor the time being. At the
hands of the state legislature, in 1903, Mr. Kittredge was given the united and complete support of the
republican party and unanimously elected by them to succeed himself in the senate for six years longer. Thus
Governor Herreid's selection of him for the appointment in 1901 was vindicated by the republican party in 1903,
and the picciyunish, idle criticism of the governor's selection melted away.
A MODERN CAESAR
When dissension arose in Rome and Cassius plotted the downfall of Caesar, the latter's friends came to him
and said, "Dont' go back to the senate chamber, you will be assassinated." Caesar calmly replied,
"I'll go where duty calls me." He went, and in a short space of time, pierced with a score of wounds,
he fell at the feet of the statue of his old rival, Pompeii. At the holiday recess of congress in 1907, Senator
Kittredge was urged by his friends not to return to the senate, or he would be assassinated (politically) He
replied, as did Caesar, "I'll go where duty calls me." He wentand then came backtoo
lateonly to go down to defeat at the hands of his old political enemies.
To those of his constituents who backed him so faithfully in the fight, the tragedy of his defeat seemed
appalling. Caesar and Brutus had been great military friends at one time; yet Brutus joined Cassius in
Caesar's downfall, Accepting his fate philosophically, the great ruler of Rome, as he sank before the final
thrust of a dagger, calmly looked up at his old friend and muttered those memorable words, "You too,
Brutus." Kittredge andhad at one time been great political friends. As Kittredge saw the
primary election returns coming in and felt the danger of defeat penetrating his heart, he calmly muttered,
"You too,;" and then quietly returned to his lucrative law practice. Thus
closed the most vicious, personal political fight that has ever occurred in South Dakota. Every man connected
with it had his character assassinated. Yet, after all, its dire effects are rapidly passing away, and
"Time, sweet restorer, a victory gaineth,
In hearts where the vials of wrath were outpoured."
A new day has dawned upon us. New "bed-fellows" are being made in politics. The "old guard"
that went down to de feat with Kittredge when he met his "Waterloo" at the hands of Crawford, who,
acting in the capacity of Lord Wellesly, marshalled all of the opposing forces against him, will never stand
together in another fierce fight as before. The conservative field held by Kittredge and the advanced position
assumed by Mr. Crawford will both be vacated and midwaysomewhere close to the ground taken by the state
republican platform this year, under new leaders, the diminishing remnant of the "old guard"
and a workable portion of the less radical element of the opposing forces, will come together and fight for
political preference, along new lines, and for the common good of the state.
Regardless of what the future may bring forth, Senator Kittredge will remain a great character in the history
of the state, and be revered and admired by his many friends whom he never betrayed. May we never cease to
[Later.Senator Kittredge was suddenly taken ill, and died at Hot Springs, Arkansas, May 4, 1911.
At this time funds are being voluntarily contributed by his friends to erect a marble bust of him in our new
State Capitol.O. W. C. ]