Dakota Datebook

Institutions

 

In 1889, with the Territorial Legislature in its fourteenth day, thoughts of impending statehood were on the minds of most of the legislators, but little in the way of statehood legislation had actually surfaced. A bill to authorize another Constitutional Convention at Huron was introduced, which was needed to amend the Constitution already submitted by South Dakota. One correction that needed to be made concerned the salaries of state officials. The sums had been set so low that it was said only the very rich or the very devious could afford to run for office. Another bill allowed for a Constitutional Convention to be held at Grafton in May to establish a constitution for North Dakota.

 

Although there wasn’t a significant amount of statehood legislation, there was an attempt to use this last session of the territorial legislature to establish government institutions. It was easier to obtain funding from the coffers of Dakota Territory for normal schools, asylums, hospitals and other institutions than it was to obtain more limited dollars after statehood. Cities applying for institutions were expected to supply the land and a sizeable amount of capital for the projects. However, cities in the south, with the higher populations, were more adept at putting together the financing. Of the eight educational institutions in the Territory, seven were in the southern part, with only the University of North Dakota in the north. Bills were introduced for normal schools at Devils Lake, Casselton, Hatton, Lakota, Milnor, St. Thomas, Wahpeton and other cities.

 

Valley City, Casselton and Fargo were positioning themselves for an agricultural college. To justify the placement of the college at Fargo, an editorial in the Fargo Republican pointed out that the University at Grand Forks was several miles from the city and was operated more like a boarding school than a university because of its isolation on the wind-swept prairie. Due to its detachment from the city, and being surrounded by fields, the paper argued that it was more properly suited as an agricultural college, and that a new university should be built within the city limits of Fargo where there could be social interaction with the community. In their estimation, it seemed obvious that students would not go to Grand Forks for the privilege of facing a blizzard on the unsheltered prairie.

 

Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis

 

Sources:

 

 

Bismarck Tribune January 26, 1889

Laws Passed at the Eighteenth Session of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Dakota, Free Press Co., Pierre, Dakota Territory 1891

Grand Forks Weekly Herald, January 18, 1889

 

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