Dakota Datebook

Inaugural Ceremonies

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

 

On November 21, 1921 a peculiar announcement went out inviting the public and Governor Frazier to an inaugural ceremony in the House Chambers at the State Capitol. Inaugural ceremonies are generally held at the beginning of each legislative session in January when a new governor takes the helm of the State, so why was the House Chamber being readied for a November event?

For five years the Nonpartisan League had swept statewide elections and had gained unprecedented political power. Socialistic projects such as the Bank of North Dakota and the North Dakota State Mill and Elevator had been approved through the legislature, but the public had become concerned over a series of scandals that rocked the Frazier administration. A recall election was requested, and for the first time in the nation’s history, a sitting Governor was removed from office.

It was on this date that the North Dakota Canvassing Board announced that the official count of the ballots was completed and inauguration of the new governor would commence immediately. After all, it was fourteen months before the next legislative session.

It was customary for both the retiring governor and the incoming governor to address the people of the state during the ceremony, so an invitation was sent to Governor Frazier. The governor declined, but provided a statement defending his time in office, and he issued a challenge that “…the fight is still on and will be until the complete success of the Industrial Program is assured.” Incoming Governor R. A. Nestos promised change and a reduction in state government.

The inauguration ceremony was held in a packed House Chamber with Secretary of State Thomas P. Hall presiding. Among patriotic songs and speeches, the oath of office was administered to the successful candidates and a jubilant crowd cheered the new administration.

The Independent Voters Association celebrated the victory over the NPL, but there were some who cautioned about getting over confident. As one person mused, the river of politics in North Dakota is a turbulent stream.

The victory was possible only because the Democrats and the Republicans worked as one and the IVA had furnished a common meeting ground that had successfully managed the recall election. This cooperation would be difficult to adhere to. Even though they had been able to put together a strong organization, it was noted that, “… the wrecking crews can destroy faster than the best builders can build.”

Dakota Datebook by Jim Davis

Sources:

The Cando Herald November 21, 1921

The Bismarck Tribune November 23, 1921

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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