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Coe Isaac Crawford


Posted By: Allamakee co. coordinator (email)
Date: 3/2/2004 at 06:49:41

A predominant characteristic of Coe Isaac Crawford is his loyalty to his honest convictions, which he will defend to the point of sacrificing any personal ambition. He stands at all times in stalwart defense of what he believes to be right and none question the integrity of his opinions; they may differ from him in matters of belief or of policy but none doubt his sincerity. These qualities have been again and again manifest in his career-the tangible evidences of his public spirit and today as representative of South Dakota in the United States senate, he is displaying the same qualities which marked his efforts to defeat machine rule in state politics.

C. I. Crawford is a typical resident of the west, alert and enterprising. He was born at Volney, Allamakee county, Iowa, January 14, 1858, his parents being Robert and Sarah (Shannon) Crawford. The family is of Irish lineage and was founded in the new world by James Crawford who, leaving his home in County Tyrone, Ireland, became a resident of Coshocton county, Ohio, in 1816. He was the father of Robert Crawford, who removed from Bloomfield, Ohio, to Allamakee county, Iowa, in 1851, and there amid the hills which border the Mississippi valley, established his home and reared his family of twelve children, including Coe I., who was the fourth son. When in the battle of life the city boy crosses swords with the country lad the odds are against him. The early rising, the daily tasks, the economical habits of the country boy prepare him for the struggle that must precede ascendancy. The early training of C. I. Crawford was that of the farm and the habits of industry and close application which he early developed have constituted the foundation not only of his professional success but also of his personal prominence. The effort required to live in ungenerous surroundings such as those of a pioneer community, the necessity to make every blow tell and to exercise every inventive faculty develop powers of mind and habit which have established distinguished names within South Dakota's borders. The usual experiences of the farm lad fell to the lot of C. I. Crawford. He attended the public schools in the winter months and assisted in clearing the farm through the summer seasons, having the necessities of life and some of its comforts but none of its luxuries. When a youth of fifteen he had the opportunity of attending a graded school, working, however, for his board in the family of a physician who was a man of broad culture and felt a personal interest in the lad who thus early was manifesting a laudable ambition for intellectual advancement. This physician instructed Mr. Crawford in Latin, geometry and English literature and after two years, further study he was granted a teacher's certificate and became a law student in the Iowa State University, in which he completed his course in the class of 1882, winning the LL. B. degree.

Mr. Crawford located for practice in Pierre, Dakota territory, in 1883, and his ability as a lawyer soon gained for him a very desirable clientage and led to his election to the office of states attorney for Hughes county in 1886. Two years afterward he became a member of the legislative council of Dakota territory and was a member of the first state legislature, which convened in 1889-1890. He was appointed chairman of the committee on revenue and made the original drafts of nearly all the bills of importance that were introduced during that session, his influence constituting a potent force in securing their enactment. In 1896 the party nominated him for congress and following his defeat by a small majority he temporarily withdrew from politics and concentrated his efforts upon his profession. The Chicago & Northwestern Railway Company made him its attorney for South Dakota and he removed from Pierre to Huron, remaining as the legal representative of that railroad in this state until he resigned in order to be free to make an independent decisive fight for progressive republicanism. In that year he was made the nominee of his party for governor but was again defeated. However, he was studying the political situation with thoroughness and recognized the fact that the party in South Dakota was under the domination of the political machine. Once more he became his party's candidate for gubernatorial honors and after a most bitterly contested campaign was elected in November, 1906. His administration was characterized by needed reforms and improvements in matters relating to the commonwealth. While he occupied the chair of chief executive, many laws of public benefit were added to the statute books: the primary election law, the anti-lobby law, the anti-pass law, the fellow servant law, the law limiting the hours of labor for the employee of common carriers and a law requiring the publicity of election campaign funds. Under the primary election law he became the republican candidate to represent South Dakota in the United States senate during the term beginning March 4, 1909, and at the election received a most gratifying majority. As in the state legislature, his individuality is making itself felt and he is regarded as the peer of many of the ablest members of the senate.

Senator Crawford is a Presbyterian in religious faith. His standing in professional circles is indicated by the fact that he was honored with the presidency of the South Dakota Bar Association in 1899 and in 1904 and 1905 he was a member of the general council of the American Bar Association, with both of which organizations he is still actively connected. He is prominent as a man, his constantly expanding powers having taken him from humble surroundings to the field of large enterprises and continually broadening opportunities. His personal characteristics and social qualities are pronounced and he is an acceptable companion in any society in which intelligence is a necessary attribute to agreeableness. He has occupied a central place on the stage of political action almost from the time when his initial effort was made. He has pursued his course without allowing personal interest or ambition to dwarf his public spirit or activities and the high ideals which he has cherished have found embodiment in practical effort for their adoption. His breadth of view enables him to grasp the possibilities of a situation and the highest type of American manhood finds in him an exponent.

- source: History of Dakota Territory by George W. Kingsbury;1915
- transcribed by S. Ferrall


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