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Peter Norbeck

In office
1917 – 1921
Lieutenant William H. McMaster
Preceded by Frank M. Byrne
Succeeded by William H. McMaster

Born August 27, 1870
Clay County, South Dakota
Died December 20, 1936
Redfield, South Dakota
Political party Republican
Religion Lutheranism

Peter Norbeck (August 27, 1870 -- December 20, 1936) served as a South Dakota State Senator from Spink County, as Lieutenant Governor of South Dakota, as the ninth Governor of South Dakota, and as a United States Senator. Norbeck was the first Governor of South Dakota to have been born within the borders of the state.


Peter Norbeck was the oldest of six children born to immigrants George (born in Jämtland, Sweden) and Karen (Larsen) Norbeck, who was Norwegian. At the time of Peter's birth, his family was living in a dugout on the family's 160 acres (0.65 km2), located eight miles (13 km) northeast of Vermillion, Dakota Territory.

On May 9, 1908, Peter Norbeck ran for the South Dakota State Senate from Spink County. After being elected to the first of three terms, he joined Coe Crawford's inner circle of Progressives. In 1914, Norbeck reluctantly accepted Governor Frank Byrne's invitation to run for Lieutenant Governor on the Republican ticket; they ended up winning. In 1916, Norbeck beat Democratic candidate W.T. Rinehart and became the ninth Governor of South Dakota, serving in that office from 1917 to 1921. In 1920, Norbeck was easily elected United States Senator. He won the election with 50% of the vote, running against a Democrat and two fairly strong independent candidates; the Democrat finished third. Norbeck was re-elected to the Senate in 1926 and 1932

As outgoing Republican chairman during the last months of the Herbert Hoover presidency, Norbeck appointed Ferdinand Pecora as Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate's Committee on Banking and Currency. The Committee investigated the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

Norbeck died of cancer during his third term.

South Dakota legacy

Norbeck made a number of contributions to South Dakota's tourism industry. He encouraged the development of the Iron Mountain Road in the Black Hills. He brought sculptor Gutzon Borglum to South Dakota and convinced presidents Calvin Coolidge and Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide federal money for the carving of Mount Rushmore. Norbeck also pushed for the development of Sylvan Lake, Needles Highway, Badlands National Park, Custer State Park, and Wind Cave National Park.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
E. L. Abel
Lieutenant Governor of South Dakota
Succeeded by
William H. McMaster
Preceded by
Frank M. Byrne
Governor of South Dakota
Succeeded by
William H. McMaster
United States Senate
Preceded by
Edwin S. Johnson
United States Senator (Class 3) from South Dakota
Served alongside: Thomas Sterling, William H. McMaster, William J. Bulow
Succeeded by
Herbert E. Hitchcock


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