SCOUTING YESTERDAY: South Dakota buries senator & former governor, sends wife back to D.C. in his place
This week in South Dakota history: Sept. 27 - Oct. 3
U.S. Senator and former South Dakota governor Harlan J. Bushfield died Sept 27, 1948.
According to the Rapid City Journal, Bushfield had suffered several cerebral hemorrhages due to high blood pressure in the three years leading up to his death.
A lawyer from Miller, Bushfield served as Hand County State’s Attorney from 1906 to 1910 and served as state Republican chairman from 1935 to 1938. That year, he also earned the party’s nomination for governor.
U.S. Rep. Francis Case said that under Bushfield’s leadership as state Republican chairman, the party was able to return from an “all-time low” amid a Republican revival that would sweep the nation in the late 1930s and 1940s.
Elected governor in 1938 and again in 1940, Bushfield oversaw the reduction of the state government following the Great Depression. As governor, he also helped get the state income tax reduced and eliminate state property tax collections. According to the Rapid City Journal, throughout his political career, Bushfield championed economy in the government and was an outspoken critic of government spending.
Scandal was also a part of Bushfield’s terms as governor. An investigation revealed a plan to receive campaign funds in exchange for awarding highway contracts where donors were able to make large donations to the Republican Party. And just prior to his 1942 senatorial campaign, Bushfield along with three other state officials were charged for allegedly working with a bond broker to “split” excess profits. The only conviction stemming from those charges was later reversed by the Supreme Court.
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