Select Page

March 4th, 1865 – On This Day in Sioux Falls History, Brigadier General William Henry Harrison Beadle commands the Honor Guard leading the procession of President Abraham Lincoln second Inaugural Address.  Beadle would also be a part of the Lincoln’s funeral procession just over one month later.

William Beadle was just a young man at the time of these events, but he would go on to become a prominent citizen in Sioux Falls, and a pioneer in the establishment of quality public education in South Dakota!  Four short years after playing his part in the tragedy of Abraham Lincoln, Beadle was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant to the post of Surveyor-General of the Dakota Territory.  He would remain in Dakota (eventually South Dakota) for over 40 years until 1912 when he retired and moved to San Francisco.

Beadle’s crowning achievement came in 1885 during one of South Dakota’s rogue attempts at creating a state government without the consent of Congress in Washington DC.  Part of that failed attempt was to write and vote on a state constitution.  In this document William Beadle authored a beautiful provision of laws and standards outlining the creation and reservation of public school lands and prescribe a plan for the proper implementation of public school instruction.

When South Dakota was finally legally admitted as a state in 1889, they re-used much of the 1885 Constitution  as the official state constitution that was submitted to Congress.  Senators and Congressmen in DC were so impressed with Beadle’s section in particular they made it a mandatory addition to the constitutions of North Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, and Wyoming before they would accept those state’s constitutions in the following years.

Beadle spent years living in Sioux Falls and teaching at Washington High School, but his true passion was found when he accepted the work as the president of the Madison State Normal School (a teachers college), which would go on to become Dakota State University.  He was the president there for 7 years and a professor of history for23 before his retirement. It takes a pretty remarkable person to be remembered for achieving something far greater than being a war hero and leading the processions of a Presidential Inauguration and a Presidential Funeral, but William Henry Harrison Beadle was that remarkable man, and Sioux Falls and South Dakota are the greater for it!