|Newton Edmunds was the second Territorial Governor of Dakota Territory from 1863-1866. His governorship was marked by beginnings of social and economic maturity and development as the territory taxes were levied for the first time, a public school system was put into operation, the territorial Supreme Court convened in full for the first time, and uniform rules of procedure for Circuit Court and enforcement agencies were drawn up.
Edmunds and his wife, Margaret Heart, arrived in Yankton, Dakota Territory, in June 1861. He served there as chief clerk in the surveyor general's office and later was superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Territory. In the latter position, he had to contend with the continuing Indian wars and the resultant fight of the settlers. <p>President Lincoln appointed Edmunds as Territorial Governor. In this position, Edmunds' major acclaim to fame rests in the Indian treaties of 1865-66 with the Teton Sioux and other tribes along the Missouri River. These treaties thus brought to close the "War of the Outbreak." Edmunds strongly believed that negotiation, not gunpowder, was needed to settle the disturbances. He was strongly opposed by the military department who believed that the settlers should give up their land and move out. His views were carried directly to President Lincoln in the spring of 1865, who at once agreed with him and assisted in putting his ideas forward. The result was the end of the war within a few months. <p>When Governor Edmunds came to office it was the practice of granting divorces by acts of the Legislature. He soon put a stop to this scandalous practice by defeating all divorce bills. <p>Edmunds had the utmost faith in Dakota, even in its darkest days when Indian troubles, droughts, floods, fires and grasshoppers beset the settlers. He encouraged them to stay and by precept and example taught them that a great commonwealth could be made to blossom from the untoward seedling. In the face of all discouragement Edmunds steadfastly plowed and sowed his lands, introduced livestock and diversified his crops and encouraged others to do likewise. <p>After his term as governor, Edmunds played an important role in the civic affairs of Yankton. He helped to organize the 1st church, to build the 1st school and to promote the railroads. He headed a banking firm, which he organized in 1869 and remained active in Yankton business life until his death on Feb. 13, 1908. <p>Newton Edmunds’ memory remains, as he and his wife had eight children and Edmunds County in South Dakota was named in his memory. <p>
|Home Town (Yankton, SD)|