Committee works to recall North Dakota governor in 1935 – Jamestown Sun

In the 1930s, political unrest was a frequent topic in the news from North Dakota. The Great Depression put a strain on everyone's ability to make a living and keep home and family together, and many blamed the government's actions or inactions for the problems.

Walter Welford became the fourth governor of North Dakota in two years, rising from lieutenant governor to North Dakota's top administration in 1935 after Governor Thomas Moodie was removed from office for failing to meet the state's residency requirements.

Welford was scheduled to serve the remainder of Moodie's two-year term, but some state residents had other plans.

In the spring of 1935, a conference was held in Jamestown to organize the removal of Welford and other government officials whose contribution to assisting the public in coping with the financial difficulties of the Great Depression was considered inadequate.

The organization was called the “Committee of 100,” although local media estimated the number of people attending the Jamestown convention at 50.

The topics for the Committee of 100 were prepared in the “Subcommittee of Five”, which actually consisted of four members after one of the appointees complained that he had never been consulted about his participation in the subcommittee.

Although the Committee of 100, all 50 members, never managed to collect enough signatures to recall Welford or any other state official, they did manage to force a public vote on North Dakota's newly introduced two percent sales tax.

In July, voters went to the polls in a special vote on the sales tax. About 75,000 people voted yes, about 65,000 no. The yes votes meant that the tax was accepted by the population.

During his two-year term, Welford continued his efforts to improve conditions for North Dakota farmers. He met with President Franklin Roosevelt and requested special assistance for farmers during the heat and drought of 1936.

Later in 1936, he defeated William Langer for the Republican nomination for governor of North Dakota. Langer then ran as an independent and defeated Welford and Democrat John Moses in the election for North Dakota's highest office.

Author Keith Norman can be reached at

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