Arago: 100th Anniversary South Dakota Statehood

100th Anniversary South Dakota Statehood

A 25-cent commemorative stamp honoring the centennial of South Dakota statehood was issued on May 3, 1989, in Pierre, South Dakota. The South Dakota stamps were presented to a horseman acting as a Pony Express rider, who delivered them to the Pierre Airport, where they were transferred to a Waco biplane and flown to Elk Point, near the starting location of the centennial wagon train. The stamps and a pictorial cancellation were available at post offices along the 2,600-mile wagon train route.

The stamp features a pioneer woman in a blue dress and white apron, standing in front of a sod house. Two open blooms of pink and lavender pastel surround the yellow center of South Dakota's state flower, the pasque, in the stamp's left foreground. The sod house represents one of the frontier's best examples of American ingenuity. The paucity of trees forced pioneers to use earthen blocks to build their frontier homes.

The battle for statehood in the Dakota Territory was a lengthy and lively one. Many frontier settlers favored a split along the Missouri River, creating an East and a West Dakota. Some preferred designating the 46th latitudinal parallel as the boundary between a North and a South Dakota.

The question of statehood was hotly debated during the presidential campaign of 1888. Republicans favored statehood, but Democrats opposed it. When Republican Benjamin Harrison was victorious at the polls, outgoing Democrat Grover Cleveland hastened to sign the Omnibus Enabling Act that established the procedure for South Dakota and five other states to join the Union.

On November 2, 1889, President Harrison shuffled the South Dakota and North Dakota statehood proclamations and declared, "They were born together — they are one and I will make them twins." No one knows which state was actually signed into law first. By mutual agreement, North Dakota was designated the thirty-ninth state and South Dakota the fortieth.

Designed by Marian Henjum, the stamps were produced in the photogravure process by the American Bank Note Company and issued in panes of fifty.


Postal Bulletin (March 30, 1989).

Additional Records