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William LangerTwenty-first Governor

(Second Term)

  • Residence: Casselton, Cass County
  • Years Served: 1937-1939
  • Date of Inauguration: January 6, 1937
  • Age at Inauguration: 50 Politics: Independent
  • Born: Casselton, Dakota Territory - September 30, 1886
  • Died: Washington, D.C. - November 8, 1959

Political Background:

  • 1914-1916: State's Attorney for Morton County
  • 1916-1920: Attorney General of North Dakota
  • 1933-1934: Governor of North Dakota (removed from office)
  • 1937-1939: Governor of North Dakota
  • 1940-1959: United States Senate

After exonerating himself of all felony charges, Langer returned to the governor's office. He convinced the legislature to appropriate almost six million dollars for child welfare, old age pensions, and general relief. This amount equalled all the appropriations for the 1933-35 biennium. In 1937 and 1938 Langer directed the State Mill and Elevator to pay well above the market price for wheat. Out-of-state millers immediately matched the State Mill's prices. After completing his second term as governor, Langer successfully ran for U.S. Senate. However, he was not allowed to take his seat in the Senate because of charges filed against him by a petition from North Dakota citizens. A Senate investigation was launched. After three weeks of debate, the full Senate voted 52 to 30 in favor of Langer. His victory made the front page of the New York Times and other papers around the country. After a year and a half (and four trials), Langer was cleared of federal racketeering charges. After serving a second (non-sequential) term as governor, he was elected to the United States Senate.

William and Lydia Langer
William and Lydia Langer voting, ca. 1940.

Lydia Langer was a political figure in her own right. When her husband, William Langer, was unable to participate in North Dakota politics during the time of his federal trials, Mrs. Langer threw her hat into the political ring and ran for governor in the 1934 election. She lost to Thomas H. Moodie by a vote of 145,333 to 127,954 in a three-way race.

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