COE ISAAC CRAWFORD was born in Volney, Iowa. He attended public school there and the University of Iowa law school from 1878 to 1882. After moving west in 1883, he opened a law practice in Pierre, then in Dakota Territory. In 1886 he was elected State’s Attorney for Hughes County, after which he became a member of the Legislative Council of Dakota Territory, and then a member of South Dakota’s first state legislature. In 1896 he was defeated for a seat in Congress and withdrew from politics for a time, serving as South Dakota’s attorney for the Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company. He then made one unsuccessful bid for the governorship before winning the position in 1906. A progressive Republican, he continued the efforts of his gubernatorial predecessors to curb machine politics in South Dakota. Legislation was enacted during his term as governor limiting the working hours of employees of common carriers and requiring the publication of campaign funding. In addition, during his administration, an Anti-Lobbying Law was enacted, direct primary elections were established, and corporations were prohibited from making contributions to candidates. Although he had made two unsuccessful bids for a seat in Congress in 1896 and 1904, Crawford won election to the U.S. Senate in 1908, serving from 1909 until 1915.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 14. New York: James T. White & Company.