Gilbert A. Pierce

Gilbert Ashville Pierce
United States Senator
from North Dakota
In office
November 25, 1889 – March 4, 1891
Preceded by(none)
Succeeded byHenry C. Hansbrough
Member of the Indiana House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born(1839-01-11)January 11, 1839
East Otto, New York
DiedFebruary 15, 1901(1901-02-15) (aged 63)
Chicago, Illinois
Political partyRepublican

Gilbert Ashville Pierce (January 11, 1839 – February 15, 1901)[1] was an American author, journalist, playwright, and a member of the Indiana House of Representatives, the eighth Governor of Dakota Territory, and representative for North Dakota in the United States Senate.[2] Pierce County, North Dakota was named in his honor. [3]


Gilbert Pierce was born at East Otto, Cattaraugus County, New York. He and his parents moved to Indiana. Pierce attended the University of Chicago; where he studied writing, literature, and law. He enlisted in the ninth Indiana Volunteers as a second lieutenant in 1861. By 1864, Pierce was a colonel and an inspector general of the War Department.

In 1868, he became a member of the Indiana House of Representatives. From 1868 to 1871, Pierce was a journal clerk of the United States Senate. After resigning, he edited a Republican Chicago newspaper called the "Inter Ocean" as well as wrote a number of plays, novels, and sketches. In 1877, Pierce became managing editor of the "Inter Ocean" before assuming a similar position for the "Chicago News."

On June 25, 1884 Gilbert Pierce was appointed Governor of Dakota Territory by President Chester A. Arthur. Because of the corruption of his predecessor, Governor Pierce's appointment was treated with suspicion by residents of Dakota Territory. Because of bad feelings over the moving of the territorial capital, Pierce chose to be sworn in at the former capital city of Yankton on July 25, 1884 before assuming office at the new capital of Bismarck. With time, the new Governor gained respect in the territory.

Governor Pierce vetoed a bill to move the capital from Bismarck to Pierre. He and the legislature did agree to establish the School of Mines at Rapid City. Pierce vetoed a bill to grant equal suffrage to women. He was a proponent of statehood and quickly signed a bill into law to authorize a state constitutional convention for southern Dakota Territory.

In August 1886, Governor Pierce resigned but remained in office until February 5, 1887. After leaving office, he served in Bismarck as a correspondent for newspapers in St. Paul, Minnesota. After North Dakota became a state in 1889, Pierce was elected to one term as United States Senator.

In 1891, he purchased a half interest in the Minneapolis Tribune before selling it to become business manager of the Chicago Post and Times-Herald. In 1893, Pierce was appointed U.S. Minister to Portugal by President Benjamin Harrison; but failing health forced Pierce to resign after only a few months.

Pierce's last years were spent in British Columbia, Washington, and California before the time of his death in Chicago, Illinois, aged 62.


  1. ^ Gilbert A. Pierce at Find a Grave
  2. ^ Governors of North Dakota, Gilbert A. Pierce
  3. ^ "County History". Official Portal for North Dakota State Government. Retrieved 4 May 2011.


Political offices
Preceded by
Nehemiah G. Ordway
Governor of Dakota Territory
1884 – 1887
Succeeded by
Louis K. Church
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from North Dakota
November 21, 1889 – March 4, 1891
Served alongside: Lyman R. Casey
Succeeded by
Henry C. Hansbrough