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Joseph Ward
Birth: May 5, 1838
Death: Dec. 11, 1889

US Statesman, Educator, Theologian. He received his theological training at Phillips Academy in Andover Massachusetts, Brown Universtity in Providence, Rhode Island, and the Andover Theological Seminary. Soon after finishing his schooling, he accepted a missionary church assignment, and formed the Congregational Church of Dakota in Yankton, South Dakota. Recognizing the need for formal learning institutions in the Dakotas, he was instrumental in forming Yankton Academy in 1872, and then in 1881, provided leadership in the organizing and forming of Yankton College, chartered under the law of the Dakota Territory on August 30, 1881. In June 1882, he was awarded the degree of "Doctor of Divinity" at Knox College. On January 16, 1883, the Board of Directors elected Joseph Ward as the first President of the new Yankton College. His upbringing, learning, and experience as a church leader and educator also strongly influenced his political views. He believed that the concept of governmental territories was flawed and incorrect, and published an argument for necessary statehood for the Dakota Territory. At Thanksgiving dinner in 1879, he discussed plans for statehood with a close circle of friends, thus starting the process of achieving statehood for the Dakota Territory. He had strong views on the two issues that needed to be resolved in order to achieve statehood. First, he strongly believed in division of the Dakota Territory into two states. Second, he strongly believed that public lands should be used as endowments for funding schools. Joseph believed that the people, not Congress, should have the power of forming their own government. He proposed that the people of the Dakota Territory initiate the drive for statehood without waiting for an Act of Congress. To this end, he and his colleagues began forming Statehood Clubs and organizing the Citizens' Constitutional Association. He did not have any personal political ambitions, and devoted all of his energy in tireless work both in fundraising for Yankton College and in the political struggle for statehood. When his own church was divided over theological issues, he stood firm with his values and upbringing, even when the struggle threatened the financial stability of Yankton College. Amidst the financial crisis, in June of 1887, he presided over the commencement exercises of Yankton College's first graduating class, a single student. Joseph Ward furthered the cause for statehood by serving as Chairman of the Committee on Arrangement and Phraseology of the Constitution, participating as an author of the new state constitution. Additionally, he served on the Committee on Seal and Coat of Arms, responsible for the new state seal. He is credited with authoring the South Dakota state motto "Under God the People Rule". On November 2, 1889, President Harrison granted statehood to both South Dakota and North Dakota. Joseph had been in failing health during 1889, and barely one month after witnessing the Dakotas achieve statehood, he died at 51 years of age. A biography "Joseph Ward of Dakota" was written by George Harrison Durand, Vice President and a teacher at Yankton College. A marble statue of Joseph Ward, one of two statues from South Dakota, is part of the National Statuary Hall collection of the US Capitol in Washington DC, on display at the Capitol Visitor Center. (bio by: Greg Kimberley) 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Sarah Frances Wood Ward (1841 - 1908)
 
Inscription:
ERECTED BY HIS FRIENDS, IN MEMORY OF HIS DISTINGUISHED SERVICES IN CHURCH AND STATE.
 
Burial:
Yankton City Cemetery
Yankton
Yankton County
South Dakota, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Greg Kimberley
Record added: Mar 16, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 49839810
Joseph Ward
Added by: Anonymous
 
Joseph Ward
Added by: Greg Kimberley
 
Joseph Ward
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Brad
 
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