Preserving "A Fair Chance For a Free People" - Karl E. Mundt

Karl Mundt

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A native of South Dakota, Karl E. Mundt was born in Humboldt, South Dakota, June 4, 1900. He attended public schools in Humboldt, Pierre, and Madison, South Dakota. He graduated with a BA from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, in 1923 and received an MA from Columbia University, New York, New York, in 1927. He married Mary Moses from Northfield, Minnesota, whom he met while both were attending Carleton.1

Both Karl and Mary taught in the Bryant High School, Bryant, South Dakota. He became superintendent after his first year of teaching. The couple lived in Bryant for four years. Then, both he and Mary taught at Eastern State Normal School (now Dakota State University) from 1928-1936. He also ran a business with his father, The Mundt Loan and Investment Company in Madison. Mary taught English and drama classes.1

In the spring of 1936, he resigned his college position to devote himself full time to business. In 1938 Karl Mundt was elected to the House of Representatives where he served five terms, after which he served four terms as a U.S. Senator. With his tenure, he held membership in some of the Senate's most influential committees.1

Mundt recognized the dangers of communism and worked to establish controls against communist activities in this country. He was a conservation and wildlife enthusiast, which led to his legislation establishing the National Endangered Species List. At home, Mundt was an effective supporter of Missouri River projects, REA, conservation, and betterment of agriculture. Karl Mundt also recognized the importance of new technology for the advancement of society. Through his efforts, EROS Data Center was constructed in his home state of South Dakota.1

As a culmination of his career, the Karl E. Mundt Library was built and dedicated June 3, 1969 on the campus of Dakota State University. An entire floor of the building was reserved for the Foundation and Archives. The man who dedicated the Mundt Library was his close friend, President Richard M. Nixon.1

Karl E. Mundt was a progressive leader who worked to protect the available resources of the country while utilizing them to their full potential. Senator Mundt served in the United States Senate longer than any other South Dakotan to date. In 1969, Senator Mundt suffered a stroke. He died August 16, 1974, and is buried at Graceland Cemetery, Madison, South Dakota.1

Preserving "A Fair Chance For a Free People" - Karl E. Mundt


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  1. Heidepriem, Scott. A Fair Chance for a Free People: A Biography of Karl E. Mundt, United States Senator. Madison, SD: Leader Printing, 1988. p. 2.
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