Thomas Sterling was a Lawyer; Republican; delegate to South Dakota state constitutional
convention, 1889; member of South Dakota state senate 30th District, 1889-90; dean, college of law, University
of South Dakota, 1901-11; U.S. Senator from South Dakota, 1913-25. Congregationalist. Member, American Bar
Association; American Political Science Association; Freemasons; Knights Templar; Shriners; Ancient Order of United
Workmen; Odd Fellows.
Born near Amanda, Fairfield County, Ohio, February 20, 1851, the son of Charles Sterling and Anna (Kessler)
Sterling and brother of John Allen Sterling; married to Anna Dunn (died 1881) and Emma R. Rowe-Thayer (died 1923).
Moved with his parents to McLean County, Ill., in 1854; attended the public schools and graduated from Illinois
Wesleyan University at Bloomington in 1875; superintendent of schools of Bement, Ill., 1875-1877; studied law;
admitted to the bar in 1878 and commenced practice in Springfield, Ill.; city prosecuting attorney 1880-1881; moved
to the Territory of Dakota and located in Northville, Spink County, in 1882; moved to Redfield in 1886 and continued
the practice of law; district attorney of Spink County, Dak., 1886-1888.
In 1889 he became a member of the State constitutional convention, and a year later in 1890 a member of
the State senate. From 1901 to 1911 he was the dean of the college of law of the University of South Dakota at
Vermillion. He was elected in 1913 as a Republican to the United States Senate, was reelected in 1918, and served
from March 4, 1913, to March 3, 1925. He was an unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1924. During the Sixty-sixth
Congress he was the chairman of the Committee on Civil Service and Retrenchment. In the Sixty-seventh Congress
he served on the Committee on Civil Service, and on the Committee on Post Office and Post Roads during the Sixty-eighth
Congress. He practiced law in Washington, D.C., and served on the faculty of National University Law School. He
was appointed by President Calvin Coolidge in 1925 as field secretary of the Commission for the Celebration of
the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of George Washington.
He lived in Springfield, Sangamon County, Ill.; Redfield, Spink County, South Dakota; Vermillion, Clay County,
He died in Washington, D.C., August 26, 1930; interment in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Suitland, Maryland.
Pressler, Larry. Thomas Sterling. In U.S. Senators from the Prairie.
Vermillion, S.Dak.: Dakota Press, 1982, pp. 63-69; Tingley, Ralph B. The Crowded Field: Eight Men for the Senate.
South Dakota History 9 (Fall 1979): 316-36.
Directory of the United States Congress <http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=S000872>
Political Graveyard <http://politicalgraveyard.com/>
Time Magazine, Monday, March 2, 1925
Engaged. U. S. Senator Thomas Sterling, 74, of South Dakota, to Mrs.
Mayme E. McCaslin of Washington, D. C. Twice married, he has been twice a widower.
Sub. by Kim Torp