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Non-Partisan League: Revolution, Reaction, Reform in Eastern Montana

Page history last edited by Marcella Walter 3 years, 2 months ago

Conflict in social and political events does not always mean a single gunfight at the OK Corral--or one violent moment.  In researching the Nonpartisan League, students have the opportunity to investigate how political movements develop, grow, face opposition, and meld into agents of change. Homesteaders rushed into northern and eastern sections of Montana beginning in 1910, transforming Montana politics.  Montana’s mining interests grew increasingly nervous as they observed eastern Montana's growing electoral power.  Among the organizations representing eastern Montana farmers' interests was the Nonpartisan League, which advocated for state-owned banks, grain elevators, and utilities.  Like the Socialists and Industrial Workers of the World, members of the Nonpartisan League found themselves at odds with the Anaconda Copper Company and with the state's “super patriots,” who undermined their political impact by questioning their loyalty to the United States and accusing them of being revolutionaries.  However, with the onset of drought and the plummeting wheat prices post World War I, more and more farmers turned to the Nonpartisan League as a means of saving their land from foreclosure.  Through politics and the press, League leaders promoted reforms that would aid Montana farmers.  Sometimes advocacy for a cause means creating political networks and friends, waiting for the right moments in time--in other words, taking the long view, looking for compromise, and working on a long-term strategy.


Secondary Sources

McDonald, Verlaine Stoner.  The Red Corner: The Rise and Fall of Communism in Northeastern Montana. Helena, MT: Montana Historical Society Press, 2010.


Hessinger, Terry.  Agrarian Radicalism on the Northern Great Plains: the Nonpartisan League and the Communist Influence as seen in North Dakota and Sheridan County, MT, 1915-1936.  [S.l.: s.n., 2001]


Vindex, Charles. “Radical Rule in Montana,” Montana: The Magazine of Western History, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Winter, 1968), pp. 2-18


Starr, Karen. “Fighting for a Future: Farm Women of the Nonpartisan League,” Minnesota History, Vol. 48, No. 6, On Women (Summer, 1983), pp. 255-262


Vivian, James F. “The Last Round-Up: Theodore Roosevelt Confronts the Nonpartisan League, October 1918,” Montana: The Magazine of Western History, Vol. 36, No. 1 (Winter, 1986), pp. 36-49


Huntington, Samuel P. “The Election Tactics of the Nonpartisan League,” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 36, No. 4 (Mar., 1950), pp. 613-632


“Report on the University of Montana,” Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors, Vol. 10, No. 3, Publisher(s): American Association of University Professors (Mar., 1924), pp. 50-58


Saloutos, Theodore. “The Expansion and Decline of the Nonpartisan League in the Western Middle West, 1917-1921,” Agricultural History, Vol. 20, No. 4 (Oct., 1946), pp. 235-252


Saloutos, Theodore. The Rise of the Nonpartisan League in North Dakota, 1915-1917, Agricultural History, Vol. 20, No. 1 (Jan., 1946), pp. 43-61


Pratt, William C. “Rural Radicalism on the Northern Plains, 1912-1950,” Montana: The Magazine of Western History, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Winter, 1992), pp. 42-55


Sarasohn, David.  “The Election of 1916: Realigning the Rockies,” The Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Jul., 1980), pp. 285-305


Boyle, James E.  “The Agrarian Movement in the Northwest,” The American Economic Review, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Sep., 1918), pp. 505-521


Primary Sources

Small Collection 234 Farmers State Tax Conference Proceedings, 1918. 


Manuscript Collection 59 Daniel S. McCorkle Papers, 1910-1974


MF 386 National Nonpartisan League Records, 1910-1928.  18 reels of microfilm, filmed by the Minnesota Historical Society.  Finding aid available in PAM 2266. 


The Montana Nonpartisan.  Great Falls, Mont.: Montana Nonpartisan 1918.  Official organ of the National Nonpartisan League in the State of Montana.


Producers News (Plentywood, Sheridan County, Montana) Newspaper 1918-1931.


Primary and Secondary Internet Sources

Minnesota Historical Society – Nonpartisan League


North Dakota’s Nonpartisan League


MHS Vertical Files

Nonpartisan League


Charles “Red Flag” Taylor

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