Eric Rogness

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Kimberly K. Porter


This essay examines William Langer' s early life and political career until his abortive attempt to become governor of North Dakota in 1920. It argues that William Langer was a man driven by a need for status. It was this quest for status that drove him to politics and explains his rapid rise through the ranks. It also explains the large degree of publicity and controversy that permeated his early career. He was a man who wanted to stand out, he wanted recognition by his peers, and he wanted public office. Publicity and controversy served those ends. Moreover, I feel that in order to understand the post- 1920 Langer, it is necessary to understand the early Langer who laid the foundation for a forty-five year career in North Dakota politics.

In order to undertake this study, it was necessary to consult a vast array of sources. William Langer' s personal papers have provided the bulk of the material cited. Regional newspapers have also contributed much to the work at hand. The Fargo Forum, the Grand Forks Herald, and the Bismarck Tribune are only a few. A multitude of secondary sources have also added their voice. Most were works that dealt with North Dakota politics, such as Robert Morlan's preeminent work on the Nonpartisan League, Political Prairie Fire and Edward C. Blackorby' s, Prairie Rebel: The Public Life of William Lemke. Also invaluable to this study were the many unpublished master theses that covered the period in question.

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