Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
This thesis investigates the history of North Dakota during the era of the Nonpartisan League (roughly 1915 through 1921). A significant body of research on the League exists, but no study has yet specifically addressed itself to exploring the political culture of the League and of its opponents in such a way that the full nature of the Nonpartisan "revolt" is made clear. The League was indeed the result of farmers’ perception of economic exploitation at the hands of big business, yet it was more basically a proactive struggle for inclusion. While employing elements of agrarian ideology, the League was also the product of a world dominated by the urban-based values of "business." Leaguers hoped, through occupationally-based, collective political action to gain power, dignity, and material success within that world. Although this consciousness was a departure from the received political culture of the 1910s, in other ways the Leaguers' political culture was fairly mainstream. The League's program of political inclusion, for example, kept well within traditional gendered boundaries. Nor was the league vision of material progress revolutionary.
Being a historical inquiry, the preparation of this thesis is the result of standard historical research methodologies. In terms of theory, however, this project has been informed by post-structuralist theories of “language." Thus, particular attention has been paid to the process of language building especially during the early years of the Nonpartisan era. How Leaguers and their opponents defined themselves and their world, inclusively and exclusively, provides a more subtle understanding of the Nonpartisan "revolt."
Shilts, Thomas P., "Political culture on the northern plains : North Dakota and the Nonpartisan experience" (1997). Theses and Dissertations. 2533.