Leonard Wentz

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The purpose of this thesis is the examination and appraisal of the rise and decline of the Nonpartisan League as a mass movement in North Dakota. Previous interpretations have been mostly economic in nature. This study interprets the League members I situation from the socio-psychological view. This thesis will attempt to show the editorial directions of leading newspapers with regard to the agrarian situation from 1916 to 1920.

The procedure involved a study of the sociological conditions of the North Dakota farmers before they accepted the Nonpartisan League ideology. The Nonpartisan Leader's editorial policy was viewed to show its interpretation of the farmer’s situation and its attempt to solve the farmers' problems. A similar analysis of the Bismarck Daily Tribune, the Fargo Forum, the Grand Forks Herald, and the Minot Daily News demonstrated their ideological interpretation of the farmer’s situation.

The results of the studies revealed that the Nonpartisan Leader and the four leading daily newspapers reflected dichotomous ideologies. Neither ideology examined and appraised the farmers’ sociological conditions.

In conclusion, the editorial policies of the Leader and the four leading dailies did not sense the sociological conditions of the farmers. The editorials of the Leader reflected an ideology of economic oppression requiring an economic solution, while the four daily newspapers interpreted the economic conditions as basically operating to the tenets of laissez faire.