Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The purpose of this study was to investigate the rhetoric of Arthur C. Towriley who, in 1915, founded the Nonpartisan League in North Dakota. The study included the history of the organization and activities of the Nonpartisan League from 1915 to 1921, a biography of Townley, a discussion of the Aristotelian canon invention, and an analysts of the logical, emotional, and ethical proof utilized by Townlc-y in selected 1917 speeches.

Townley had a great deal of natural oratorical skill and benefited also from seme education, imitation of other speakers, and experience. His agrarian background greatly influenced his public speaking and political philosophy. An analysis of Townley's oratory revealed that the three modes of proof are clearly discernible. Townley demonstrated un ability to utilize logical proof in the arrangement, choice of premises, argumentation, and refutation. His greatest inventive asset was the emotional proof apparent in the arrangement, audience adaptation, language, and use of humor. Because he spoke to primarily sympathetic agrarian audiences, Townley was able to emphasize the emotional proof more than the logical proof. Townley used ethical proof sparingly but did attempt to enhance his credibility by demonstrating intelligence, high moral character, and good will. Townley's oratorical skill helped him organize one of the strongest farm coalitions in North Dakota's history.