Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Although its history has been largely ignored by scholars, North Dakota’s radical period, the socialist and Nonpartisan League years between 1904 and 1920, has been the exception. To explain the success of these left-wing movements, scholars have developed a number of theories. One of the most popular theories attributes the success of leftist political movements to the large number of Norwegians who resided in the state. According to this interpretation, Norwegian immigrants brought socialism and radicalism from Norway and transplanted it to the New World. Norwegians in North Dakota, this theory explains, were particularly radical and they became the vanguard of the protest movement during the early decades of the twentieth century.

Although this interpretation has become the orthodox one among many scholars of North Dakota history, the hard evidence necessary to support this claim has been lacking. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis is to test the "left of center" interpretation for Norwegians in North Dakota. Using extensive voting analyses of both Norwegian and North Dakota elections, this thesis tests whether first, Norwegian immigrants acquired political leftism in Norway and second, whether they voted uniformly leftist in North Dakota.

This thesis concludes that Norwegians naither brought leftism with them from Norway nor were they particularly radical in North Dakota. Instead, this thesis concludes that Norwegians tended to vote like other North Dakotans. This political behavior marked Norwegians in North Dakota as moderately conservative and not left of center.