Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The treatment of the election of 1896 has invoked no uniform opinion among historians. The general works as well as the more localized studies have centered around urban-rural differences, voting i patterns, and issues. This study follows the course of political events in North Dakota's election of 1896, through the use of newspapers, public documents, and contemporary writings.

Fusion elements failed in their attempts to wrestle the government away from Republicans. Democratic-Populist forces faced a well- entrenched, well-organized and well-financed Republican party. Fusionists centered their campaign on the narrow silver issue. The Republicans circumvented the money question and successfully played up the theory of overproduction and the evils of free trade. The state's newspapers and businessmen overwhelmingly favored the Republican party. Fusion leaders came from the same ranks as Republican leaders. Candidates of the Populists, Democrats, and Republicans were chosen from successful businessmen and large farmers. The "dirt" farmer and laborer were not represented in either of the three parties.

Fusionists were never able to implement a cohesive organization or muster a broad campaign attack. Besides facing the task of unseating Republicans in a state that showed a marked preference for the party of Lincoln, the Populist-Democratic coalition had the sins of the Cleveland "depression" and the past failure of the Fusionist administration of Eli C. D. Shortridge to bear.