Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




North Dakota is often referred to as the leading isolationist state in the Union. The vociferous opposition expressed by the state’s people to World Wars I and II is cited as proof for this label. One explanation for the state's behavior, advanced by Samuel Lubell, stresses ethnic origin. According to this view, the German-Russian population of the state is responsible for making North Dakota an isolationist stronghold. This study of one German-Russian county, McIntosh county, is an attempt to examine the validity of Lubell's ethnic explanation. In particular, this study focuses on the reasons for the rejection of Franklin Roosevelt in 1940 by the McIntosh voters.

The procedure involved a detailed study of McIntosh county from 1936 through 1940. This period covers the years prior to World War II, years when isolationism was a powerful sentiment in the nation. It also marks the period when the effects of the Great Depression were the severest in McIntosh county.

The results of the 1940 election in McIntosh county can be traced to a number of sources. Traditional Republicanism, economic revival, hostility to war, influence of newspaper opinion, and the influence of state politicians all played a role in the political decision of November 5, 1940, in McIntosh county. Although people of the county were isolationists, this study does not find their isolationism to be ethnically motivated.