J. W. Bird

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




This thesis responds to Professor Howard R. Lamar's assertion that "farmers" dominated the last territorial legislature, the North Dakota constitutional convention, and the first administration of the state of North Dakota. A closer dating of the stage in the development of Populism in North Dakota at which the farmers in state politics developed a united, conscious movement to achieve Populist goals is needed.

An analysis of new sources suggests different conclusions from those implied by Professor Lamar in his book Dakota Territory 1861-1889 A Study of Frontier Politics. First, the farmers as a class did not form a united faction in the last territorial legislature, nor the constitutional convention, against their opponents representing the oligarchy and the railroad interests. Secondly, the farmers did not "dominate" the North Dakota constitutional convention of 1889. The "farmer" politicians did coalesce into a united group against the political machine during the first Republican state convention in August, 1889. The major factor in that coalescence, however, appeared to be opposition to the machine and not Populist ideology. Consequently, Populist political action occurred at the state level of government after the summer of 1890.