Meet Your New Governor - Fred G. Aandahl: A Profile
The Aandahl family came from the small Norwegian town of Aandahlsnes. In 1881 Jorgen, the eldest son of Soren and Elene, and his wife, Martine, sailed for America with their six children and homesteaded in Svea Township in Barnes County. Their son, Soren, whose name was anglicized to Sam, and his wife, Mamie, were well-educated and ambitious with high standards for themselves and their two sons, Fred (b. 1897) and Sam (b. 1902). The Aandahls farmed 960 acres. Their impressive home, which had three marble fireplaces, five bedrooms, and indoor plumbing, reflected their prosperity.
After high school in Litchville, Fred attended the University of North Dakota and in 1921 graduated with a B.A. in liberal arts. After graduation he returned to the farm and taught country school from 1922 to 1927. The deaths of his father in 1922 and his mother in 1923 forced Fred to become the head of family and farm. His father’s will divided the farm between Fred and Sam, but Fred bought out Sam’s interest.
During the difficult 1930s, Aandahl played key roles in politics and New Deal farm programs. In 1930 he defeated a twelve-year Langer-League incumbent for the North Dakota Senate. Two years later he lost in a recall election. In 1938 he narrowly regained his senate seat. In the interim he became active in the implementation of the New Deal’s Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) that was designed to assist farmers through the depression. He became the radio voice of AAA and traveled extensively throughout the state explaining the program.
He considered himself to be a regular Republican who opposed William Langer and what had become Langer’s Nonpartisan League. He worked closely with fellow farmer Milton R. Young in the 1943 creation of the Republican Organizing Committee to oppose Langer’s League. He possessed a keen sense of North Dakota’s political world. “I soon discovered that the honest progressives that originally organized the Nonpartisan League had been forced out by Langer and his henchmen,” he told The North Star Dakotan. He understood that a coalition of Democrats, independents, and progressive Republicans had formed in the legislature. When those forces came together in the Republican Organizing Committee, Aandahl was the logical choice to run for the governorship. In 1944 he won that job.
By Dr. D. Jerome Tweton
Originally published as The North Star Dakotan student newspaper, written by Dr. D. Jerome Tweton and supported by the North Dakota Humanities Council.