NPL Gains Total Victory; Amendments Pave Way for Program

November 19, 1918

There is joy in the Townley camp tonight. This year has brought total victory for the Nonpartisan League. In the June primary election anti-NPL Republicans put up only token resistance and the League won every Republican nomination for state and congressional office. Enough legislative candidates were nominated on the Republican ticket to insure NPL control of the 1919 legislature.

Since nomination in the Republican primary means victory in November over the candidates of the weak Democratic Party, Leaguers have been more concerned about the passage of constitutional amendments that will enable them to enact their state-ownership program.

Courtesy of North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies.

Just before this fall election anti-League Republicans and Democrats finally came together to try to stem the tide of Townley’s movement. The Independent Voters Association (IVA) organized by Theodore G. “Two Bit” Nelson, began publication of the Independent, a newspaper to counteract the Leader and to publicize IVA candidates. It was too little, too late.

League candidates have again swept North Dakota including the Senate and the Supreme Court. Now the NPL truly controls the state. With the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government in its pocket, the League cannot be stopped. And, the voters approved the constitutional amendments. The NPL has triumphed and passage of its program in the 1919 legislature is a sure thing.


March 3, 1919

The League has just published a booklet of the laws passed by the legislature entitled The New Day in North Dakota. Indeed it is a new day, for the NPL has placed the state on the road to state socialism.

Five laws set up the framework for the NPL’s program. First, an Industrial Commission (the governor, the attorney general, the commissioner of agriculture and labor) was empowered to set up and manage all the state-owned businesses. A second law created the Bank of North Dakota with a capital of $2 million. All state and local governmental funds have to be deposited with the bank which will provide low-cost rural credit.

Courtesy of North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies.

A third law formed the North Dakota Mill and Elevator Association to engage in the manufacture and marketing of farm products. The fourth law improved the state hail insurance program and a fifth created the Home Building Association through which the state will finance homes, 20 percent down and 20 years to pay for it.

Other changes also came: a constitutional amendment proposal for the recall of public officials, a workmen’s compensation law, income and inheritance taxes, and a state printing commission (NPL officials) to select one official newspaper for each county until the next election when the people will select it. The work is done; Townley’s program is now law. In less than five years North Dakota’s political climate has changed completely. Eastern newspapers are calling this “the Townley revolution.” And, indeed, it is a revolution. Perhaps Jerry Bacon of the Grand Forks Herald has said it most directly: “the state is now the socialistic laboratory of the country.”

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.

Grade Level

3-5, 7, 9-12

Subject Matter

Social Studies

North Star Dakotan:

Journals and Art Work: The Indian People, The Trade, and The Land

The Indian People

The Purchase and Exploration of Louisiana

The Fur Trade

Dakota Territory

The Military Frontier

The Reservation System

George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn

The Great Dakota Boom, 1878-1890

Reservation Troubles, 1886-1890

The Making of a State and a Constitution

The North Dakota Economy, 1890-1915

Life on the Indian Reservations

The North Dakota National Guard and the Philippines

North Dakota, The Great War and After

The Nonpartisan League's Rise to Power

The Nonpartisan League in Power

The Nonpartisan League's Decline

The 1920s

1930s: North Dakota's Economic and Political Climate

The New Deal in North Dakota

The Road to World War II

North Dakota and American Society

North Dakota Optimism and Economic Developments

North Dakota and Political Change