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Insurgent DemocracyThe Nonpartisan League in North American Politics$
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Michael J. Lansing

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226283500

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226283647.001.0001

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(p.139) 4 Power
Insurgent Democracy

Michael J. Lansing

University of Chicago Press

The NPL gained control of all three branches of government in North Dakota in 1918. In Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota, and Idaho, Leaguers pointed to the establishment of a state-owned flour mill, grain elevator, and bank in the Flickertail State. Jubilant farmers actively engaged in deliberative politics created a culture to match their newfound passion for political action. Farm women, too, became especially crucial. The League’s initial focus on agrarian manhood gave way. All this earned more national attention for the NPL. It also ensured that unions began taking the League more seriously. The NPL brokered agreements with organized labor not only in North Dakota but also in Minnesota, Montana, and Washington State. Furthermore, NPL success extended into American culture. Swept up in the excitement, authors and thinkers touted the democratic possibilities. With 250,000 members in thirteen states, the NPL’s power peaked in early 1919.

Keywords:   State Bank, State Mill and Elevator, empowerment, democracy, movement culture, iconography, women, labor unions, Sinclair Lewis

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