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Newspaper The Nonpartisan Leader (Fargo, N.D.) 1915-1921

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About The Nonpartisan Leader (Fargo, N.D.) 1915-1921

North Dakota’s Nonpartisan League (NPL), born in 1915, united reformers and radicals behind a platform that called for progressive reforms, ranging from improved state services and full suffrage for women to state ownership of banks, mills, elevators, and insurance. Led by Arthur C. Townley, the NPL used the primary election to take control of the Republican Party in North Dakota in 1916; it soon dominated the state government and enacted many of its programs. Headed by Governor Lynn J. Frazier, the NPL reorganized state services, expanded educational services, developed health care agencies, and extended the regulation of corporations. However, the NPL also generated fierce opposition, funded by out-of-state corporations, which used every means, including lawsuits and extreme propaganda, to obstruct its programs.

Not long after the NPL began, it launched its official newspaper, the Nonpartisan Leader. The first issue was published September 23, 1915, in Fargo, North Dakota, by the Farmers Non-Partisan Organization League, with H. E. Behrens as editor. D. C. Coates took over editorial duties of the Leader on December 23, 1915, with help from Herbert Gaston from April to December 1916. Oliver S. Morris took over the paper in December 1916. The weekly (later biweekly) publication moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, on January 7, 1918 and to Minneapolis on February 9, 1920. According to an editorial by Morris, the paper moved to the Twin Cities because “the importance and extent of the great political and economic movement of the American farmers warranted a better magazine in physical appearance than the Leader was able to give in its old plant.” Morris went on to say: “The change will in no way alter the management or editorial policy of the Leader. The paper will simply be published in better dress, and at a point where it can be distributed more readily and quickly to the 150,000 subscribers in 13 states.”

The Leader carried ordinary farm news, as well as editorials promoting the views of the Nonpartisan League. John M. Baer’s political cartoons were a regular feature. The front page of the first issue of the Leader has a Baer drawing of a man identified by a Nonpartisan League ribbon, grabbing and looking over the shoulder of a man wearing a “Big Biz” hat carving a post labeled “legislator.” The League person says “YOU’RE FIRED! I’LL DO THIS JOB MYSELF!

Underneath the drawing was an article titled “The Things This Journal Stands For.” The first and last paragraphs read, “This journal belongs to the farmers of the Northwest. It is founded by them to voice their protest against unjust and unrightous [sic] conditions – to voice that protest and make it right.” The article finishes with: “Read this paper from week to week. You will see in it how great is the opportunity to turn injustice into justice that shall endure for us and our children.”

The Nonpartisan Leader was the driving behind the NPL and largely responsible for its rapid success. However, strong opposition resulted in the recall of NPL officials in 1921, among them North Dakota Governor Lynn Frazier. The demise of the League led to change in the name of the newspaper in November 1921. The new National Leader, likewise based in Minneapolis, suspended publication in July 1923.

Provided By: State Historical Society of North Dakota

About this Newspaper


  • The Nonpartisan Leader (Fargo, N.D.) 1915-1921

Dates of Publication

  • 1915-1921

Created / Published

  • Fargo, N.D. : H.E. Behrens [Farmers Non-Partisan Organization League]


  • -  National Nonpartisan League--North Dakota--Newspapers
  • -  National Nonpartisan League--North Dakota--Periodicals
  • -  Farmers--Political activity--Northwestern States
  • -  Northwestern States--Newspapers
  • -  Northwestern States--Periodicals
  • -  National Nonpartisan League
  • -  Farmers--Political activity
  • -  North Dakota
  • -  United States--Northwestern States
  • -  United States--Minnesota--Hennepin--Minneapolis
  • -  United States--Minnesota--Ramsey--St. Paul
  • -  United States--North Dakota--Cass--Fargo


  • Periodicals
  • Newspapers


  • -  Biweekly, Aug. 9, 1920-
  • -  Vol. 1, no. 1 (Sept. 23, 1915)-v. 13, no. 9 (Oct. 31, 1921).
  • -  Publication moved to St. Paul, Minn., Jan. 7, 1918 and Minneapolis, Minn., Feb. 9, 1920.
  • -  Sometimes called North Dakota Edition or National Edition.
  • -  Published as a weekly newspaper September 23, 1915-February 15, 1977; as a weekly magazine February 22, 1917-July 26, 1920 and as a biweekly magazine August 9, 1920-October 31, 1921.
  • -  Vol. 2, no. 1 (Jan. 6, 1916) also numbered Whole No. 16. Double numbering continues throughout.
  • -  Available on microfilm from the State Historical Society of North Dakota.
  • -  Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • -  National leader (Minneapolis, Minn.) 0027-9595 (DLC)sn 89074444 (OCoLC)5306366


  • 13 volumes : illustrations ; 43 cm

Call Number/Physical Location

  • Newspaper
  • JK2391.N3 N385

Library of Congress Control Number

  • sn89074443

OCLC Number

  • 1638892

ISSN Number

  • 2469-3529

Succeeding Titles

Additional Metadata Formats


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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

The Nonpartisan Leader Fargo, N.D. -1921. (Minneapolis, MN), Jan. 1 1915.

APA citation style:

(1915, January 1) The Nonpartisan Leader Fargo, N.D. -1921. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

The Nonpartisan Leader Fargo, N.D. -1921. (Minneapolis, MN) 1 Jan. 1915. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,