Political Prairie Fire was first published in 1955. The farmers of North Dakota were ripe for revolt when the magnetic figure of A. C. Townley strode into their midst and offered them a new political formula to redress their grievances. Townley’s plan was simple but revolutionary; it called for the formation of a Nonpartisan Political League dedicated to the election of candidates through the established two-party system and to a platform emphasizing public ownership of certain vital farm services and facilities, such as terminal grain elevators and hail insurance on crops. Like the great prairie fires of the plains states, the political flames of the Nonpartisan League spread swiftly from one farm to the next across North Dakota and into the adjoining states. The League is regarded by many as the last of the great agrarian protest movements. It is historically significant because it achieved a measure of success well beyond that of most similar movements. It controlled the government of one state for some years, elected state officials and legislators in a number of midwestern and western states, and sent several congressmen to Washington. Its impact helped shape the destinies of a dozen states and the political philosophies of an important segment of the nation’s voters. The League’s methods of operation often serve today as a guide for political action. This is the first detailed, unbiased history of the Nonpartisan League. Thoroughly documented for the specialist, it is nevertheless equally interesting for the general reader.
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