The Time’s Don’t Change: “The 98 Per Cent Have Some Rights Entitled to Respect.”


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From The National Leader, January 1919.

It’s time for some Minnesota trivia: Who said this?

We have had to oppose the swaggering insolence and the millions of the war profiteers and the low moral endeavor politicians made by the froth of the war.

… We needed success to call a halt to the wild orgie of Wall street legislation which the politicians thought they were safe in putting across. We needed success to convince the 2 per cent who owns 70 per cent of the nation’s wealth that the 98 per cent have some rights entitled to respect.

War Profiteering? Corruption from Wall Street? The “98 Per Cent”?

Is this some tract from the Occupy Movement?

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From The National Leader, March 1923.

No, it’s from the December 1922 edition of The National Leader, the official newspaper of The Nonpartisan League (NPL). This quote comes from editor A. B. Gilbert, and this isn’t the first time I’ve suggested we learn from these popular movements. That November saw one of the greatest victories in the League’s seven year history as it “replaced five United States senators, a whole flock of congressman and several governors with farmer-minded representatives.” Having suffered in the jingoistic atmosphere of the Great War, it was finally able to replicate nationally the success it had in its native North Dakota.

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From The National Leader, March 1923.

Although it ran candidates endorsed by both farmers and laborers in Minnesota, 1922 was the year their work culminated in the elections of Senators Henrik Shipstead and Magnus Johnson. After receding during the prosperity of the decade, from the League emerged the Farmer-Labor Party. Although often overlooked, the role of the NPL in that movement can’t be overstated. In fact, as one contributor to The Leader wrote in “The Future of The Nonpartisan League” (July 1923):

Had there been no League, there would be no farmer-labor co-operation. The League has been a tremendous factor in bringing the farmer and the industrial worker together. Farmer-labor co-operation is growing despite the efforts of big business and the big business press to keep the two wings of the industrial army apart.

If you’re interested in reading The National Leader yourself, Google Books has several volumes available:

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