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The Montana Nonpartisan appeared first in Great Falls, Montana, in 1917 under the banner of the Inverness News ; however, extant copies of this political newspaper, which served as the official publication of the National Nonpartisan League in Montana, begin with Vol. 2, No. 4, issue, dated October 19, 1918. The four-page, seven-column weekly covered the affairs of the Nonpartisan League across the Northern Plains, from Montana to Minnesota. On September 14, 1918, the Inverness News changed its name to the Montana Leader, and by October, it became, finally, the Montana Nonpartisan.
Back in 1915, a former Socialist Party organizer and failed flax farmer from Beach, North Dakota, Arthur Charles Townley, had founded the Nonpartisan League to advocate for state control over flour mills, grain elevators, and banks. The group successfully lobbied the North Dakota legislature for a graduated state income tax, state hail insurance, workmen's compensation, and the popular recall of elected officials.
The Montana Nonpartisan, edited by Dewitt C. Dorman, covered the affairs of the North Dakota branch of the Nonpartisan League and reported on the League's influence on politics in North Dakota, including its success in establishing a state mill and grain elevators. Pointed political cartoons lambasting rival newspapers controlled by the Anaconda Company, a powerful mining conglomerate, and conservative politicians found their way into each issue of the Montana Nonpartisan.
During the 1918 elections in Montana, the Nonpartisan League promoted a full slate of candidates, some of whom ran as both Republicans and Democrats in the primaries. That year, the League promoted and passed an initiative to issue state grain elevator bonds in all but four Montana counties. Throughout this period the Anaconda Company press continually attacked the Nonpartisan League and its political partners with hopes of undoing political collaboration between farmers and labor unions. By 1922, the Montana Nonpartisan moved its offices to Billings but the enthusiasm for its brand of progressive politics had mostly disappeared, and the newspaper folded in 1922.
Provided by: Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT