North Dakota Senators

North Dakota Senators

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North Dakota Senators

Class 1 Seat

Class 3 Seat






Lyman R. CaseyRepublican


Gilbert A. PierceRepublican
1893-1899William N. RoachDemocrat1891-1909Henry C. HansbroughRepublican
1899-1923Porter J. McCumberRepublican1909-1909Martin N. JohnsonRepublican
1923-1941Lynn J. FrazierRepublican1909-1910Fountain L. ThompsonDemocrat
1941-1959William LangerRepublican1910-1911William E. PurcellDemocrat
1959-1960C. Norman BrunsdaleRepublican1911-1921Asle J. GronnaRepublican
1960-1992Quentin N. BurdickDemocrat1921-1925Edwin F. LaddRepublican
1992-1992Jocelyn B. BurdickDemocrat1925-1945Gerald P. NyeRepublican
1992-Kent ConradDemocrat1945-1945John MosesDemocrat
1945-1981Milton R. YoungRepublican
1981-1987Mark AndrewsRepublican
1987-1992Kent ConradDemocrat
1992-Byron L. DorganDemocrat

Pierce County, North Dakota

Pierce County is a county located in the state of North Dakota. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 4,357. Its county seat is Rugby. The county was created by the 1887 territorial legislature and named for Gilbert Ashville Pierce, governor of Dakota Territory from 1884 to 1886 and a representative of North Dakota in the United States Senate from 1889 to 1891. The county government was first organized on April 6, 1889.

The geographical center of North America is in Pierce County, about 6 miles (10 km) west of Balta. Rugby has a monument for the center at the intersection of US 2 and ND 3.

Etymology - Origin of Pierce County Name

Named for Gilbert Ashville Pierce (1839-1901), governor of Dakota Territory, 1884-1886, and later one of North Dakota's first U. S. Senators, 1889-1891.


Pierce County History

Created by the 1887 territorial legislature and named for Gilbert Ashville Pierce (1839-1901), governor of Dakota Territory, 1884-1886, and later one of North Dakota's first U. S. Senators, 1889-1891. Government organized: April 6, 1889. County Seat: Rugby, 1889-present.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,082 square miles (2,800 km 2 ), of which 1,019 square miles (2,640 km 2 ) is land and 64 square miles (170 km 2 ) (5.9%) is water.

North Dakota Legislative History: The Basics

Conducting a Legislative History on a North Dakota statute is a fairly straightforward process.

1. Locate the North Dakota Century Code section (print version) for which you wish to locate the legislative history.

2. Following the code sections text is a notation to "Source" -- a list of all Session Laws (by chapter), starting with the Legislative session when that section of code was originally created, followed by any amendments from later sessions.

3. Locate the Bill Number at the top of the specific Session Law chapter.

4. The Bill Number leads you to the legislative history for the specific year's legislative session. This is available in a downloadable pdf format from the ND Legislature website from 2000 to the present, and in microfiche for previous years.

5. Check additional related sources.

The following items are used in conducting a legislative history for a particular section of the code.


The North Dakota Century Code (NDCC) is the compilation of state statutes passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. This is available online and in print at a variety of libraries throughout the state. The print version of the code is the only source that is annotated and has an index. Additional information on libraries is located on the North Dakota Century Code tab.


Session Laws, officially known as the Laws of North Dakota, is the complete set of laws passed during a particular legislative session. These are available in print and online from 1862 to 1888 for the Dakota Territory and from 1889 statehood to the present on the North Dakota Legislature website. Each Chapter represents a piece of legislation, the final version of each bill passed into law during the session, including new law and modifications of laws in effect prior to the beginning of the session. References to the origin of the bill (House or Senate) and sponsors are listed at the beginning of each chapter. Language while language removed from a previous version of the statute are represented by a strike-through .


Information obtained by accessing information in the NDCC and the Session Laws will provide guidance in locating the legislative history for a particular statute. A Legislative History is a collection of materials related to the passage of a particular bill. Information consists of committee hearings, amendments, voting, fiscal bills, presentations by supporters and opponents, etc,. Information in the form of downloadable pdfs are available online at the ND Legislature site. Previous years are available in microfiche in the UND Law Library or by contacting the ND Legislative Council.


The North Dakota Legislative Council provides research and other services to the ND Legislature. They prepare many of the first drafts of bills introduced at each legislative session. They also prepare a report to the legislature prior to the start of each session. Final Reports from 1947 to 2017 are available online.


Between sessions, interim committees of the legislature meet on a regular basis. Information and minutes taken during these meetings is available online. These resources allow for additional insight into the legislative thinking during a session.


While the journals from both houses of the legislature do not provide much in the way of legislative history, they do contain information useful in researching. Amendments, records of floor votes, committee assignments and a variety of other information can assist the researcher in locating information. These resources are valuable in earlier legislative sessions.

History of BND

In 1836, the U.S. Congress did not renew the charter for the Second Bank of the United States, opening the door for states to start their own banks. Alabama, Kentucky, Illinois, Vermont, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina all created banks that were completely owned by the state government. Missouri, Indiana and Virginia had banks with the State holding a majority interest and a number of other states created banks with the State owning a minority interest. By 1900, only Virginia and Kentucky survived. Today, these two banks are no longer functioning.

During the early 1900s, North Dakota’s economy was based on agriculture, specifically wheat. Frequent drought and harsh winters didn’t make it easy to earn a living. The arduous growing season was further complicated by grain dealers outside the state who suppressed grain prices, farm suppliers who increased their prices, and banks in Minneapolis and Chicago which raised the interest rates on farm loans, sometimes up to 12%.

North Dakotans were frustrated and attempts to legislate fairer business practices failed. A.C. Townley, a politician who was fired from the Socialist Party, organized the Non-Partisan League with the intent of creating a farm organization that protected the social and economic position of the farmer.

The Non-Partisan League gained control of the Governor’s office and the legislature in 1918. Their platform included state ownership and control of marketing and credit agencies. In 1919, the state legislature established Bank of North Dakota (BND) and the North Dakota Mill and Elevator Association. BND opened July 28, 1919, with $2 million of capital.

Several sections of the North Dakota Century Code address the creation of the Bank, its oversight and role in the state. Today, the North Dakota Legislature will appropriate funds from BND when needed through the budget process or state law.

BND has responded to the state’s needs since inception. When teachers were paid with warrants rather than cash during The Great Depression, BND paid them in full rather than with the 15 percent loss they would take when trying to cash it elsewhere. In the 1940s, BND sold back farmland which had been foreclosed during the 30s, usually to the original families who owned it and had been allowed to remain on the land and farm it.

In 1945, BND made its first transfer of funds to the State’s General Fund, $1,725. By the end of the 1950s, most of the farmland purchased from farmers during the Great Depression had been sold and the Bank was making home mortgage loans in small communities when community banks were not doing so.

Governor William Guy took office in 1961. His belief that the Bank should serve as an engine for economic development highly influenced its course. The commercial loan portfolio increased significantly by partnering with financial institutions for participation loans. In 1967, BND made the first federally-insured student loan in the United States.

In addition to economic development support, BND has provided recovery funding during disasters such as the 1997 floods in Grand Forks, the 2011 floods in Minot and Bismarck and agriculture relief loans during times weather-related hardship.

Today, in partnership with a majority of North Dakota’s financial institutions, BND fulfills its mission to promote the development of agriculture, commerce and industry in North Dakota. The operating policy, established in 1919, stated that the Bank shall be “helpful to and to assist in the development of state and national banks and other financial institutions and public corporations within the state and not, in any manner, to destroy or to be harmful to existing financial institutions.” The Bank’s operating policy continues to serve as a guiding principle for the Bank’s work in our state.

Bank of North Dakota has been located in Bismarck since it opened in 1919, moving to its current location in 2008. While there are no branches of the bank, offices with lending officer staff members are located in Fargo, Grand Forks and Minot.

Several organizations have conducted research on BND.

  • New England Public Policy Center Research Report 11-2 May 2011: The Bank of North Dakota: A model for Massachusetts and other states?
  • Vermont Digger January 25, 2010: Expert testimony: Should Vermont form a state-owned bank?
Organizational Structure

Industrial Commission

The 1919 State Legislature created the State Industrial Commission whose function was to conduct and manage, on behalf of the State of North Dakota, certain utilities, industries, enterprises and business projects. The Industrial Commission was charged with the operation, management and control of BND. The Commission is composed of the Governor who acts as Chairman, the Attorney General, and the Agriculture Commissioner.

Advisory Board

The BND Advisory Board of Directors was established by state statute in 1969. The Governor of North Dakota appoints Advisory Board members knowledgeable in banking and finance to the seven-member board. The Advisory Board reviews the Bank’s operations and makes recommendations to the Industrial Commission concerning management, services, policies and procedures.

Executive Committee

Bank of North Dakota’s Executive Committee consists of seven members:

  • President and CEO
  • Chief Business Development Officer
  • Chief Credit Officer
  • Chief Administrative Officer
  • Chief Technology and Operations Officer
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Chief Risk Officer

The Legislature has authorized 181.5 full time equivalents for employment at Bank of North Dakota.

Operations overview

BND is not FDIC Insured

In contrast to most commercial banks, BND is not a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). North Dakota Century Code 6-09-10 provides that all BND deposits are guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the State of North Dakota.

Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank

BND has a business relationship with the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank. We do check processing, deposit excess cash balances, maintain a reserve requirement, safe keep all our Fed book entry securities and have discount window borrowing authority.

Bank profits are returned to the State

The Bank’s profits are utilized in three ways: appropriation through the North Dakota Legislature to fund the General Fund, mission-driven loan programs and BND’s capital.

The ND Legislature appropriates the transfer of funds to the state’s General Fund. Every legislative session reviews the state’s budget needs and the amounts designated from BND’s capital for the General Fund will vary based upon the needs of the state and BND’s desire to maintain adequate liquidity and capital.

The Bank’s profits are also used to support its mission-driven loan programs. With legislative approval, BND funds interest rate buydowns and off-balance sheet programs that help drive economic development and infrastructure projects across the state.

Lastly, BND’s excess earnings are retained and accumulated to fund capital. The Bank’s target is to maintain a Tier One capital level of 10%.

Deposit base

All state funds must be deposited with BND unless specific authority allows for outside investments. Most of BND’s deposits come from the state’s collection of taxes and fees. The balance of the Bank’s deposits come from corporate accounts, North Dakota city and county government entities, and North Dakota residents.

This graphic demonstrates how funds are received by BND and distributed to North Dakota residents.

Investment strategy

BND follows a conservative investment policy, investing in AAA securities backed by the federal government or agencies of the federal government.

Need for reserves

Bank of North Dakota maintains adequate reserves and allowance for credit loss to protect itself from credit risk embedded in its loan portfolio. We utilize a model that considers specific risks and economic factors to ensure adequate allowance levels.

Audit guidelines

The North Dakota Department of Financial Institutions provides audit oversight to Bank of North Dakota, but has no regulatory authority over BND. In addition to their audit activities, BND has a robust internal audit department to ensure compliance with federal banking regulations and employs an aggressive external audit schedule as well.

Partnership with local financial institutions

Bank of North Dakota maintains strong relationships with financial institutions in the state and does not compete with them. This was established in the Bank’s founding principles in 1919: “BND is to be helpful to and assist in the development of…. financial institutions and public corporations within the state and not, in any manner, to destroy or to be harmful to existing financial institutions.”

Although individuals receive student loans directly from BND, they are not targeted for other loans or retail accounts. BND does not offer credit card or ATM services to the general public. Individuals and businesses must work with their local financial institution for business, residential and most agriculture loans. If the local bank or credit union wants to participate on a loan with BND or the borrower wants to access a BND program, the request comes through the lead financial institution, not the borrower.

BND is authorized to assist other financial institutions in providing financing to stimulate economic development in the state. This efficient business model allows us to promote the state’s programs and work with knowledgeable people who understand the communities they serve.

A typical loan transaction for a business loan is demonstrated with this graphic.

Looking to the future

BND proactively addresses the state’s needs by meeting regularly with our financial institution, government, higher education and economic development partners. Our vision statement, ‘BND is an agile partner that creates financial solutions for current and emerging economic needs,’ continues to drive us to meet our mission ‘To deliver quality, sound financial services that promote agriculture, commerce and industry in North Dakota.’ This mission statement was established in 1919 and remains the same today, reminding us of our important role and responsibility to the citizens of North Dakota.

North Dakota History Timeline

North Dakota was first settled by Native Americans several thousand years ago. Prior to the arrival of European explorers and fur traders in North Dakota, at least seven different groups of Native Americans lived in what is now North Dakota: the Assiniboine, Chippewa, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Cheyenne and Yanktonai (branch of the Dakota). The Cree also spent time in the area.

The land that today makes up North Dakota became US territory as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The region was originally part of the Minnesota and Nebraska territories, until, along with South Dakota, it was organized into the Dakota Territory in 1861. The state was very sparsely populated until the arrival of the railroads in the late 1800s, and finally became a state in 1889.

17th Century North Dakota History Timeline

1610 - Henry Hudson claimed the Hudson Bay watershed, which included much of eastern North Dakota for England.

1682 - LaSalle claimed the entire Mississippi River drainage which included the Missouri River drainage in North Dakota, for France.

18th Century North Dakota History Timeline

1713 - England receives the northern part of North Dakota from France

1738 - Pierre Gaultier de la Verendrye, a French explorer, visited Mandan villages near the Missouri River. This is the first known Euro-American expedition into what is now North Dakota.

1742 - The sons of La Verendrye returned to the Missouri River as part of an expedition in search of a western sea. Subsequent explorers to visit this region included Jonathan Carver (1768) and David Thompson (1797), among others.

1762 - Spain received from France land claimed by LaSalle.

1763 - Treaty of Paris granted to England part of the state drained by the Mouse and the Red Rivers.

1781 - The first known business enterprise, a fur trading post, was briefly established near the Souris River, but was soon abandoned as a result of pressure from unfriendly Indians.

1792 - Jacques D'Englise (Santiago Leglise) opened trade between Mandan villages and Spanish interests from St. Louis.

1794 - Rene Jusseaume built a Fur Post near the Knife River.

1796 - John Evans from St. Louis ascended the Missouri River to the Mandan villages near the Knife River.

  • Chaboillez, a French trader, opened a post at Pembina,
  • David Thompson, an English explorer, mapped the northern part of the state.

19th Century North Dakota History Timeline

  • Alexander Henry Jr. established a fur post at Park River. Henry moved his establishment to Pembina in 1801, and it became the nucleus for the first white settlement in what is now North Dakota.
  • By this date, fur traders from Canada were frequent visitors to this region and a trade route had been established between posts near Lake Winnipeg and the Missouri River Indian villages.

1801 - John Cameron built a trading post at the current site of Grand Forks.

1802 - On March 12, the first non-Indian child was born in what is now North Dakota to Pierre Bonza and his wife, Black slaves of Alexander Henry, Jr.

  • On November 20, Spain returned the Missouri River watershed to France.
  • The Louisiana Purchase transferred the area of North Dakota drained by the Missouri River from France to the United States on December 30.

1804 & 1806 - An expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark entered North Dakota and wintered near the present town of Washburn on its way to the Pacific Coast. This temporary post, Fort Mandan, was frequently visited by nearby Indians.

1806 - The Lewis and Clark Expedition returned down the river on its way back to St. Louis. Their journey marked the first major American penetration of the area and was characterized by amicable relationships with native inhabitants.

  • Fur Company entrepreneur Manuel Lisa of St. Louis led the first formal American business reconnaissance along the Missouri River in search of sites for trading posts.
  • On December 29, the first white child was born in present-day North Dakota to fur post employees at Pembina.
  • Scientific exploration of the Northern plains initiated by Lewis and Clark continued.
  • Botanists John Bradbury and Thomas Nuttel surveyed the region during their journey to Oregon.
  • Later expeditions included Prince Maximillian of Wied and artist George Catlin (1832-34) and naturalist John J. Audubon (1843) among many others.
  • An agricultural colony was established near Pembina by settlers from Canada under the authority of a royal grant to Lord Selkirk. The ill-fated attempt failed after internal feuding, boundary changes, and grasshoppers destroyed the crops in 1820.
  • Part of what is now North Dakota became part of the Missouri Territory.
  • All of North Dakota became part of the Missouri Territory.
  • Fathers Dumoulin and Provencher established a Roman Catholic mission at Pembina the first school, taught by William Edge, operated in connection with this mission.
  • The 49th parallel was agreed to as the boundary between the US and Great Britain in a treaty whereby the United States acquired possession of the upper Red River drainage.

1822 - Fur Trading posts were established in the Missouri Valley.

  • An expedition led by Stephen J. Long fixed the boundary between the United States and Canada at a point north of Pembina.
  • A second military expedition, led by Henry Leavenworth, attempted to make treaties with the Arikara and other tribes.
  • Later expeditions included Atkinson-O'Fallon (1825), Fremont-Nicollet (1839), and the Stevens Survey (1853).

1829 - Fort Union fur trading post was established.

1831 - Fort Clark fur trading post was established.

1832 - The Yellowstone, the first steamboat on the upper Missouri, reached Fort Union.

1834 - Land east of the Missouri River became part of the Territory of Michigan.

1836 - Land east of the Missouri River became part of the Territory of Wisconsin.

1837 - A smallpox epidemic virtually annihilated the Mandan Indians near Fort Clark.

1838 - Land east of the Missouri River became part of the Territory of Iowa.

1839 - John C. Fremont and Jean Nicollet explored the east-central part of the state.

1842 - The first Red River ox-cart caravan traversed trails between St. Joseph (Walhalla) and St. Paul, inaugurating a major commerce that continued for over 25 years. Major fur posts in this area were operated by Joseph Rolette (1842), Norman Kittson (1843), and Antoine Gingras (1843).

1845 - Fort Berthold fur trading post was established.

  • Father George Anthony Belcourt opened mission fields at Pembina, St. Joseph, and in the Turtle Mountains.
  • Reverend Alonzo Barnard and James Tanner conducted the first Protestant services in the area at Pembina.

1849 - Land east of the Missouri River became part of the Minnesota Territory.

  • The first post office was established in what is now North Dakota at Pembina with Norman Kittson as Postmaster.
  • A permanent agricultural settlement was established at Pembina under the leadership of Charles Cavileer
  • First flour mill was established at St. Joseph by Father Belcourt.

1853 - Issac I. Stevens crossed the state surveying the "Northern Route" for the proposed transcontinental railroad.

1854 - Land east of the Missouri River became part of the Nebraska Territory.

  • Land east of the Missouri River was left without territorial government when Minnesota became a state.
  • Military occupation of North Dakota began with the establishment of Fort Abercrombie on the Red River and the present-day town of Abercrombie the fort was abandoned in 1877.

1859 - The Anson Northrup, first steamboat on the Red River, traveled from Fort Abercrombie to Winnipeg.

1860 - Regular steamboat service on the Missouri River began.

1861 - Dakota Territory was officially organized by the Federal government and William Jayne was appointed the first governor by President Abraham Lincoln.

  • The First Territorial Legislature for Dakota Territory met at Yankton
  • Fort Abercrombie was besieged by Sioux during the Minnesota Uprising.
  • Dakota Territory was opened for homesteading.
  • Campaigns intended to punish Santee Sioux who participated in the Minnesota Uprising pushed through northern Dakota and were led by General Henry H. Sibley and General Alfred H. Sully.
  • On September 3, Sully's forces attacked a peaceful hunting camp of Yanktonai Sioux at Whitestone Hill this was the last major battle of the Indian Wars period to be fought east of the Missouri.
  • The first newspaper to be published in northern Dakota, The Frontier Scout, was issued at Fort Union.
  • An immigrant party led by James Fiske was besieged near present-day Marmarth for two weeks members of the party constructed sod breastworks now known as Fort Dilts.
  • A second military expedition led by Sully battled Sioux at Killdeer Mountain and in the Badlands.
  • Military troops began temporary occupation of Fort Union (1864-65) and Fort Berthold (1864-67) pending establishment of new forts.
  • The military post of Fort Rice (1864-78) was established.

1866 - The military post of Fort Buford (1866-95) was established.

  • The Fort Totten Indian Reservation was established and Sisseton and Wahpeton Sioux ceded lands to the US government by treaty.
  • The military posts of Fort Ransom (1867-72), Fort Totten (1867-90), and Fort Stevenson (1867-83) were established.
  • A major peace council was held at Fort Rice this led to the Laramie Treaty which defined Sioux lands as those west of the Missouri River in Dakota Territory.
  • The first homestead entry in northern Dakota was made by Joseph Rolette in the northern Red River Valley.
  • The Fort Berthold Indian Reservation was established and treaties between the Sioux and Chippewa and the US government ceded most of present-day eastern North Dakota to the Federal government.
  • The military post of Fort Pembina (1870-95) was established.
  • The Northern Pacific Railway was built from the Red River to Jamestown the NPRR reached Bismarck in 1873, but did not complete its main line to the Montana border until 1881.
  • The first commercial telegraph line was extended from Fargo to Winnipeg and the military posts of Fort Abraham Lincoln (1872-91), Camp Hancock (1872-77), and Fort Seward (1872-77) were established.
  • On July 11, Colonel Clement A. Lounsberry published the first issue of the Bismarck Tribune, now North Dakota's oldest newspaper.
  • The first commercial lignite mine opened at Sims, but failed.
  • A US Weather Bureau station was established at Camp Hancock at Bismarck
  • The Fargo Express, first newspaper in the Red River Valley, began publication.
  • A major reconnaissance from Fort Abraham Lincoln, led by Col. George A. Custer, explored the Black Hills and verified the existence of gold in that region.
  • The military post of Fort Yates (1874-1903) was established.
  • Bonanza farms were established in the Red River Valley.
  • White settlement was permitted by the US War Department on Indian lands reserved by the Laramie treaty, precipitating a major Indian uprising on the plains.
  • The Seventh Cavalry, led by Col. George A. Custer, joined the Sioux Expedition of 1876.
  • Leaving Fort Abraham Lincoln on May 17, Custer met decisive defeat at the Little Big Horn River in Montana on June 25.
  • The first Bismarck to Deadwood stage left Bismarck
  • First telephones in northern Dakota connected locations on the Grandin bonanza farm near Grandin.

1878 - Ranching was introduced in western Dakota Territory.

  • The Great Dakota land boom began
  • Military post at Cantonment Badlands (1879-83) was established.
  • The St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Manitoba Railway (later the Great Northern Railway) entered northern Dakota near Grand Forks The GNRR, led by James J. Hill, completed its main line to the Montana border in 1887.

1880 - Military reserves in the eastern and central portion of northern Dakota were opened to homesteading.

  • The last great Indian buffalo hunt took place
  • Turtle Mountain Reservation was established.
  • Fire destroyed a large portion of Grand Forks.
  • The territorial capital was moved from Yankton to Bismarck
  • First capitol was constructed.
  • A university (UND) at Grand Forks and a Presbyterian College (now Jamestown College) were established.
  • The Marquis de Mores began a packing plant and other businesses and planned the town of Medora these enterprises failed in 1886.
  • Theodore Roosevelt first visited Medora he later established two ranches in that vicinity that he utilized periodically until 1888.

1884 - Half the city of Devils Lake was destroyed by fire.

  • The first meeting of the Territorial Legislature was held at Bismarck
  • Marquis de Mores was acquitted of murder in a trial at Bismarck.
  • The Hospital for the Insane (now North Dakota State Hospital) was opened at Jamestown
  • Territorial prison (now the State Penitentiary) opened at Bismarck.
  • The great "Dakota Boom" in settlement increased the territory's population during this era
  • Territorial census was taken.
  • Severe winter in the western part of Dakota Territory put an end to open range ranching
  • Bank of Hamilton (oldest state bank in North Dakota) was opened.
  • The Soo Line Railway began construction in northern Dakota at Fairmont the Soo completed its lines to Portal in 1893.
  • The Standing Rock Indian Reservation was opened to homesteading
  • Board of Pharmacy, North Dakota's first examining board, was founded.
  • The North Dakota Medical Association was founded at Larimore.
  • North Dakota was admitted to the Union as the 39th state on November 2, and a State Constitution was adopted in October.
  • North Dakota's first Governor, John Miller of Dwight, took office
  • State Legislature convened at Bismarck on November 19.
  • Constitutional prohibition of alcoholic beverages was instigated,
  • North Dakota Farmers Alliance was formed.
  • The Catholic diocese of Jamestown was established (the offices were moved to Fargo in 1891).
  • State Normal Schools at Valley City and Mayville (now State Universities), the State Agricultural College (now North Dakota State University) at Fargo, and the School for the Deaf at Devils Lake were opened. A State Agricultural Experiment Station was opened at Fargo.
  • Panic among White settlers, stemming from Ghost Dance activities among the Sioux, rushed through western North Dakota. During his arrest by Indian Policemen, Hunkpapa Sioux leader, Sitting Bull, was killed on Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
  • Early Republican Party domination of state politics was overthrown by the fusion of Democrats and Populists
  • Eli C.D. Shortridge was elected Governor. Laura J. Eisenhuth, the first woman to hold state office, was elected Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • The Industrial School at Ellendale (later known as the State Normal and Industrial School) was opened this institution existed until 1971 when its Constitutional status was removed by referendum.
  • The North Dakota Soldiers' Home was opened at Lisbon
  • Fire destroyed almost the entire business section of Fargo.
  • The Republican Party regained control of state government, a domination that continued until 1907.
  • Fire destroyed four city blocks in LaMoure.

1895 - The State Historical Society of North Dakota was incorporated with Clement A. Lounsberry as president.

1897 - The first free public library opened at Grafton.

  • North Dakota sent troops to assist in the Spanish-American War
  • Fire almost destroyed the entire Bismarck business section.

1899 - North Dakota lost its reputation as being the national divorce mecca when a 90-day residency law expired.

20th Century North Dakota History Timeline

1900 - Frank White of Valley City was elected Governor when reelected in 1902, he became the state's first Governor to serve more than one term.

  • The first North Dakota Pure Foods Law was passed
  • Theodore Roosevelt, previously a ranch operator in Dakota Territory, became President of the United States.
  • Ft. Lincoln, located south of Bismarck, was completed and garrisoned this military base became the training center for the State Militia and was later used as a detention camp for prisoners of war during World War II.
  • The State Industrial School opened at Mandan.
  • The State School of Science at Wahpeton and the School for Retarded (now Grafton State School) at Grafton were opened.
  • A state-owned street car line began operation in Bismarck commercial lines were operating in Fargo and Grand Forks.
  • The only execution at the State Penitentiary occurred and the first irrigation works were constructed in North Dakota.
  • The State Historical Society of North Dakota was given legal status
  • 1905 was the single largest construction year for railroads in North Dakota (529.3 miles).

1906 - Charles Service of Park River became North Dakota's first automobile fatality.

  • The first gas well in North Dakota was discovered south of Westhope.
  • The State School of Forestry (now North Dakota State University, Bottineau Branch) opened at Bottineau
  • American Society of Equity established a North Dakota union.
  • Alexander McKenzie resigned as Republican national committeeman.
  • North Dakota held its first statewide primary election the state's first Presidential preference primary was held in 1912.
  • The battleship "USS. North Dakota", the first tubine-powered ship in the US Navy, was launched it was later scrapped in 1931.
  • The first child labor laws were enacted and the State Library Commission was created.
  • The first law for the organization of cooperative businesses was passed.
  • The first airplane flight in North Dakota occurred at an exhibition in Grand Forks the passenger was Frank V. Kent.
  • Democrat John Burke became North Dakota's first three-term Governor
  • Catholic diocese of Bismarck was created.
  • The North Dakota state flag was designated
  • First state motor vehicle licenses were issued.
  • Constitutional amendments allowing initiative and referendum were passed by the electorate.
  • The first Farmers Educational Cooperative Union was brought to North Dakota
  • Equity Cooperative Exchange was formed and began agitation for a state-owned terminal elevator located at Duluth or Minneapolis.
  • The Legislature passed a law making bootlegging a crime punishable by penitentiary imprisonment.
  • John Burke, former North Dakota Governor, became Treasurer of the United States his service extended until 1921.
  • The State Normal School (now Minot State University) opened at Minot
  • North Dakota Farmers Union local was organized at Bismarck
  • State Highway Commission was authorized by the Legislature.
  • The Nonpartisan League, an insurgent political movement, began organizing within one year it obtained over 40,000 members.
  • North Dakota's wheat crop was the largest to that date
  • Legislature passed laws outlawing the death penalty except in cases where prison guards are murdered.
  • The first state organization for Farmers Educational and Cooperative Union in North Dakota was formed.
  • The Nonpartisan League captured control of the majority of state offices Lynn J. Frazier was elected Governor.
  • Completion of the Wildrose-Grenora branch line by the Great Northern Railway (36.3 mi.) ended the last major railway construction in the state
  • State Supreme Court disallowed a ballot proposal to remove the state capital to New Rockford.
  • North Dakota units were ordered into Federal military service during World War I
  • Independent Voters Association, opposed to the Nonpartisan League, was formed at Grand Forks.
  • A women's suffrage bill was signed into law, ratified in 1919, and women were allowed to vote in the first general election in 1920.
  • Attorney General William Langer and law enforcement officers conducted the state's biggest raid 44 were arrested in Minot on charges of gambling, prostitution, etc.
  • An Influenza epidemic swept the state killing 2,700 North Dakotans.
  • The State Normal School (now Dickinson State University) opened at Dickinson
  • Initiated measures sponsored by the Nonpartisan League allowed state-owned industries approved by the electorate.
  • The Bank of North Dakota was established at Bismarck
  • State Mill and Elevator Commission was organized.
  • A State Industrial Commission was created to manage state industries
  • State Workman's Compensation Bureau was formed,
  • North Dakota Council of Churches was founded.
  • A windstorm hit Williams and Divide Counties killing 8 and injuring 40.
  • North Dakota's first airplane fatality occurred when Brian Kerr was killed in a crash near Sutton,
  • A.C. Townley was convicted on charges of sedition in Minnesota.
  • A recall measure for state officials was added to the state constitution by a vote of the electorate.
  • The beginning of rural economic depression came with the collapse of wartime prices for commodities
  • North Dakota branch of the Farm Bureau Federation was organized at Bismarck.
  • Hazel Miner became a posthumous national hero when it was revealed that this fifteen-year old gave up her own life in a blizzard to save her younger siblings.
  • Governor Lynn J. Frazier, Attorney General William Lemke, and Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor John N. Hagan, all Nonpartisan League members, were recalled by voters in the first successful gubernatorial recall in the nation.
  • North Dakota's first bus line was established
  • Former Governor Frank White became Treasurer of the United States, a position he held until 1928.
  • Former Governor Lynn J. Frazier was elected to the US Senate
  • The first motor vehicle bridge across the Missouri River was completed at Bismarck.
  • North Dakota's first radio station, WDAY at Fargo, began broadcasting.
  • The State Mill and Elevator began operations at Grand Forks
  • North Dakota Wheat Growers Association was founded.
  • A uniform system for numbering and marking state hiways was developed
  • The profile of Sioux leader Marcellus Red Tomahawk was designated as the state hiway symbol.

The Liberty Memorial Building was completed on the state Capital grounds.

  • The North Dakota Farmers Union state organization was chartered with 13,000 members.
  • Big Viking Oil Company of Williston began drilling the company was broke by 1930.
  • An air mail service between the Twin Cities and Winnipeg through North Dakota was inaugurated,
  • Carl Ben Eielson of Hatton became the first person to fly nonstop over the arctic.

1929 - June was one of the driest on record in North Dakota, followed by continuing drought conditions throughout the 1930s this period is often referred to as the "Dirty Thirties." This also marks the beginning of the Great Depression which continued until the beginning of World War II.

  • North Dakota's most severe windstorm was recorded with 1,847 buildings damaged
  • The old territorial Capitol was destroyed by fire on December 28.
  • A state-owned street car line between downtown Bismarck and the state Capitol was discontinued.
  • The International Peace Garden site was selected in North Dakota and Manitoba
  • The last lynching in the state occurred at Schafer.
  • The new Capitol building was dedicated a second dedication was held the following year after allegations that the first cornerstone had been damaged.
  • Prohibition agents hit a still at Jamestown making it the biggest raid west of Chicago the still was capable of producing 1,000 gallons of moonshine a day.
  • The prohibition clause of the state Constitution was repealed by the electorate and former Attorney General William Lemke was elected to congress.
  • The Farmers Holiday Association was formed at Jamestown farmers blockaded marketing points in northwestern North Dakota in an effort to raise commodity prices.
  • Governor William L. Langer proclaimed moratoriums on mortgage foreclosure sales and on the shipment of farm commodities from North Dakota the latter was declared unconstitutional in 1934 by a Federal judge.
  • A Farm Holiday Association strike in May proved unsuccessful V
  • Violent strike at the new Capitol construction site forced a call-up of the North Dakota National Guard.

1934 - On July 18, the North Dakota Supreme Court disqualified Governor Langer as a result of his conviction for campaigning law violations and Lt. Governor Ole Olson assumed office.

  • Thomas Moodie, a Williston Democrat, was inaugurated Governor. Former Governor William Langer produced evidence that Moodie had violated a North Dakota residency law by voting in Minnesota and, on February 2, the North Dakota Supreme Court declared Moodie ineligible. Moodie served in office formally for only 4 days. Walter Welford, Lt. Governor, succeeded to office and became the state's fourth Governor in 7 months.
  • State Welfare and Planning boards and the North Dakota Hiway Patrol was created.
  • North Dakota's new Capitol Building was completed a
  • First credit union law was passed by the state Legislature.
  • William Langer became the first person in any state to be elected Governor in an individual column of state ballot and the sale of liquor was legalized by referendum.
  • North Dakota recorded its lowest and highest official temperature readings (60 degrees below zero at Parshall and 120 degrees above at Steele).
  • Drought devastated North Dakota's crops
  • Congressman William Lemke ran for the Presidency on the Union Party ticket.
  • The Bismarck Tribune won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting about North Dakota's drought.
  • The Water Conservation Commission was established and the first Soil Conservation district in North Dakota was organized in Kidder County.
  • Baker Rural Electric Cooperative at Cando became the first in North Dakota to energize its transmission lines.

1938 - The first hard-surfaced hiway across North Dakota (US 10) was completed.

1939 - Bismarck Junior College (now Bismarck State College) was established and its first building was constructed on the Capitol grounds.

1940 - The staff of the North Dakota National Guard was ordered into Federal service.

  • Units of the North Dakota National Guard were ordered into Federal military service during World War II
  • 164th Infantry became the first American unit to fight in the Pacific during the battle of Guadalcanal in 1942.
  • Lake Region Junior College (now University of North Dakota - Lake Region) was established at Devils Lake
  • 90 persons, 39 in North Dakota, were killed by a Red River Valley blizzard.
  • A committee ruling calling for Senator Langer's ouster on charges of political corruption was rejected by the US Senate.
  • Drought and the Depression was broken by bumper wheat crops and prosperity returned to the northern plains.
  • A Republican Organizing Committee (ROC) was formed to oppose the Nonpartisan League in the Republican column
  • North Dakota led the Nation in per capita war bond sales.
  • The North Dakota Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the state's anti-corporation farmer act.

1944 - The Pick-Sloan Plan for the development of Missouri River waters was approved by Congress.

  • Senator John Moses died in office Governor Fred Aandahl selected Milton R. Young as replacement. Young served continuously until 1981 becoming the nation's longest serving GOP senator.
  • A train wreck on the outskirts of Michigan, North Dakota, killed 34 people.

1946 - Construction of Garrison Dam began.

  • A bill authorizing the creation of Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park was passed by Congress and signed by President Harry S. Truman the park was dedicated June 4, 1949.
  • A tornado in Walsh County killed 9 people.
  • The Dickey Rural Telephone Mutual Aid Corporation became the state's first modern rural telephone cooperative
  • 231st Engineering Battalion of the North Dakota National Guard was ordered into Federal service for the Korean Emergency.
  • A radar base was activated at Finley this installation operated until 1980.
  • Oil was discovered near Tioga in April on the farm of Clarence Iverson
  • Voter registration was repealed in North Dakota (still the only state not to have voter registration).
  • The William J. Neil Electrical Generation plant near Velva began service at the time of its completion, it was the largest coal-fired power plant in the United States.
  • The nation's first jewel bearing factory opened at Rolla.
  • The Garrison Dam closure ceremonies featured President Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • First North Dakota television stations began broadcasting.
  • Construction began on a pipeline from Tioga to Mandan
  • Bismarck Businessman Harold Schafer won the Horatio Alger Award.
  • The bones of Sitting Bull were allegedly stolen from a grave at Fort Yates and reburied near Mobridge, South Dakota.
  • Mandan's oil refinery was dedicated and the first gasoline extracted from petroleum in a North Dakota refinery occurred at Dickinson.
  • The Heskett Electrical generation plant at Mandan went into service an addition to this plant was energized in 1963.
  • President Eisenhower signed a law authorizing the establishment of Grand Forks and Minot Air Force bases.
  • The Nonpartisan League and the Democratic Party merged
  • First contracts were let for Interstate highway systems (I-94 and I-29) in North Dakota.
  • Mary College (now University of Mary) was established at Bismarck
  • Fargo Forum received the Pulitzer Prize for its reporting about a tornado that swept the northwestern edge of Fargo killing 11 people.
  • Construction began at the Grand Forks Air Force base the base was completed in 1960.

1957 - Construction began at the Minot Air Force base this base was operational in December, 1959.

  • Quentin N. Burdick, Democrat, became the first member of that party to be elected to congress from North Dakota
  • First potato flake plant in the state was established in Grand Forks.
  • Longtime state political figures Senator William Langer and Arthur C. Townley, first president of the Nonpartisan League, died in November
  • North Dakota Economic Development Commission was established.
  • Seven years after the Garrison Dam closure ceremonies the reservoir was completed and Lake Sakakawea was formed.
  • Highway 29 became the first interstate highway to reach an international border
  • First airplanes arrived at Grand Forks Air Force base.
  • The passage of an initiated measure changed the name of North Dakota Agricultural College to North Dakota State University of Agriculture and Applied Science.

1961 - Roger Maris from Fargo broke Babe Ruth's single season home run record.

  • The Leland Olds Generating plant, North Dakota's first major lignite-fired power facility, began construction near Stanton.
  • Uranium recovery from ore-rich lignite beds in southwestern North Dakota began
  • Bus body plant began operation at Pembina.
  • Minuteman Missiles arrived at Grand Forks and Minot Air Force bases
  • UND hockey team won a national intercollegiate championship.
  • The first sugar beet refinery in North Dakota was established near Drayton
  • North Dakota's first Minuteman Missile was installed in an underground site near Inkster.
  • President Lyndon Johnson signed into law authorization for the Garrison Diversion project.
  • The worst blizzard in state history struck most of North Dakota in March
  • First Minuteman II Missile Wing in the United States was declared operational at the Grand Forks Air Force base.
  • Ground was broken for a new State Highway Department building on the Capitol grounds in Bismarck.
  • Leland Olds Power Station No. 1 at Stanton began service a second station at this plant was completed in 1975.

1967 - The United Power Cooperative Generation facility near Stanton was begun.

  • The Garrison Diversion project was authorized by congress and ground-breaking was held for the Snake Creek pumping plant.
  • William L. Guy, Democratic-NPL, was elected to a four-year term, thus obtaining a longer tenure in the office than any predecessor (12 years).
  • North Dakota's worst traffic accident occurred near Jamestown when 8 teenagers were killed
  • First recorded earthquake occurred in North Dakota with its epicenter near Ashley.
  • Minot was hit by the worst flood in history
  • College students instituted the "Zip to Zap" party bash for which the Army National Guard was called into active service.
  • First Western Bank officials in Minot were indicted
  • 126 Minot teachers were dismissed during a strike.
  • The United Tribes Employment Training Center (now the United Tribes Educational and Technical Center) opened near Bismarck.
  • An ABM Missile installation began construction near Nekoma the facility was completed in 1974, but closed several months later.
  • Construction was initiated on the McClusky Canal portion of the Garrison Diversion project
  • Gary McDaniel, First National Bank president of Minot was convicted of embezzlement.
  • Robert McCarney won a three-vote victory over Richard Elkin in the Republican Primary for the US House.
  • A State Constitutional Convention was held at Bismarck the resulting document was defeated by state voters in 1972.
  • The last area of North Dakota to receive telephone service, Squaw Gap in McKenzie County, was "cut over" by Reservation Telephone Cooperative.
  • Milton R. Young Power Station No. 1 near Center began service a second station at this plant energized in 1977.
  • An Ellendale branch of UND was closed and Amtrack went into effect.
  • The first rural water system in North Dakota, Grand Forks-Traill Water Users Association, began operation
  • Prices for wheat nearly doubled after huge grain sales to Red China and the Soviet Union.
  • Record high grain prices enervated North Dakota's economy and a sales tax on groceries was repealed.
  • Viet Nam POWs Captain Loren Torkelson of Crosby and Keith Hall of Devils Lake were released.
  • The Drake school ordered the banning of the novel Slaughterhouse Fiveby Kurt Vonnegut.
  • The largest breakout at the state Penitentiary occurred 10 prisoners escaped but all were apprehended within a week.
  • Incumbent Republican Senator Milton R. Young defeated the Democratic-NPL challenger William L. Guy in the closest senate race in North Dakota history the margin of victory was only 186 votes.
  • Coal mining in North Dakota was delayed until reclamation and environmental issues were resolved
  • First attempted airplane hijack in the state occurred at the Grand Forks airport.
  • Congress voted to dismantle the Safeguard antiballistic missle complex in northeastern North Dakota.
  • The worst blizzard in half a century (60 to 70 m.p.h. winds, coupled with 20 below zero temperature and snow) resulted in the deaths of 12 state residents and countless cattle the following floods cost North Dakota $1 billion in damages.
  • Thomas Kleppe of Bismarck was appointed US Secretary of Interior.
  • North Dakota became the only state legislature to ratify the ERA in 1975
  • North Dakota Coal Impact Office was created.
  • Ground-breaking for the North Dakota Heritage Center was held at Bismarck as part of the state's celebration of the national bicentennial.
  • The National Audubon Society filed suit to stop construction of the Garrison Diversion Project
  • North Dakota experienced its driest year since the 1930s.
  • The state House ended in a tie of 50 delegates for each party as Republican Janet Wentz got a one-vote victory in district 41
  • Federal trial began in Bismarck for Russell Means, an Indian activist.
  • The last section of Interstate 29 was completed, thus making North Dakota the first state in the union to finish its assigned mileage in the Federal Controlled Access Highway System.
  • North Dakota experienced its wettest year on record

Investigation ensued following the failure of the Towner Bank.

  • An oil boom began in western North Dakota
  • Tornado hit Elgin killing 4 people.
  • Sunflowers became the state's second largest cash crop
  • Extensive spring flooding made 23 counties eligible for disaster assistance.
  • Coal Creek Power Station No. 1 near Underwood went "on-line"
  • Heavy flooding of the Red River caused much of Hillsboro to be evacuated.
  • Construction began at Beulah on the nation's first plant to convert lignite coal to synthetic gas.
  • Allen Olson was elected Governor he was the first Republican to hold that office in 20 years (the Republicans also won the agriculture, insurance, and State Treasurer positions).
  • The North Dakota Heritage Center at Bismarck officially opened
  • Gambling for charitable purposes was legalized in North Dakota.
  • Coyote Station No. 1 near Beulah, a coal-fired electrical generating facility, was opened.
  • The Northern Tier Pipeline began
  • Democrats gained control of the House for the first time in 16 years.
  • Northern Lights, a movie about the NPL in North Dakota, won the Neil Simon Award for best picture.
  • Two Federal marshals were shot and killed north of Medina
  • US Representative Mark Andrews brought a malpractice suit against a hospital in Fargo.
  • The Payment in Kind (PIK) Program was implemented to help farmers.
  • A Federal trial began for Leonard Peltier, accused of shooting 2 Federal Marshals in South Dakota.
  • Ruth Meiers became the state's first woman Lieutenant Governor Democrats won the executive positions of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Treasurer, Attorney General, and Insurance Commissioner, but the Republicans regained control of the House.
  • North Dakota's first ethanol plant was built at Walhalla
  • Beryl Levine became the first woman Justice on the North Dakota Supreme Court.
  • North Dakota became the last state to have a confirmed case of the disease AIDS.
  • The Democratic Party gained control of the North Dakota Senate for the first time in the state's history and Lieutenant Governor Ruth Meiers was diagnosed as having cancer her duties were curtailed.
  • 1986 was a bad year for North Dakota businesses Staiger, Great Plains and Gold Seal were all reorganized.
  • The North Dakota Agriculture Department fell victim to botched Central American potato sales and higher oil and cattle prices started to boost the state's economy.
  • Lieutenant Governor Ruth Meiers died after a six-month battle with cancer and was replaced by Lloyd Omdahl.
  • Fire at an agricultural chemical warehouse in Minot forced 10,000 people to leave their homes until the toxic fumes dissipated.
  • United Mine Workers went on strike at Indian Head Mine near Zap
  • Virgil Hill of Williston won the World Boxing Association light-heavyweight boxing title.
  • The first major drought since the 1930s was recorded
  • The Institution at San Haven was closed.
  • Larry Remele, State Historian and editor for the State Historical Society of North Dakota, died in early June.

21st Century North Dakota History Timeline

2008 - U.S. Geological Survey released assessment of undiscovered oil resources in Bakken Formation

2009 - Thousands asked to evacuate homes in Fargo due to rising of Red River

2010 - North Dakota had lowest unemployment rate in nation at 4.2%

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Because North Dakota has only one congressional district, congressional redistricting is not necessary. The state legislature draws state legislative district boundaries. State legislative district lines are subject to veto by the governor. ⎙]

The North Dakota Constitution requires that state legislative districts be "compact and contiguous." ⎙] ⎚]

Upon completion of the 2020 census, North Dakota will draft and enact new district maps. Redistricting authorities in North Dakota have not established a timeline for the 2020 cycle.

North Dakota received its local census data on March 15, 2011. The state's population grew by approximately 5 percent to 672,591, but more rural districts lost population to more urban districts. The legislature held a special session in November 2011 after preliminary approval by the Interim Legislative Redistricting Committee and passed the proposed plan on November 8. The plan cut two rural districts, added districts in Fargo and Bismarck, and paired over a dozen incumbents. Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) signed the plan into law on November 9.

Now You Know: Why Are There Two Dakotas?

The Dakota Territory was formed in 1861&mdashincluding what we now think of as North Dakota and South Dakota, as well as parts of Wyoming and Montana&mdashand took on the boundaries of the two Dakotas in 1868. It was entirely expected that such territories would eventually join the U.S. as states after meeting certain requirements, like hitting a population count of more than 60,000 and drafting a state constitution.

So why did the two halves of the territory reach statehood separately?

Steven Bucklin, a professor of history at the University of South Dakota, points to regional differences in trade routes and population size as the two main factors. Those differences, with the addition of some territorial government politics, meant the populations felt some resentment for each other. Or, as Kimberly Porter, a history professor at the University of North Dakota, puts it, “the south half did not like the north half.”

(While we’re going to focus on why there are two Dakotas, it’s worth noting that they’re not the only states to share a name&mdashthe Carolinas separated in the first half of the 18th century, and West Virginia split from Virginia during the civil war because delegates from the western part of the state opposed secession.)

In terms of population size, the two parts of the territory were different from the beginning. There were always more people in the southern part of Dakota territory, which grew from about 10,000 in 1870 to about over 98,000 in 1880. By that point, according to the U.S. census, northern Dakota was home to only about 37,000 people. That meant that southern Dakota had the population necessary to join as a state, all on its own, years before the northern part of the state did.

Perhaps not coincidentally, there was also a bit of a personality difference between the two regions: the south thought the north was a bit disreputable, Porter says, “too much controlled by the wild folks, cattle ranchers, fur traders” and too frequently the site of conflict with the indigenous population.

Meanwhile, a year after the Dakota territory was formed, the Homestead Act passed. This new law encouraged settlement in the West, as did railroads that connected new farmers to markets for their crops. But the trade routes supported by these railroads connected North and South Dakota to different commercial hubs, says Bucklin. The northern part of Dakota territory became more closely tied to Minneapolis-St. Paul, via Fargo and Bismarck. In contrast, the southern counties along the Missouri and Big Sioux rivers were more closely tied by trade to Sioux City, and from there to Omaha or over to Chicago. These diverging economic ties left residents of different parts of the territory less connected to each other.

In terms of politics, the way the territory system was set up, legislators were appointed by the federal government in Washington, D.C., and tended to remain in the region only while they served their terms. The larger population of the southern region began to resent those “carpetbaggers,” Bucklin says, but the northerners tended to emphasize that it was cheaper to be a territory, with the feds funding a wide range of state functions. It didn’t help that the state legislators were sometimes notoriously corrupt&mdashlike Nehemiah Ordway, who moved the capital in 1883. “He essentially helped steal the state territorial capital from Yankton, now in South Dakota, to Bismarck, now in North Dakota” says Porter. The capital grab, which moved the capital even farther from the majority of the population, only fueled more resentment from the south.

By that point, South Dakotans had the necessary population for statehood and quickly moved to become an independent state. However, many attempts to form an independent state failed, Porter says, as the federal response was “either do it as one very large state, Dakota, or wait until you have enough people on both sides to be two separate states.”

That second option would play out before the decade was over. But why did they both choose to keep the name “Dakota”?

South Dakota wanted to be called simply “Dakota” Porter says, and “then the northern half would become either the territory of Pembina, which is a community right on the Canadian border, or else they thought we could be called the territory and ultimately state of Lincoln, as in the president.” But Porter says Dakota had already become a trademark of sorts&mdasha source of quality products, “like California raisins or Florida orange juice”&mdashand neither side wanted to give it up.

On Nov. 2, 1889 President Benjamin Harrison signed the papers to admit North and South Dakota as two separate states, along with Montana and Washington. Though North Dakota is generally considered the 39th state to South Dakota’s 40th state, it’s actually unclear which one was admitted first says Bucklin: “apparently President Harrison shuffled the paperwork first,” and signed the documents blindly.

North Dakota

The land that today makes up North Dakota became U.S.territory as part of the Louisiana Purchaseof 1803.The regionwas originally part of the Minnesota and Nebraska territories, until, along with South Dakota, it was organized into the Dakota Territory in 1861. The state was very sparsely populated until the arrival of the railroads in the late 1800s, andfinally becamea state in 1889. During the run-up to statehood, there was an intense rivalry between North and South Dakota over which state would be admitted to the unionfirst. When the time came for their formal admission, President Benjamin Harrison selected at random which bill to sign first, and did not record the order in which the bills were signed, though North Dakota is traditionally listed first. The state is renowned for its scenic �lands,” which are part of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Date of Statehood: November 2, 1889

Did you know? Dakota is a Sioux Indian word that translates to "friend."

Capital: Bismarck

Population: 672,591 (2010)

Size: 70,698 square miles

Nickname(s): Peace Garden State Flickertail State Roughrider State Dakota

Motto: Liberty and Union Now and Forever, One and Inseparable

North Dakota Senators - History

You can make this list smaller by viewing only the lower chamber or only the upper chamber.

This list of legislators is accurate as of February 2011. Click on a member's name to learn more about him or her.

Note that the "education" column below occasionally has errors. I wrote a program that attempted to read each legislator's educational history and code it into one of a few categories. The program worked well, but with occasional errors. You can see the full educational history for each legislator by clicking on his/her name.

Chamber Member Party Born Gender Education
North Dakota (lower) Bill Amerman Democratic-NPL Male Some college
North Dakota (lower) Dick Anderson Republican Male
North Dakota (upper) John M Andrist Republican 1931 Male Some college
North Dakota (lower) Thomas R Beadle Republican 1987 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Larry Bellew Republican Male Associate
North Dakota (lower) Wesley R Belter Republican Male Masters
North Dakota (upper) Spencer D Berry Republican 1957 Male Doctorate
North Dakota (lower) Tracy Boe Democratic-NPL Male High school
North Dakota (lower) Randy G Boehning Republican 1962 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (upper) Bill L Bowman Republican 1946 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Roger Brabandt Republican Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Michael Don Brandenburg Republican 1956 Male High school
North Dakota (upper) Randy Burckhard Republican 1952 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Al Carlson Republican 1948 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (upper) Randel Christmann Republican 1960 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Donald L Clark Republican 1939 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Tom Conklin Democratic-NPL Male
North Dakota (upper) Dwight Cook Republican Male Some college
North Dakota (lower) Stacey Horter Dahl Republican Female Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Charles D Damschen Republican 1955 Male
North Dakota (lower) Duane Lee Dekrey Republican 1956 Male Bachelors
Chamber Member Party Born Gender Education
North Dakota (lower) Lois Delmore Democratic-NPL Female Some college
North Dakota (lower) Jeff W Delzer Republican Male Some college
North Dakota (upper) Dick Dever Republican Male Some college
North Dakota (lower) William Devlin Republican Male Some college
North Dakota (lower) Mark A Dosch Republican Male Some college
North Dakota (upper) Jim Dotzenrod Democratic-NPL Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) David Drovdal Republican 1945 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (upper) Robert S Erbele Republican 1952 Male Some college
North Dakota (upper) Tom Fischer Republican Male Some college
North Dakota (upper) Tim J Flakoll Republican 1959 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Robert Frantsvog Republican Male Bachelors
North Dakota (upper) Layton W Freborg Republican 1933 Male Some college
North Dakota (lower) Glen A Froseth Republican 1934 Male Associate
North Dakota (lower) Eliot Glassheim Democratic-NPL 1938 Male Doctorate
North Dakota (lower) Bette B Grande Republican Female Bachelors
North Dakota (upper) Tony Grindberg Republican Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Ed Gruchalla Democratic-NPL 1947 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Ron Guggisberg Democratic-NPL Male
North Dakota (lower) Lyle L Hanson Democratic-NPL Male Masters
North Dakota (lower) Patrick Hatlestad Republican Male Masters
North Dakota (lower) Kathy Hawken Republican Female Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Craig Headland Republican 1960 Male Some college
Chamber Member Party Born Gender Education
North Dakota (upper) Joan Heckaman Democratic-NPL 1946 Female Masters
North Dakota (lower) Joe Heilman Republican Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Brenda Heller Republican Female Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Curt Hofstad Republican Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Kathy L Hogan Democratic-NPL 1948 Female Masters
North Dakota (upper) David Hogue Republican Male Law degree
North Dakota (lower) Richard G Holman Democratic-NPL 1943 Male Masters
North Dakota (upper) Ray Holmberg Republican Male
North Dakota (lower) Bob Hunskor Democratic-NPL Male Some college
North Dakota (lower) Dennis E Johnson Republican Male
North Dakota (lower) Nancy Johnson Republican Female Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Lee A Kaldor Democratic-NPL 1951 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Karen Karls Republican Female Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) James M Kasper Republican 1945 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) George J Keiser Republican Male Doctorate
North Dakota (lower) Raeann G Kelsch Republican Female Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Jerome G Kelsh Democratic-NPL 1940 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Scot Kelsh Democratic-NPL 1962 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Keith Kempenich Republican 1959 Male Some college
North Dakota (lower) Robert J Kilichowski Democratic-NPL 1950 Male High school
North Dakota (upper) Ralph L Kilzer Republican Male Doctorate
North Dakota (lower) Joyce M Kingsbury Republican 1941 Female Associate
Chamber Member Party Born Gender Education
North Dakota (lower) Matthew M Klein Republican Male Bachelors
North Dakota (upper) Jerry J Klein Republican 1951 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Lawrence R Klemin Republican Male Law degree
North Dakota (lower) Kim Koppelman Republican 1956 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (upper) Karen K Krebsbach Republican Female Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Gary Kreidt Republican Male
North Dakota (lower) William E Kretschmar Republican 1933 Male Law degree
North Dakota (lower) Curtiss Kreun Republican Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Joe T Kroeber Democratic-NPL Male Masters
North Dakota (upper) Lonnie J Laffen Republican Male
North Dakota (upper) Oley Larsen Republican Male
North Dakota (upper) Judy Lee Republican 1942 Female Bachelors
North Dakota (upper) Gary A Lee Republican 1947 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Scott Louser Republican Male Masters
North Dakota (upper) Larry Luick Republican Male
North Dakota (upper) Stanley W Lyson Republican 1936 Male Some college
North Dakota (lower) Andrew G Maragos Republican 1945 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (upper) Richard Marcellais Democratic-NPL Male Associate
North Dakota (lower) Bob Martinson Republican Male Bachelors
North Dakota (upper) Tim Mathern Democratic-NPL 1950 Male Masters
North Dakota (lower) Lisa M Meier Republican Female Associate
North Dakota (lower) Ralph Metcalf Democratic-NPL Male
Chamber Member Party Born Gender Education
North Dakota (lower) Shirley J Meyer Democratic-NPL 1952 Female Bachelors
North Dakota (upper) Joe Miller Republican Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Corey R Mock Democratic-NPL 1985 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) David C Monson Republican 1950 Male Masters
North Dakota (lower) Phillip Mueller Democratic-NPL 1946 Male Masters
North Dakota (upper) Philip M Murphy Democratic-NPL Male
North Dakota (lower) Mike Nathe Republican Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Jon Nelson Republican Male Some college
North Dakota (lower) Marvin E Nelson Democratic-NPL Male
North Dakota (upper) Carolyn C Nelson Democratic-NPL 1937 Female Masters
North Dakota (upper) Dave E Nething Republican Male Law degree
North Dakota (upper) George L Nodland Republican Male Bachelors
North Dakota (upper) David Paul O Connell Democratic-NPL 1940 Male Associate
North Dakota (upper) Dave Oehlke Republican Male Bachelors
North Dakota (upper) Curtis Olafson Republican Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Kenton B Onstad Democratic-NPL 1953 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Mark S Owens Republican 1956 Male Masters
North Dakota (lower) Gary Paur Republican Male
North Dakota (lower) Vonnie Pietsch Republican Female High school
North Dakota (lower) Chet Pollert Republican 1955 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Todd K Porter Republican 1960 Male Associate
North Dakota (upper) Larry J Robinson Democratic-NPL Male Masters
Chamber Member Party Born Gender Education
North Dakota (lower) Karen M Rohr Republican Female Doctorate
North Dakota (lower) Dan J Ruby Republican 1964 Male High school
North Dakota (lower) David S Rust Republican 1945 Male Masters
North Dakota (lower) Mark Sanford Republican Male
North Dakota (upper) Donald Schaible Republican 1957 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Mike Schatz Republican Male
North Dakota (lower) James E Schmidt Republican Male Bachelors
North Dakota (upper) Mac Schneider Democratic-NPL Male Law degree
North Dakota (upper) Margaret Sitte Republican Female Masters
North Dakota (lower) Robert J Skarphol Republican 1945 Male Some college
North Dakota (upper) Ronald Sorvaag Republican Male Associate
North Dakota (lower) Vicky Steiner Republican Female Some college
North Dakota (upper) Bob Stenehjem Republican Male Some college
North Dakota (lower) Roscoe Keith Streyle Republican 1979 Male Associate
North Dakota (lower) Gary R Sukut Republican Male Masters
North Dakota (upper) Ryan M Taylor Democratic-NPL Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Blair B Thoreson Republican 1964 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (upper) Constance Triplett Democratic-NPL Female Law degree
North Dakota (lower) Wayne Trottier Republican Male
North Dakota (upper) Gerald Uglem Republican 1947 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Don Vigesaa Republican Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) John D Wall Republican 1943 Male Masters
Chamber Member Party Born Gender Education
North Dakota (upper) Terry M Wanzek Republican 1957 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (upper) Rich Wardner Republican Male Masters
North Dakota (upper) John M Warner Democratic-NPL 1952 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Dave A Weiler Republican 1965 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Robin L Weisz Republican 1956 Male Some college
North Dakota (lower) Alon Wieland Republican 1935 Male Bachelors
North Dakota (lower) Clark Williams Democratic-NPL 1942 Male Masters
North Dakota (lower) Lonny B Winrich Democratic-NPL 1937 Male Doctorate
North Dakota (lower) Dwight Wrangham Republican Male Some college
North Dakota (lower) Steven L Zaiser Democratic-NPL 1951 Male Bachelors

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North Dakota

In 2016, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in North Dakota by 36%, greatly expanding upon Mitt Romney&rsquos 20% margin of victory from four years earlier. This 16-point jump is the greatest rightward shift made by any state between 2012 and 2016. To understand how North Dakota, a state with origins in left-wing populism, would become one of the most conservative in the span of 100 years, let&rsquos look back to its origins.

Statehood, Farming, and a Population Boom

Congress originally organized the Dakota Territory in 1861. It was primarily composed of land acquired from France in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. During the early and mid 1800s, the U.S. traded with, repressed, and eventually drove drove out Native Americans in the territory. In 1870, when the population of northern Dakota was just 2,400, farmers and homesteaders began to move into the territory. By 1880 northern Dakota had 37,000 residents. In 1890, the year after statehood, North Dakota&rsquos population had grown fivefold to 191,000.

Both North and South Dakota entered the United States on November 2, 1889, becoming the 39 th and 40 th states, respectively. 1 Regional differences, as well as disputes over a future capital, pushed the formation of two independent states.

Settlers continued to immigrate to North Dakota as homesteaders through the turn of the century. By 1915, 79% of North Dakota&rsquos population were either immigrants themselves or the children of immigrants. These settlers, largely from Scandinavia, Germany, and Russia, weren&rsquot afraid of the northern chill that prevented many Americans from moving to the region.

Presidential Elections in Early Statehood

Republicans have controlled North Dakota presidential politics for most of its history. But the state has a streak of populism that goes back to its earliest days. In 1892, the North Dakota Democratic Party and the Populist Party formed a fusion ticket and together won two of the state&rsquos three electoral votes 2 . The Republican, Benjamin Harrison, won the state&rsquos third elector.

From 1896 to 1928, though, Republicans won seven of the nine presidential contests. Democrat Woodrow Wilson then won the state&rsquos electoral votes both in 1912 and 1916. In 1912, however, the Republican vote was split between Republican William Taft and Theodore Roosevelt, who had broken from the GOP to create his own Progressive Party. That year, Taft and Roosevelt together received about 56% of the vote while Wilson received just 34%.

Political Parties, Coalitions, and Trends in Early Statehood

These topline presidential results, however, obscure the complexity of North Dakota&rsquos politics. The state&rsquos early politics revolved around the concerns of farmers. Both Democrats and Republicans would absorb some of the populist reforms popular among these agrarian communities.

The populist movement had sparks of success in the 1890s but the effort got its first big win in 1906. That year, progressive Democrats and Republicans banded together to elect Democrat John Burke as governor. While he did not establish the reforms many farmers wanted, he did push for other populist policies to fight corruption, reform the voting system, and improve working conditions.

The true populist insurgency, though, would come nine years later with the formation of the Nonpartisan League. Reformers and populists who had spent years criticizing the Republican Party from within broke off to form the Nonpartisan League, or NPL, in 1915. The NPL advocated for progressive and socialist policies &mdash most significantly government control over farming-adjacent industries (grain mills, banks, railroads) &mdash in order to strengthen farmers and weaken urban and eastern corporations. The NPL also fought for other reforms including women&rsquos suffrage, improved and expanded government services, and anti-interventionism. In 1916, the NPL ran a slate of candidates in the Republican Party&rsquos primary, effectively hijacking the state-level Republican Party. By 1918, the NPL dominated statewide political offices.

Unsurprisingly, this agenda was not popular among all business leaders or out of state corporations. These interests united into the conservative Independent Voters Association. The IVA acted as a capitalist counterbalance to the socialist policies of the NPL.

By 1922, internal organizational problems, the radicalism of the group&rsquos platform, and external attacks by the IVA had eroded the NPL&rsquos support. The group&rsquos ideas, though, would linger in North Dakota politics and the group itself would make a comeback in future decades.

When wartime prices for grain dropped following WWI, and again when the Great Depression hit, farmers in North Dakota suffered. Farms foreclosed, jobs were automated away, and the rural populations fell as people moved into cities. The North Dakota Farmers Union in the 1920s and a revitalized Nonpartisan League in the 1930s would emerge to once again fight low commodity prices, save farmers&rsquo livelihoods, and push progressive reforms.

Presidential Elections Since the Midcentury

In 1932, for the first time in its history, a Democratic presidential nominee would win a majority of the vote. That year, and again in 1936, Franklin Roosevelt won decisive victories in the state.

In 1940, Midwestern native Wendell Willkie was able to win back rural, small town areas in the Northern U.S. Through these victories, he was able to bring the state back to its Republican roots even as he lost the election to Roosevelt. From that year on, with the exception of 1964, North Dakota would vote Republican in every presidential contest.

Political Parties, Coalitions, and Trends in the Midcentury

As had been the case in earlier elections, the topline presidential results don&rsquot tell the whole story. In 1956, the Nonpartisan League merged with the Democratic Party, becoming the Democratic-NPL Party. The new party continued to fight for progressive policies including a higher minimum wage and taxes on the wealthy. While Republicans still controlled the state legislature, the new Democratic-NPL party had significant success. Before the Democratic Party and the NPL merged, Democrats held five seats in the state legislature. In 1957 that number grew to 28 and by 1959 it was 67. By the 1980s, the Democratic-NPL would be strong enough to take control of the State Senate.

Democrats also gained ground in congressional elections. In 1960, Democrats picked up a U.S. Senate seat that the party would hold through 2018. In 1980, Democrats also won the state&rsquos at-large U.S. House seat. In 1986, Democrats won the other Senate seat, kicking off a 24-year stretch of Democratic control of the entire congressional delegation.

North Dakota&rsquos unique brand of politics &mdash defined by its agrarian populism &mdash allowed Democrats to win down-ballot even as Republicans dominated presidential politics. Democrats promised to fight for North Dakota&rsquos farmers, and in a state where agricultural concerns are paramount, this was successful. Other factors &mdash including automatic voter registration, a tight-knit community, a willingness to vote for candidates over party, and a significant Native American population &mdash also helped Democrats down-ballot.

A Changing Economy Changes Politics

Concentration of the farming industry has changed North Dakota politics. In 1959, there were nearly 55,000 farms averaging 755 acres in size. By 2018 there were just 26,100 farms, each averaging 1,500 acres. As giant agribusinesses began to replace small family farms, North Dakotas left-wing populist streak faded. This receding left-wing populism eroded Democratic strength in North Dakota. Also responsible for this attrition, though, is political polarization along racial, geographical, religious, and cultural lines.

The energy boom, starting in 2007, also dramatically changed the state&rsquos economic and political landscape. With the development of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and other new technology, North Dakota&rsquos Bakken Shale Formation opened for business. From 2006 to 2018 North Dakota increased its production of natural gas by over 1,200%. In the same period, North Dakota&rsquos petroleum production moved from 108,000 barrels per day to 1,264,000. North Dakota now ranks 2nd among the states for total crude oil production and 10 th for natural gas production.

This created lots of new jobs and a heightened demand for workers. Since 2010, North Dakota&rsquos population has grown by about 100,000, or 13%. The oil boom, and its associated population influx, took place during the Great Recession. Amazingly, North Dakota&rsquos unemployment rate peaked at 4.3% in 2009 while the national average was closing in on 10%.

Along with jobs, though, the oil and gas broom brought overpopulation, oil spills, unsafe working conditions, environmental concerns, and strained infrastructure. In 2016 and 2017, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and its effect on Native Americans and their ancestral lands, led to political clashes and national controversy.

The new reliance on energy production brought North Dakota even further into the Republican camp. In North Dakota, as in other energy-producing state like Wyoming and West Virginia, the Republican Party has successfully billed itself as the party of energy and Democrats as a threat to the economy and jobs. The oil boom wrung the remaining power from North Dakota Democrats.

Contemporary Politics in North Dakota

No Democratic presidential nominee has won North Dakota since Lyndon Johnson beat Barry Goldwater in 1964. Recently, though, the state has become even more staunchly Republican. In 2008, Republican nominee John McCain won North Dakota by a 9% margin. By 2016, the GOP margin had grown to 36% with Donald Trump as nominee. The message of the contemporary Republican Party is resonating strongly in The Peace Garden State.

Trump won 51 of the state&rsquos 53 counties. He improved upon Mitt Romney&rsquos performance in every single county in the state. The two counties Clinton did carry &mdash Rolette and Sioux &mdash are over 75% Native American. Together, they accounted for only about 5,000 votes, not enough to give Clinton a significant boost.

Republicans have also expanded their dominance to other federal elections. Before the 2010 midterms, Democrats held both of North Dakota&rsquos U.S. Senate seats and its single House seat. In 2010, Republicans flipped one Senate seat and the House seat. In 2012, Heidi Heitkamp won by just 1% in an open race for the seat held by retiring Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad. But six years later, North Dakota&rsquos Republican lean was too strong and she lost to Republican Kevin Cramer by 11%.

The Democratic-NPL Party has the best chance of winning back voters in the eastern part of the state. This is the most densely populated area and home to Fargo and Grand Forks. The state gets more rural, conservative, and Republican the farther west one goes. Even in her 2018 loss, Heitkamp was able to carry 10 eastern counties, all of which Clinton lost. The right Democratic nominee might be able to find future success in this region.

For now, though, North Dakota looks safely Republican on all political levels. In an age where geography and demographics reign supreme in politics, the white, rural state of North Dakota fits neatly into the Republican column.

1 President Benjamin Harrison shuffled the statehood papers on his desk and signed them blindly. While North Dakota is generally considered the 39th state, it is lost to history which document Harrison signed first.

2 Voters chose electors directly. There was not a slate of Democratic electors separate from the Populist ones. Two of the Populist electors were chosen. One of them cast his ballot for Cleveland, a choice that was announced beforehand.

Watch the video: Face to Face: North Dakota US Senate Debate (June 2022).


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