Nonpartisan League, in U.S. history, political pressure group of farmers and workers organized in 1915 and led by a former socialist, Arthur C. Townley, who believed that the solution to the farmers' troubles lay in united political action. Feeding on agrarian discontent with falling prices and political boss rule, the Nonpartisan League spread through the Western wheat belt from Wisconsin to Washington and to the Southwest; its greatest strength was in Minnesota and the Dakotas. The group demanded state-owned grain elevators, flour mills, and packing houses as well as low-cost public housing for farmers and workers. Although it was not a political party in the usual sense, it exercised its power by endorsing and even nominating candidates of the major parties. It never attracted support from industrial workers, and other means for expressing the farmers' desires opened. After World War I it declined sharply, although it retained prominence in some areas, particularly North Dakota.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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