1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/North Dakota

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NORTH DAKOTA (see 19.779) had in 1920 a pop. of 645,680, as compared with 577,056 in 1910 and 319,146 in 1900, an increase in the latter decade of 68,624 or 11.9%; in the earlier of 257,910 or 80.8%. The state remains essentially rural, as is indicated by the following table giving the pop. of the chief cities in 1920 and 1910, and the percentage of growth.

 Pop. 1920   Pop. 1910   Increase 
Per cent

 Fargo 21,961  14,331  53.2   
 Grand Forks  14,010  12,478  12.3   
 Minot 10,476  6,188  69.3   
 Bismarck 7,122  5,443  30.8   
 Jamestown 6,627  4,358  52.1   
 Devils Lake  5,140  5,157  0.3[1]
 Valley City  4,862  4,606  .05 
 Mandan 4,336  3,873  11.9   
 Williston 4,178  3,124  33.8   
 Dickinson 4,122  3,678  12.08 
  1. Decrease.

Agriculture and Industries.—The following table shows agricultural and industrial conditions:—


 Total farm acreage 30,000,000  28,426,650   
 Value of farm property  $1,810,876,000   $974,814,205   
 Total value of all crops $   192,248,000  $180,630,520   
 Wheat, bus. 68,400,000  116,781,886   
 Oats, bus. 59,640,000  65,886,702   
 Barley, bus. 22,680,000  26,365,758   
 Rye, bus. 9,340,000  689,233   
 Corn, bus. 17,064,000  4,941,152   
 Flax, bus. 3,896,000  10,245,684   
 Potatoes, bus. 7,110,000  5,551,430   
 Hay and forage, tons  2,946,000  3,010,401   
Jan. 1 1921 1910
 Value of live stock on farms  $99,876,000  $106,761,317   
 Horses 49,600,000  83,461,739   
 Cattle 42,251,000  17,711,398   
 Swine 5,628,000  3,152,909   
 Mules 765,000  1,149,001   
 Sheep 1,632,000  1,257,737   
 Dairy products 30,000,000  4,872,304   
 Mill products 25,600,000  11,685,116[1]
 Mine products 2,166,168  564,812[1]
 No. of mine employees 1,268  903   
 No. of operators of mines  136  53   
 No. of acres irrigated 12,000  10,248[1]
 Cost per acre[2] $2.50 $38.17
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 (1909)
  2. In 1920 this cost was for operation only; in 1910 it included the outlay for experiments and installation.

Education.—A state normal school was opened at Minot in 1913 and another at Dickinson in 1918. The number of children of school age in 1920 was 204,887; the number enrolled in public schools in 1919 was 162,358; the average daily attendance, 156,495. The state appropriations for rural schools for the biennium 1909-11 were $225,000 and for the biennium 1919-21 $425,000.

Finance.—A state budget system, effective in 1915, created a budget board with the duty of preparing a biennial statement of all state needs for the Legislature. This board consists of the governor, treasurer and auditor, and the chairmen of the appropriations committees of the Senate and House. In 1919 a single tax commissioner replaced a board of three members. Important changes in taxation were the exemption of farm improvements, the reclassification of property for assessment and the enactment of a classified and graduated income tax. The state bonded debt July 1 1920 was $2,442,300. The receipts for the biennium ending June 30 1919 were $7,958,439 and the expenditures $6,499,849. For 1920 the income tax yielded approximately $550,000. New sources for revenue created since 1911 are: the inheritance tax, capital stock tax, oil tax, income tax and motor-vehicle licence tax. The rate of levy for the state on the estimated true value of property in 1919 was in mills 1.07, and the per capita general property tax levy was $2.21. In 1920 22.7% of the state tax was for education.

Government.—A state Board of Administration was created in 1919, consisting of the superintendent of public instruction and the commissioner of agriculture and labour as ex-officio members and of three members appointed by the governor for six years. This board, exercising the functions formerly vested in the state Board of Control, administers the state educational, penal and charitable institutions. The state Supreme Court was by constitutional amendment increased to five members in 1908, and by a further amendment adopted in 1918 the power of the court to declare legislation unconstitutional was limited to cases in which four of the five judges concurred. In three of the six judicial districts there are three judges each and in three two judges each, all elected for four years. In 1914 by constitutional amendment the initiative and referendum were made applicable to all legislation and provision was made that a constitutional amendment could be initiated by popular vote. Further changes in the system of state government are described below.

History.—The political and social history of North Dakota during the period 1911-21 attracted a good deal of outside attention. Serious abuses in grain grading and marketing had been pointed out by the State Bankers' Association as far back as 1906. The Legislatures in 1909 and 1911 passed an amendment to the constitution, ratified by popular vote in 1912, which made it legal to provide for a state-owned terminal grain elevator. A second amendment for a terminal elevator within the state became effective in 1914. The Legislature of 1913 laid a tax to create a fund to build a terminal elevator and the Board of Control was authorized to prepare plans. In 1915 the Board reported against the whole plan, the tax was repealed and no appropriation made.

In the spring of 1915 a movement was begun to organize the farmers politically upon the following platform: (1) state ownership of terminal elevators, flour-mills, packing-houses and cold-storage plants; (2) state inspection of grain and grain dockage; (3) exemption of farm improvements from taxation; (4) state hail insurance on an acreage basis; (5) rural credit banks operated at cost. The movement was so successful that by Nov. 26,000 members had joined the Non-Partisan League.

The first state convention was held at Fargo March 28 1916, and a full state ticket was nominated. At the primary election in June all the nominees supporting the League were elected, with the exception of the state treasurer. The Legislature was divided; the House was controlled by the supporters of the League, the Senate by its opponents.

The 1917 Legislature provided for: (1) state grain grading; (2) Torrens title registration; (3) state guarantee of deposits in state banks; (4) reduction of assessments on farm improvements to 5%; (5) a state highway commission; (6) a tripling of the former appropriation for rural schools.

After the United States entered the World War the state prepared to take its part and a special session of the Legislature was called for Jan. 1918. A Seed and Feed Loan Act was passed to relieve drought-stricken farmers in the western part of the state. Special county bonds could be issued under this law to provide funds, and possible conflict with the work of the Federal Land Banks was obviated by a special issue of state indemnity bonds to protect Federal loans to farmers. A moratorium was laid on all debts of men in the national service and a State Council of Defence created.

The adoption of a new industrial programme by the farmers of the state in 1918 was not the result of any sudden impulse or mere theory. The investigations of the faculty of the state Agricultural College supplied the foundation for the new system of grain marketing. For instance, President E. F. Ladd of the college gave scientific proof of the loss of fertility that followed the constant shipping of grain out of the state. The annual loss to the soil he estimated at 46,018,440 lb. of nitrogen; 44,648,760 lb. of phosphoric acid; 10,700,200 lb. of potash and 1,787,280 lb. of lime. He showed, also, by experiments in the model flour-mill at the college that the grain grades of the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce were not based on the flour-producing quality of the various crops handled by them, but were arbitrary, and that they tended to deprive the farmer of any possibility of raising grain at a profit. The methods used by the wheat buyers and millers at Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth had been carefully studied by the same investigators and their conclusions were well known throughout the state.

On this solid foundation of research and practical experience was built the programme of legislation carried through after the election of 1918.

At the same election several important amendments to the state constitution were ratified. The first subject dealt with in these amendments was the power of the people to pass on or to initiate legislation and a similar power to propose and adopt constitutional amendments without the action of the state Legislature. The specific provisions in these amendments require the signatures of 10,000 voters to a petition calling for a referendum on any law. A majority vote at an election is required to pass or repeal a law so initiated or referred. An amendment to the constitution may be proposed by a petition signed by 20,000 voters, and if approved by a majority of the votes cast on the measure at the special election, it becomes a part of the constitution. The second subject dealt with was the power of the state or of a municipality to engage in any industry

or business. The third subject was the debt limit of the state, at that time $200,000; the amendment authorized the state to borrow up to $2,000,000 on state bonds, all above that amount to be secured by first mortgages on real estate at not more than one-half its value or upon the full value of state-owned utilities or industries. If state-owned public utilities or industries are offered as security for bond issues, the amount of the issue must not exceed $10,000,000. Other amendments gave the Legislature power to exempt from taxation all personal property and to levy an acreage tax on farm-land to provide funds for a state system of hail insurance. These amendments were adopted at the elections in Nov. 1918 by an average vote of over 48,000, and opposed by a vote of about 32,000. At the same elections the Non-Partisan League obtained control of both Houses of the Legislature and elected their candidates for all but one of the state offices.

With the whole machinery of the state in the farmers' hands, their legislative programme was enacted into law at the following session. There was created an Industrial Commission, consisting of the governor, the attorney-general and the commissioner of agriculture and labour, which was given power: (1) to manage, operate and control all state-owned utilities, industries and business projects created by law; (2) to purchase or lease sites for these industries; (3) to sell all such property and to fix prices of all products of these industries; (4) to provide funds by the sale of bonds for the carrying-on of the state-owned industries and other business undertakings.

There was also created a Mill and Elevator Association placed under the Industrial Commission. In Aug. 1919 a small mill and elevator were purchased at Drake, in McHenry county, on the Soo railway. In Nov. 1919 Grand Forks was chosen as the site of the projected three-unit mill and elevator and in the following spring construction began. The structure was planned to cost approximately $1,500,000, with a daily producing capacity of 3,000 bar. of flour, and a storage capacity of 1,659,500 bus. of grain and 70 carloads of flour. The annual grinding capacity of the mill was to be 900,000 bar. of flour, which would fully supply home consumption. The production of a corresponding amount of mill-feed for live stock was to be one of the most important results of the new project, since it would tend to overcome the loss of fertility which always overtakes a producing area that rests its prosperity upon a single crop manufactured and consumed elsewhere. The grain-grading law marks the culmination of a long struggle on the part of the farmers to secure fair grading of grain. It provides that elevators buying grain in North Dakota shall grade it rather according to its milling and baking value than according to its physical characteristics. It has been estimated by experts of the North Dakota Agricultural College that this law should save growers in the state about $11,000,000 annually.

Another state institution vitally connected with the industrial programme of 1919 is the state Bank of North Dakota, which began business July 28 1919 as an institution founded, owned and controlled by the state. It is the legal depository of all state bonds issued for the purposes of all the business enterprises under control of the Industrial Commission. It was originally the legal depository of the funds of all local governments such as cities, counties and school districts, but this provision was repealed by an initiated law adopted at the state election in Nov. 1920. The bank pays from 2 to 3% interest on the checking accounts of all public funds and from 4 to 6% on time deposits, but these rates are subject to change. The public funds are redeposited in the banks of the state with special reference to local needs.

Up to 1921 the bank had not been opened to private depositors but early in that year the policy was changed so as to make the bank a general bank of deposit, with branches to be established throughout the state as needed to carry on this phase of its work. It is authorized to loan on first mortgages on real estate in North Dakota up to one-half value of the security, providing funds for the purpose by the sale of real-estate mortgage bonds. Loans are also authorized on warehouse receipts issued by the Industrial Commission or by any licensed state warehouse up to 90% of the value of the property covered. The amount of the real-estate loans is limited to 30% of the bank's capital and 20% of its deposits. The loans require payment of fixed annual instalments. In 1921 these annual instalments were 7% of the loan principal, 6% for interest and 1% for principal. The unpaid balance is added to the 30th instalment of interest and principal in liquidation of the loan. The state guarantees all deposits of this bank and also all bonds that are handled for the state. The average rate of interest in the state is fixed by the operation of the state bank as a loan agency at 6% or at 6.25% plus commission, while the previous average rate in 1916 was 8.7% on farm mortgages, plus commission.

The laws providing for the Industrial Commission and for the Bank of North Dakota were carried at a referendum election in June 1919 by an average vote of over 61,000 against a little over 49,000. The constitutionality of the laws was tested by two suits, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The decision of this court, given June 1 1920, upheld the lower courts in declaring the laws constitutional. In its decision the court said: “Under the peculiar conditions existing in North Dakota, which are emphasized in the opinion of its highest court, if the state sees fit to enter upon such enterprises as are here involved, with the sanction of its

constitution, its legislature and its people, we are not prepared to say that it is within the authority of this court, in enforcing the Fourteenth Amendment, to set aside such action by judicial decision.”

The Industrial Commission is responsible also for the Home Building Association. The funds for the project came from the sale of state bonds and the deposits made by those desiring to invest in homes. Any individual or organization may deposit with the state 20% of the cost of constructing a home and the state undertakes to build it and turn it over to the investor in full ownership, securing the balance by a mortgage calling for annual payments through a period not exceeding 20 years. The cost of a town home may not exceed $5,000 and the limit of $10,000 is placed on the cost of a farm home, including the usual accompanying buildings. The Hail Insurance Department created by law in 1919 insured in 1920 over 12,000,000 ac. of farm-land at an average rate of $.28, effecting a very large saving for the farmers. At the special session of 1919 a Dairy Association law was passed, authorizing counties to issue bonds for the purchase of dairy cows to be sold to farmers, in order to utilize the extensive areas in the state not fitted for crops.

One of the most interesting features of the farmers' programme is the alliance established with organized labour. The state enacted in 1919 a law establishing a Workmen's Compensation Bureau, consisting of the commissioner of agriculture and labour and the commissioner of insurance ex officio and three members appointed by the governor representing respectively labour, the employer and the public. It is based upon the Iowa law, and of all such laws now in force in 42 states of the Union is the most liberal in its provisions for compensation and the number of classes of employees included. The funds are derived from annual payments by the employer, the rates being graded according to the hazards of the employment. The Act provides completely for all injuries received in the course of employment. In the intent of the Act is included the restoration to industry of those injured and this purpose is to be secured by cooperation with the Federal Board of Vocational Education. Under the minimum-wage law the bureau has held hearings in various parts of the state and has fixed the minimum wage of women and minors as well as proper conditions of employment. Other labour legislation passed includes: (1) a complete coal-mining code; (2) a full-crew law; (3) an eight-hour day for women; (4) limitation of the use of injunctions in labour disputes; (5) authority to the Board of Railway Commissioners to compel all public utilities to furnish, provide and maintain all service, instrumentalities, equipment and facilities so as to promote the safety, health and comfort and convenience of its patrons, employees and the public.

During 1920 and the early months of 1921 45 state banks in North Dakota failed, of which one had reopened before May 1 and 10 more were then expected to reopen. The capital of these banks aggregated $960,000, an average of a little over $21,000 each; their loans and discounts totalled $9,425,543, their bills payable $2,150,464. It is apparent that these bank failures were due chiefly to successive crop losses and the heavy slump in 1920 farm prices, with consequent inability of the banks to collect their loans. This conclusion is borne out by the fact that banks in the Southern states showed the same relative number of closings, due to the drop in prices of staple farm products there. Another factor contributing to the financial stringency in North Dakota was the smaller volume of rediscounts from the Federal Reserve Bank, as compared with accommodations to other sections of the same district. Statements issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis show that rediscounts for member banks in North Dakota were relatively less than rediscounts in any other state of the Ninth District, whether on the basis of population or of production. The per capita figures were: Minnesota, $27; South Dakota, $18; Montana, $14; North Dakota, $8. Opinions differ as to whether this small ratio of rediscounts in North Dakota is to be ascribed to the failure of member banks in North Dakota adequately to take care of their patrons by presenting paper for rediscount; or to the relative absence of discountable loans, owing to the great shrinkage of values in North Dakota, on account of crop losses and reduced prices.

The recall election of Oct. 28 1921 resulted in the recall of the three Non-Partisan League officials who composed the Industrial Commission, the governor, the attorney-general and the commissioner of agriculture and labor.

At this election, also, the constitutional amendments and initiated laws which were proposed for the purpose of changing or overturning the programme of the Non-Partisan League were all defeated by substantial majorities.

The World War.—The total registration of the state was 160,392 men; of these 27,253 were called to service in the army or navy. The state sent two regiments overseas, the First and Second North Dakota Infantry, and these regiments were attached to the 41st Division. The Liberty Loan subscriptions totalled $65,476,000, or over $100 per capita. The increased crop acreage of 1918 was confined to the chief agricultural needs of the war period, wheat and rye. Wheat showed an unusually heavy increase of 11%, rye acreage showed an increase of 100% over the harvested acreage in 1917, notwithstanding the fact that slightly more than 10% of the acreage planted in the fall had been ploughed down in the spring of 1918. North Dakota led the United States in the season of 1918 in the harvested acreage of wheat, barley, rye and flax.

The state governors were: John Burke (Dem.), 1907-13; L. B. Hanna (Rep.), 1913-7; Lynn J. Frazier (Rep.), 1917-21; R. A. Nestos (Rep.), 1921-. (O. G. L.)