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1919 Special Session Woes, Part 2


In 1919, suffragists around the country called for special state legislative sessions to gain the necessary majority to ratify it. However, in North Dakota, Nonpartisan League Governor Frazier was not keen on the idea, saying it would be an extra expense, and just to address suffrage, wasn’t necessary.

Actually, a multitude of needs could have prompted a special session. In February, Frazier had hinted that a session could be necessary to discuss programs of interest to the League. In June, it was thought he would have to call one over a referendum that had passed by a special election. There were also rumors that he had suggested a special session to address relief for farmers stricken by drought.


Langer refuted these claims in August, even though the press said the information had come from his office. Various newspapers printed an exchange between Frazier and a press representative:


“’I never said there was going to be a special session,’ the governor growled…. ‘You [the press] said there was going to be…and you got those ladies in bad, too.’ (Those Ladies) were Mrs. Elizabeth Darrow O’Neill of Fargo, representing the North Dakota votes for Women league, and Miss Shuler of New York and Mrs. South of Kentucky, members of the national congressional committee of the suffrage association, who recently urged Governor Frazier to call a special session. … ‘We are sorry to ‘have got those ladies’ in bad,’ the humble scribe informed his excellency. ‘Our intentions were good. … In any event…we’d like to have the truth of this special session matter.’ ‘Gurrump!’ Was Mr. Frazier’s characteristic reply.”


Newspapers noted that in a recent election, the NPL had tried to keep Minnie Nielson from being elected as State Superintendent of Public Instruction, but were unable to do so due in part to the female vote: “it has been an open secret that Mr. Townley and his cohorts of the Nonpartisan League fear the women’s vote in North Dakota more than anything else on earth,” though some Leaguers did support suffrage. 


Yet by this date, State Senator J. I. Cahill verified that Frazier would call a special session. The Weekly-Times Record also noted that Leaguers realized they needed to endorse suffrage, because “they cannot afford not to be factors in bringing about national equal suffrage.”



Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker



The Bismarck Tribune, August 11, 1919, p1 and 4

The Bismarck Tribune, June 16, 1919, p2

The Weekly-Times Record, August 28, 1919, p2

Emmons County Record, November 6, 1919

Grand Forks Herald, November 4, 1919, p3

The Bismarck Tribune, February 19, 1919, p1

The Bismarck Tribune, June 7, 1919, p1, 4

Grand Forks Herald, May 9, 1919, p1

The nonpartisan leader, Feb 3, 1919, p4

The Bismarck Tribune, Monday, June 30, 1919, p1

The Bismarck Tribune, May 9, 1919, p1

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