On this date in 1907, the Washburn Leader noted that North Dakota was fortunate to have strong representation in Washington. The senior senator was H.C. Hansbrough. He was born in Illinois in 1848. When he moved to Dakota Territory, he started two newspapers, the Grand Forks News and the Devils Lake Inter-Ocean. In 1889 Hansbrough was elected to represent the new state of North Dakota in the House of Representatives. In 1891, he was elected to the Senate and served until 1909. Although he was a Republican, he supported Democrat Woodrow Wilson and approved of Franklin Roosevelt’s farm programs during the Depression. Hansbrough died in 1933.
Senator Porter J. McCumber was the junior senator. He was born in Illinois in 1858. He earned a law degree from the University of Michigan and started a practice in Wahpeton. McCumber was elected to Congress in 1899. He was a staunch promoter of North Dakota interests, and he was an advocate for pure food and drug laws, supporting the standards promoted by Dr. Edwin Ladd, a professor at the North Dakota Agricultural College.
McCumber served on many committees, including Finance and Indian Affairs. His major accomplishment was the passage of the Fordney-McCumber Tariff Act of 1922. The Act originally helped North Dakota’s farmers. In return, European countries enacted their own tariffs. This hurt farmers as the cost of farm goods like plows, harnesses, and farm wagons began to rise.
In 1922, McCumber lost a primary to former governor Lynn Frazier. He opened a law practice in Washington and was a staunch supporter of President Wilson’s League of Nations. He died in 1933.
Also part of North Dakota's 1907 delegation were two representatives. Thomas Marshall was born in Missouri and moved to Dakota Territory as a young man. He worked as a surveyor and a banker. He served in the House of Representatives from 1901 to 1909.
The other representative was Asle Gronna. He served in the House from 1905 to 1911, when he was elected to the Senate. He gained nationwide notoriety as an isolationist. He staunchly opposed America’s entrance into World War I as well as participation in the League of Nations.
North Dakota history often focuses on what happened within the borders of the state. It is important to remember that the state has also played an important role on the national stage.
Dakota Datebook by Carole Butcher
Washburn Leader. “North Dakota’s Influence in Washington.” Washburn ND. 2/15/1907. Page 4.
Biographical Directory of the United States Senate. “McCumber, Porter J.” https://bioguideretro.congress.gov/Home/MemberDetails?memIndex=M000397 Accessed 1/12/21.
Biographical Directory of the United States Senate. “Hansbrough, Henry Clay.” https://bioguideretro.congress.gov/Home/MemberDetails?memIndex=H000169 Accessed 1/21/2021.
Biographical Directory of the United States Senate. “Marshall, Thomas Frank.” https://bioguide.congress.gov/search/bio/m000163 Accessed 1/12/21.
Office of the Historian. “Protectionism in the Inter-War Period.” https://history.state.gov/milestones/1921-1936/protectionism Accessed 1/12/21.