Gerald P. Nye:
Morris van de Camp
American Patriot & Midwestern Isolationist,
Part 1 of 2 (Part 2 here)
The United States presently has an alliance system upon which the Sun never sets. But unfortunately, this vast system has vast problems. There are overseas “allies” such as Israel and Azerbaijan that are committing atrocities using American weaponry and financial support. There are also “allies” that are as hostile to Americans as whoever the mainstream media insists is the “enemy” at any given time. “Allies” such as South Korea and Saudi Arabia are as much a problem as any “enemy.”
One American patriot who sought to avoid this situation is Gerald Prentice Nye (1892-1971), a US Senator from North Dakota. Senator Nye’s life and career is worth studying. He pointed out the institutions that benefit from war and worked to reduce their influence. Nye ably represented a constituency that didn’t want to be involved in endless overseas conflicts. To understand him, one must first understand the states of North and South Dakota. The people of these two states were among the first to experience the burdens of the American Empire of Nothing, but not its benefits.
The culture and people of the Dakotas
In 1889 the territory of Dakota was divided on the 45o 55’ parallel, and North Dakota was admitted as a State with approximately 170,000 population. Its subsequent growth has kept it fairly homogeneous from a racial point of view, the State being almost wholly Nordic. Apart from the old native Americans the main elements have been British from Canada, Germans, and Scandinavians. The Norwegian immigration which began in the early 90s was particularly noteworthy. Norwegians now form about one-fourth of the total population of the State. An interesting small group is that of the Icelanders, representatives of one of the oldest, most highly cultured, and most stringently selected of all Nordic peoples.
South Dakota has a slightly higher percentage of old Americans than its sister to the north; otherwise the two differ remarkably little in size, composition, and resources. In 1920, half of the inhabitants of North Dakota claimed South Dakota as a birthplace; while half of the inhabitants of South Dakota claimed North Dakota as theirs.”
The two most predominant religious denominations in the state are Roman Catholics and Lutherans. Both have historically leaned towards an isolationist foreign policy. There is little tension between these two branches of Christendom in the Dakotas. The Lutherans are not strictly Lutherans such as one would find in the state church of Norway, as they are instead generic Protestants who are only nominally Lutheran. Indeed, many of the rural Lutheran churches are pastored by a minister who performs services at several different churches representing various Protestant denominations. In more recent years, more dynamic Protestant sects such as the Apostolics have won adherents away from Catholicism and Lutheranism.
The end of the frontier
The settlement of the Dakotas marked the end of America’s frontier. In 1898, the American political and media elite thought that they needed to capture the colonies of the decaying Spanish Empire in order to prove American strength and provide a place for the vital energies of the country to go — the theoretical safety valve of a new and ever-expanding territory to which people could move. In no small part due to fake news, which was then called yellow journalism, the Spanish were blamed for the explosion that destroyed an American warship, the USS Maine, in the harbor of Havana, Cuba. 261 Americans of the crew of 355 were killed in the blast. Subsequent investigations have actually suggested that the explosion was very possibly the result of an accident; some have even claimed that the blast was engineered by American agents in order to provoke the Spanish-American War. But at the time, the majority of the press made it quite clear that the Spaniards were to blame, and this whipped Americans into a fury.
The two Dakotas had achieved statehood less than a decade before. North Dakota’s newspapers took a measured response to the growing tensions with Spain prior to the outbreak of war, since they recognized that many of the atrocities that were being described in the yellow press were fake news. When war was finally declared, however, these same newspapers dutifully adopted pro-war attitudes.
Until 1898, frontier wars gradually added to the territory of the American ethnostate. The pioneers who settled the Dakota prairies after the Civil War and the 1876 Sioux War were able to build homes, farms, and towns as a direct result of their military service.
The Spanish-American War was fought to expand the American frontier, but it ended up placing large populations of racial aliens under American rule. The final result of the war was that Americans gained additional obligations, but no territory into which the American race could further expand. The costs of the obligations from this conflict were also shifted so that Americans from the Midwest and the other hinterlands bore the burdens while those in the financial centers reaped the (marginal) rewards. The soldiers from the Dakotas who deployed during the Spanish-American War were the among first group of American veterans to experience this situation.
Both Dakotas deployed regiments to fight the Spanish, ultimately serving in the Philippines. After capturing the islands, President McKinley decided to hold on to them in part to “Christianize” them — even though the Philippines had had practicing Christians before the English settled Jamestown.
The decision to turn the Philippines into a colony was a mistake. For the next two years, Americans were faced with a tough insurgency in a far-off land. The conflict eventually ended on most of the islands because the Americans bought the Filipino elite while making a genuine promise to grant them future independence. In the Muslim parts of Mindanao, however, there remains an ongoing Islamic insurgency that has never ended. This insurgency has claimed the lives of many Americans and Christian Filipinos.
North Dakota’s isolationism can easily be traced to the enormous effort in the Philippines, an effort that brought no real benefits apart from honor for those who served. It was also foreshadowed by the moderate views of North Dakota’s newspapers as they reported on the Spanish-American and the Philippine-American wars.
Progressivism, the Great War, and isolationism
North Dakota’s settlement took place during a time in which socially conservative whites were willing to support progressive and socialist programs. After 1900, progressive reformers in the state became more active and successful. Reformers tended to be from the upper class and educated. They admired Robert. M. LaFollette, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Jennings Bryan, while locally their political enemy was Alexander McKinzie, a politician of the Republican Party machine.
The impersonal enemy of North Dakota’s reformers was the state’s subordinate economic status vis-à-vis Minnesota. The farmers in North Dakota owed money to Minneapolis banks, sold their grain to Minneapolis mills, and purchased goods shipped in from the same city. They paid the freight costs of items both ways. To add insult to injury, the Minneapolis banks loaned money to North Dakota farmers at a higher interest rate, even in those parts of the state where the land and climate was the same as in Minnesota.
Progressivism took an enormous leap forward in the state when a farmer from Beach, Arthur C. Townley, organized the Nonpartisan League in 1915. The League built upon earlier progressive successes in North Dakota such as cooperative grain elevators. Its supporters were mostly old-stock American Yankees or Norwegians, while it enjoyed little support among the Russian German community.
The Nonpartisan League was socialist in ideology, but the socialist movement’s right wing controlled the League. Their demands were precursors to the New Deal: state-owned flour mills and elevators, rural credit banks, and state-financed hail insurance. Its most lasting endeavor was the Bank of North Dakota, which was established in 1919. In the 1920s, the Nonpartisan League sought to achieve its goals by becoming a faction within North Dakota’s Republican Party.
In the early twentieth century, progressive and socialist ideas always meant supporting American Majority whites. Socialist and progressive institutions can help society provided they are designed to support a single people who has a pre-existing work ethic. In a multicultural environment, socialist and progressive measures become a wealth transfer machine which robs whites in order to give to non-whites.
The Nonpartisan League had an enormous impact on the state’s politics. When the First World War broke out, the League argued for neutrality, even to the point of criticizing the British blockade of Germany while encouraging Americans to not travel on British ships. North Dakota’s newspapers supported Henry Ford’s “Peace Ship” effort, and North Dakota Governor Louis Hanna was the only elected politician to accompany Ford.
When the US entered the war, most of the men from North Dakota went into the 41st Infantry Division. On the home front, the state’s economy suffered from ruinous inflation caused by the war. As with the rest of the Midwest, the people of North Dakota bore the burdens of the overseas conflicts, while others reaped the limited rewards.
Ultimately, the First World War was an epic disaster which proved that the isolationists were correct from the outset. The war helped bring forth the Bolshevik cancer, which went on to kill people by the millions. The Treaty of Versailles’ unjust treatment of Germany led to a second world war. American involvement in the war was also notable in that many Americans, including President Woodrow Wilson, were keen on neutrality throughout most of the conflict, but were then involved in a fit of insanity in 1917. Almost immediately after the war, Americans looked back at their entry into the conflict with horror and remorse.
 Madison Grant, The Conquest of a Continent (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1933), p. 253.
 Ibid., p. 254.
Enjoyed this article?
Be the first to leave a tip in the jar!
* * *
Counter-Currents has extended special privileges to those who donate at least $10/month or $120/year.
- Donors will have immediate access to all Counter-Currents posts. Everyone else will find that one post a day, five posts a week will be behind a “paywall” and will be available to the general public after 30 days. Naturally, we do not grant permission to other websites to repost paywall content before 30 days have passed.
- Paywall member comments will appear immediately instead of waiting in a moderation queue. (People who abuse this privilege will lose it.)
- Paywall members have the option of editing their comments.
- Paywall members get an Badge badge on their comments.
- Paywall members can “like” comments.
- Paywall members can “commission” a yearly article from Counter-Currents. Just send a question that you’d like to have discussed to [email protected]. (Obviously, the topics must be suitable to Counter-Currents and its broader project, as well as the interests and expertise of our writers.)
To get full access to all content behind the paywall, please visit our redesigned Paywall page.
Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose
Ich Klage an: Pro-Genocide Nazi Propaganda or Humanitarian Masterpiece? Part 1
Toward a New Spiritual Revolution
The Fear of Writing
Lamentations for a City
Jonathan Bowden’s The Cultured Thug
David Zsutty Introduces the Homeland Institute: Transcript
“A Few More Steps and We Were . . . On Some Edge of Things”: Staircases That Lead Nowhere, Part 2