The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

The spectacular successes of Oklahoma socialism included its minor-
ity electoral vote, increasing from 1907 to 1914, in this determinedly
one-party state. The socialists became a major electoral party in at least
fifteen counties, and in 1912 presidential candidate Eugene Debs re-
ceived 16 percent of Oklahoma's vote, compared with only 6 percent
nationally. The more notable achievement, in the socialist perspective,
is that Oklahoma socialism became a grass-roots movement, with 3,025
members in 342 locals, and these loyal members were poor-country
farmers who have rarely found a place in any political system.
Doctrinally, Oklahoma socialism had to make peace with the pre-
vailing fundamentalist Christianity, racial segregation, and the tenant
farmer's ambition to own a farm.
Burbank documents the class hostility between the merchants and
the tenant farmers. The merchants were herded into the Ku Klux Klan
during the 192os, and Burbank describes how the socialist leaders, on
their way down, had the pleasure of helping to elect a governor and
other politicians who were willing to confront the Klan. It must be
noted that the Klan was more successful electorally than the socialists
ever were. The Klan captured more than half of the legislative seats
and enough legislative votes to impeach the anti-Klan governor.
As an Oklahoman I am grateful to learn, from Burbank's book,
that my home town once had a lively socialist newspaper, and my
father's church once had a socialist minister. I had already known
that the Klan once dominated my town. Backwoods socialism and Klan
justify study as important species of political behavior, but a book
such as Burbank's is also appreciated by those of us who had some
personal association with the place or time, and who care to know
what shaped us.
Iowa State University DON HADWIGER
Conquering the Great American Desert: Nebraska. By Everett N. Dick.
(Lincoln, Nebraska: Nebraska State Historical Society, 1975. Pp.
xiii+456. Illustrations, bibliography, index. $10.95.)
Employing a topical approach, Everett N. Dick has gathered together
a good bit of Nebraska lore from diverse and occasionally obscure
sources. His purpose has been to recall the experiences which the
novelty of the Plains environment fostered, and to feature the attempts
to challenge that environment. This is a chronicle of innovation. A
good deal of attention is given such commonly overlooked discomforts


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed November 27, 2015.