Short-listed for the 2012 Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize
Lee's book is a "worthy and important addition to the canon of South Dakota political history."—Prairie Progressive blog
A "thorough analysis"—Western Historical Quarterly
The Populist movement of the 1890s was one of the most successful third-party initiatives in United States history. Although it never elected a president, this movement seated governors, congressmen, and United States senators, and played a major political role in all the Great Plains states.
Populism has been thoroughly studied in many areas of the country, but South Dakota has, so far, been neglected. R. Alton Lee’s Principle over Party begins to correct this oversight, shining light on the prominent South Dakotans who strode down the path to the progressive agrarian politics that dominated the state in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Lee examines the causes that led South Dakota farmers to rise up against the establishment and take their fate into their own hands. He discusses prominent figures such as Henry Loucks and Alonzo Wardall as well as political and social movements such as the Farmers’ Alliance. Together these men and their organizations sowed the seeds for the Populist Party in South Dakota.
Principle over Party showcases the successes and failures of one of the most lasting political movements in this nation’s history.
"Principle over Party is an excellent, well-researched and accessible contribution to South Dakota and American political history shelves. Highly recommended."—Midwest Book Review
"This book starts out a bit dry but soon becomes much more interesting. Sometimes I have thought South Dakota's political history, compared to the fascinating political history of North Dakota, is not very exciting. But these years, 1880 to 1900, were vivedly tumultuous political years and this book tells the story carefully and well. The career of Richard Pettigrew lent much excitement to the politics of the time and this book rescues Henry Loucks from the obscurity into which he has fallen--no doubt because he never was elected to anything. Anyone interested in South Dakota's politics will want to read this excellently reseaarched book."—LibraryThing