The Bank of North Dakota opened for business on July 28, 1919, a full century ago. As its 100th birthday approaches, historian Mike Jacobs describes in the Grand Forks Herald the conditions that drove the creation of the public bank — conditions that are echoed today. A celebration will take place at the Bank in Bismarck on Monday July 29 (Facebook event).
“The real catalyst, however, was a dysfunctional private banking system. The state had far too many privately owned banks, more than 800 of them in 1920. Many of them were seriously undercapitalized and all of them were dependent on Twin Cities banks. At the same time, milling and transportation interests preyed on the state’s farmers. A long effort to establish a state-owned terminal elevator failed, and frustrated farmers took matters in their own hands, accepting a program to develop the state’s economy by using the state’s own financial resources.”
Read BND’s updated website about the value BND returns to the state’s residents today. For a full historical overview, see BND’s new microsite. For more inspiration, read Insurgent Democracy by Michael J. Lansing and watch Northern Lights, the award-winning film (Cannes) set in the bitter winter of 1915 that chronicles the beginnings of the Nonpartisan League.