Dakota Datebook

Socialist Poet

Sunday, November 20, 2011


One of North Dakota’s most colorful and outspoken public figures, Henry Martinson was a Socialist, a Democrat, organizer of the state’s Nonpartisan League, and Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor among other contributions to the state’s fiery political landscape in the early 1900s. He published three prose pieces about the North Dakota labor movement.

And, Henry wrote poetry. Considering his vibrant Socialist and controversial legacy this eight-line poem of his might be especially enlightening.

Four Freedoms

Four Freedoms written on a scroll

For all the world to read;

No more want and no more fear

Proclaims the flaming creed.

No prophets word will be erased,

no dreamer’s voice be stilled

No tyranny will mock your God

With freedom’s creed fulfilled.

Henry Martinson was named poet laureate of North Dakota in 1975. He died on this date in 1981 and is buried in Bismarck.

Dakota Datebook written by Steve Stark


Martinson, Henry, R, , (1958) Old Trails and New, self published



This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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