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Jacob Thorkelson

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Jacob Thorkelson September 24, 1876 – November 20, 1945 was an American politician from the state of Montana who served as the United States Congressman from Montana's 1st congressional district from January 3, 1939 to January 3, 1941


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Military service
  • 3 Political career
  • 4 Death and burial
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


Thorkelson was born in Egersund, a coastal town in the county of Rogaland, Norway Thorkelson immigrated to the United States in 1892; he studied nautical navigation, and later worked as navigator and sailing master on ocean-going ships1 He graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at the University of Maryland, Baltimore in 1911, and served as a member of the faculty from 1911 until 1913

In 1913, Thorkelson moved to Montana He practiced medicine while residing successively in Dillon, Warm Springs, and Butte

Military serviceedit

Thorkelson served with the Virginia Naval Reserve, a militia organization, from 1897 to 1899 He also in the United States Navy Reserve from 1936 until 1939, and attained the rank of lieutenant commander

Political careeredit

In 1938, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives from Montana's 1st congressional district as a Republican, defeating incumbent Democratic Congressman Jerry J O'Connell in the general election Thorkelson was labeled as "rabidly pro-fascist and anti-semitic"2 and "Jew-baiting, Fascist-minded" 3 by contemporary journalists for his use of the Congressional Record to reprint anti-British and anti-Jewish propaganda and his support for retired General George Van Horn Moseley4

Commentator Walter Winchell called Thorkelson "the mouthpiece of the Nazi movement in congress"5 Thorkelson later sued Winchell for $18 million after being included by Winchell as one of a list of "Americans We Can Do Without"6

Modern historians have described Thorkelson as "best known for his diatribes against Jews and the New Deal and for his calls to revise the United States Constitution"7 and "a raging anti-semite and pro-fascist"8 Thorkelson inserted into the Congressional Record quotations from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, from World Hoax by Ernest Fredrick Elmhurst, from blackshirt Sir Oswald Mosley's Action, from Nazi organ the Christian Free Press; and defended himself by saying:

words, "Nazi", "fascist", "anti-racial", "anti-Semitic"were created by the anti-Americans as a cloak to shield their own subversive activitiestheir principles of organization are not destructive to the Government of The United States9

When he ran for re-election in 1940, he was defeated in the Republican primary by former United States Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin Following his defeat, he ran for the United States Senate in 1942, but came third in the primary to Wellington D Rankin and Charles R Dawley He ran for Governor of Montana in 1944 against incumbent Governor Sam C Ford, but lost to Ford in a landslide

Death and burialedit

Thorkelson died in Butte on November 20, 1945, and was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Butte


  1. ^ "Thorkelson, Jacob, 1876–1945" United States Congress Retrieved July 24, 2011 
  2. ^ Kay, Hubert May 19, 1941 "Boss Isolationist: Burton K Wheeler" Life  |access-date= requires |url= help
  3. ^ "Montana: The People's Choice" Time July 13, 1942 Retrieved 1 November 2010 
  4. ^ "National Affairs: Comes the Revolution" Time October 30, 1939 Retrieved 1 November 2010 
  5. ^ Birdwell, Michael E 2000 Celluloid Soldiers: The Warner Bros Campaign against Nazism NYU Press p 31 ISBN 0-8147-9871-3 
  6. ^ "Page Masters" Time Magazine November 30, 1942
  7. ^ Smith, Norma 2002 Jeannette Rankin, America's Conscience Montana Historical Society p 172 ISBN 0-917298-79-9 
  8. ^ Morrison, John; Catherine Wright Morrison 2003 Mavericks: The Lives and Battles of Montana's Political Legends Montana Historical Society p 188 ISBN 0-917298-93-4 
  9. ^ John Roy Carlson 1943 Under Cover unknown possibly 25th–27th ed The Blackiston Company p 87 

External linksedit

  • United States Congress "Jacob Thorkelson id: T000236" Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 
  • Jacob Thorkelson at Find a Grave
US House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jerry J O'Connell
Member of the US House of Representatives
from Montana's 1st congressional district

January 3, 1939-January 3, 1941
Succeeded by
Jeannette Rankin

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