Jacob Thorkelson

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Jacob Thorkelson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1939 – January 3, 1941
Preceded by Jerry J. O'Connell
Succeeded by Jeannette Rankin
Personal details
Born (1876-09-24)September 24, 1876
Egersund, Norway
Died November 20, 1945(1945-11-20) (aged 69)
Butte, Montana, United States
Political party Republican
Alma mater University of Maryland, Baltimore

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.


Thorkelson was born in Egersund, a coastal town in the county of Rogaland, Norway. Thorkelson immigrated to the United States in 1892 and worked as a navigator.[1] He was a physician who graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, University of Maryland, Baltimore in 1911, and served as a member of the faculty from 1911 until 1913. He served in the United States Naval Reserve from 1936 until 1939 with the rank of lieutenant commander.

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 Moseley.[4] Commentator Walter Winchell called Thorkelson "the mouthpiece of the Nazi movement in congress".[5] Thorkelson later sued Winchell for $1.8 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]

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.


  1. ^ "Thorkelson, Jacob, (1876 – 1945)". United States Congress. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  2. ^ Kay, Hubert (May 19, 1941). "Boss Isolationist: Burton K. Wheeler". Life. 
  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. 

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