Search form

Donate Today

Play Video

Mossback’s Northwest

When the ‘American Hitler’ Ran for President

Washington was once the campaign headquarters for a fascist presidential candidate. 

May 25, 2018

Intolerance has been a major issue in recent years. But it’s nothing new in the Northwest, even if we might like to think so.

This week, Knute Berger explores the dark history of the Silver Shirts, a fascist splinter group that fielded a presidential candidate, William Dudley Pelley, in 1936. The only state where the group’s candidate of choice was able to get on the ballot? Washington.


Knute Berger

Knute Berger is Crosscut’s Mossback. Born and raised in Seattle, he writes with his own Pacific Northwest perspective. He also writes the monthly “Gray Matters” column for Seattle magazine where he is editor-at-large, and is an occasional commentator on KUOW-FM’s “Week in Review.” He is the author of two books: Pugetopolis: A Mossback Takes On Growth Addicts, Weather Wimps, and the Myth of Seattle Nice and Space Needle, The Spirit of Seattle (2012), the official 50th anniversary history of the tower. He was writer-in-residence at the Space Needle and has had a cocktail named after him at Ivar’s. You can email him at or follow him on twitter @KnuteBerger.

More stories by Knute Berger

Eric Keto

From the Oregon Coast to the North Slope of Alaska, Eric enjoys telling stories from the western edge of the country. His nonfiction video work has been featured on The Atlantic, PBS NewsHour and Alaska Public Media.

More stories by Eric Keto