The Populists


-Supports the rights and powers of the “people” in their struggle against the “privileged elite”

The Grange:

  • Primary objective was to stimulate minds of farmers by social, educational, and fraternal activities such as picnics, music, and lectures
  • Later developed cooperatives for agricultural producers and consumers
  • Slaughterhouse Case 1873: states can regulate business
  • Munn vs. Illinois (1877):  Supreme Court ruled a “granger law” that private property becomes subject to regulation by gov’t when the property is devoted to the public interest.
  • Wabash case (1886) effectively overturned Munn decision
  • Interstate Commerce Act (like Munn)
  • Sherman Anti-Trust Acts
    • Forbade restraint of trade
    • Vague and unenforced

The cool thing about granges is that they still exist:

2013 convention

Greenback Labor Party (1878): Combined inflationary appeal of the earlier Greenbackers with a program for improving conditions for laborers

Farmer’s Alliances: In north and south began organizing in 1880s, increasingly voicing discontent (Three “Alliances”: Northwestern, Southern, & Colored)

  • Like  Grangers, sponsored social events, active politically, organized cooperatives, sought heavy regulation of railroads and manufacturers.
  • Demanded subtreasury plan; when that failed it led to formation of Populist Party


Populist Party (People’s Party)

Important leaders: James B. Weaver, Mary K. Lease, Ignatius Donnelly, “Sockless” Jerry Simpson

“Ocala Holla” Omaha Platform, 1892:  “Fried Green Gummy-bears Invade Really Really Silly People”

  • Free Silver at 16:1: Does not succeed
  • Graduated income tax: Becomes realized in the Underwood Tariff Bill of 1913
  • Gov’t ownership of railroads: eventually gov’t  regulates railroads (Hepburn Act of 1906)
  • Initiative, Referendum & Recall: become part of La Follette’s “Wisconsin Experiment”
  • Subtreasury system realized during Wilson’s presidency, 1916
  • Postal savings banks: becomes realized in 1915
  • Extension of credit to farmers: realized in future gov’t programs to loan $ to farmers.

Election of 1892: Populists gain a million votes for candidate James B. Weaver

Segregation and disenfranchisement of African Americans in the 1890s due to fears by white southern Democrats of African American participation in Populist politics.

Election of 1896: Populists absorbed into Democratic party led by William Jennings Bryan

“Cross of Gold” speech: Democrats want unlimited coinage of silver; Republicans seek gold standard (some silver) à Gold Standard Act of 1900/ Currency Act

            -Dingley Tariff: Highest tariff in American history

Defeat of Democrats spells end of Populist movement and farmer withdrawal from political process

This breeds the Progressivists.


2 responses to “The Populists

  1. Pingback: Map of the US History Guide | Surviving High School: A Hypocrat in a Perpetual State of Procrastination·

  2. Pingback: The Gilded Age | Surviving High School: A Hypocrat in a Perpetual State of Procrastination·

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