THE POPULIST MOVEMENT THE PLIGHT OF THE FARMERS 1870s-1880s Farmers were becoming a minority in the USA. The numbers of farmers declined from 60% of the population in 1860 to less than 37% in 1900. They experienced falling prices. The emergence of commercial farming and specialized farming. A rise in the costs of farm machinery and freight costs. They experienced a heavy tax burden. THE GRANGE MOVEMENT THE GRANGE MOVEMENT Founded in 1867, by Oliver H. Kelley. It was primarily a social and educational organization for farmers and their families. By the mid-1870s, the Movement claimed over 700,000 members. Its members called on state governments to establish fair freight rates and warehouse charges. In several states, the Grange succeeded in having commissions established to investigate – and in some cases, regulate – railroad practices. THE GRANGE MOVEMENT Its greatest strength was in the Midwest. By late 1870s, there were Granges in every state. The Grange Movement established cooperatives – businesses owned by farmers. Advocated: Reduced storage rates Reduced freight rates Improved living conditions of the farmers. Improvements in health and safety conditions. THE GRANGE MOVEMENT Succeeded in the passage of Granger Laws: Laws regulating storage and freight rates. Some laws made it illegal for railroads to fix prices by means of pools and rebates to privileged customers. THE POPULIST CHALLENGE: THE FARMERS’ REVOLT THE FARMERS’ REVOLT A different kind of uprising was ripening in the South and transMississippi West. A farmers’ revolt grew in response to falling agricultural prices and growing economic dependency in rural areas. Small farmers faced increasing economic insecurity. In the South, the sharecropping system locked millions of farmers, white and black, into perpetual poverty. THE FARMERS’ REVOLT The glut of cotton on the world market led to declining prices (11 cents a pound in 1881 to 4.6 cents in 1894), throwing millions of small farmers deep into debt and threatening them with the loss of their land. In the West, farmers who had mortgaged their property to purchase seed, fertilizer, and equipment faced the prospect of losing their farms when unable to repay their bank loans. THE FARMERS’ REVOLT THE FARMERS’ ALLIANCE THE FARMERS’ ALLIANCE Through the Farmers’ Alliance, the largest citizens’ movement in the 19th century, farmers’ sought to remedy their condition. Founded in TX in the late 1870s, the Alliance spread to 43 states by 1890. At first, the Alliance remained aloof from politics, attempting to improve rural conditions by cooperative financing and marketing of crops. Alliance “exchanges” would loan money to farmers and sell their But farmers’ could not finance this plan, and banks refused to extend loans. THE FARMERS’ ALLIANCE THE PEOPLE’S PARTY THE PEOPLE’S PARTY In the early 1890s, the Alliance evolved into the People’s Party (or Populists), the era’s greatest political insurgency. The party did not just attract farmers. It sought to speak for all the “producing classes.” It achieved some of its greatest successes in states like Colorado and Idaho, where it won the support of miners and industrial workers. It attracted veterans of the Knights of Labor by condemning the use of injunctions and private forces in breaking up strikes. THE PEOPLE’S PARTY THE PEOPLE’S PARTY The Populist Movement was the greatest political expression of America as a commonwealth of small producers whose freedom rested the ownership of productive property and the respect for the dignity of labor. The People’s Party Paper of Georgia declared in 1893: “Day by day the power of the individual sinks. Day by day the power of the classes, or the corporations, rises … In all essential respects, the republic of fathers is dead.” THE POPULIST COALITION THE POPULIST COALITION In some southern states, the Populists made remarkable efforts to unite black and white farmers on a common political and economic program. The obstacles to such an alliance were immense – not merely the heritage of racism and the political legacy of the Civil War, but the fact that many white Populists were landowning farmers while most blacks were tenants and agricultural workers. THE POPULIST COALITION Unwelcome in the southern branches of the Farmers’ Alliance, black farmers formed their own organization – the Colored Farmers’ Alliance. In 1891, it tried to organize a strike of cotton pickers on plantations in SC, AK, and Tx. The strikes were violently suppressed by local authorities. THE POPULIST COALITIONS THE POPULIST COALITION Some blacks refused to abandon the party of Lincoln, but others were attracted by the Populist appeal. 1894: A coalition of white Populists and black Republicans won control of NC, bringing to the state a “second Reconstruction” complete with increased spending for education and a revival of black officeholding. THE POPULIST COALITION In most of the South, however, Democrats fended off the Populist challenge by resorting to the tactics they had used since the 1870s: Mobilizing whites with warnings about “Negro supremacy.” Intimidating black voters. Stuffing ballot boxes on election day. THE POPULIST COALITION THE ELECTION OF 1892 THE ELECTION OF 1892 The Populist Party marked its entrance into national politics in the Election of 1892. Delegates from several states met in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1892, to draft a political platform and nominate candidates for president and vice president. THE OMAHA PLATFORM OF 1892 Provisions/Blanks: Direct popular election of US Senators. Enact state laws through initiatives and referendums. Unlimited coinage of silver (increase $ supply) A graduated income tax Public ownership of railroads, telegraph, and telephone systems. Loans and warehouses for farmers to stabilize prices. 8 hour work day for industrial workers. THE ELECTION OF 1892 BENJAMIN HARRISON GROVER CLEVELAND JAMES B. WEAVER THE ELECTION OF 1892 POPULIST STRENGTH 1892 Weaver received over a million votes. The party carried 5 Western states. 22 electoral votes. Elected 3 governors and 15 members of Congress. THE CLEVELAND PRESIDENCY THE CLEVELAND PRESIDENCY Cleveland won a solid victory in both the popular and electoral vote. Cleveland became the first and only former president thus far to return to the White House after having left it. No sooner had Cleveland entered the office than the country entered into one of its worst and longest depressions. THE PANIC OF 1893 THE PANIC OF 1893 In the spring and summer of 1893, the stock crashed as a result of overspeculation, and dozens of railroads went into bankruptcy as a result of overbuilding. The depression continued for almost 4 years. Farm foreclosures reached new heights, and unemployment reached 20% of the workforce. Many people ended up relying on soup kitchens and riding the rails as hoboes. THE PANIC OF 1893 Cleveland, more conservative than he had been in the 1880s, dealt with the crisis by championing the gold standard and otherwise adopting a hands-off policy toward the economy. THE GOLD RESERVE AND TARIFF THE GOLD RESERVE AND TARIFF A decline in silver prices encouraged investors to trade their silver dollars for gold dollars. The gold reserve feel to a dangerously low level. Pres. Cleveland saw no alternative but to repeal the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890. This failed to stop the gold drain. THE GOLD RESERVE AND TARIFF THE GOLD RESERVE AND TARIFF This deal convinced many Americans that the government in Washington was only a tool of rich eastern bankers. Workers became further disenchanted with Cleveland when he used court injunctions to crush the Pullman Strike of 1894. WILSON-GORMAN TARIFF The Democrats did enact one measure that was somewhat popular. The Tariff: (1) provided a moderate reduction in the tariff rates and (2) included a 2% income tax on incomes of more than $2,000. Within a year after passage, the Supreme Court declared an income tax unconstitutional. COXEY’S ARMY COXEY’S ARMY March led by Jacob Coxey a Populist from Ohio.. A march to Washington in 1894. Thousands of unemployed marched. COXEY’S ARMY The “army” demanded that the federal govt., spend $500 million on public works programs to create jobs. Coxey and other protest leaders were arrested for trespassing, and the dejected “army” then left for home. COIN’S FINANCIAL SCHOOL Book written in 1894 by William H. Harvey. Seemed to offer easy answers for ending the depression. Taught millions of Americans that their troubles were caused by a conspiracy of rich bankers. Prosperity would return if only the govt., coined silver in unlimited quantities. THE ELECTION OF 1896 AND THE END OF POPULISM THE ELECTION OF 1896 AND THE END OF POPULISM The Election of 1896 was one of the most emotional in U.S. history. Cleveland’s handling of the depression thoroughly discredited the Democrats. The Republicans buried the Democrats in the congressional elections of 1894. The Populists continued to gain both votes and legislative seats. The stage was set for a major reshaping of party politics in 1896. THE ELECTION OF 1896 AND THE END OF POPULISM THE ELECTION OF 1896 AND THE END OF POPULISM THE ELECTION OF 1896 AND THE END OF POPULISM Many Populists were initially cool to Bryan’s campaign. Their party had been defrauded many times by the Democrats in the South. Veteran Populists feared that their broad program was in danger of being reduced to “free silver.” But realizing that they could not secure victory alone, the party leaders endorsed Bryan. THE ELECTION OF 1896 AND THE END OF POPULISM THE ELECTION OF 1896 AND THE END OF POPULISM This election is sometimes called the first modern presidential campaign because of the money spent by the Republicans and the efficiency of their national organization. McKinley’s campaign raised some $10 million. Bryan’s campaign raised around $300,000. McKinley remained at home – “the front porch” campaign. Bryan embarked on a nation wide speaking tour. THE ELECTION OF 1896 AND THE END OF POPULISM THE ELECTION OF 1896 AND THE END OF POPULISM The results revealed a nation as divided along regional lines as in 1860. Bryan carried the South and West and received 6.5 million votes. McKinley swept the more populous industrial states of the Northeast and Midwest. He received 7.1 votes. His electoral margin was 271 to 176. THE ELECTION OF 1896 AND THE END OF POPULISM THE ELECTION OF 1896 AND THE END OF POPULISM The era’s bitter labor strife did not carry over into the electoral arena. Party politics seemed to mute class conflict rather than reinforce it. Prosperity returned in 1897. Industrial America now voted solidly Republican. The Populist ceased to be a viable party. Many of the more liberal/progressive ideas of the Populist were absorbed by the two major parties. THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ AND THE ELECTION OF 1896 THE WIZARD OF OZ The Emerald City, where everything is colored green, represents Washington, D.C. THE WIZARD OF OZ The Wizard of Oz, who remains invisible, represents President William McKinley. THE WIZARD OF OZ The only way to get to the Emerald City is via a Yellow Brick Road, the color of gold. THE WIZARD OF OZ The Wicked Witches of the East and West represent oppressive industrialists and mine owners. THE WIZARD OF OZ In the much-beloved film version made in the 1930s, Dorothy, the all-American girl from the heartland of Kansas, wears ruby slippers. But in the book, her slippers are silver, supposedly representing the money preferred by ordinary people. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ELECTION OF 1896 Whatever Baum’s symbolism, McKinley’s election shattered the political stalemate that had persisted since 1876 and created one of the most enduring political majorities in American history. During McKinley’s presidency, the Republicans put their stamp on economic policy by passing: The Dingley Tariff of 1897. The Standard Gold Act of 1900. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ELECTION OF 1896 Not until 1932, in the midst of another depression, would the Democrats become the nation’s majority party. The election also proved to be the last presidential election with extremely high voter turnout. From then on, with the South solidly Democratic and the North overwhelmingly Republican, few states witnessed vigorous two-party campaigns. The election marked the end of the Populist Party.