American History II
The Role of the Depression in 1890's Creating Tensions
The 1890's was a decade of change. This time in the United States influenced several area's of American life; society, culture, economy, and politics. In 1890's the depression played an important role in political tensions. The depression of this decade was brought about by several forces from farming to industry and immigration.
As the demand for American products and crops decreased in the late 1890's, falling prices affected both the farming and manufacturing industries. Farmers responded by planting more to try and compensate for the lack of income, which only made the situation worse. Farmer's also battled with increasing railroad rates and wide-spread bank foreclosures on farmers mortgages(3). The National Farmer's Alliance was formed to try to alleviate some of the pressures felt by the farming industry. Within the rural community there were changing political views all around. This gave rise to the Populist movement. In the election of 1892, populist nominee James Weaver drew over one million votes, although he failed to attract voters in urban areas, the South, and even the Midwest(1). The Farmer's Alliance itself began to loose members. The railroad industry, which had helped spur economic gains in prior decades, slowed due to American's dislike for their monopolistic practices. The manufacturing industries had seen a shift from primarily Northern and Western immigrants as immigrants came from South and Eastern parts of Europe and included Italians, Hungarians, Eastern European Jews, escaping the pogroms, Turks, Armenians, Poles, Russians and Slavic immigrants(5). American Federation of Labor tried to organize skilled workers, such as machinists and locomotive engineers and use strikes to obtain objectives such as higher pay and better working conditions. However, this lead to more political unrest as events such...
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