Populist Party

Topics: Populist Party, William Jennings Bryan, Thomas E. Watson Pages: 3 (831 words) Published: February 16, 2006
The Populist Party was a short-lived political party in the United States in the late 19th century. It flourished particularly among western farmers, based largely on its opposition to the gold standard. Although the party did not remain a lasting feature of the political landscape, many of its positions have become adopted over the course of the following decades. The very term "populist" has since become a generic term in U.S. politics for politics which appeals to the common person in opposition to established interests. Initially, the Populist government failed to achieve its goals of better government, however in the coming years, some of their ideas were to be developed.

The Populist Party grew out of the agrarian revolt that rose after the collapse of agriculture prices following the Panic of 1873. The Farmers' Alliance, formed in Lampasas, Texas in 1876, promoted collective economic action by farmers and achieved widespread popularity in the South and Great Plains. The Farmers' Alliance was ultimately unable to achieve its wider economic goal of collective economic action against brokers, railroads, and merchants, and many in the movement agitated for changes in national policy. By the late 1880s, the Alliance had developed a political agenda that called for regulation and reform in national politics, most notably an opposition to the gold standard to counter the deflation in agricultural prices. The drive to create a new political party out of the movement arose from the refusal of both Democrats and Republicans to take up and promote the policies advocated by the Alliance, notably in regard to the Populists' call for unlimited coinage of silver. The promotion of silver as legal tender was especially favored by farmers as a means of countering the deflation of agricultural prices and allowing credit to flow more easily through the rural banking system. The Populist Party was formed by members of the Alliance, in conjunction with the Knights of Labor,...
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