The Rise and Fall of Populism

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The Rise and Fall of Populism

The Farmer’s Alliance In the 1880s, as drought hit the wheat-growing areas of the Great Plains and prices for Southern cotton sunk to new lows, many tenant farmers fell into deep debt. Lenders, grain-elevator owners, and others with whom farmers did business were angered. Depression worsened in the early 1890s, and some industrial workers shared different views on labor, trust, and monopolies. If the various alliances between the North and South were able to unite, they would’ve created an astonishing mighty political force. Unfortunately, sectional differences and personality clashes quickly halted this idea. The Saint Louis meeting in 1889 formed a clear idea where certain alliances existed. Clearly, white southerners feared reprisals from landowners, and objected participation by blacks. They also rejected proposals that would have ended secret whites-only activities. Northerners also feared domination by more experienced southern leaders.

The Republican Party mostly consisted of Northern farmers who wanted protective tariffs to keep out foreign grain. Democrats, who were mostly white southerners, wanted low tariffs to hold down the costs of foreign manufactured goods. Despite these differences, both parties did favor the governmental regulation of transportation and

communications, liberal credit policies, equitable taxation, prohibition of landownership, by foreign investigators, and currency reform. Due to this confidence, the alliances drew more deeply into politics. Farmers had elected a number of officeholders in 1890. Alliance members controlled four governorships, eight state legislatures, forty-four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and three seats in the U.S. Senate. The Populist movement arose as a revolt against the special privileges of industrialism and the American banking system.

The Rise of Populists In the Midwest, Alliance



Cited: A People and a Nation. U.S.A: Norton, Katzman, Escott, Chudacoff, Paterson, Tuttle, 1994. "Agrarian Distress and the Rise of Populism." United States History. 1 Sep. 2008. <http://countrystudies.us/united-states/history-81.htm>. Argesinger, Peter H. "Populism, Its Rise and Fall." Populism, Its Rise and Fall. 2007. 1 Sep. 2008. <http://www.kansaspress.ku.edu/pefpop.html>. "The Populist Party." 1896: The People 's Party. 2000. 1 Sep. 2008. <http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/populists.html>.

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