Price Indexes for Consumer & Farm Products: 1865-1913
Founder of the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry (1867)
The Grange Movement First organized in the 1870s in the Midwest, the South, and Texas. Set up cooperative associations (stores, grain elevators, grain warehouses). Social and educational components too – picnics, concerts, lectures, etc. Succeeded in lobbying for state “Granger Laws” to regulate RR rates & storage fees (Munn v. Illinois) Wabash v. Illinois (1886) overruled state regulation of RR – why? Rapidly declined after Wabash.
The Farmers Alliances Ø Begun in the late 1870s (Texas first – the Southern Alliance; then in the Midwest—the Northern Alliance). Ø Built upon the ashes of the Grange. Ø More political and less social than the Grange. Ø Ran candidates for office. Ø Controlled 8 state legislatures & had 47 representatives in Congress during the 1890s.
United We Stand, Divided We Fall Ø In 1889 both the Northern and Southern Alliances merged into one—the Farmers’ Alliance. Ø Will eventually seek alliance with northern industrial workers - labor unions.
The Populist (Peoples’) Party Ø Farmers’ Alliance excluded blacks & ignored issues of tenant farmers & sharecroppers – weakened it Ø By early 1890s, Farmers’ Alliance has produced the Peoples’ Party – a political coalition of farmers from the W & the S. Ø Goals: Ø More political power to the people (through political reform, lowering tariff) Ø Government intervention to aid struggling farmers – at the mercy of industrialists, banks & interest rates. Ø Attacked Wall Street and the “Money Trust” Ø Early champion: Ø Early champion: Mary Elizabeth Lease of KS Ø “Kansans should raise less corn and raise more hell!”
Platform of Lunacy A farmers’ and workers’ alliance?
The Populist (Peoples’) Party Ø Founded by James B. Weaver and Tom Watson. Ø Omaha Convention in July, 1892 - NE. Ø Got almost 1 million popular votes in ’92 election. Ø Several Congressional seats won. James B. Weaver, Presidential Candidate
Omaha Platform of 1892 1. System of “sub-treasuries.” 2. Free silver (unlimited coinage of silver). 3. Graduated income tax. 4. Direct election of Senators. 5. Govt. ownership of RRs, telephone & telegraph companies. 6. Restriction of undesirable immigration. 7. 8-hour work day for government employees. 8. Abolition of the Pinkerton detective agency. 9. Australian secret ballot. 10. Abolition of the National Bank. 11. A single term for President & Vice President.
Major Problems in Cleveland’s Second Term: First large-scale depression in the new industrial economy.
Causes of the 1893 Panic Ø Began 10 days after Cleveland took office. 1. Several major corporations went bankrupt. Over 16,000 businesses disappeared. Triggered a stock market crash. 2. Bank failures followed causing a contraction of credit [nearly 500 banks closed]. 3. By 1895, unemployment reached 3 million. 4. Ongoing agricultural depression. Ø Americans cried out for relief, but the Federal Gov’t. continued its laissez faire policies!!
Panic Spreads! How is it “resolved” by Cleveland? Gets J.P. Morgan to loan gov’t $65 million in gold…. for which he charged a commission of 7 million!
Here Lies Prosperity The Populist argument that farmers & laborers alike are being victimized is strengthened.
2. Coxey’s Army, 1894 Ø Jacob Coxey & his “Army of the Commonweal of Christ” (500, not 100,000) Ø March on Washington - “hayseed socialists!” Ø Cleveland doesn’t handle the problem well……
3. Pullman Strike, 1894 CCleveland gets federal injunction – based on interference with the mail. UUses federal troops to put down the strike. EEugene Debs arrested & jailed-6 mos. for contempt. AAs with Coxey’s Army, does not seem that government (Cleveland) is sympathetic to plight of the people
4. Ultra-conservative Supreme Court Decisions U.S. vs. E.C. Knight case Ct. refused to break up sugar trust using Sherman Antitrust Act – argued that Act applies ONLY to commerce, not manufacturing U.S. vs. Debs case Debs denied writ of habeus corpus Jailed for 6 mos. / comes out a socialist
5. Silver Issue “Crime of ’73” demonetization of silver (govt. stopped coining silver); cries for “free silver.” Bland-Allison Act (1878) is the compromise: limited silver coinage to $2-$4 mil. per mo. (based on the 16:1 ratio of silver to gold); ineffective since gov’t always purchased minimum amount. Sherman Silver Purchase Act (1890) –Next compromise attempt: The U.S. Treasury must purchase $4.5 mil. oz. of silver a month. (gold in treasury being depleted – why?) –Cleveland forces repeal in 1893 –U.S. has worst depression in its history Gov’t bailed out in 1895 by J.P. Morgan’s gold loan! –S & W wings of Democratic party desert Cleveland
Result of Election Returns Ø Populist vote increased by 40% in the 1894 mid-term elections Ø Democratic party losses in the West were catastrophic! Ø But, Republicans won control of the House.
William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) The “Great Commoner” – 36 years old DEMOCRAT POPULIST
William Jennings Bryan Prairie avenger, mountain lion, Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, Gigantic troubadour, speaking like a siege gun, Smashing Plymouth Rock with his boulders from the West. Ø Revivalist style of oratory. Ø “A great voice rather than a great brain.”
Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” Speech You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns; you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold!
Bryan: The Farmer’s Friend (The Mint Ratio) 18,000 miles of campaign “whistle stops” – 600 speeches!
Democratic Party Taken Over by the Agrarian Left Platform : free silver; tariff reductions; income tax; stricter control of the trusts (esp. RRs). Note: Eastern laborers won’t support them & will vote to protect their jobs…..
William McKinley (1843-1901) REPUBLICAN Ohio Former Civil War major & in Congress many years Focus on Cleveland’s Democratic Panic “Full Dinner Promises “Full Dinner Pail” Pail” Praises protective tariff MASSIVE dissemination of literature
Mark Hanna to Candidate McKinley Highly organized, extremely well- funded campaign that capitalizes on economic fears. Raised $16 million to fund this campaign!
“A Giant Straddle”: Suggestion for a McKinley Political Poster
The Seasoned Politician vs. The “Young” Newcomer The Seasoned Politician vs. The “Young” Newcomer
Significance of the 1896 Election MARKS THE FAILURE OF THE POPULIST PARTY Turning point in politics! The future of politics in cities, not agrarian votes. Victory for big business, big cities, middle class values & financial conservatism. Republicans take White House for all but 8 of the next 36 years!
The Next President of the U. S. McKinley will be cautious and conservative Will give business free rein ; no regulation of trusts Tariff (Dingley) will be high (46.5%)
Gold Triumphs Over Silver Ø 1900 - Gold Standard Act Ø Confirmed the nation’s commitment to the gold standard. Ø Paper currency could be freely redeemed in gold Ø New gold discoveries in AK & S.Africa will finally stop deflation Ø A victory for the forces of conservatism.
Why Did Populism Decline? 1. The economy experienced rapid change. 2. The era of small producers and farmers was fading away. 3. Race divided the Populist Party, especially in the South. 4. The Populists were not able to break existing party loyalties; most of their agenda was co-opted by the Democrats.
Why Did Populism Decline? 5. Failure of farmers and industrial workers of the Northeast to unite. 6. Gold strike in AK in 1898 – increased $ supply (& farmers’ access to credit). 7. Crop failures in Europe by 1900 – led to increase in grain exports. 8. Immigration in massive numbers to urban areas – more markets & higher prices for agrarian products.
Populist Goals that Survived: 16 th Amendment – income tax 17 th Amendment – direct election of Senators Secret ballot Direct primary elections
Written by a Farmer at the End of the 19c When the banker says he's broke And the merchant’s up in smoke, They forget that it's the farmer who feeds them all. It would put them to the test If the farmer took a rest; Then they'd know that it's the farmer feeds them all.