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The Gilded Age Agrarian Revolt. Causes of Farm Decline  Natural Factors:  Drought  Fire  Blizzards  Insects  Erosion  Market Factors:  Falling.

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Presentation on theme: "The Gilded Age Agrarian Revolt. Causes of Farm Decline  Natural Factors:  Drought  Fire  Blizzards  Insects  Erosion  Market Factors:  Falling."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Gilded Age Agrarian Revolt

2 Causes of Farm Decline  Natural Factors:  Drought  Fire  Blizzards  Insects  Erosion  Market Factors:  Falling commodity prices  High debt levels  High transportation costs  High storage fees

3 The Impending Farm Crisis Falling commodity prices Long term drop in commodity prices from Two main causes  Domestic overproduction  New technologies, improved crops  As prices fell, farmers had to grow more to earn same amount of money Excess production drove prices even lower  Foreign competition  Growing transportation network tied farmers into national and international markets

4 The Impending Farm Crisis High debt levels  Farm land rose in value thru the mid-1870s  Investors launched mortgage companies to finance expansion  In KS, NB, MN, DK, at least one mortgage per family  Mortgage debt in KS tripled between

5 The Impending Farm Crisis High transportation and storage fees  Railroads primary target  Discriminatory rates  Grain elevators were second target  Had a monopoly on buying grain  Farmers had to sell or pay fees for use

6 National Politics  Both the Democratic and Republican parties were equally beholden to special interests.  Neither party could gain control of the government.  Republicans dominated the presidency  Democrats, on the other hand, controlled Congress and most state legislatures  Each party struggled to find political issues to distinguish it from the other and to try to seize government power

7 National Politics Republicans  From 1868 to 1880, the most common Republican campaign tactic was to wave the "Bloody Shirt"  Reminded voters of the South's dishonor of seceding and causing the Civil War.  This tactic painted all Democrats as traitors to the Union.

8 National Politics Democrats  Reducing influence of federal government  Cutting expenses  States’ rights

9 Organizational Challenges for Farmers  Rugged individualism  Physical isolation  Conflicting interests

10 The Grange Midwest  National Grange formed as a social/educational club in 1867  Became a forum for political debate in 1870s  Became a potent political force by mid-1870s  Goal was to regulate freight rates, elevator fees  Hoped to free farmers from traditional market  ran candidates under “Greenback” Party  1,000,000 votes in 1878 elections  Went into decline in 1880s  Unable to achieve goals

11 Farmers’ Alliance South and Midwest  Offered social and recreational activities  Sense of community a strong attraction  Stressed political action  Wanted to set up exchanges (Coops)  Failed due to business, banker opposition  Sub-treasury plan  Formed Colored Alliance in 1886  Stressed economic, not social equality  Unable to achieve its goals alone, the Farmer’s Alliance sought allies to increase its power

12 The Sub-Treasury Plan Farmer’s would be able to:  Store crops in government warehouses  Obtain government loans  Up to 80% of crop’s value  1% interest on loan Hoped it would spark inflation and raise crop prices.

13 The Populist Party The People’s Party  Founded in 1892  Composed of  Farmer’s Alliance  Colored Alliance  The Grange (remnants)  The Knights of Labor  The Greenback Party (remnants)  Very successful at state level in the Midwest

14 Presidential Campaign The Populist Platform Financial Goals:  Free coinage of silver  Graduated income tax  Increased money supply  Sub-Treasury plan

15 Presidential Campaign The Populist Platform Transportation Goals  Government ownership of:  Railroads  Telegraph  Telephones

16 Presidential Campaign The Populist Platform Labor and Social Goals:  Land reform  Immigration restriction  8 hour workday  End of injunctions against labor  Restrictions on strike breakers

17 Election of 1896 Dominant Issue: Sound Money  Republicans  William McKinley  Gold Standard, High Tariffs (Hard Money)  Democrats  William Jennings Bryan  Free Silver, Low Tariffs (Soft Money)  Populists  William Jennings Bryan  Free Silver (Soft Money)

18 William Jennings Bryan: “I don’t know anything about free silver. Nebraska is for free silver, therefore I am for free silver. I will look up the details later.”


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