Presentation on theme: "Mr. Hood U.S. History. Between 1870 and 1895, farm prices plummeted. Cotton, was worth half of what it was following Reconstruction. Prices were dropping."— Presentation transcript:
Between 1870 and 1895, farm prices plummeted. Cotton, was worth half of what it was following Reconstruction. Prices were dropping rapidly, but to make things worse it was costing more for farmers to produce what they needed to break even. Machinery was expensive. This led to debt. But the problem was, the more that farmers produced the lower prices dropped. (Basic Economics)
Farmers protested that big business was to blame. They protested that railroads, as monopolies, charged whatever rates they wanted and that banks set interest rates too high. Farmers felt as though the nation had turned its back on them. Unlike the past, most of the nations presidents now came from industrialized states.
The Grange-organized by Oliver H. Kelley, had the goals of providing education on new farming techniques and calling for the regulation of railroad and grain elevator rates. Some states enacted laws that reflected what the Grange wanted. These were called “Grange Laws”. Businesses fought against these laws but the Supreme Court upheld them.
The Farmer’s Alliance merged with other farmer groups to form cooperatives to collectively sell their crops. They called on the federal government to establish “sub treasuries”, to provide farmers with low-interest loans.
Populist Party-or People’s party, was formed in 1892 by members of the Farmer’s Alliance. The Populist party sought to build a new political party from the grassroots up. They ran entire slates of candidates for local, state, and national positions. Like a fire, the Populist Party spread rapidly, putting pressure on the two major political parties.
The Populists’ spilled out their views in their platform. ◦ Warned about the dangers of political corruption. ◦ An inadequate monetary supply. ◦ And an unresponsive government. The proposed specific remedies to these problems. ◦ Coinage of silver “free silver” (unrestricted coinage). ◦ Government ownership of the railroads. ◦ Advanced the cause of women’s suffrage.
The Populist Party was the party of the people, it attracted more than just farmers. Many industrial factory workers joined the party. The Populist presidential candidate received 1 Million votes and they elected some members to congress and won many local elections. In the South the Populist party united poor blacks and whites in order to gain a strong voter base. They cast aside race to ensure success. ◦ Critics from the Democratic Party used racist tactics to undermine the party and said populist victories would lead to “Negro Supremacy”.
William Jennings Bryan earned the nickname the “boy orator” because of his ability to speak in public at a young age. In 1896 at the Democratic National convention Bryan attacked the party and President Grover Cleveland on the subject of the Gold Standard, specifically because they opposed the coinage of silver.
Bryan said he spoke for the “plain people of this country” for “our farms” and declared “we beg no longer”. The speech was known of the “Cross of Gold” because of the line: “You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold!”
The speech moved the Democratic party and they nominated him as their presidential candidate. His favor of “Free Silver”, or the coinage of silver, and other Populist ideas, placed the Populists in a difficult situation. They had to decide whether or not to elect their own candidate or throw support behind Bryan. They chose to endorse Bryan.
Bryan toured the nation and spoke directly to the people, much like Andrew Jackson. William McKinley, Republican candidate, allowed members of the party to campaign for him while he accumulated huge money donations. The McKinley camp portrayed Bryan as a dictator and threat to the Republic. ◦ For Example, a political cartoon cast the Democratic- Populist alliance as a collection of evil witches, who fed on the fires of sectionalism, discontent, and prejudice in order to win election.
McKinley won the election in 1896, and went on to win reelection over Bryan again in 1900. Bryan’s emphasis on monetary reform, especially free silver, did not appeal to urban workers, and the Populists failed to win a state outside of the South and West. The decision to endorse Bryan, a Democrat, weakened the party and it never recovered.
Even though the party died, much that it fought for would come up again and eventually become a reality in the time period called the Progressive Era, such as; Graduated income tax Regulation of the railroads More flexible monetary system But, populism had a lasting effect on American politics in the United States: Blacks and whites formed an alliance in Texas Candidates campaign directly to the people An emphasis was placed on “ordinary” Americans