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Populism Mr. Stroman US History. The Plight of Farmers In 1873 and 1893, railroads collapsed, causing widespread economic panic – Banks and businesses.

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Presentation on theme: "Populism Mr. Stroman US History. The Plight of Farmers In 1873 and 1893, railroads collapsed, causing widespread economic panic – Banks and businesses."— Presentation transcript:

1 Populism Mr. Stroman US History

2 The Plight of Farmers In 1873 and 1893, railroads collapsed, causing widespread economic panic – Banks and businesses failed, unemployment rose Farmers hit hardest – Falling crop prices and loans called in by banks – Came to want federal government intervention

3 Farmers’ Concerns Tariffs – Tariffs raised the prices on manufactured goods like farm machinery & reduced the market for US farm products The money supply – Government attempts to take paper money out of circulation, decreasing the money supply and causing deflation, which hurt farmers who had taken out loans

4 Gold Bugs vs. Silverites US money had been on a bimetallic standard – Currency consisted of gold or silver coins, or paper money that could be traded for gold or silver Congress institutes gold standard in 1873 – What effect did this have on the money supply? “Gold bugs” favored the gold standard “Silverites” argued that cutting out silver would depress farm prices – Called for free silver, the unlimited coining of silver dollars to increase the money supply – Greenback Party joins the silverites’ efforts

5 Gold Bugs vs. Silverites Silverites applauded the Brand-Allison Act – Required government to buy and coin more silver – Passed over President Hayes’s veto – Didn’t have the desired effect, because Treasury refused to buy more than the minimum amount of silver & refused to circulate silver dollars Sherman Silver Purchase Act also appealed to silverites – Increased amount of silver that the government was required to purchase every month – Panic of 1893 happened when government’s gold reserves dwindled and foreign investors pulled gold – President Grover Cleveland oversaw its repeal

6 Farmers Protest Farmers take advantage of new communications tools to organize protests Oliver H. Kelley founded the Grange, which helped farmers form cooperatives, through which they bought more goods at lower prices The Grange also helped to lobby state legislatures to regulate businesses on which farmers depended The Grange still exists today

7 Farmers Protest Farmers’ Alliances launch attacks on monopolies that hurt their interests Southern Farmers’ Alliance especially powerful – Called for federal regulation of railroads, more money in circulation, creation of state departments of agriculture, antitrust laws, and farm credit Many women served as officers in Farmers’ Alliances & won support for women’s rights African American farmers formed their own alliances Alliances wanted to know why federal government wasn’t responding to natural disasters that impacted farmers

8 Government Responses Farmers differed on how much federal help was needed Business interests not strong enough to block laws Political parties fragmented – Presidents frequently don’t have majorities in Congress, and therefore can’t act as decisively as preferred President Cleveland signed the Interstate Commerce Act, which required railroads to set prices proportional to distance traveled to move freight – Also couldn’t give special rates to some customers

9 The Populists Many small political parties associated with Farmers’ Alliances began to see some success, especially in the South The People’s Party, or Populists, was formed in 1891 4 main issues: – Increased circulation of money – Unlimited mining of silver – Progressive income tax, in which richer people are taxed at a greater percentage – Government ownership of communication and transportation systems

10 The Populists The Populists also endorsed an eight-hour work day, seeking the support of urban industrial workers Also sought a united front of African American and white farmers – Often endorsed the same candidates as the Republicans for this reason Could not win the presidency

11 Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” Many issues culminated in the 1896 presidential election between gold bug William McKinley (R) and silverite William Jennings Bryan (D/Populist) Bryan famously addressed the Democratic National Convention with his Cross of Gold speech, in which he made an impassioned plea for free silver Results: PV: McKinley 51%, Bryan 47% EV: McKinley 271, Bryan 176

12 Populism’s Legacy McKinley’s administration raised tariffs Congress returns to gold standard after new discoveries in South Africa, Alaska, and Canada – But prices rose for farmers Populist and silverite movements die out – Their issues are no longer relevant The goals of populism remained intact, as we will see later in the Progressive Era.

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