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Why it matters: Following the Civil War, millions of men and women migrated west in search of the American dream. However, in the late 1880’s and early.

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Presentation on theme: "Why it matters: Following the Civil War, millions of men and women migrated west in search of the American dream. However, in the late 1880’s and early."— Presentation transcript:



3 Why it matters: Following the Civil War, millions of men and women migrated west in search of the American dream. However, in the late 1880’s and early 1890’s, their dream began to turn into a nightmare, which, in turn, sparked a social and political revolt known as Populism. This movement displayed the dissatisfaction of millions of ordinary Americans– poor farmers, small landowners, and urban workers– and produced one of the largest third party movements in American history. What led to the rise of the Populist movement, and what effect did it have?

4 Farmers Face Problems  Farmers were receiving low prices for their crops, yet they had to pay high costs for transportation.  Debts climbed  Their political influence declined  Cotton dropped from 15 cents a lb. to 6 cents in just a few years.  By 1890, it was costing a farmer more to produce corn than they could get selling it so they burned it and used it as fuel.  The cost of doing business rose too.  To pay for new machinery, seed, and livestock caused farmers to increase their debts.  Many mortgaged their farms to raise funds to survive and became tenant farmers- no longer owned the farm they worked.

5 Written by a farmer at the end of the 19 th century 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 the farmer feeds them all.

6 Price Indexes for Consumer & Farm Products: 1865-1913

7 Farmers Face Problems  Farmers blamed big businesses, especially railroads and banks.  Railroads were monopolies that charged whatever rates they wanted.  Banks set interest rates at ridiculously high prices.  They felt the nation had turned its back on them. Presidents and elected officials were no longer from farming, agricultural backgrounds but instead now from urban, industrial states.

8 Farmers Organize  Farmers created a network of organizations.  Grange= organized by Oliver H. Kelley put together an organization that included providing education on new farming techniques and calling for the regulation of railroad and shipping rates.  Railroads challenged the “grange laws” in courts but the Supreme Court upheld the laws that set maximum rates for shipping and for grain storage.  Government also established the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to oversee interstate transportation.

9 United We Stand, Divided We Fall  In 1889 both the Northern and Southern Alliances merged into one— the Farmers’ Alliance.

10 Farmers’ Alliances  Farmers’ Alliances became important reform organizations.  These alliances formed cooperatives to collectively sell their crops, and the sought out the federal gov’t. to establish “sub-treasuries,” or postal banks to provide low interest loans.

11 Populist Party  The spread of the Farmers’ Alliances culminated with the formation of the Populist Party, or People’s Party, in 1892.  Populists sought to build a new political party from the grass roots up.  They ran entire slates of candidates for local, state, and national positions.  The party proposed to fight low prices, they called for the coinage of silver, or “free silver”.  The combat high costs, they demanded gov’t. ownership of railroads.

12 Bi-Metallism Issue


14 Causes of the 1893 Panic  Begun 10 days after Cleveland took office. 1. Several major corps. went bankrupt.  Over 16,000 businesses disappeared.  Triggered a stock market crash.  Over-extended investments. 2. Bank failures followed causing a contraction of credit [nearly 500 banks closed]. 3. By 1895, unemployment reached 3 million.  Americans cried out for relief, but the Govt. continued its laissez faire policies!!

15 Here Lies Prosperity


17 Gold / Silver Bug Campaign Pins

18 Economic Crisis and Decline  1893, a 4 year long depression began that just worsened conditions.  All political parties failed to respond to the nation’s distress in a satisfactorily way.  Democrats nominated William Jennings Bryan as their presidential candidate and Populists supported him.  Bryan spoke for the “plain people”. Gave a famous speech known as the “Cross of Gold” speech.  He supported the coinage of silver and gold.  As a presidential candidate, he was one of the first to tour the nation, speaking directly to the people.  Republican presidential candidate= William McKinley  He allowed people to do the campaigning for him and had a bigger budget.

19 William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) The “Great Commoner”

20 18,000 miles of campaign “whistle stops.”

21 William McKinley (1843-1901)

22 “A Giant Straddle”: Suggestion for a McKinley Political Poster

23 Into Which Box Will the Voter of ’96 Place His Ballot?

24 1896 Election Results

25 Gold Triumphs Over Silver  1900  Gold Standard Act  confirmed the nation’s commitment to the gold standard.  A victory for the forces of conservatism.

26 Populism’s Legacy  McKinley won the election of 1896 and went on to win reelection again beating out Bryan, in the 1900 election.  Urban workers did not like Bryan’s ideas of monetary reform.  The Populist party was no longer winning over any state outside of the South and West.  It had dwindled by the first decade of the 20 th century.

27 The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum


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