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The Rise and Fall of the Populist Party

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1 The Rise and Fall of the Populist Party

2 Farmers’ Problems Crop prices fell
Farmers had no cash, went further into debt, and their lenders foreclosed on their mortgages The railroad companies charged outrageous prices to ship crops (no regulation!)

3 Farmers’ Demands Regulate the railroad companies (Stop them from charging such high rates) Make cash more available (back the dollar with silver, not gold, so dollar would be worth less) Constitutional demands: single term for President and Vice-President, secret ballot, popular election of Senators To get industrial workers to support them: 8-hour workday, restrict immigration

4 Different Groups Representing Farmers’ Interests
1867: The Patrons of Husbandry (The Grange) 1880s: Farmers’ Alliance and Colored Farmers’ National Alliance 1892: Birth of the Populist, or People’s Party

5 1892 Presidential Election: Populist candidate won over a million votes!

6 1896 Election Democrats – 1890s Republicans – 1890s Southerners
Wealthy farmers Supported low tariffs (wanted other countries to buy their crops) Northerners Wealthy business men (connected to the railroad) Southern African Americans (poor farmers) Supported high tariffs (didn’t want to compete with other countries’ products)

7 1896 Election Populists decide to improve their chances by supporting the Democratic candidate, William Jennings Bryan, who agreed to support the silver-backed dollar.

8 1896 Presidential Election: Bryan loses but carries most of the South and West

9 Central Historical Question
Why did the Populist Party attract millions of supporters?

10 The Pullman Strike Chicago 1894

11 Pullman Palace Car Company
Railway car company owned by George Pullman Over 6,000 workers Workers lived in “company town” Rent was 25% higher than other areas Interior of a Pullman Sleeper Car

12 Reasons for the Strike Historical Context: Depression of 1893
Pullman cut workers’ wages but didn’t cut rent for apartments On May 10, 1894, workers walked out of their factory

13 ARU Supports Pullman Workers
American Railway Union was a national union of railway workers Eugene Debs, ARU leader, decided to support Pullman strikers Across the nation, railway workers refused to run trains that had Pullman cars attached to them The country was paralyzed

14 Eugene Debs Eugene V. Debs, the rail union president at the time of the strike, later campaigned as the American Socialist presidential candidate

15 President Grover Cleveland sends in troops

16 Violence Erupts Presence of federal troops set off riots
Rioters burned buildings Troops killed 4 people and wounded 20

17 End of Strike By August the strike fell apart
1000 union workers were fired New workers had to sign contracts promising not to join a union Debs was arrested and jailed for 6 months

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