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The Wizard of Oz. “A Parable on Populism”. L. Frank Baum. Born in 1856 to a wealthy family in Pennsylvania. 1888- Moves with wife to South Dakota to open a store. Business fails due to bad credit. 1891- Moves to Chicago to work for the Evening Post.

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The wizard of oz

The Wizard of Oz

“A Parable on Populism”

L frank baum
L. Frank Baum

  • Born in 1856 to a wealthy family in Pennsylvania.

  • 1888- Moves with wife to South Dakota to open a store.

    • Business fails due to bad credit.

  • 1891- Moves to Chicago to work for the Evening Post.

  • 1900- Along with illustrator W.W. Denslow, writes a “modern fairy tale.”

    • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

  • Goes on to write 13 other novels about the land of Oz.

Baum s politics
Baum’s Politics

  • Supported William Jennings Bryan in 1896.

    • Marched in the torchlight parades.

  • Wrote a poem for William McKinley in 1896.

  • Gave a speech to the Democrats against the Republicans.

    • The next night gave a speech to the Republicans against the Democrats.

  • What was Baum’s politics?

    • Relatively unknown!!

The gold and silver movement

The Gold and Silver Movement

The money supply
The Money Supply

  • The total amount of currency (paper and coin) in circulation.

  • 1933- U.S. went to a fiat-money system.

    • The dollar only has value because people give it value.

The bi metallic standard
The Bimetallic Standard

  • Mint Act of 1792- the basic monetary system in the U.S. would be gold and silver coins.

    • Silver coins- 371.25 grains of pure silver

    • Gold coins- 24.75 grains of pure gold.

    • 15:1 ratio.

  • 1834- ratio was raised to 16:1.

The gold standard
The Gold Standard

  • Gold becomes very plentiful in 1849.

  • Coinage Act of 1873- Silver taken off the list of coins due to its unpopularity.

  • 1875- Congress orders all Civil War greenbacks to be redeemed in Gold.

  • American unofficially goes on the Gold Standard.

The silver standard
The Silver Standard

  • 1870’s- Silver producing states in the West (Nevada, Montana, Idaho) demand a return of silver to circulation at the 16:1 ratio.

  • Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890- Congress purchases silver for coinage.

  • Panic of 1893 is blamed on the Gold Standard.

  • Populist Party joins the silver crusade.

Farming in america
Farming in America

  • Farming is the #1 industry in the 1870’s.

  • Drought, falling prices, and railroad monopolies place an economic strain on the farmers.

The national grange
The National Grange

  • Formed in 1867.

  • Militant organization of farmers against the railroads and monopolies.

  • Distrustful of banks and metal coins.

  • Want to go to greenback currency whose value was controlled by the government.

The populist party
The Populist Party

  • Created in the 1890’s by ex-Greenback Party members.

  • Omaha Platform

    • Establish a paper money system controlled by the government and a 16:1 coin system.

  • Run James B. Weaver for President in 1892.

    • Carries 4 states (Colorado, Kansas, Idaho, and Nevada.)

  • Nominates William Jennings Bryan along with the Democrats in the election of 1896.

The wonderful wizard of oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

A Political and Monetary Allegory


  • Naïve, young, and simple.

  • Represents the American people.

  • She is every man led astray who seeks a way home.

The scarecrow
The Scarecrow

  • Represents the Midwestern farmer.

  • Brainless, but clever.

  • At the end of the book, he is left in charge of Oz.

  • Idea probably taken from this 1896 cartoon.

The tin woodsman
The Tin Woodsman

  • Represents the industrial workers.

  • The Wicked Witch of the East had cursed him so that every time he swung his ax he lost a body part.

  • Replaced by tin body parts that had rusted to immobility.

    • The Depression of 1893.

  • Probably taken from this 1899 soap ad.

The cowardly lion
The Cowardly Lion

  • William Jennings Bryan

    • Tried to run for President 3 times, but failed.

  • Politicians were always drawn as lions by 1890’s cartoonists.

The tornado
The Tornado

  • Used in 1890’s by cartoonists to represent political upheaval.

  • Represents the silver standard movement that swept the country.


  • Populist stronghold in the 1890’s.

  • Represents the sad times on a struggling farm in the Midwest.

The witches
The Witches

  • The wicked witches represent the supporters of McKinley in the East and the West.

  • The good witches represent the supporters of Bryan in the North and the South.

The yellow brick road
The Yellow Brick Road

  • Represents the Gold Standard.

  • Dorothy’s silver slippers represents the silver standard.

  • The journey to the Emerald City (greenbacks) represents how both gold and silver must work together to achieve success.

  • Dorothy could have clicked her silver shoes 3 times and gone home.

    • Bryan ran for President 3 times.

The wizard
The Wizard

  • President William McKinley.

  • He appears differently to each character.

  • He makes promises he cannot keep.

  • Thought to be all-powerful, but exposed to be a charlatan.

Other characters
Other Characters

  • The Munchkins- the ordinary citizens.

  • Uncle Henry- Henry Wallace, farm magazine editor.

  • The Monkeys- The Indians of the Great Plains.

  • Toto- The Prohibition movement.

    • “Teetotaler”

The land of oz
The Land of Oz

  • Oz= ounce

    • The standard unit of measurement for silver and gold.

  • The Emerald City

    • Green to represent the paper money.