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Farmer’s Movement. Major Issues:. Farmers’ vision of a well-ordered society dated back to Jefferson’s ideas of an agrarian republic Enemies of this ideology were the “special privileges” or monopolies: Banks held monopolies over credit Land syndicates monopolized acreage

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Farmer’s Movement

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Farmer s movement

Farmer’s Movement

Major issues

Major Issues:

  • Farmers’ vision of a well-ordered society dated back to Jefferson’s ideas of an agrarian republic

  • Enemies of this ideology were the “special privileges” or monopolies:

    • Banks held monopolies over credit

    • Land syndicates monopolized acreage

    • Manufacturers who substituted traditional relations of shop with wage slavery

    • RR who monopolized transportation

The grangers 1860s

The Grangers (1860s)

  • Began as an assoc. for social and self-help

  • Panic of 1873- turned it into an agency for political change

National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry

Granger s goals

Granger’s Goals

  • Bring farmers together to learn new technologies

  • Create a feeling of community

  • Relieve loneliness

    **Secret fraternal organization- code of secrecy with initiation and rituals



  • Increased b/c of the Panic of 1873

  • Local chapters in most states

  • Strongest in agricultural regions

Changing goals

Changing Goals

  • Attempt to organize cooperatives (avoid the middleman and cut costs)

    • Stores

    • Grain-elevators

    • Warehouses

    • Insurance companies

    • Factories

    • Shipping with RR

  • Most eventually failed

Grangers political presence

Grangers: Political Presence

  • Generally ran candidates under another party

  • At peak- controlled legislatures of most Midwestern states

  • Wanted to subject RR to government control

    • The Granger Laws (1870s)- imposed strict regulations on RR rates and practices

      • Most regulations were defeated by courts

Downfall of the grangers

Downfall of the Grangers

  • Temporary agricultural prosperity

  • Inexperience of political leadership

  • Failed cooperatives

Farmer s alliance

Farmer’s Alliance

  • Began as early as 1875 in the South

  • 1880- Southern Alliance had 4 million members and new chapters were taking root in the Northwest and Midwest

  • Primarily concerned with local issues

  • Lecturers traveled throughout the Midwest speaking for the end of economic oppression from the concentration of power. Suggested healthy competition and cooperation instead.

Role of women

Role of Women

  • Full voting members

  • Held positions of leadership

  • Were lecturers

  • Mary E. Lease- “raise less corn and more hell”

  • Raised temperance issue

    • Sobriety a key to stability

  • Supported extending the right to vote to women nationwide

End of the farmer s alliance

End of the Farmer’s Alliance

  • Weak cooperatives

  • Creation of the Populist (People’s) Party

1890 mid term elections

1890 Mid-term Elections

  • Farmer’s Alliance won partial or full control of 12 state legislatures

    • Endorsed Democratic candidates

    • Election encouraged farmers to become involved politically

Creation of the populist party

Creation of the Populist Party

  • Delegates met in Omaha, Nebraska- 1892

    • Platform:

      • Tariff reduction

      • Graduated income tax

      • Public ownership of RR and telegraphs

      • Free silver

      • Prohibition of land ownership by aliens (foreigners)

    • Presidential Candidate: James Weaver

  • Strong Populist showing

    • Election of 3 governors, 5 senators, 10 congressmen

Populist party

Populist Party

  • Comprised of small farmers struggling to maintain the family farm

  • Appealed to the geographically isolated

  • Provided an outlet for grievances, provided a social experience and sense of belonging

  • Attempted to gain support from laborers

    • Platform added: shorter hours, restrictions on immigration and denounced the use of private detective agencies for strikebreaking (Pinkertons)

Populist party1

Populist Party

  • Few laborers joined Populists

  • Attracted miners in the Rocky Mountain States

    • “free silver”

  • Additional issues:

    • Abolition of national banks (concentration of power)

    • End of absentee ownership of land

    • Direct election of US senators (17th Amendment)

    • Improve the ability of average people to influence the political process



  • Election won by Grover Cleveland

  • Populists did not gain support from:

    • No support from New England, urban parts of the East and Midwest

    • No support from organized labor

      **Party is dead by the election of 1896- can not compete against Democratic candidate



  • Severe depression between 1893-1897

  • Unemployment as high as 25% (industry)

  • Farm prices drop 20%- farm foreclosures

  • Coxey’s Army

    • Middle and upper classes are worried over unrest

Coxey s army 1894

Coxey’s Army (1894)

  • Jacob Coxey

  • Approx. 500 unemployed Americans followed Coxey to Washington, DC

    • Goal: creation of public-works program for new jobs

  • Met by 1,500 US soldiers

  • Coxey was arrested for walking on the grass in front of the Capitol (before giving his speech)

  • Demonstration fell apart

  • Coxey gave his speech @ the Capitol 50 yrs. later

Election of 1896

Election of 1896

William Jennings Bryan (Dem)

William McKinley (Rep)

  • Congressman from Nebraska

  • Famous orator

  • Supported “free silver” and lower tariffs

  • “Cross of Gold” speech

  • Senator from Ohio

  • Promises to raise protective tariff and protect industry

  • Imperialist

  • Maintain gold standard

  • $$ from big business

  • Mark Hanna

Currency issue

Bimetallism- using both gold and silver as a currency with a price ratio fixed.

Currency Issue

Free Silver

Gold Standard

  • Free & unlimited coinage of silver (16:1)

  • Cheaper than gold but better than paper

  • Increase $$ supply

  • Cheaper $$

  • Populists & Silver Dems

  • Stronger value

  • Better for lenders, hurt borrowers

  • “sound money”

  • Gold Rep.

  • Gold Dems

Cross of gold

“Cross of Gold”

  • “You shall not press down upon the brown of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold”

  • “If you burned down all the cities, fields would grow in their places. But if you destroyed all the fields, cities would wither and die.”

Mark hanna

Mark Hanna

  • McKinley’s campaign manager

  • Portrays Bryan as a wild-eyed radical

    • Cult of personality-

      “arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image”

Farmer s movement

Hanna taking advantage of the working class.- making money off labor.

Hanna dangles his puppet, McKinley, from his hand. Hanna controls McKinley and controlled the election.

Populist party2

Populist Party

  • Does not run a candidate against Bryan

    • Fears splitting the farm vote

  • End of the Populist Party

    **McKinley won the election by 600,000 votes

    • Bryan loses in NE and big cities of Midwest

    • Does not appeal to factory workers, urban middle class or immigrants----some feared voting against Hanna and big business

The wizard of oz populism

The Wizard of Oz & Populism

Farmer s movement

Wicked Witch- East and West: evil, represents big business (bankers and capitalists)

Munchkins- wage slaves, factory workers

Tin woodsman

Tin Woodsman

Representation of the East- Industrialism

Unemployed workers

Rust- being out of work ( factories shut down during the depression)

Go to the Emerald City for help….. DC

Heartless- dehumanization of factory work (machines)



Average person

Look to the Emerald City to solve your problems

Some believe she represents a child-like Mary E. Lease

Yellow brick road

Yellow Brick Road

Represents the Gold Standard

Road leads to the East (Emerald City / Washington DC)



Midwestern farmers


Don’t know what their own political interests are- how to help themselves

Cowardly lion

Cowardly Lion

William Jennings Bryan

Has a “loud roar, but little else.”

Inability to appeal to industrial workers- unable to go up against big business

Coxey s army

Coxey’s Army

Going to the Emerald City to seek the solution to their problems

Emerald city

Emerald City

Washington, DC

Fashioned from the “White City”

The wizard of oz

The Wizard of Oz

The President

Appears to be whatever people wish to see in him.

Revealed to be a fraud

Rules with deception and trickery

Ruby silver slippers

Ruby (Silver) Slippers

“Free Silver”

Could have used her shoes at any time to return home = ability of people to control $

Lost shoes upon return to Kansas = end of Silver Movement

Winged monkeys

Winged Monkeys

“once we were a free people, living happily in the great forest, flying from tree to tree, eating nuts and fruit, and doing just as we pleased without calling anybody master.”

Represents: Plains Indians

The message

The Message

  • “Those forces that keep the farmer and worker down are manipulated by frauds who rule by deception and trickery; the President is powerful only as long as he is able to manipulate images and fool the people.”

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