The wizard of oz
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The Wizard of Oz:. The Wizard of Oz:. A Parable About the Populist Party. L. Frank Baum. A member of the “PEOPLE’S Party.”. Dorothy.

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The wizard of oz

The Wizard of Oz:

The Wizard of Oz:

A Parable About the Populist Party

L frank baum
L. Frank Baum

  • A member of the “PEOPLE’S Party.”


  • Dorothy is Baum’s “Miss Everyman.” She represents the American people at their best: Independent, resourceful, kindhearted, honest. She is the all-American girl from the heartland.

  • Mary Lease, a farmer and head of the National Farmer’s Alliance.

  • Lease was from Kansas, a Populist Party stronghold.


Temperance and Prohibition Party

“Teetotalers”-Pledge to drink tea rather than alcohol.

  • Important allies of the Populists in the Free Silver Coalition.

Miss gulch
Miss Gulch

  • Banks/Farmer’s Mortgages.

  • Miss Gulch threatens to take away Dorothy’s family farm.

Cyclone populism
Cyclone: Populism

  • Populist Party came in like a tornado and lifted the farmers out of their mindset (Paradigms).

Munchkinland a foreign new world for dorothy
Munchkinland: A foreign, new world for Dorothy…

  • “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…”

  • World of the East Coast: Banking, industrial/commercial and political


The good witches from the north and the south
The Good Witches from the North and the South

Northern & Southern Farmers Alliances:

(The Farmers Alliances created the Populist Party)

Political power is like witchcraft…

-some use the power for good, some for evil purposes.

Death of the wicked witch of the east
Death of the Wicked Witch of the East

  • The Wicked Witch of the East represents

    the Eastern banking/industrial establishment.

    -The Witch dies when when a farmhouse falls on her…ironically, she is killed by the the very thing the banks take away from from farmers when they cannot pay their bills.

    -With President Cleveland (the Great Obstructionist) dead, there was a chance for the silver standard.


  • “Little people” enslaved by the Wicked Witch of the East, who takes regular people and makes them small. Dorothy freed them from the Wicked Witch of the East.

  • Muchkins also represent child labor.

  • The Lollipop Guild

Yellow brick road
Yellow Brick Road

  • The Gold Standard.

  • The Populists believed that the gold standard, like the yellow brick road, had many pitfalls for ordinary people.


  • Bimetalism: Easing the money supply and giving Americans greater access to credit.

  • Salvation for farmers. Bryan used the imagery in his famous “Cross of Gold” speech.

  • Dorothy does not understand the power of her silver shoes so she heads down the treacherous yellow brick road (Silver and gold)


  • Bimetalism- 16:1 ounces (oz.)

  • 16 oz. of silver would = 1 oz. of gold


  • Shows the stupidity of farmers who were once enlightened, shrewd, and capable; but, now stood powerless in the face of industrialization.

  • Prejudicial notion that farmers were not smart enough to recognize their own interests and felt too intimidated to enter the realm of politics.

  • Not respected, not even by the crows. Dorothy tells him to wake up!

Tin man
Tin Man

  • Industrial workers: He had once been human; but, the Wicked Witch of the East put a curse on his axe. With every swing of his axe, he had chopped off a part of his body (Industrial accidents).

  • Dehumanized by factory labor, he had rusted solid, symbolizing the closing of factories during the depression of 1893.

  • He also represents the hardened worker.

Cowardly lion
Cowardly Lion

  • William Jennings Bryan: Democratic nominee for president in 1896 and endorsed by the Populist Party.

  • When the Cowardly Lion first meets Dorothy and her companions, he strikes the Tin Man but does not make a dent in his metal body (Bryan failed to win the vote of industrial labor).

  • Baum revealed his skepticism about politicians through the Lion.

  • Bryan may have been a great orator, but despite his roar, he had no REAL power. “All bark by no bite.”

  • He didn’t have the power to get it done.

We re off to see the wizard
We’re off to see the Wizard…

  • The group journeys to Oz, representing Washington DC, remniscent of the march on Washington DC that occurred in winter of 1893-94.

  • Jacob Coxey organized a small group of unemployed workers to march on the capital in an effort to convince the government to put more money into circulation and use those funds for public works programs, to put people back to work.

  • Coxey’s army was modest and easily put down. It was a unique event because they looked to the federal government to sponsor this program.

Emerald city
Emerald City

  • Washington D.C.

  • In the book, the Emerald City it is bland white. People are required to wear green glasses upon entry to give the city the illusion of being emerald colored.

  • Represents disillusionment of the government.

  • Greenbacks (Increasing the amount of money in circulation as done during the Civil War).

The wicked witch of the west
The Wicked Witch of the West

  • Malignant nature and the factors farmers in the West dealt with while trying to make a living:

  • Infertile soil & drought.

  • Railroad companies (Rates/renatl siloh rates)

  • She wanted Dorothy to give up her silver slippers (Bimetalism)


  • Native Americans

  • Were once free in the forests until Oz ruled the land.

  • Another difficult factor for farmers who wanted their land out West (Associated with the Wicked Witch of the West)

Wicked witch of the west s guards
Wicked Witch of the West’s Guards

  • Federal Troops: Sent by the government to help the Railroads.

Death of the wicked witch in the west
Death of the Wicked Witch in the West

  • In order to get what they want, the Wizard tells them to kill the Wicked Witch of the West who represents the destructive forces of nature.

  • Dorothy kills by dousing her with a bucket of water, symbolizing the drought that had been plaguing the West in the 1890’s.

The wizard of oz1
The Wizard of Oz

  • President McKinley (Or any Gilded Age President)

  • The Wizard’s power is an illusion/Like the President.

  • Therefore, it is misguided to look to the Wizard/President for solutions.

  • The Wizard did not want to see the people (No one ever saw him) which made everyone fearful, even though he is just a regular person (Just like the President).

  • With the presentation of the broom, the Wizard is exposed as a fraud and becomes nothing more than a common man.

  • The Wizard was lazzaie fare with the group and they took care of the Witch themselves. He had no power…the group did.

  • Reminder: We are the government.

The wizard of oz cont
The Wizard of Oz cont.

  • Gilded Age Politicians:

  • In the book, the Wizard appears to be a giant head to Dorothy, to the scarecrow, a gossamer fairy, to the Tin Man as a beast and to the Cowardly Lion as a ball of fire…just as politicians try to be all things to all people.

  • Fake, hidden behind a curtain.

  • Like every good politician, he gives the people what they want. The Wizard manages to provide everyone with something to satisfy their desire.

You had the power all along
“You Had the Power All Along”

  • Dorothy doesn’t understand the power she possesses.

  • She learns of her power in the end of the story.

  • Look to yourselves for the solution.

  • The characters pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

  • Every character possesses the virtues they doubt.

  • Scarecrow left in charge of Oz.

  • There was no Wizard…the people had the power all along…that is what America is all about.

There s no place like home
“There’s No Place Like Home”

  • Dorothy, like all farmers, always had the power to “return home” and to gain power.

  • By simply clicking her silver heels together (Swtitching to the 16:1 oz standard) and returning home to her all-American, Midwestern values.

There s no place like home cont
There’s No Place Like Home Cont.

  • A return to the pre-industrial America

  • Backward-looking/conservative.

  • Simple, small town America before

    immigrants and freedman.

  • Anti-modernity. Xenophobic.

  • Honoring Farmers and bringing respect to the Republican Farmer.


  • Ideally, the Populist Party were victorious because the people had the power all along and they were courageous enough to prove it. The fake “Wizard”(President) leaves Oz in the hands of the Scarecrow (Jeffersonian farmer).

  • As a result of the Populist victory, Dorothy is able to return “home” to pre-industrial America.

A dream
A Dream????

  • When Dorothy wakes up, she realizes that it was just a dream…nothing has changed.

  • Or has it? We are more enlightened.

  • What do you think Baum was trying to do by writing this story?

Populist successes
Populist Successes:

  • Never gain the Presidency…

  • However they influence the passage of the following Democratic Reforms:

  • 1) Secret Ballot

  • 2) Senators selected by popular votes.