Populism - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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  1. Populism

  2. Gold Standard and Silver Standard • Gold standard meant that the gov’t would use gold as the basis for the country’s currency • With the Coinage Act of 1873, the government would now only produce gold coins • “Crime of 1873” by those in favor of minting silver dollars • People involved in international trade believed that silver money would undermine the U.S. economy

  3. Nightmare on Main Street • During the late 1880s and 1890s many Americans went westward in search of the American dream; for others this time period became a nightmare filled with struggle • low prices for crops and high prices for transportation made it hard to earn a living as a farmer • debts rose

  4. Prices Plummet • In the mid 1890s, cotton, corn and wheat prices were less than half of what they had been in the 1870s • The price of producing the crops was the same or higher • they couldn’t just produce more because that would flood the market and prices would drop more • Machinery and livestock was expensive • Farm reform was not a primary concern for most lawmakers

  5. Farmers Unite • Farmers in the Midwest, South and West organized themselves into networks in order to address their problems • Granger movement, or “Patrons of Husbandry” was the first • It attracted close to one million members • They tried to improve farming techniques through education and called for regulations on railroad rates as well as grain elevator rates

  6. Alliances lead to Protests • Farmers’ alliances became important for the reform movement • They became cooperatives and sold their crops collectively • They hoped that these would make the cost of doing business go down and the prices of crops go up • Some of their measures worked

  7. Populist Party Emerges • The People’s Party, or the Populist Party, formed in 1892 with the spread of the Farmers’ Alliances • The party warned the people of political corruption, unresponsive government, and inadequate monetary supply • To fight low prices, they wanted to coin silver, they also wanted the government to own the railroads • Some even called for women’s suffrage

  8. Mild successes • In the 1892 presidential election, the Populists had some success and even had some members elected to Congress • In 1896, William Jennings Bryan was selected as the Democratic presidential candidate (Populists liked him and did not nominate a separate candidate) and William McKinley as the Republican • Bryan gave his famous “Cross of Gold” speech but was touted as a dictator by Republicans

  9. McKinley Wins…Twice Mckinleyv. Bryan Populism loses favor Defeats in the 1896 and 1900 presidential elections weakened the party so much that it was not longer a threat to major parties; however, some Populist initiatives became a reality (like RR regulations) • McKinley wins the 1896 election over Bryan and again in 1900 • Bryan’s emphasis on “free silver” did not go over well with urban workers • He advocated sound money and promised high tariffs would restore the economy

  10. The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum • Supposedly, it goes like this: • Dorothy and Toto get swept away from Kansas to Oz by a cyclone (Free Silver movement) • The Yellow Brick Road represents the Gold Standard and Dorothy’s silver shoes, the Silver or bimetallic standard • The Emerald City is D.C. and the Wizard is the President

  11. Other Symbols • The Scarecrow is a farmer, the Tin man is a dehumanized industrial worker and the Cowardly Lion is William Jennings Bryan • The Wicked Witch of the West (the one with the monkeys) and East (she gets the house dropped on her) are the wealthy railroad of the West or possibly natural phenomenon and the financial industries of the East • The munchkins were the controlled people • Literary historians argue whether or not Baum meant this story to be an allegory or if he even supported Populism