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Populism & the Election of 1896. What were some of the major problems facing farmers during the Gilded Age ??. Can ’ t compete with corporate farms Reliance on cash crops Falling prices & overproduction Rising costs: expensive goods, Railroads rates, land taxes
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Populism & the Election of 1896
What were some of the major problems facing farmers during the Gilded Age ??
Can’t compete with corporate farms Reliance on cash crops Falling prices & overproduction Rising costs: expensive goods, Railroads rates, land taxes Mortgage foreclosures and debts - want more $ in circulation Problems for Small Farmers
The Silver Issue • “Crime of ’73” demonetization ofsilver. • Bland-Allison Act (1878) limitedsilver coinage to $2-$4 mil. per month(16:1 ratio of silver to gold). • Sherman Silver Purchase Act (1890) • The US Treasury must purchase$4.5 mil. oz. of silver a month. • BUT, deposited most silver in theUS Treasury rather than in circulation.
Populism: An Agrarian Revolt
The Grange Movement • First organized in 1868. 1870s in the Midwest, the South, and Texas. • Set up “cooperative associations”. • Social and educational components. • Succeeded in lobbying for “Granger Laws.” - regulated railroad rates and grain storage • Rapidly declined by the late 1870s.
Supreme Court Decisions • Munn v. Illinois (1877) - state may regulate railroads within state - farmers happy • “The Wabash Case”(1886) Wabash, St. Louis, & Pacific Railroad Company v. Illinois - states can’t regulate interstate commerce - farmers sad
The Farmers Alliances • Begun in the late 1880s (Texas first Southern Alliance; Midwest Northern Alliance). • 1 million members by 1890 • More political than the Grange - Ran candidates for office. • Controlled 8 state legislatures & had 47representatives in Congress during the 1890s. “Raise less corn and more hell!”
United We Stand, Divided We Fall • In 1889 both the Northern andSouthern Alliancesmerged into one—the Farmers’ Alliance.
The Populist (Peoples’) Party • Founded by James B. Weaverand Tom Watson. • Omaha Convention in July,1892. • Almost 1 million popularvotes. • Won Several Congressional seats James B. Weaver, Presidential Candidate &James G. Field, VP
Omaha Platform of 1892 Expanded the earlier “Ocala Demands” of 1890 “Bimetalism” - free silver Replace National Bank with Government-operated postal savings banks. System of “sub-treasuries” Direct election of Senators. Australian secret ballot. A single term for President & Vice President. Gov. ownership of RRs, telephone & telegraph companies. Restriction of undesirable immigration. 8-hour work day for government employees. Abolition of the Pinkerton detective agency.
The Panic of 1893
Causes of the 1893 Panic • Begun 10 days after Cleveland took office. 1. Several major corps. went bankrupt (sparked by railroad overinvestment). • Over 16,000 businesses collapsed. • Triggered a stock market crash. • 2. Bank failures caused a contractionof credit - nearly 500 banks closed - panic! • 3. By 1895, unemployment - 3 million. • Americans cried out for relief, but the Government & Cleveland = laissez faire policies
Coxey’s Army, 1894 • Jacob Coxey & his “Army of the Commonwealth of Christ.” • March on Washington “hayseed socialists!” arrested for trespassing
Result of 1894 Election • Populist voteincreased by40%. • Democratic party losses in the West werecatastrophic! • But, Republicanswon control of the House.
The 1896 Election
William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) The “Great Commoner”
William Jennings Bryan Prairie avenger, mountain lion, Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, Gigantic troubadour, speaking like a siege gun, Smashing Plymouth Rock with his boulders from the West. • Revivalist style of oratory.
Bryan’s“Cross of Gold” Speech “You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns; you shall not crucify mankind upon across of gold!”
Bryan: The Farmers Friend(The Mint Ratio) 18,000 miles of campaign “whistle stops.”
Democratic Party Taken Over by the Agrarian Left Platform tariff reductions; income tax; strictercontrol of the trusts (esp. RRs); free silver.
The Seasoned Politician vs. The “Young” Newcomer
Why Did Bryan Lose? • His focus on silver underminedefforts to build bridges to urbanvoters. • He did not form alliances withother groups. • McKinley’s campaign was well-organized and highly funded by big business $$$$$$$.
Gold Triumphs Over Silver • 1900 GoldStandard Act • A victory for the forces ofconservatism.
End of the stalemate and stagnation of Gilded Age Era of Republican dominance (7 of next 9 presidential elections and both Houses for 17 of next 20 sessions) as the party of business, industry and strong national government Demise of Populists - but many goals live on and will be adopted by Progressives & FDR Urban dominance of America Beginning of modern politics - media & $$$$ Why was the 1896 Election so significant?