Populist Party and the Wizard of Oz
Farmer’s Problems in the late 1800s
- Add the silver standard to the gold standard
- Increase in money supply (inflation)
- Increase in prices for farm products
- Political party formed by farmers
- Wanted major changes in gov’t
- Income tax (more income = pay more taxes)
- 8 hr. work day (attempt to gain support from factory workers)
Populism & The Wizard of Oz…
The Gold Standard
- The value of money is linked to the money supply.
What might represent gold?
- Up until and after the Civil War, all dollars issued in the U.S. could only be backed by, and could only be redeemed for, gold.
- Yellow Brick Road represents the gold standard, a road that looks hopeful, but leads nowhere.
Yellow Brick Road and Oz
- “ Oz” represents “oz.” or the abbreviation for ounce, the standard measure for gold.
- Faced low crop prices, high machinery prices, and high tariffs.
- Tariff - fees on imported goods that discourage buyers from purchasing imports
- Midwestern farmers were very pro-Populist. They wanted to increase money supply by backing dollars with silver.
Who represents the farmers?
- A silver standard would increase inflation and raise crop prices.
- Represented the struggling Midwestern farmer at the turn of the century
- In Baum’s version, Scarecrow rules Emerald City after Oz is dethroned.
- Baum predicted that farmers would gain political power.
- Eastern industrial workers were anti-Populist because they didn’t want their wages cut due to inflation.
Who represents the industrial workers?
- Baum viewed these workers as victims who had become mechanized and dehumanized.
- Represented the urban industrial worker who was enslaved to heartless industries
- In making the Tin Man rule the West, Baum predicted that industry would move west.
William Jennings Bryan
- Congressman from Nebraska who ran for President from the Populist party in 1896.
- A skilled orator--gave the Cross of Gold speech
Who represents Bryan?
- Advocated heavily for bimetalism.
- Represented William Jennings Bryan
- Described as having a loud roar, but little else--Bryan lost to McKinley by 95 electoral votes
- In having the Lion protect smaller beasts in a “small old forest,” Baum predicted that Bryan would return to Congress.
President William McKinley
- The Republican candidate in the 1896 race for Presidency--anti-Populist.
Who represents McKinley?
- Baum viewed McKinley as not being as powerful or wise as the facade that he put forth.
- Baum saw these people as ‘slaves’ of the eastern banking and industrial interests.
Who represented these oppressed people?
- They were anti-Populist because they didn’t want their wages to decline in value due to inflation.
- The “little people” in America whose power had been taken away by big business and industry
- The Munchkins were slaves to whom in the story?
Wicked Witch of the West
- Symbolizes large industrial corporations that Baum thought oppressed “the little guy”
- Is thought to represent Americans, who Baum viewed as good-natured, but naïve.
- Represented the Prohibitionist Party.
- “ Toto” is a play on the term “T-Totalers,” or people who drank no alcohol.
- Thought to represent Washington, D.C. and the color of green American dollars.
Glenda the Good Witch
- Was the Good Witch of the North, a pro-Populist region.
- Showed Baum’s sympathy for the plight of Native Americans
- “ Once . . . We were a free people living happily in the great forest . . . This was many years ago before Oz came out of the clouds to rule over this land.”
- Inflation - the greater the amount of money in print, the less the money is worth
- money in print = worth
- Deflation - purposely reducing the money supply so that the value of each dollar increases
- money in print = worth
- Money supply - the amount of money in a nation’s economy; the greater the money supply, the less each dollar is worth
- As money supply , value of dollar (inflation)
- As money supply , value of dollar (deflation)
- Gold Standard - the government only produces a dollar if it possesses $1.00 worth of gold to “back it up”
- Populists - political party that demanded radical changes in federal, economic, and social policies
- Wanted to increase money supply--and cause inflation--by having a silver standard in addition to the gold standard