Populism “What you farmers need to do is raise less corn and more Hell!” Mary Elizabeth Lease (1890) Populist Organizer
Populist Movement and FARMER'S REVOLT
By the late 1800’s hardship had replaced the prosperity that farm families enjoyed after the Civil War.
American farmers now faced hard times because of their own overproduction of crops.
Many would blame the farmers for their own problems because they didn’t follow the economic belief of “supply and demand”
3 Populism: What?
Political movement that tried to help out the nation’s struggling farmers
4 Populism Why? Farmers were in trouble because of... 1. Mechanization - More machines = more debt 2. New Farm Land More land (on credit) = more debt
5 Populism Why? Farmers were in trouble because of... 3. Specialization of Crops - Farmers only raise one crop (leads to trouble if that crop has problems) 4. Disasters - floods, boll-weevil, grasshoppers
Price Indexes for Consumer & FarmProducts: 1865-1913
7 Populism Why? Farmers were in trouble because of... 5. Corporate Greed Barbed wire trust, Harvester Trust, Fertilizer Trust, Banks, and Railroads "The Iron Horse Which Eats Up The Farmers' Produce.” 1873
8 The Grange What?
Farmer’s Union founded by Oliver Kelly (MN)
Cooperative movement - farmers pooled their money to make shared purchases of machinery, supplies, insurance, etc.
Worked for pro-farmer laws
Ex. Interstate Commerce Act - regulated rates of railroads
Government Regulation In 1887, Congress passed the Interstate Commerce Act that setup the ICC. The federal government has the ability to regulate all aspects of interstate commerce. Rebates and drawbacks were illegal. Interstate Commerce Commission(1887) In 1890, Congress passed this act which prohibited monopolies or any business that prevented fair competition. ShermanAntitrust Act(1890) 1st LAWS TO REGULATE BIG BUSINESS With the rise of the Populist Movement: Big Business is regulated
10 Populist Party & Free Silver Why?
Populists believed that this would solve nearly all of the farmer’s problems
They wanted to use both silver and gold coins, thus increasing the amount of money in the country
All money would be worth less, a situation that was bad for creditors (big banks) and good for debtors (farmers)
SILVERITES VS GOLD BUGS
Silverites or farmers wanted an increase in the money supply, the amount of money in the national economy. As a result, the value of every dollar drops, leading to a widespread rise in prices, or inflation.
This trend would benefit people who borrow money (farmers), but it would not be good for money lenders (banks). A decrease in the money supply would cause deflation.
Monetary policy, the federal government’s plan for the makeup and quantity of the nation’s money supply, thus emerged as a major political issue.
SILVERITES VS GOLD BUGS
Gold bugs were against this because with a smaller money supply prices would drop and each dollar buys more.
This would take the US off the gold standard and hurt our credibility in the International trade markets who were on the gold standard. Good for people who lent money
Before 1873 U.S. currency was on a bimetallic standard, consisting of gold and silver.
Then Congress put the currency on a gold standard which decreased the money supply. “Gold bugs” (big lenders) were pleased.
13 A Populist President? William Jennings Bryan
Ran as a Populist President in 1896 on platform of Free Silver
Big business opposes his run, Republicans win the white house, & Populists fade away
“You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold” -- W.J. Bryan
14 The Wizard of Oz
Written by Active Populist L. Frank Baum
Most things in the book represent something important to the populist movement
Gold Triumphs Over Silver
McKinley defeats Bryan in the 1896 election.
1900 Gold Standard Act
Confirmed the nation’s commitment to the gold standard.
A victory for the forces of conservatism.
16 The Wizard of Oz Basic Symbols: Ruby Slippers - In the book, were actually “Silver Slippers” (magic of Free Silver) - “Gold” many dangers for regular people (like Dorothy) Yellow Brick Road
17 The Wizard of Oz Characters: Dorothy - Everyman Scarecrow - Farmers Tin Man -Industrial Workers
18 The Wizard of Oz Characters: Cowardly Lion - William Jennings Byran(a pacifist) Toto Temperance Activists (allies of the Populists) Wizard - President of the United States
19 The Wizard of Oz Places: Emerald City - Washington D.C. (in the book, the color came from Green Glasses that everyone wore, a trick) Good Witches of North & South - Directions where Populists had friends (Midwest and South)