Peoples Party (United States)The Peoples Party, also known as the "Populists", was a short-lived political party in theUni...
hostile to the needs of the small farmer. The movement reached its peak in 1892 when the partyheld a convention chaired by...
cooperation, but after the election would recant any hope he had in the possibility of cooperationas a viable tool.[8] Bry...
restructure American life, and for others they are economically hard-pressed agrarians seekinggovernment relief. Much rece...
launched large-scale incorporated businesses, and pressed for an array of state-centered reforms.Hundreds of thousands of ...
Kittel Halvorson, Minnesotas 6th congressional district      William A. McKeighan, Nebraskas 2nd congressional district   ...
Harry Skinner, North Carolinas 1st congressional district       John E. Fowler, North Carolinas 3rd congressional district...
served in the Forty-sixth Congress from 1879 to 1881, but in 1880 was nominated for thepresidency instead of re-election t...
People’s Party (populist party)In 1891, the farmers alliances met with delegates from labor and reform groups in Cincinnat...
Banking Reform. The Populists believed that much of their economic hardship had been       caused by bankers unfair practi...
leader on the left in the 1890s, calling on poor whites (and poor blacks) to unite against       the elites. However after...
The masthead of Watsons newspaper in 1894 declared that it "is now and will ever be a fearlessadvocate of the Jeffersonian...
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Populist party

  1. 1. Peoples Party (United States)The Peoples Party, also known as the "Populists", was a short-lived political party in theUnited States established in 1891 during the Populist movement (United States, 19th Century). Itwas most important in 1892-96, then rapidly faded away. Based among poor, white cottonfarmers in the South (especially North Carolina, Alabama, and Texas) and hard-pressed wheatfarmers in the plains states (especially Kansas and Nebraska), it represented a radical crusadingform of agrarianism and hostility to banks, railroads, and elites generally. It sometimes formedcoalitions with labor unions, and in 1896 the Democrats endorsed their presidential nominee,William Jennings Bryan. The terms "populist" and "populism" are commonly used for anti-elitistappeals in opposition to established interests and mainstream parties.HistoryFormationA Peoples Party grew out of agrarian unrest in response to low agricultural prices in the Southand the trans-Mississippi West.[1] The Farmers Alliance, formed in Lampasas, TX in 1876,promoted collective economic action by farmers and achieved widespread popularity in theSouth and Great Plains. The Farmers Alliance ultimately did not achieve its wider economicgoals of collective economic action against brokers, railroads, and merchants, and many in themovement agitated for changes in national policy. By the late 1880s, the Alliance had developeda political agenda that called for regulation and reform in national politics, most notably anopposition to the gold standard to counter the high deflation in agricultural prices in relation toother goods such as farm implements.In December 1888 the National Agricultural Wheel and the Southern Farmer’s Alliance met atMeridian, Mississippi. In that meeting they decided to consolidate the two parties pendingratification. This consolidation gave the organization a new name, the Farmers and Laborers’Union of America, and by 1889 the merger had been ratified, although there were conflictsbetween ―conservative‖ Alliance men and ―political‖ Wheelers in Texas and Arkansas, whichdelayed the unification in these states until 1890 and 1891 respectively. The merger eventuallyunited white Southern Alliance and Wheel members, but it would not include African Americanmembers of agricultural organizations.[2]During their move towards consolidation in 1889, the leaders of both Southern Farmers’ Allianceand the Agricultural Wheel organizations contacted Terence V. Powderly, leader of the Knightsof Labor. ―This contact between leaders of the farmers’ movement and Powderly helped pave theway for a series of reform conferences held between December 1889 and July 1892 that resultedin the formation of the national People’s (or Populist) Party.‖[3]The drive to create a new political party out of the movement arose from the belief that the twomajor parties Democrats and Republicans were controlled by bankers, landowners and elites
  2. 2. hostile to the needs of the small farmer. The movement reached its peak in 1892 when the partyheld a convention chaired by Frances Willard (leader of the WCTU and a friend of Powderlys)[4]in Omaha, Nebraska and nominated candidates for the national election.The partys platform, commonly known as the Omaha Platform, called for the abolition ofnational banks, a graduated income tax, direct election of Senators, civil service reform, aworking day of eight hours and Government control of all railroads, telegraphs, and telephones.In the 1892 Presidential election, James B. Weaver received 1,027,329 votes. Weaver carriedfour states (Colorado, Kansas, Idaho, and Nevada) and received electoral votes from Oregon andNorth Dakota as well.The party flourished most among farmers in the Southwest and Great Plains, as well as makingsignificant gains in the South, where they faced an uphill battle given the firmly entrenchedmonopoly of the Democratic Party. Success was often obtained through electoral fusion, with theDemocrats outside the South, but with alliances with the Republicans in Southern states likeAlabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.[5] For example, in the elections of 1894, acoalition of Populists and Republicans led by Populist Marion Butler swept state and localoffices in North Carolina, and the coalition would go on to elect Republican Daniel LindsayRussell as Governor in 1896.[6]Quite separate from the Populists were the Silverites in the western mining states, whodemanded Free silver to solve the Panic of 1893.The Populists followed the Prohibition Party in actively including women in their affairs. Somesouthern Populists, including Thomas E. Watson of Georgia, openly talked of the need for poorblacks and poor whites to set aside their racial differences in the name of shared economic self-interest. Regardless of these rhetoric appeals, however, racism did not evade the Peoples Party.Prominent Populist Party leaders such as Marion Butler, a United States Senator from NorthCarolina, at least partially demonstrated a dedication to the cause of white supremacy, and thereappears to have been some support for this viewpoint among the rank-and-file of the partysmembership.[7] After 1900 Watson himself became an outspoken white supremacist and becamethe partys presidential nominee in 1904 and 1908, winning 117,000 and 29,000 votes.Presidential election of 1896By 1896, the Democratic Party took up many of the Peoples Partys causes at the national level,and the party began to fade from national prominence. In that years presidential election, theDemocrats nominated William Jennings Bryan, who focused (as Populists rarely did) on the freesilver issue as a solution to the economic depression and the maldistribution of power. One of thegreat orators of the day, Bryan generated enormous excitement among Democrats with his"Cross of Gold" speech, and appeared in the summer of 1896 to have a good chance of winningthe election, if the Populists voted for him.The Populists had the choice of endorsing Bryan or running their own candidate. After greatinfighting at their St. Louis convention they decided to endorse Bryan but with their own vicepresidential nominee, Thomas E. Watson of Georgia. Watson was cautiously open to
  3. 3. cooperation, but after the election would recant any hope he had in the possibility of cooperationas a viable tool.[8] Bryans strength was based on the traditional Democratic vote (minus themiddle class and the Germans); he swept the old Populist strongholds in the west and South, andadded the silverite states in the west, but did poorly in the industrial heartland. He lost toRepublican William McKinley by a margin of 600,000 votes, and lost again in a rematch in 1900by a larger margin.[9][edit] Fading fortunesThe effects of fusion with the Democrats were disastrous to the Party in the South. ThePopulist/Republican alliance which had governed North Carolina fell apart in North Carolina, theonly state in which it had any success. By 1898, the Democrats used a violently racist campaignto defeat the North Carolina Populists and GOP and in 1900 the Democrats ushered indisfranchisement.[10]Populism never recovered from the failure of 1896. For example, Tennessee’s Populist Party wasdemoralized by a diminishing membership, and puzzled and split by the dilemma of whether tofight the state-level enemy (the Democrats) or the national foe (the Republicans and Wall Street).By 1900 the People’s Party of Tennessee was a shadow of what it once was[11]In 1900, while many Populist voters supported Bryan again, the weakened party nominated aseparate ticket of Wharton Barker and Ignatius L. Donnelly, and disbanded afterwards. Populistactivists either retired from politics, joined a major party, or followed Eugene Debs into his newSocialist Party.[edit] ReorganizationIn 1904, the party was re-organized, and Thomas E. Watson was their nominee for president in1904 and in 1908, after which the party disbanded again.[edit] Historians look at PopulismSince the 1890s historians have vigorously debated the nature of Populism; most scholars havebeen liberals who admired the Populists for their attacks on banks and railroads. Some historianssee a close link between the Populists of the 1890s and the progressives of 1900-1912, but mostof the leading progressives (except Bryan himself) fiercely opposed Populism. Thus TheodoreRoosevelt, George W. Norris, Robert LaFollette, William Allen White and Woodrow Wilsonstrongly opposed Populism. It is debated whether any Populist ideas made their way into theDemocratic party during the New Deal era. The New Deal farm programs were designed byexperts (like Henry Wallace) who had nothing to do with Populism.[12]Some historians see the populists as forward-looking liberal reformers. Others view them asreactionaries trying to recapture an idyllic and utopian past. For some they are radicals out to
  4. 4. restructure American life, and for others they are economically hard-pressed agrarians seekinggovernment relief. Much recent scholarship emphasizes Populisms debt to early Americanrepublicanism.[13] Clanton (1991) stresses that Populism was "the last significant expression ofan old radical tradition that derived from Enlightenment sources that had been filtered through apolitical tradition that bore the distinct imprint of Jeffersonian, Jacksonian, and Lincolniandemocracy." This tradition emphasized human rights over the cash nexus of the Gilded Agesdominant ideology.[14]Frederick Jackson Turner and a succession of western historians depicted the Populist asresponding to the closure of the frontier. Turner explained: The Farmers Alliance and the Populist demand for government ownership of the railroad is a phase of the same effort of the pioneer farmer, on his latest frontier. The proposals have taken increasing proportions in each region of Western Advance. Taken as a whole, Populism is a manifestation of the old pioneer ideals of the native American, with the added element of increasing readiness to utilize the national government to effect its ends.[15]The most influential Turner student of Populism was John D. Hicks, who emphasized economicpragmatism over ideals, presenting Populism as interest group politics, with have-notsdemanding their fair share of Americas wealth which was being leeched off by nonproductivespeculators. Hicks emphasized the drought that ruined so many Kansas farmers, but also pointedto financial manipulations, deflation in prices caused by the gold standard, high interest rates,mortgage foreclosures, and high railroad rates. Corruption accounted for such outrages andPopulists presented popular control of government as the solution, a point that later students ofrepublicanism emphasized.[16]In the 1930s C. Vann Woodward stressed the southern base, seeing the possibility of a black-and-white coalition of poor against the overbearing rich. Georgia politician Tom Watson servedas Woodwards hero.[17] In the 1950s, however, scholars such as Richard Hofstadter portrayedthe Populist movement as an irrational response of backward-looking farmers to the challengesof modernity. He discounted third party links to Progressivism and argued that Populists wereprovincial, conspiracy-minded, and had a tendency toward scapegoatism that manifested itself asnativism, anti-Semitism, anti-intellectualism, and Anglophobia. The antithesis of anti-modernPopulism was modernizing Progressivism according to Hofstadters model, with such leadingprogressives as Theodore Roosevelt, Robert LaFollette, George Norris and Woodrow Wilsonpointed as having been vehement enemies of Populism, though William Jennings Bryan didcooperate with them and accepted the Populist nomination in 1896.[18]Michael Kazins The Populist Persuasion (1995) argued that Populism reflected a rhetorical stylethat manifested itself in spokesmen like Father Charles Coughlin in the 1930s and GovernorGeorge Wallace in the 1960s.Postel (2007) rejects the notion that the Populists were traditionalistic and anti-modern. Quite thereverse, he argued, the Populists aggressively sought self-consciously progressive goals. Theysought diffusion of scientific and technical knowledge, formed highly centralized organizations,
  5. 5. launched large-scale incorporated businesses, and pressed for an array of state-centered reforms.Hundreds of thousands of women committed to Populism seeking a more modern life, education,and employment in schools and offices. A large section of the labor movement looked toPopulism for answers, forging a political coalition with farmers that gave impetus to theregulatory state. Progress, however, was also menacing and inhumane, Postel notes. WhitePopulists, embraced social-Darwinist notions of racial improvement, Chinese exclusion andseparate-but-equal.[19]Elected officialsGovernors Colorado: Davis Hanson Waite, 1893–1895 Idaho: Frank Steunenberg, 1897–1901 (Fusion of Democrats and Populists) Kansas: Lorenzo D. Lewelling, 1893–1895 Kansas: John W. Leedy, 1897–1899 Nebraska: Silas A. Holcomb, 1895–1899 (Fusion of Democrats and Populists) Nebraska: William A. Poynter, 1899–1901 (Fusion of Democrats and Populists) North Carolina: Daniel Lindsay Russell, 1897–1901 (Coalition of Republicans and Populists) Oregon: Sylvester Pennoyer, 1887–1895 (Fusion of Democrats and Populists) South Dakota: Andrew E. Lee, 1897–1901 Tennessee: John P. Buchanan, 1891–1893 Washington: John Rogers, 1897–1901 (Fusion of Democrats and Populists)United States CongressApproximately forty-five members of the party served in the U.S. Congress between 1891 and1902. These included six United States Senators: William A. Peffer and William A. Harris from Kansas Marion Butler of North Carolina James H. Kyle from South Dakota Henry Heitfeld of Idaho William V. Allen from NebraskaThe following were Populist members of the U.S. House of Representatives:52nd United States Congress Thomas E. Watson, Georgias 10th congressional district Benjamin Hutchinson Clover, Kansass 3rd congressional district John Grant Otis, Kansass 4th congressional district John Davis, Kansass 5th congressional district William Baker, Kansass 6th congressional district Jerry Simpson, Kansass 7th congressional district
  6. 6. Kittel Halvorson, Minnesotas 6th congressional district William A. McKeighan, Nebraskas 2nd congressional district Omer Madison Kem, Nebraskas 3rd congressional district53rd United States Congress Haldor Boen, Minnesotas 7th congressional district Marion Cannon, Californias 6th congressional district Lafayette Pence, Colorados 1st congressional district John Calhoun Bell, Colorados 2nd congressional district Thomas Jefferson Hudson, Kansass 3rd congressional district John Davis, Kansas 5th congressional district William Baker, Kansas 6th congressional district Jerry Simpson, Kansas 7th congressional district William A. Harris, Kansas Member-at-large William A. McKeighan, Nebraskas 5th congressional district Omer Madison Kem, Nebraskas 6th congressional district Alonzo C. Shuford, North Carolinas 7th congressional district54th United States Congress Albert Taylor Goodwyn, Alabamas 5th congressional district Milford W. Howard, Alabamas 7th congressional district William Baker, Kansas 6th congressional district Omer Madison Kem, Nebraskas 6th congressional district Harry Skinner, North Carolinas 1st congressional district William F. Strowd, North Carolinas 4th congressional district Charles H. Martin (1848–1931), North Carolinas 6th congressional district Alonzo C. Shuford, North Carolinas 7th congressional district55th United States Congress Albert Taylor Goodwyn, Alabamas 5th congressional district Charles A. Barlow, Californias 6th congressional district Curtis H. Castle, Californias 7th congressional district James Gunn, Idahos 1st congressional district Mason Summers Peters, Kansass 2nd congressional district Edwin Reed Ridgely, Kansass 3rd congressional district William Davis Vincent, Kansass 5th congressional district Nelson B. McCormick, Kansass 6th congressional district Jerry Simpson, Kansass 7th congressional district Jeremiah Dunham Botkin, Kansas Member-at-large Samuel Maxwell, Nebraskas 3rd congressional district William Ledyard Stark, Nebraskas 4th congressional district Roderick Dhu Sutherland, Nebraskas 5th congressional district William Laury Greene, Nebraskas 6th congressional district
  7. 7. Harry Skinner, North Carolinas 1st congressional district John E. Fowler, North Carolinas 3rd congressional district William F. Strowd, North Carolinas 4th congressional district Charles H. Martin, North Carolinas 5th congressional district Alonzo C. Shuford, North Carolinas 7th congressional district John Edward Kelley, South Dakotas 1st congressional district Freeman T. Knowles, South Dakotas 2nd congressional district56th United States Congress William Ledyard Stark, Nebraskas 4th congressional district Roderick Dhu Sutherland, Nebraskas 5th congressional district William Laury Greene, Nebraskas 6th congressional district John W. Atwater, North Carolinas 4th congressional district57th United States Congress Thomas L. Glenn, Idahos 1st congressional district Caldwell Edwards, Montanas 1st congressional district William Ledyard Stark, Nebraskas 4th congressional district William Neville, Nebraskas 6th congressional districtJames B. WeaverJames Baird Weaver (June 12, 1833 – February 6, 1912) was a United States politician andmember of the United States House of Representatives, representing Iowa as a member of theGreenback Party. He ran for President two times on third party tickets in the late 19th century.An opponent of the gold standard and national banks, he is most famous as the presidentialnominee of the Peoples Party (commonly known as the "Populists") in the 1892 election..[edit] Political careerAfter the war he became active in Iowa politics as a member of the Republican Party. In 1866 hewas elected district attorney of the Second Iowa Judicial District. On March 25, 1867, he wasappointed a federal assessor of internal revenue by President Andrew Johnson.Weaver became increasingly disenchanted with the Republican Party and the presidentialadministration of Ulysses S. Grant, viewing it as under the control of big business at the expenseof farmers and small businessmen. He joined the Greenback Party, which advocated an expandedand flexible national currency based on the use of silver alongside gold, as well as an eight-hourwork day, the taxation of interest from government bonds, and a graduated income tax. He waselected to the United States House of Representatives in 1878 on the Greenback ticket and
  8. 8. served in the Forty-sixth Congress from 1879 to 1881, but in 1880 was nominated for thepresidency instead of re-election to Congress.Weaver ran again for Congress in 1882, but lost to Republican Marsena E. Cutts. He successfullyran again in 1884 and was re-elected in 1886, serving from 1885 to 1889. During that period, heserved as chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Interior from1885 to 1887 and of the Committee on Patents from 1887 to 1889. When seeking re-election in1888, Weaver was defeated in the general election by Republican John F. Lacey.] Presidential candidaciesJames B. Weaver was twice a candidate for President of the United States.1880Weaver was a candidate for renomination in 1880, but he was instead nominated as thepresidential candidate of the Greenback Party at its convention in Chicago where he outpolledPennsylvania congressman Hendrick Bradley Wright. In the 1880 presidential election, hereceived 308,578 votes, compared to 4,454,416 for Republican James Garfield and 4,444,952 forDemocrat Winfield Hancock. Much of Weavers support came from the Great Plains and ruralWest, areas where the Farmers Alliance was strong.The Greenback Party eventually merged with the Democratic Party in most states, a move thatWeaver opposed.Results showing the percentage of votes cast for Weaver in each county in the election of 1892.
  9. 9. People’s Party (populist party)In 1891, the farmers alliances met with delegates from labor and reform groups in Cincinnati,Ohio, and discussed forming a new political party. They formed the Peoples Party, commonlyknown as the "Populists," a year later in St. Louis, Missouri.At the first Populist national convention in Omaha, Nebraska in July 1892, James B. Weaver ofIowa was nominated for president on the first ballot. James G. Field of Virginia was nominatedfor vice-president. The Populist platform called for nationalization of the telegraph, telephone,and railroads, free coinage of silver, a graduated income tax, and creation of postal savingsbanks.In 1891 Weaver helped found the Peoples Party, a group commonly known as the "Populists." In1892 he was the presidential nominee of the Peoples Party at its convention in Omaha and chosea strategy of forming alliances with African Americans in the South. His policy was not wellreceived by Whites in the South and led to violence and intimidation against black voters.Weaver received such strong support in the West that he become the only third-party nomineebetween 1860 and 1912 to carry a single state. In one of the better showings by a third-partycandidate in U.S. history, Weaver received over a million popular votes, and won four states(Colorado, Kansas, Idaho, and Nevada) and 22 electoral votes. Weaver also performed well inthe South as he won counties in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas.Populists did best in Alabama, where electoral chicanery probably carried the day forDemocrats.[1]Weavers running mate was James G. Field, a former Confederate general from Virginia whomhe selected in an effort to move beyond the eras prevailing bloody shirt politics.The Populist (or Peoples) Party platform in 1892 incorporated a host ofpopular reform ideas, including the following: Australian (or Secret) Ballot. Voting was still conducted publicly in many areas, potentially subjecting voters to pressure or recrimination by employers and landlords. (This proposal was adopted almost everywhere in the United States in the early 20th century.) Popular Election of U.S. Senators. As provided in the Constitution (Article I, Section 3), senators were selected by the state legislatures, not by popular vote. It was believed that business lobbies exerted inordinate influence over the selection of these officials. (This plank would become part of the Constitution in 1913 when Amendment XVII was ratified.) Direct Democracy. The Populists urged the adoption of the initiative, referendum and recall as means to give the people a more direct voice in government. (Some or all of these procedures became part of the constitutions of many states during the early 20th century.)
  10. 10. Banking Reform. The Populists believed that much of their economic hardship had been caused by bankers unfair practices. They proposed to end the national banking system, a point of view not widely held. (The Populists failed with this proposal and a Federal Reserve System was established by law in 1913.) Government Ownership of the Railroads. Anger against the railroads for alleged price discrimination was so intense that the Populists advocated for federal appropriation. (Opponents charged the Populists with socialism and little public support existed for this plank. However, during the Theodore Roosevelt administration, steps were taken toward reform of the railroads.) Graduated Income Tax. The Populists viewed the graduated income tax as a means to pry loose a portion of the tremendous wealth of the nations most prosperous citizens. A "graduated" tax meant that the rate of taxation would increase as ones income increased. (A step was made in this direction in the Wilson-Gorman Tariff of 1894 when a uniform tax was imposed, but that portion of the law was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court the following year. Authority to impose such taxation was granted to Congress under Amendment XVI in 1913.) Free and Unlimited Coinage of Silver. The Populists in 1892 raised the silver issue, but not with the same fervor that would emerge four years later. (The free silver crusade would die a natural death in the years following 1896, as prosperity returned and the worlds gold supply increased.)[edit] Work with the 1896 electionIn the 1896 election, he threw his support behind Democrat William Jennings Bryan, whosupported many of the Populist causes and who subsequently captured the Democratic Partynomination. Weaver had believed that he had struck a deal with Bryan that Tom Watson, whohad helped found the Populist Party with Weaver, would be Bryans running mate. Instead Bryanchose Arthur Sewall, a conservative opponent of trade unions from Maine. As a consequence,many in the Populist Party turned against Bryan and refused to support him in the generalelection. Bryan was defeated by Republican nominee William McKinley.The Peoples Party went into decline after 1896 and soon disappeared; however, many of its coreideas, such as the direct election of United States Senators, a graduated income tax, and therelaxation of the gold standard, were implemented in later decades, the first two by means of thenecessary constitutional amendments.Thomas E. Watson Thomas Edward "Tom" Watson (1856–1922) was an American politician, newspaper editor, and writer from Georgia. He was of entirely English descent.[1] In the 1890s Watson championed poor farmers as a leader of the Populist Party, articulating an agrarian political viewpoint while attacking business, bankers, railroads, Democratic President Grover Cleveland, and the Democratic Party. He was the nominee for vice president with William Jennings Bryan in 1896 on the Populist ticket (but there was a different vice presidential nominee on Bryans Democratic ticket). Politically he was a
  11. 11. leader on the left in the 1890s, calling on poor whites (and poor blacks) to unite against the elites. However after 1900 he moved far to the right and was best known for intense attacks on blacks, Jews and Catholics. Two years prior to his death, he was elected to the United States Senate.BiographyEarly careerThomas E. Watson was born September 5, 1856 in Thomson, the county seat of McDuffieCounty, Georgia. After attending Mercer University (he did not graduate; family finances forcedwithdrawal after two years), he became a school teacher. At Mercer University, Watson was partof the Georgia Psi chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Watson later studied law and wasadmitted to the Georgia bar in 1875. He joined the Democratic Party, and in 1882 was elected tothe Georgia Legislature.As a state legislator, Watson struggled unsuccessfully to curb the abuses of the powerful railroadcorporations. A bill subjecting railroads to county property taxes was voted down after U.S.Senator Joseph E. Brown offered to provide the legislators with round-trip train fares to theLouisville Exposition of 1883. In disgust, Watson resigned his seat and returned to the practiceof law before his term expired. He was a presidential elector for the Democratic ticket of GroverCleveland and Allen G. Thurman in the 1888 election.] CongressmanWatson began to support the Farmers Alliance platform, and was elected to the United StatesHouse of Representatives as an Alliance Democrat in 1890. In Congress, he was the onlySouthern Alliance Democrat to abandon the Democratic caucus, instead attending the firstPeoples Party congressional caucus. At that meeting, he was nominated for Speaker of theHouse by the eight Western Populist Congressmen. Watson was instrumental in the founding ofthe Georgia Populist Party in early 1892.The Peoples Party advocated the public ownership of the railroads, steamship lines andtelephone and telegraph systems. It also supported the free and unlimited coinage of silver, theabolition of national banks, a system of graduated income tax and the direct election of UnitedStates Senators. As a Populist, Watson tried to unite the agrarians across class lines, overcomingracial divides. He also supported the right of African American men to vote. Unfortunately, thefailures of the Populists attempt to make political progress through fusion tickets with theDemocrats in 1896 and 1898 deeply affected Watson.Watson served in the House of Representatives from 1891 until March 1893. After beingdefeated he returned to work as a lawyer in Thomson, Georgia. He also served as editor andbusiness manager of the Peoples Party Paper, published in Atlanta.[2]
  12. 12. The masthead of Watsons newspaper in 1894 declared that it "is now and will ever be a fearlessadvocate of the Jeffersonian Theory of Popular Government, and will oppose to the bitter end theHamiltonian Doctrines of Class Rule, Moneyed Aristocracy, National Banks, High Tariffs,Standing Armies and formidable Navies — all of which go together as a system of oppressingthe people."[3][edit] Vice Presidential candidacyIn the 1896 presidential election the leaders of the Populist Party entered into talks with WilliamJennings Bryan, the proposed Democratic Party candidate. They were led to believe that Watsonwould become Bryans running mate. After giving their support to Bryan, the latter announcedthat Arthur Sewall, a more conservative banker from Maine would be his vice presidential choiceon the Democratic ticket.This created a split in the Populist Party. Some refused to support Bryan, whereas others, such asMary Lease, reluctantly campaigned for him. Watsons name remained on the ballot as Bryansvice presidential nominee on the Populist Party ticket, while Sewall was listed as BryansDemocratic Party vice presidential nominee. Watson received 217,000 votes for Vice President,less than a quarter of the number of votes received by the 1892 Populist ticket. However, Watsonreceived more votes than any national Populist candidate from this time on.Bryans defeat damaged the Populist Party. While Populists held some offices in western statesfor several years, the party ceased to be a factor in Georgia politics.[edit] Presidential candidaciesAs his own personal wealth grew, Watson denounced socialism, which had drawn many convertsfrom the ashes of Populism. He became a vigorous antisemite and anti-Catholic crusader, andadvocated reorganizing the Ku Klux Klan.[4]Watson was nominated as the Populist Partys candidate in 1904 and received 117,183 votes.This was double the Populists showing in 1900, but less than one-eighth of the partys supportfrom just 12 years earlier.The Populist Partys fortunes declined in the 1908 presidential campaign, and Watson as thepartys standard bearer attracted just 29,100 votes. While Watson never received more than 1%of the nationwide vote, he had respectable showings in selected Western and Southern states. Inthe 1904 and 1908 campaigns, Watson received 18% and 12% respectively in his home state ofGeorgia.

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