AP US History - Agrarian Discontent

Essay by SolidusHigh School, 11th gradeA+, May 2007

download word file, 4 pages 5.0

Although the late nineteenth century brought prosperity to manufacturers through the rise of industry, farmers were discontented because of the unfair favoring of urban society by the government, the government's decision to withdraw greenback currency, and the unrestrained proliferation of monopolistic trusts. The complaints of the farmers were valid to a great extent.

In 1890, Congress passed the McKinley Tariff Act of 1890 to keep the revenues flowing in and to protect Republican industrialists from foreign competition. Boosting rates to their highest peacetime level ever, the new tariff act greatly discontented the farmers. Debt-burdened farmers had no choice but to buy manufactured goods from high-priced protected American industrialists, but were forced to sell their own agriculture products into highly competitive, unprotected world markets. Obviously, the government favored the urban society over the rural society. The frustrated farmers then formed the Populist Party, and in 1892 they declared their platform in which they accuse the nation of being brought to the verge of "moral, political, and material ruin."

The farmers claim that a "vast public debt payable in legal-tender currency has been funded into gold bearing bonds, thereby adding millions to the burdens of the people."The economic panic of 1873 crippled the nation, but the misfortune hit the hardest on the agrarian group. The 1961 United States government data clearly shows that in the years between 1865 and 1875, the nation had the lowest amount of money in circulation at only $774,966,000. The debt-afflicted farmers, part of the "cheap-money" movement, demanded a re-issuance of the greenbacks because more money would mean cheaper money, thus rising prices and easier-to-pay debts., However, the farmers were discontented further when the ruthless "hard-money" advocates persuaded a confused Grant to veto a bill to print more paper money. Grant also passed the Resumption Act of 1875...