U.S. History - Populism Study Notes

Essay by thekingandqueen February 2009

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THEME: Populism1.Why was the late nineteenth century a desperate time for farmers?-to compete they had to buy expensive agricultural equipment, often from manufacturers who benefited from tariff production-then they had to ship their goods to market on railroads that charged higher rates to small farmers than to big industrialists-when there goods finally made it to the market, farmers faced steadily declining prices-to keep up with competition farmers went further and further into debt2.What was the Grange? The Farmers' Alliance? The Ocala Platform?-one of the first attempts to organize farmers was called the Patrons of Husbandry, generally called the Grange -founded in 1867 it attracted large numbers of farmers during the depression of the 1870s-it organized cooperatives designed to eliminate the role of merchants and creditors-by storing grain collectively, farmers held their products back from the marker in hopes of gaining some measure of control over commodity prices-the National Farmers Alliance and Industrial Union (Farmer's Alliance) was much more effective than the Grange - founded in Texas in 1877-advocated currency inflation through the free coinage of silver, lower tariffs, and a constitutional amendment providing for direct election of senators-the Ocala Platform was the collection of radical politics that the Farmer's Alliance supported - demanded that the government establish a system of "sub-treasuries" & strict government regulation of the nation's railroad and telegraph industries3.

What was the Omaha Platform? Did the People's Party achieve any success?some Farmer's Alliance members and some from the Knights of Labor formed the People's Party (aka the Populists)-called for the unity of all working people and for the restoration of the harmony of interests between small property holders and wage earners-the Omaha Platform was the collection of beliefs of the People's Party, had many grievances (very radical for this time,