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The Farmer's Movement of the Late 19th Century

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Length: 885 words (2.5 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Yellow      
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During the late nineteenth century, the agrarian movement evolved into a political force that energized American farmers to voice their political and economic grievances like never before. Although the movement essentially died after William Jennings Bryan's loss of the 1896 Presidential election, many of the reforms they fought for were eventually passed into law.

American farmers found themselves facing hard times after the Civil War. In the West, the railroad had opened up enormous opportunities. Farmers were now able to cultivate land that had previously been to far from the Eastern markets to make a profit. However, that opportunity came at a price. The farmers increasing dependence on the railroads and other commercial interests made them an easy target for exploitative business practices.

The growth in land also contributed to overproduction, which was another factor contributing to the farmer's hardships. The expansion of farmland combined with the mechanical advances in agricultural technology greatly increased production in the west.

In the south, sharecropp...


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...als of the Omaha Platform.

With their numbers dwindling, the Populists decided to back the Democratic nominee for president, the pro-silver William Jennings Bryan, in the crucial 1896 elections, but with their own vice-presidential candidate. After Bryan's lost the party was essentially finished as a viable political contender on a national scale. However, although the Populists ceased to exist, their spirit lives on since the platforms they endorsed influenced politicians and legislations for years to come, with many of them becoming law.

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