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Populist Movement Essay

analytical Essay
1062 words
1062 words
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A collective group of Americans, feeling disenfranchised by the political system and constantly burdened by economic hardships, joining together to form the foundation of a movement with ramifications that would be relevant more than a century later. The Populist movement, springing from the idea of more Americans living a better life, is regarded as giving credence to the notion of United States government being “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Thought the actual “movement” lasted only decades, ideas conceived by self-described Populists live on in current policies, and have a beneficial effect on every American in their daily lives. The more well-known Populist movement came to fruition from the lesser known Grange Movement, when farmers were being adversely affected by falling crop prices due to overproduction, sought to change their ever-dismal situation. Such a movement became present in nearly every state in the nation during the 1860s and 1870s, and provided a pedestal for farmers to air their grievances and propose courses of action. During the middle of the 1870s, The Grange Movement had a million members spread out across twenty thousand branches (Norton, p. 610). It started out as a social organization, providing an empowering effect on farmers who were constantly faced with adversity. Oliver Hudson Kelley, an employee of the Department of Agriculture, was responsible for the club’s development in the immediate years following the Civil War, which was originally called the Patrons of Husbandry. Members turned to activism during this time period, advocating economic issues that would be beneficial to working-class Americans. Such efforts included a push to keep paper money, which was enter... ... middle of paper ... ...in opposition to the Populist movement. With McKinley’s victory in the election of 1896, many so-called Populists go away, but their ideas do not. This sets the stage for the Progressive movement that will develop in prominence with the Presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson, spanning twenty years. Labor laws develop throughout the nation during this time period, including laws setting restrictions on child labor, as well as better conditions for production of food products. The Sixteenth Amendment, ratified in 1913, created the federal government’s first tax on incomes, in the beginning only on wealthy individuals. As the nation entered the period known as the “Gilded Age,” policies initially supported by Populists were the foundations for reforms that would have a positive effect on society as a whole in the years to come.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the populist movement, originating from the idea of more americans living a better life, is regarded as giving credence to the notion of united states government being "of the people, by people and for people."
  • Explains that the populist movement came to fruition from the lesser known grange movement, when farmers were adversely affected by falling crop prices due to overproduction.
  • Explains that the grange movement's role in the political process was limited to the local level. the supreme court upheld a law that set maximum rates set by grain-storage facilities and railroads.
  • Explains how the farmers alliance movement gained significance during the 19th century. the sub-treasury plan and the 8-hour work day were among the reforms.
  • Analyzes how the populist movement turned into a third political party in 1892, when they nominated james weaver to be their presidential candidate.
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