The Populist Party, a third political party that originated in America in the latter part of the nineteenth century, derived as a result of farmer discontent and economic distress. This was caused by the country's shift from an agricultural American life to one in which industrialists dominated the nation's development. The public felt as if they were being cheated by these "robber barons," a term given to those who took advantage of the middle and lower classes by "boldly stealing the fruits of their toils" (Morgan, 30). These corporate tycoons' conduct was legal, however ethically dubious it was. Cornelius Vanderbilt, a well-known railroad baron, reportedly once said, "Law! What do I care about the law? Hain't I got the power?" (Morgan, 30) The change from agrarian to industrial had a profound effect on everyone's life. Ignatius Donnelly, a leader in the Populist Party wrote, "We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress, and touches even the ermine of the bench . . . A vast conspiracy against mankind has been organized" (Tindall, 957). As a result of this significant transformation, along with several different perspectives of peoples' mores, several reform movements were commenced, such as prohibition, socialism, and the Greenback Labor Party. Each of these movements was launched by different coalitions in hopes of making a difference either for themselves or for the good of the country. The farmers, specifically, were unhappy for four particular reasons: physical problems, social and intellectual concerns, economic difficulties, and political frustrations. The physical concerns the climate of the time period. Following 1885, there was a large drought on the American prairie, thus causing this land to become known as the "Dust Bowl." Furthermore, there were extreme blizzards resulting in innumerable deaths of cattle and livestock. Also, farms were very isolated causing the women and children to lead a life of solitude and boredom. They demanded change. In fact, the women were the ones to start libraries and other meeting places for themselves and their children. This isolation made schooling for children quite difficult. Most kids who lived on the farm did not receive a proper education, or one of any kind for that matter. Farmers' economic problems are more intricate. Events baffled the farmer. They believed that deflation was the cause of their problem.
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...er party being formed, the populist party. This party had the belief that cities depended on farms, yet farms did not depend on cities. William Jennings Brian supported this idea in his speech, quoted on document J. In which elaborates on the opposition on gold standards and support the silver standards that would better benefit farmers.
In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circlue of our felicities.” (Jefferson, 1801) This idea echoed far beyond it’s time and into the minds and hearts of the Populist’s, and became the center and the driving force of the Progressive era. During the gilded age railroads were being built, Industrialization was rising, the population of United States was increasing dramatically; and corporate businesses were becoming extremely powerful. The gilded age was known for its corruption and business domination, it wasn’t until the Populist movement when people started to fight back and also not until the Progressive movement when people started changing the government system.
During the 1800’s, business leaders who built their affluence by stealing and bribing public officials to propose laws in their favor were known as “robber barons”. J.P. Morgan, a banker, financed the restructuring of railroads, insurance companies, and banks. In addition, Andrew Carnegie, the steel king, disliked monopolistic trusts. Nonetheless, ruthlessly destroying the businesses and lives of many people merely for personal profit; Carnegie attained a level of dominance and wealth never before seen in American history, but was only able to obtain this through acts that were dishonest and oftentimes, illicit. Document D resentfully emphasizes the alleged capacity of the corrupt industrialists. In the picture illustrated, panic-stricken people pay acknowledgment to the lordly tycoons. Correlating to this political cartoon, in 1900, Carnegie was willing to sell his holdings of his company. During the time Morgan was manufacturing
Both Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller dominated giant corporations, but they dictated much of the employees and greatly tried to divide out the employees from desperately trying to organize the reforms that would essentially stop the robber barons from taking advantage of them. The robber barons insisted that if you cannot work the day you are supposed to other than the Fourth of July, some other person will be a willing participant to come and take your job. The economy was dramatically failing because the wealth had been handed out unfairly and much the industry workers in the mining factories decimated during the accidents that occurred in those horrible working conditions. Due to the corruption of the government in the Gilded age, which lasted from the 1870 to the 1900s, most of the working class poor were barely struggling to stay alive and more family members had no choice but go into the labor force to provide for the family. The robber barons were held with much hostility in the society of American Capitalism. The society tried to look at the world in a scientific perspective that according to Social Darwinist’s theory in America, the human society was viewed in regards to the working class poor and the issues of poverty as a result of their own failure, the lack
When populism was first used in the United States in the late 1800s, it was geared towards the farmers. The focus on farmers showed the interest the Populists had toward working class people, who made up the majority of the nation. Even though there were more working class people than wealthy, it was the wealthy business owners who ruled society. They ran political machines and monopolies and did not provide the best working and living conditions for their employees. William Jennings Bryan said, “There are two ideas of government...those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea...if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity
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.
In the late nineteenth century known as the Gilded Age (or the Reconstruction period) and the early twentieth century known as the Progressive era, the nation went through great economic growth and social change. Beginning from the 1870s, there was rapid growth in innovations and big businesses. This could be because there was population growth and when there is population growth, there is a high demand of products and other necessities in order to strive in society. Many immigrants from Europe, mostly from the eastern and southern Europe, and Asia moved to American cities. Additionally, farmers from rural America desired to increase economically in society and since corporations ruled and political problems occurred, they decided to move into the cities. Afterwards, the 1900s started with the dominance of progressivism which many Americans tried to improve and solve the problems that were caused or had arisen because of the industrialization of the Gilded Age. It was basically the time when progressives fought for legislations like regulation of big businesses, end of the political corruption, and protection of the rights of the people: the poor, immigrants, workers, and consumers. Thus, between the periods 1870 to 1920, big businesses had arisen and taken control of the political and economic systems through corruption and innovations. In response, American citizens reacted negatively and formed labor unions and political systems to diminish the power that large corporations had in America.
During the late 19th and early 20th century both the Populist Party and Progressive movement wanted to preserve some things, while also addressing the need for reform. Although many of the ideas and goals of these “Third parties” were initially not legislated and considered far-fetched, many of these ideas later became fundamental laws throughout American history. The Populists and Progressives were both grass roots movements, and addressed the needs of the poor and powerless, for the Populists it was farmers and for the Progressives it was urban lower and middle class workers. These two movements attempted to bring the powerless peoples issues to national politics. The Populists and Progressives wanted to preserve some American ideals of the past, such as a sense of community and the ability for farmers and workers to live happily without economic strains. Populists were more oriented to the plight of the farmer while the Progressives included women's rights, and protection of the consumer and labor.
James B. Weaver was a populist party candidate in 1892, in his speech ‘The Call to Action’ he referenced the Oatmeal trust of 1887. This trust decided to close part of its mills that “stood idle” and raise the price of oatmeal by a dollar. This business integration took jobs of former employees and raised prices unfairly, cutting corners by producing only seven million barrels of wheat. This tactic isn’t fair to consumers or workers, and it’s unfair. Ida Tarbell, an investigative journalist focused her attention on John D. Rockefeller's company ‘Standard Oil’ and composed the ‘History of Standard Oil Company’. According to Tarbell Standard Oil created a ”remarkable scheme” which competitors couldn’t fight for very long. Standard Oil demanded cheaper rates on their moved oil or ‘rebates’ from railroad companies. This unfair tactic allowed Standard Oil to lower their prices dramatically which would eventually decrease competition. What Tarbell alluded to in her piece was that when a monopoly is achieved over the industry, Standard Oil would be able to raise prices without refutation. William Vanderbilt, the son of the 19th century industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt conducted an interview on the railroads constructed during his father's’ era. According to Vanderbilt, the businesses that
The People's Party, also known as the "Populists", was a short-lived political party in the United States established in 1891 during the Populist movement. It was most important in 1892-96, and then rapidly faded away. Based among poor, white cotton farmers in the South and hard-pressed wheat farmers in the plain states, it represented a radical crusading form of agrarianism and hostility to banks, railroads, and elites generally. It sometimes formed coalitions 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-elitist appeals in opposition to established interests and mainstream parties. Though the party did not win much of anything it did however shape the United States we know today.
In 1955, Richard Hofstadter published The Age of Reform: From Bryan to F.D.R., his account of the Gilded Age and its two main movements, Populism and Progressivism. Hofstadter believed that Populism, Progressivism, and even the New Deal were all the same movement based on the same thing, reform. He said that reform is what tied all of these movements together. Each period in this grand movement had its own aims and agendas; however, they all flowed out of the same want and need to reform. He argues that this movement to ref...
...ture and the development of small towns led to the inevitable transformation of cattle-towns into large well-populated cities. In June of 1887, a survey conducted by Bradstreet ranking real-estate transactions listed Wichita third with a population increase of 500% (Miner, 174). As the cowboys lost national prominence, farmers became organized groups and gained access to government offices. The Populist Movement brought national attention to the struggling farmer, and secured them an unprecedented quality of life. No longer a diminutive group that the government could ignore, many populist leaders had now attained prominent spots in the House and Senate. The western voice was now abundant, an unyielding force that not only legitimatised farmers, but also helped facilitate the development and modernization of Kansas and other territories throughout the American West.
The time period between 1880’s and 1900’s was generally good for politics. The U.S did not face the threat of war and many of the citizens were living peacefully. However, as time went by, the farmers in America found that life was becoming very rough for them. The crops they planted such as, wheat, cotton, etc. were once the sustenance of the agriculture industry, but now they were selling at such a low price that it was hard for farmers to make a profit. Rather many of the farmers were falling deep into debt. Furthermore, the improvement in transportation helped the foreign market gain an upper hand. Farmers often had to pay rebates and drawbacks to railroad companies to ship their goods. Railroad companies used rebates to win over the large business owners and made up the loss in profit by charging smaller shippers way more. During the last twenty years of the nineteenth century, farmers considered monopolies, trusts, railroad, and loss in silver backed dollar as threats to their agrarian lifestyle. Overall, the farmers blamed their problems on two things; the money supply, and the railroads which were valid complaints.
The increase in crop yield caused a change in the economy, which the party set out to straighten out in 1892. On their party platform they demanded that the government take control of the railroad. The railroad was charging extremely high prices to transport grain. They asked the government to use the railroads for the benefit of the people. They also wished to set the economy straight and asked for an unlimited coinage of gold and silver at a ratio of sixteen to one and a graduat...
In the beginning of the twentieth century, the economy was booming, new technology flourished. The rapid industrialization brought achievement to the United States, however, it also caused several social problems. Wealth and power were concentrated in the hands of a few, and poverty and political corruption were widespread. As people became aware of these problems, a new reform group was created. Unlike populism, which had been a group of farmers grown desperate as the economy submerged into depression, the new reform movement arose from the educated middle class. These people were known as the progressives. The Progressive Movement was a movement that aimed at solving political, economic, and social problems. The Progressives were people from the middle class who had confidence that they could achieve social progress through political reform. The Progressives sought after changes and improvements in the society through laws and other federal actions.