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US History - 13.3 - Farmers and the Populist Movement

USH 13.3
by

McDaris

on 4 December 2013

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Transcript of US History - 13.3 - Farmers and the Populist Movement

Farmers and the Populist Movement
pressures that made farming increasingly unprofitable.
Learn About
To Understand
the rise and fall of the Populist movement.
Farmers unite to address their economic problems, giving rise to the Populist movement.
Farmers Unite to Address Common Problems
Economic Distress
Farmers buy more land to grow more crops to pay off debts
After Civil War, government takes greenbacks out of circulation
Debtors have to pay loans in dollars worth more than those borrowed
Prices of crops fall dramatically
1870s, debtors push government to put more money in circulation
1878 Bland-Allison Act—money supply increase not enough for farmers
Problems with the Railroads
Lack of competition lets railroads overcharge to transport grain
Farms mortgaged to buy supplies; suppliers charge high interest
The Farmers’ Alliances
1867, Oliver Hudson Kelley starts Patrons of Husbandry or Grange
Purpose is educational, social; by 1870s, Grange fighting railroads
Farmers’ Alliances—groups of farmers and sympathizers
- lectures on interest rates, government control of railroads, banks
- gain over 4 million members
The Rise and Fall of Populism
The Populist Party
Populism—movement of the people; Populist Party wants reforms
Economic: increase money supply, graduated income tax, federal loans
Political: Senate elected by popular vote; secret ballot; 8-hour day
1892, Populist candidates elected at different levels of government
- Democratic Party eventually adopts platform
The Panic of 1893
Railroads expand faster than markets; some go bankrupt
Government’s gold supply depleted, leads to rush on banks
businesses, banks collapse
panic becomes depression

Free Silver
• Political divisions also regional:
Republicans: Northeast business owners, bankers
Democrats: Southern, Western farmers, laborers
• Bimetallism—system using both silver and gold to back currency
• Gold standard—backing currency with gold only
• Paper money considered worthless if cannot be exchanged for metal
• Silverites: bimetalism would create more money, stimulate economy
• Gold bugs: gold only would create more stable, if expensive currency

Bryan and the “Cross of Gold”
1896, Republicans commit to gold, select William McKinley
Democrats favor bimetallism, choose William Jennings Bryan (From Salem, IL)
Populists endorse Bryan, choose own VP to maintain party identity

The End of Populism
McKinley gets East, industrial Midwest; Bryan South, farm Midwest
McKinley elected president; Populism collapses; leaves legacy:
the powerless can organize, have political impact
agenda of reforms enacted in 20th century

Chapter 13 Section 3
People regarded paper money worthless if it could not be exchanged for gold or silver.
Why was the issue of which metal should be the basis of the nation's monetary system was so important to farmers at the time?
Because gold was more valuable than silver, the gold standard would provide a more stable currency. Because silver was more plentiful than gold, currency backed by both metals would be cheaper and more available.
Farmers faced large debts and low crop prices. The gold standard would make it more expensive to repay their debt and keep prices low. Bimetal would make it cheaper for them to repay debt and help to raise prices on goods.
Full transcript