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An Analysis Of The Populist And Progressive Era

1945 words - 8 pages

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 nineteenth and twentieth century monopolizing corporations reigned over territories, natural resources, and material goods. They dominated banks, railroads, factories, mills, steel, and politics. With companies and industrial giants like Andrew Carnegies’ Steel Company, John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company and J.P. Morgan in which he reigned over banks and financing. Carnegie and Rockefeller both used vertical integration meaning they owned everything from the natural resources (mines/oil rigs), transportation of those goods (railroads), making of those goods (factories/mills), and the selling of those goods (stores). This ultimately led to monopolizing of corporations. Although provided vast amount of jobs and goods, also provided barbarous working conditions and high living expenses. During these two centuries people in rural and urbanized areas revolted against the domination over life, liberty, and property due to these tyrannical and corruption during and after the gilded age.
In the rural regions where agriculture was rich and a main source of income, farmers had to put up with high tariff prices, costly goods, low profits, and price cuts to 4.6 cents a pound. This ultimately led to the forming of the Populist movement in the 1890’s. Low profits impacted the farmers tremendously as the cost of vital materials and equipment was too costly for these poor tenant farmers. Unable to pay for seeds and other vital materials, farmers had to deal with other costly obstacles such as the transportation and taxation of their agricultural goods. With nowhere to turn, they were forced to get high interest loans from banks. Seeping deeper into debt and fear of losing their farms, white farmers gathered and formed The Farmer’s Alliance in the 1870’s. This alliance helped farmers break free from banks by forming alliances with the government. At first The Farmer’s Alliance aided farmers by loaning farmers the money to help settle their debts with the banks and...

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