The Populist Movements Formation Essay

1510 words - 6 pages

The Populist movements formation

Progressive and Populist Movements

Ryan Goslin

2/25/2009

History 406W

Monday 4pm section

The Populist movements formation

The rise of populism perpetuated from two issues that were dramatically affecting the lives of western farmers. Firstly, was debt that had engulfed most farmers who were adjusting to a new form of farming under dry conditions along the legal form of sharecropping, secondly was the social isolation due increasing farm size. Out of depression farmers formed social groups where talk of hardship took main stage.

The late 19th century was seeing its largest formation of industrialization in the history of the nation and subsequently farmers were caught in trammels between the increase in costs and shrinking prices of goods. As a result, currency became a main focus along with increasing railroad rates and tariffs. In 1890, now together as a cohesive group, the Populist Party sought to apply pressure on the banks and railroads that were exploiting them.

The principles of populism

Populism made it clear that moral regeneration, political democracy, and antimonopolism were their chief concern, but it was sharecropping and tenant farming that drove them together. Populism found that the African American movement did share a common goal because they were from a common people and the vast majority of African Americans, while not working alongside the peoples' party, did influence the movement peripherally. And by purchasing supplies and selling goods with alliances such as the Grange, the groups could influence the economy and politics.

The populist platform of 1892

On July 4, 1892 the people's party had their first convention under "The Omaha Platform". Here it was stated, "The national power to create money is appropriated to enrich bondholder, thereby adding millions to the burdens of the people." Wanting to put purchasing power back into the hands of the people was a main focus of the people's party. They would do this by demanding free and unlimited coinage of silver at a ratio of 16 to 1, currency was not to go below 50$ per capita, and government expenses were to be limited. Also Populist argued that because transportation was used as a way to exchange goods that the government should own it and all excess land owned by corporations should be reclaimed.

In order to make there request clear they formed The Expression of Sentiments, which were ten requests that the platform saw essential to the prosperity of America as a whole. The first was to adopt a secret ballot system in order to ensure fair elections. The graduated income tax would also be used to help to reduce the taxation on domestic industries. Along with stricter restrictions on immigration, pensions for ex-Union solders and sailors were to be at a fair rate. The unions working to...

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