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The Wizard Of Oz And Populism

1405 words - 6 pages

In the late 1800's there was an American, agrarian based movement called the Populist movement. The beginning can be traced back to 1870, farmers revolted by forming alliences. Origonally in Texas, the groups spread out to the great plains by the 1880's. Any farmer who was having economic problems was very attracted to the populist movement, enough people started beliveing in populism that action was taking place on the side of the farmers, and things they set out for were actually being done. With advances in machinery, and more then enough land being cultivated for farming then was needed, along with more foreign competition, the supply went way up and the prices for pretty much every product went down. Farmers had lives that needed to be funded, they needed materials, seed, and tools for the farm. Farmers also still needed to pay taxes and their mortgage. When they didn't have enough money to pay for all this they planted more, hoping to get more money, but consequently the more production from farmers the more the price dropped. Farmers needed help desperately, and throughout the 1860's and 1870's, the U.S. Department of Agriculture helped organize a network of granges in almost every state. Granges are small local farmers orginizeing themselves to work together, meetings were often held to go over all the difficulties a farmer may be having. Granges also helped with the empty, lonely lives many farmers lived. By 1875 there were twenty thousand branches and more then one million members, this system must be working. With a rise in memberships, Granges didn't stop at little meetings between farms, they economic and political action. Now local granges would group together to form cooperatives. This was great, farmers would pool together their profits and as a whole would buy tools and other necesities that they could share. The larger group also helped influence local governments who passed laws to regulate transportation and storage rates. Although the granges put forth a lot of effort, they declined in the 1870's. Rules which stated that farmers are to run their grange on cash only excluded a lot of farmers who rarely had any. Also a lot of local transportation and storage businesses fought back in court about the reguations set on them. In many cases they won reverting farmers back to an older way of life. With the fall of granges, two major alliences prevailed. One in the South and another in the Plains. These two farmer alliences contained more then 5 million members combined. The alliences strong supported the Grange theories of cooperation, but didn't stop at that. The Subtreasury Plan would help farmers who lacked cash and credit. During harvest time prices went way down do to the huge influx of product all at once. The government agreed to build storage facilities in every major agricultural area, they would pay for 80% of what a farmer would store in the facility so that they could sell it at a later date, after the decline in price...

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