Populists (Lecture Notes from 11/2 and 11/3)

Farmers' Problems:
  • High tariff -> retaliatory tariffs (foreign)
  • Railroad - charged farmers (who barely used it) more
  • Banks charged farmers with higher interest rates (because they were high risks)
  • Deflation (farmers wanted inflation!)
  • Mechanization -> specialization in one crop

The Grange (The National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry):

  • Established 1867 - Oliver H. Kelley - farmer social activity
  • Grangers established cooperatively owned stores, grain elevators, and warehouses.
  • Granger Law: state law that regulated railroad rates. Mann vs. Illinois 1877 ruled Granger Laws constitutional. Wabash Railroad vs. Illinois 1886 - states can't regulate interstate commerce (defeated Granger laws)
  • Interstate Commerce Act 1887 - Forms interstate commerce commission - first law where federal government regulates big business.

Farmers' Alliances:

  • White and black ones.
  • Co-ops: pooled money, bought farm machinery, and shared it.

Populist Party

  • 1880s. Farmers' party - first significant 3rd party. Western and Southern farmers thought that government was in favor of wealthy
  • Beliefs:
  1. Wanted more money in circulation. Want inflation - silver standard. (never happened)
  2. Graduated income tax (more you make, the more you pay - 16th amendment through 1913)
  3. Government ownership of railroad, telegraph, telephone (never happened)
  4. Secret ballot (Australian ballot) - all parties and offices appear on one ballot
  5. Direct election of US Senators (17th amendment through 1913)
  6. Immigration restrictions
  7. Initiative and referendum (state legislatures address petitions)
  • Absorbed by Democrats (had a chance in election of 1896, but Bryan lost to McKinley)

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