Unformatted text preview: Populism: Background
The Movement and Party of Ordinary Americans Who were the populists? Cultural ( Republican) and economic ( Democratic) populists: working class Americans and defenders of traditional values Protest movement of mid19th C became third party of late 19th C farmers allied with workers Term "populist" coined in 1891; first presidential campaign in 1892; Populist movement climaxed in 1896 election William Jennings Bryan became candidate of Populists and Democrats. 1896 Election McKinley vs William Jennings Bryan McKinley backed by wealthy industrialists and progold standard. Bryan was Populist and Democratic candidate; pro bimetallism call for free silver Elections Issues Currency Issue Depression of 1890s Immigration and related problems Labor unrest, farmers' problems NativismAntiCatholicism APA Tariff Issue Monopolies Trusts Foreign AffairsExpansion Abroad Role of Government Women's Suffrage Democrat/Republican Platforms Dems: No gold standard; free silver coinage; no bonds; no income tax, sympathy for Cubans; low tariff; pensions for veterans; direct elections; initiative and referendum; public works; Homestead Law; reduction of political offices; antiforeign paupers in the South Republicans: Gold standard; protective tariff; Advancement of America interest abroad; sympathy for Cubans; building of navy; enforcement of immigration laws Farmers' Plight in 1890s Granger Movement, Greenback Party, Farmers Alliance, People's Party>>>Populist Party Depression of 1890s: prices of agricultural goods down by 50% but costs of seed, equipment, mortgage, remained high Many bankruptcies on part of farmers Price gouging for short hauls Lack of currencyfarmers wanted more money in circulation, minting of silver ( cheaper dollars) and paper money Argument Against Silver Silver valued at 16 oz: 1 oz of gold. Result: cheaper dollars Lenders would not get same return on money loaned--would not get paid back at same value. 50% of all indebtedness not paid back due to 16:1 ratio. Silver makes a cheaper dollar. Silver less used as monetary object worldwide. What did farmers want? Regulation and control of railroads, transportation companiesnationalize railroads Laws agst land speculation Currency and credit reform--lower interest rates, silver coinage Believed banking system worked for rich and not the poor; wanted government to store nonperishables. Farming Issues Today Small farms and viability Renewable energy/bioenergy/overproduction Competitiveness in today's global economy Natural resourcesaccess and protection Enhancement of rural economy Disaster assistance Lowinterest loans Food safety Labor issues, migrant workers, workers rights Economic Populism Today Oppose free trade which can involve deals that take jobs from U.S., support "fair trade." Support small businesses; regulate corporations. Support family farms over agribusiness. Be tough on corporate crime Cultural Populism Today Protect social securityno privatization. Universal health care Quality public education Renewable energy ( also has economic aspects) Conservation A Poem of Republican Populism Calvin Trillin, The Nation, 2004
Our policies address the cares Of heiresses and millionaires. Our point of view reverberates With folks who live behind high gates And folks whose country clubs may lack A single Jew, a single black. We're backed by all the CEOs. We waive the regs that bring them woes. To comfort them is our intent. Yes, though we always represent The folks who sit in corporate boxes, The gratifying paradox is And this we love; it's just the neatest The other party's called elitist. Populism and the Wizard of Oz Dorothy = the American people= Miss Everyman Aunt Emily and Uncle Henry represented hardhit farmers of the period but in movie farm life idealized Baum wrote editorials lamenting plight of American farmer, 188891 Kansas was the place cyclones came from Oz Oz is the abbreviation for ounce but Baum stated the name came from looking at a file cabinet labeled 0Z. The Emerald City Green = color money Everyone has to wear emeraldcolored glasses = to look at the world through moneycolored glasses Oz = Washington D.C. The Scarecrow Emerges as brains of the group symbol of American or western farmer who is criticized as not having brains. Farmers seen as helpless, unable to understand economy, problems were own fault. Farmers are heart of America just as Midwest is America's Heartland The Tin Man Symbol of urban working man appears machinelike like workers of the age; rustiness comes from unemployment during 1890s depression. Oil rescues the tin man as the right monetary policy will fix the U.S. economy. Heart humanizes the tin man as workers will be humanized. Suggestion that Dorothy and her party are symbolic of Coxey's Army a group of unemployed men who marched on Washington in 1894 Member of Coxey's Army identified himself as " the Great Unknown." ( the great and powerful Oz) The Cowardly Lion Symbol of William Jennings Bryan Roared like a lion great orator Bryan was a pacifist and antiimperialist. Lion last to join Dorothy's party as Bryan waited until Populist Party established before joining its cause. The Poppies Represents the issue of antiimperialism. Opium Wars had been fought in China by Britain in 1840s. Kansas Home to Wizard and Bryan Agricultural hardships toughest in Kansas; Kansas leaders were leaders in Populist crusade Kansas also targeted by Republicans who saw problems as fault of farmers themselves. Local Kansas writer, William Allen White wrote articles on Kansas both pro and against Populists. White claimed he and Baum met and talked about Kansas as setting for story when movie came out in 1939. Kansas hosted Democratic Convention which re nominated Bryan in 1900 Cyclone Free silver movement which took off like a storm in the 1890s Could also symbolize economic depression of 189397--a financial storm. The popular orator Mary Elizabeth Lease was known as the Kansas Cyclone. " Farmers should raise more hell and less corn." Who was Toto? Teetotalers Prohibitionists? Bryan was a teetotaler. Silver shoes Silver shoes give Dorothy special powers. Silver believed to have power to transform monetary economy. MGM made shoes red for 1839 movie to show off new Technicolor. The Witches Wicked Witch of the East= Eastern financial and industrial interests. Wicked Witch of West = hardship of West, drought in 1890s Also both wicked witches could be 2 gold standard presidents of 1890s Cleveland and McKinley. Cleveland repealed Sherman Silver Purchase Act therefore Dorothy's house lands on him Good Witch of the North = Northern electorate of middle America; Bryan won Northern states west of Mississippi and also the South ( Good Witch) Yellow brick road Gold standard To get to Emerald City follow the gold road; to get to Washington, follow the gold standard Dorothy travels yellow brick road in her silver shoes Populists wanted bimetallism not either or. Dorothy's dress Blue and white Munchkins knew Dorothy was a good witch as blue was color of munchkins and white the color of the good witch. Silver = a white metal. Legacy of Populism Trustbusting Regulation of RR Elkins Act of 1903; Hepburn Act of 1906 Regulation of Trade and Commerce ICC, FTC Federal Reserve System Progressive income tax Country abandons gold standard in 1933 Agriculture Adjustment Acts Direct elections of U.S. Senators Full voting rights of AfricanAmericans Continuance of third party candidates. ...
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- Spring '11
- Populist Party, William Jennings Bryan, The Wizard of Oz, Free Silver