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HIST-2020-001 Notes: Week 4

by: Andrew Hull

HIST-2020-001 Notes: Week 4 HIST-2020-002

Andrew Hull
GPA 3.59

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About this Document

The conclusion of the Gilded Age: America's third party. Includes a brief review of ideas covered throughout notes on the Gilded Age.
U.S. History Since 1877
Dr. Daniel Newcomer
Class Notes
The Gilded Age, U.S. History, Populism. Republican
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Andrew Hull on Thursday September 15, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HIST-2020-002 at East Tennessee State University taught by Dr. Daniel Newcomer in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 9 views. For similar materials see U.S. History Since 1877 in History at East Tennessee State University.


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Date Created: 09/15/16
THE PEOPLE’S PARTY ● Populist movement ● 1890s: largest third party in U.S. history ● grassroots movement ○ organized from ground-up ○ mainly farmers ● arose from public distrust of government ○ Populists thought government was out of touch/corrupt ● much like the Green Party/Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign U.S. FARMERS ● 1865-1900: hard times ● mechanization ○ more production--less income ○ overproduced OBSTACLES TO FARMING ● high tariffs ○ good for industry/bad for farmers ○ couldn’t export anything since foreign nations countered U.S. tariffs by raising their own ● debt ○ rented land/equipment/seed ○ lots of ex-slaveowners rented land to their ex-slaves ● Crop-Lein system ○ harvest traded for credit CURRENCY ● Panic of 1873 ○ adopted gold standard ○ suddenly less money in circulation ○ half the money in the country was made worthless ● debt was now more difficult to pay off ● government corruption? ● farmers wanted to bring silver back into circulation ○ as well as greenbacks ● farmers thought laws favored industry ● thought that the gold standard favored banks RAILROADS ● farmers sought to use railroad to get their crops to market more quickly than competitors ● typically wanted to move crops short distances ○ get crops to nearest city to make money quickly ○ wanted short hauls ● because of demand, railroads raised price of short hauls ○ farmers thought they were being taken advantage of by railroad ● finally, farmers began organizing ○ argued that railroads should be public service ○ thought that private railroads worked against farming GRANGERS ● rural equivalent to mutual aid societies ● 1870: first farmers’ organization ● community-building group ○ not a political party ○ sought to end isolation ● self-help methods ● cooperatives ○ farmers pooled resources to purchase supplies ○ idea was to bypass landowners/banks and avoid debt ● bulking ○ stored crops in sylos ○ only sold it once price was right ○ reviled by press as socialism ● 1870: Grangers were successful in influencing state legislatures ● convinced states to regulate railroad rates ○ railroads hated this ○ states all charged different rates ● 1887: Interstate Commerce Act ○ result of federal inspection of railroads, which found that some railroads were, in fact, charging unfair rates ○ federal government could now regulate railroad rates ○ both farmers and railroads hated this ○ railroads wanted to determine own rates ○ farmers lost power in state governments ● reinforced farmers’ charges of corruption in the federal government FARMERS’ ALLIANCES ● 1880s: gained huge following ● Grangers birthed two large farmers’ alliances ○ Northwest Alliance ○ Southern Alliance ● 1890: 3 million members combined ○ people began to ask if they should, in fact, become a political party ○ members didn’t want this--saw politics as corrupt ● Southern Alliance ○ issues of race/citizenship ○ half of members were black ○ if they became a political party, white farmers would have to accept black farmers as equals--and advocate their suffrage ● 1892: People’s Party formed OMAHA PLATFORM ● 1892: People’s Party announced its platform ● free silver ○ silver still hadn’t been brought back after twenty years ● lower tariffs ● direct election of senators ○ at this point, they were appointed ○ often hadn’t even lived in state they represented ● government ownership of railroads 1892 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION ● James B. Weaver ○ candidate from Iowa ○ 1 million votes ● won 10 congressional seats ● and 3 governors’ seats ● 1893: another panic ○ taking silver out of circulation didn’t work ○ time to bring it back 1896 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION ● election about currency ● William McKinley ○ Republican ○ gold standard ● William Jennings Bryan ○ Democrat ○ advocated free silver ○ stole Populists’ thunder ● Populist dilemma ○ run own candidate and risk losing to McKinley ○ Populists sided with Bryan ● McKinley won ○ Populists didn’t vote ○ didn’t trust Democratic party ○ Populists fizzle out ● long-term influence ○ agricultural recovery ○ gold discoveries REVIEW: GROWTH ● population ○ migration/immigration ● urban growth ○ America moved from the farm to the city ● western expansion ● U.S. politics couldn’t keep up with change ○ populace demanded legal reform ○ locally-oriented political system was outdated ○ wasn’t suited for enormous size of population ● special interests ○ corporations influenced government ○ who was being represented--citizens or corporations? ● new populations required new approaches REVIEW: SERIOUS ISSUES ● growing income gap ○ child labor ○ middle class was disappearing ○ small group of wealthy folk living in lap of luxury ● urban/rural poverty ● unresponsive politicians ○ arose suspicion of corruption ○ sparked activism REVIEW: CONVENIENT EXPLANATIONS ● wrote off problems caused by society as preordained ● Social Darwinism ○ Darwin’s Theory of Evolution bastardized/reappropriated to explain class differences ○ rich/white people were simply more fit to survive ○ racism disguised as science ● Gospel of Wealth ○ snobbery disguised as Christianity ○ moral people were “blessed” with wealth ○ immoral people were “cursed” with poverty ○ identified symptoms of poverty--gambling/prostitution/alcoholism--as causes of poverty ● poverty was act of nature/the divine REVIEW: NATURE OR MAN? ● God didn’t create ○ high tariffs ○ Gold Standard ○ Sherman Act of 1890 ● poverty a result of human acts ● Sherman Act of 1890 ○ designed to regulate labor ○ eliminate activity that “impeded capitalism” ○ for fifteen years, only used against laborers, not businesses ● whose government was this? ○ the people’s? ○ or the corporations’? REVIEW: TAKING CONTROL ● organization/activism ○ seen in all areas of society ○ businesses organized into trusts ○ workers organized into unions ○ farmers organized into People’s Party ● push for political reform ● seeded ideology of Progressive Era ○ Americans could change their conditions ○ if they organized and pushed for reform, they could enact legislative reform


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