Populist Party (United States)


Populist Party (United States)

Infobox Historical American Political Party
party name= Populist Party
party
party articletitle= Populist Party (United States)
active= 1884 - 1908
ideology= Populism, bimetalism
position= Left-wing
international= None
preceded by= United States Greenback Party
succeeded by=
colors = N/A
The Populist Party (also known as the People's Party) was a relatively short-lived political party in the United States in the late 18th century. It flourished particularly among western farmers, based largely on its opposition to the gold standard. The party did not remain a lasting feature of the political landscape, though many of its ideas have. The very term "populist" has since become a generic term in U.S. politics for politics which appeals to the common in opposition to established interests.

At least three distinct American parties have used the term populist in their names since 1924. See "Recent Incarnations" section below.

History

The Populist Party grew out of the agrarian revolt that rose to the collapse of agriculture prices following the Panic of 1873. The Farmers' Alliance, formed in Lampasas, TX in 1876, promoted collective economic action by farmers and achieved widespread popularity in the South and Great Plains. The Farmers' Alliance was ultimately unable to achieve its wider economic goals of collective economic action against brokers, railroads, and merchants, and many in the movement agitated for changes in national policy. By the late 1880s, the Alliance had developed a political agenda that called for regulation and reform in national politics, most notably an opposition to the gold standard to counter the deflation in agricultural prices.

The drive to create a new political party out of the movement arose from the refusal of both Democrats and Republicans to take up and promote the policies advocated by the Alliance, notably in regard to the Populists' call for unlimited coinage of silver. The Populist Party was formed by members of the "Alliance", in conjunction with the Knights of Labor, in 1889–1890. The movement reached its peak in 1892 when the party held a convention in Omaha, Nebraska and nominated candidates for the national election.

The party's platform, commonly known as the Omaha Platform, called for the abolition of national banks, a graduated income tax, direct election of Senators, civil service reform, a working day of eight hours and Government control of all railroads, telegraphs, and telephones. In the 1892 Presidential election, James B. Weaver received 1,027,329 votes. Weaver carried four states (Colorado, Kansas, Idaho, and Nevada) and received electoral votes from Oregon and North Dakota as well.

The party flourished most among farmers in the Southwest and Great Plains, as well as making significant gains in the South, where they faced an uphill battle given the firmly entrenched monopoly of the Democratic Party. Opposition to the gold standard was especially strong among western farmers, who viewed the inherent scarcity of gold (and its slow movement through the banking system) as an instrument of Eastern banking interests who could force mass bankruptcies among farmers in the west by instigating "credit crunches". Many western farmers rallied around the Populist banner in the belief that greenbacks not backed by a hard mineral standard would allow credit to flow more freely through rural regions. Free silver platform received widespread support across class lines in the Mountain states, where the economy was heavily dependent upon silver mining. The Populists were the first political party in the United States to actively include women in their affairs. At a time when cultural attitudes of white supremacy were permeating all aspects of American life, a number of southern Populists, including Thomas E. Watson, openly talked of the need for poor blacks and poor whites to set aside their racial differences in the name of shared economic self-interest. Regardless of these rhetoric appeals, however, racism did not evade the People's Party. In fact, after the party's disintegration, Watson himself later became an outspoken white supremacist.

Presidential election of 1896

By 1896, the Democratic Party took up many of the Populist Party's causes at the national level, and the party began to fade from national prominence. In that year's presidential election, the Populists nominated Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan; he backed the Populist opposition to the gold standard in his famous "Cross of Gold" speech. The Populists could not bring themselves to also nominate Bryan's conservative eastern running mate, Arthur Sewall, and nominated Thomas E. Watson for vice president instead, though Watson staunchly opposed fusion with the Democrats. The 1896 convention was the Coliseum of the St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall which in the same month hosted the 1896 Republican National Convention. Bryan lost to William McKinley by a margin of 600,000 votes. The effects of fusion with the Democrats were disastrous to the Party in the south. Collaboration with the racist Democratic establishment effectively ended the Populist/Republican alliance which had governed North Carolina with the support of African Americans. By 1898, the North Carolinian Populists were attempting to out-flank the Democrats with a virulently racist campaign. [cite web|last=Graham|first=Nicholas|title=The Election of 1898 in North Carolina: An Introduction|url=http://www.lib.unc.edu/ncc/1898/history.html|work=The North Carolina Election of 1898|publisher=University of North Carolina Press|month=June | year=2005|accessdate=2008-02-06]

In 1900, while many Populist voters supported Bryan again, the weakened party nominated a ticket of Wharton Barker and Ignatius L. Donnelly. Thomas E. Watson was the Populist nominee for president in 1904 and in 1908, after which the party effectively ceased to exist.

Legacy

The nation remained at least partially on the gold standard until 1971, when President Nixon revoked it. However, the Populists' notion of allowing silver to become legal tender was noted and adopted by the US Government, but only for a short period of time. On the same note there exist historians who would cite the Sherman Silver Purchase Act as a major contributing factor to the depression of 1893.

In addition, the Populist Party's call for the direct election of senators was realized in 1913 with the ratification of the seventeenth amendment.

Elected officials

Governors

* Colorado: Davis Hanson Waite, 1893-1895
* Kansas: Lorenzo D. Lewelling, 1893–1895
* Kansas: John W. Leedy, 1897–1899
* Nebraska: Silas A. Holcomb, 1895-1899 (Fusion of Democrats and Populists)
* Nebraska: William A. Poynter, 1899-1901 (Fusion of Democrats and Populists)
* North Carolina: Daniel Lindsay Russell, 1897-1901 (Fusion of Republicans and Populists)
* Oregon: Sylvester Pennoyer, 1887–1895 (Fusion of Democrats and Populists)
* South Dakota: Andrew E. Lee, 1897–1901
* Tennessee: John P. Buchanan, 1891-1893
* Washington: John Rogers, 1897-1901 (Fusion of Democrats and Populists)

United States Congress

Approximately forty-five members of the party served in the U.S. Congress between 1891 and 1902. These included six United States Senators:
*William A. Peffer and William A. Harris from Kansas
*Marion Butler of North Carolina
*James H. Kyle from South Dakota
*Henry Heitfeld of Idaho
*William V. Allen from Nebraska

The following were Populist members of the U.S. House of Representatives:

52nd United States Congress
* Thomas E. Watson, Georgia's 10th congressional district
* Benjamin Hutchinson Clover, Kansas's 3rd congressional district
* John Grant Otis, Kansas's 4th congressional district
* John Davis, Kansas's 5th congressional district
* William Baker, Kansas's 6th congressional district
* Jerry Simpson, Kansas's 7th congressional district
* Kittel Halvorson, Minnesota's 6th congressional district
* William A. McKeighan, Nebraska's 2nd congressional district
* Omer Madison Kem, Nebraska's 3rd congressional district

53rd United States Congress
* Marion Cannon, California's 6th congressional district
* Lafayette Pence, Colorado's 1st congressional district
* John Calhoun Bell, Colorado's 2nd congressional district
* Thomas Jefferson Hudson, Kansas's 3rd congressional district
* John Davis, Kansas' 5th congressional district
* William Baker, Kansas' 6th congressional district
* Jerry Simpson, Kansas' 7th congressional district
* William A. Harris, Kansas Member-at-large
* William A. McKeighan, Nebraska's 5th congressional district
* Omer Madison Kem, Nebraska's 6th congressional district
* Alonzo C. Shuford, North Carolina's 7th congressional district

54th United States Congress
* Albert Taylor Goodwyn, Alabama's 5th congressional district
* Milford W. Howard, Alabama's 7th congressional district
* William Baker, Kansas' 6th congressional district
* Omer Madison Kem, Nebraska's 6th congressional district
* Harry Skinner, North Carolina's 1st congressional district
* William F. Strowd, North Carolina's 4th congressional district
* Charles H. Martin (1848-1931), North Carolina's 6th congressional district
* Alonzo C. Shuford, North Carolina's 7th congressional district

55th United States Congress
* Albert Taylor Goodwyn, Alabama's 5th congressional district
* Charles A. Barlow, California's 6th congressional district
* Curtis H. Castle, California's 7th congressional district
* James Gunn, Idaho's 1st congressional district
* Mason Summers Peters, Kansas's 2nd congressional district
* Edwin Reed Ridgely, Kansas's 3rd congressional district
* William Davis Vincent, Kansas's 5th congressional district
* Nelson B. McCormick, Kansas's 6th congressional district
* Jerry Simpson, Kansas's 7th congressional district
* Jeremiah Dunham Botkin, Kansas Member-at-large
* Samuel Maxwell, Nebraska's 3rd congressional district
* William Ledyard Stark, Nebraska's 4th congressional district
* Roderick Dhu Sutherland, Nebraska's 5th congressional district
* William Laury Greene, Nebraska's 6th congressional district
* Harry Skinner, North Carolina's 1st congressional district
* John E. Fowler, North Carolina's 3rd congressional district
* William F. Strowd, North Carolina's 4th congressional district
* Charles H. Martin, North Carolina's 5th congressional district
* Alonzo C. Shuford, North Carolina's 7th congressional district
* John Edward Kelley, South Dakota's 1st congressional district
* Freeman T. Knowles, South Dakota's 2nd congressional district

56th United States Congress
* William Ledyard Stark, Nebraska's 4th congressional district
* Roderick Dhu Sutherland, Nebraska's 5th congressional district
* William Laury Greene, Nebraska's 6th congressional district
* John W. Atwater, North Carolina's 4th congressional district

57th United States Congress
* Thomas L. Glenn, Idaho's 1st congressional district
* Caldwell Edwards, Montana's 1st congressional district
* William Ledyard Stark, Nebraska's 4th congressional district
* William Neville, Nebraska's 6th congressional district


=Recent incarnations=

People's Party

In the 1970s, a "People's Party" was established as a left-wing, anti-war coalition. It ceased to exist after 1976.

Populist Party (right-wing)

In 1984, the Populist Party name was revived by some extreme right activists including Willis Carto. The party's 1984 presidential nominee, Olympic medalist and ordained minister Bob Richards, and running mate Maureen Kennedy Salaman carried 66,324 votes. This party became the electoral vehicle for the right-wing Presidential campaigns of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke in 1988, and of former Green Beret officer Bo Gritz in 1992, but was defunct by 1996. Willis Carto and party chair Don Wassall were said to be rivals competing for control of the party. In 1994 the anti-Carto group won the internal struggle and re-organized the group as the American Nationalist Union.

Electoral history

*United States presidential election, 1984: Bob Richards/Maureen Salaman 51,918 [ [http://www.statemaster.com/graph/pre_1984_pop_vot_for_bob_ric-1984-popular-votes-bob-richards StateMaster - StateMaster Survey ] ]
*United States presidential election, 1988: David Duke/Floyd Parker 32,574 [ [http://www.statemaster.com/graph/pre_1988_pop_vot_for_dav_duk-1988-popular-votes-david-duke StateMaster - 2008> Popular Votes for David Duke (most recent) by state ] ]
*United States presidential election, 1992: James Bo Gritz/Cyril Minett 106,152 0.10% [ [http://www.uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/national.php?year=1992&minper=0&f=0&off=0&elect=0 1992 Presidential General Election Results ] ]

Populist Party of America

A new group officially formed in 2002 calling itself the Populist Party of America (http://www.populistamerica.com), which advocates direct democracy and a "strict adherence to the Bill of Rights" as well as a general opposition to President George W. Bush and the Iraq War. This party is registered with the Federal Election Commission (at a Los Angeles address) but has not yet fielded candidates for president or established itself as an electoral force. [cite web|title=FEC Disclosure Report Search Results|url=http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/com_detail/C00378380/|publisher=Federal Election Commission|accessdate=2008-02-06]

Populist Parties, 2004-present

Meanwhile, the name Populist Party was adopted in 2004 by groups in several states seeking a ballot line for independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader. The Populist Party of Maryland was one of those groups, but unlike most, it continued to exist after Nader's poor showing in 2004. In the 2006 United States Senate election in Maryland, the Populist Party of Maryland supported a fusion ticket of Green Party, Libertarian Party, and Populist supporters for U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Zeese, a founder of the PPMD and 2004 press secretary for Ralph Nader. The Maryland Populists also nominated candidates for governor and lieutenant governor of the state.

ee also

* Greenback Party
* List of political parties in the United States
* Populist Party of America
* Populist Party of Maryland
* United States Note
* Political interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Notes

References

* Goodwyn, Lawrence. 1978. The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (ISBN 0-19-502416-8 or ISBN 0-19-502417-6)
* Hicks, John D. "The Sub-Treasury: A Forgotten Plan for the Relief of Agriculture ". Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Dec., 1928), pp. 355-373. First page available here: [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0161-391X(192812)15%3A3%3C355%3ATSAFPF%3E2.0.CO%3B2-0] .
*Kazin, Michael. 1995. "The Populist Persuasion: An American History". New York: Basic Books. (ISBN 0-465-03793-3)
* Lester, Connie. Up from the Mudsills of Hell : The Farmers' Alliance, Populism, And Progressive Agriculture in Tennessee, 1870-1915. University of Georgia Press. March 2006. Hardcover. ISBN 0-8203-2762-X.
* McMath, Robert C. Jr. 1993. American Populism: A Social History 1877-1898. New York: Hill and Wang; Farrar, Straus & Giroux. (ISBN 0-8090-7796-5)
* Nugent, Walter T. K. 1962. The Tolerant Populists: Kansas Populism and Nativism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
* Stock, Catherine McNicol. 1996. Rural Radicals: Righteous Rage in the American Grain. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. (ISBN 0-8014-3294-4)

External links

* [http://www.populistamerica.com Populist Party]
* [http://www.midwest-populistamerica.com Midwest Populist Party]

Contemporary accounts

* cite journal
last = Gompers
first = Samuel
authorlink = Samuel Gompers
title = Organized Labor in the Campaign
journal = The North American Review
volume = 155
issue = 428
pages = 91–97
month = July | year = 1892
url = http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/moa/moa-cgi?notisid=ABQ7578-0155-15
publisher = University of Northern Iowa
accessdate = 2006-10-09

* cite journal
last = Dolph
first = Senator Joseph N.
authorlink = Joseph N. Dolph
title = Does the Republican Party Need Reorganization?,
journal = The North American Review
volume = 156
issue = 434
pages = 54–61
month = January | year = 1893
url = http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/moa/moa-cgi?notisid=ABQ7578-0156-9
publisher = University of Northern Iowa
accessdate = 2006-10-09

* cite journal
last = Peffer
first = Senator William A.
authorlink = William A. Peffer
title = The Mission of the Populist Party
journal = The North American Review
volume = 157
issue = 445
pages = 665–679
month = December | year = 1893
url = http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/moa/moa-cgi?notisid=ABQ7578-0157-82
publisher = University of Northern Iowa
accessdate = 2006-10-09

* cite journal
last = Lewelling
first = L. D.
authorlink = L. D. Lewelling
title = Problems Before the Western Farmer
journal = The North American Review
volume = 160
issue = 458
pages = 16–21
month = January | year = 1895
url = http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/moa/moa-cgi?notisid=ABQ7578-0160-4
publisher = University of Northern Iowa
accessdate = 2006-10-09

* cite journal
last = Stahl
first = John M.
authorlink = John M. Stahl
title = Are the Farmers Populists?
journal = The North American Review
volume = 163
issue = 478
pages = 266–276
month = September | year = 1896
url = http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/moa/moa-cgi?notisid=ABQ7578-0163-31
publisher = University of Northern Iowa
accessdate = 2006-10-09

* cite journal
last = Trent
first = W. P.
authorlink =
title = Dominant Forces in Southern Life
journal = The Atlantic monthly
volume = 79
issue = 471
pages = 42–53
month = January | year = 1897
url = http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/moa/moa-cgi?notisid=ABK2934-0079-7
publisher = University of Northern Iowa
accessdate = 2006-10-09

* cite journal
last = Turner
first = Frederick J.
authorlink = Frederick J. Turner
title = Dominant Forces in Western Life
journal = The Atlantic monthly
volume = 79
issue = 474
pages = 433–443
month = April | year = 1897
url = http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/moa/moa-cgi?notisid=ABK2934-0079-51
publisher = University of Northern Iowa
accessdate = 2006-10-09
doi = 10.2307/1917933

* cite journal
last = Peffer
first = Senator William A.
title = The Passing of the People's Party
journal = The North American review
volume = 166
issue = 494
pages = 12–24
month = January | year = 1898
url = http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/moa/moa-cgi?notisid=ABQ7578-0166-4
publisher = University of Northern Iowa
accessdate = 2006-10-09

Party publications and materials

* [http://history.missouristate.edu/wrmiller/Populism/2scartoon/index.htm Populist Cartoon Index] . Archived at Missouri State University. Retrieved August 24, 2006.
* [http://www.cresswellslist.com/ballots2/pp.htm Buttons, tokens and ribbons of the Populist Party] . Reprinted from Issue 19, "Buttons and Ballots", Fall 1998. Retrieved August 26, 2006.
* [http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/peoples/peoples.html People's Party Hand-Book of Facts. Campaign of 1898] : Electronic Edition. Populist Party (N.C.). State Executive Committee. Reformated and reprinted by the University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
* [http://docsouth.unc.edu/result.phtml?lcsh=Populist%20Party%20(N.C.) Populist materials online] courtesty University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Secondary sources

* [http://mshistory.k12.ms.us/features/feature42/populistparty.html "Farmers, the Populist Party, and Mississippi (1870-1900)] ". By Kenneth G. McCarty. Published by [http://mshistory.k12.ms.us/index.html Mississippi History Now] a project of the Mississippi Historical Society. Retrieved August 24, 2006.
* [http://www.nebraskastudies.org/0600/frameset_reset.html?http://www.nebraskastudies.org/0600/stories/0601_0303.html The Populist Party in Nebraska] . Published by the [http://www.nebraskastudies.org/ Nebraskastudies.org] , a project of the [http://www.nde.state.ne.us/ Nebraska Department of Education] .
* [http://www.northcarolinahistory.org/encyclopedia/58/entry "Fusion Politics"] . The Populist Party in North Carolina. A project of the [http://www.johnlocke.org/ John Locke Foundation] . Retrieved August 24, 2006.
* [http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~pmullins/chapter13.htm "The Decline of the Cotton Farmer"] . Anecdotal account of rise and fall of Farmers Alliance and Populist Party in Texas.

External links — later parties

* [http://www.populistamerica.com/ Populist Party]


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