The Populist Movement Explained


Mr. Beat


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today's video is dedicated to Jessie and everyone else in mr. Steve Lynch's history classes thanks for watching what is popular no seriously what is popular I really don't know my name is mr. beat today the term populist is thrown around quite a bit whether it's someone from the Tea Party or the Occupy Wall Street movement or another movement my modern definition of populist is someone who is a supporter of a movement seeking to represent the interests of ordinary people but who were the original populist man well here's the story of the populist movement once upon a time in the late 1800s the United States experienced huge growth and industrialization factories began to pop up all over the place and more and more people were making more money thanks to the increase in the mass production of goods it was later called the Gilded Age a time which caused john d rockefeller to eventually become the nation's first billionaire however not all Americans benefited from this newfound prosperity in particular many farmers across the American South and the Great Plains struggle inflation was low due to the country's limited supply of money because of this farmers suffered because their crops were selling at lower in lower prices and therefore they weren't making as much money anymore not only that loans for equipment and land had ridiculously high interest rates some were as high as three hundred and forty five percent and farmers could not pay them back these farmers who were understandably angry and frustrated blame these plutocrats for people who get their power from becoming rich they particularly blame the bankers who were taking advantage of them and the giant corporations who were hurting competition in the marketplace in the 1870s groups like the Granger's and the farmers alliances called for lower railroad rates they also argue that corporations in the wealthy should pay more taxes these groups along with the green backers and various labor political parties began to unite against the mainstream Democratic and Republican parties by the late 1880s many of these like-minded groups began to merge the national agricultural wheel the southern farmers Alliance and the Knights of Labor a group credited for further popularizing the eight-hour workday and 40-hour workweek consolidated to become the farmers and laborers union of America with the urban labor organizations and rural farmers organizations now joining forces the Democratic Party and Republican Party began to have a legitimate threat although the people's party also called the populist party wasn't officially created until 1891 people across the Midwest and south had already been elected as populist the year before populism was more popular in Kansas probably more so than any other place in the country the populist there took control the legislature after 92 of them were elected Kansas was also home of some of the most famous and earliest adopters of populism Gerry Simpson elected in 1890 to the US House of Representatives became nationally known as the party's congressional leader William pepper was the first populist to serve as a US senator and other kanzen mary-elizabeth least became nationally famous for her passionate speeches calling for racial and gender equality she also talked trash about the plutocrats quote Wall Street owns the country it is no longer a government of the people by the people and for the people but a government of Wall Street by Wall Street in for Wall Street by 1892 the populist movement had quickly spread across the country on July 2nd 1892 the populist had a national convention in Omaha Nebraska to nominate James B Weaver of Iowa for president and James G field of Virginia for vice-president it also adopted an official party platform one the free and unlimited coinage of silver to create inflation number two getting rid of the national banking system number three the printing of more cash with the ability for people to borrow cash more easily number four national ownership of all public communication and transportation number five a progressive income tax in other words the more money you make the higher percentage of your income is taxed number six the popular election of united states senators at the time state legislators voted them in number seven more direct democracy on specific acts of legislation and number eight making it illegal for foreigners to only into the United States Weaver infield received 22 electoral votes in a popular vote of 1 million 55420 for which was promising for the future however after 1892 several factions begin to emerge within the populist movement some populist supported Republicans some one of the prohibition of alcohol others wanted to focus more on civil rights or getting women the right to vote some populist wanted to support Democratic candidates as many Democrats were beginning to adopt populist causes in 1896 the populist had their best chance ever to get their guy in office they nominated the extremely charismatic and energetic William Jennings Bryan for president even though he was already nominated by the Democratic Party however populist disagreed over who to support as his running mate Bryan ended up losing the 1896 election his push for the free and unlimited coinage of silver did not resonate with factory workers in the city who would be hurt by inflation not helped by this time so many populist were supporting or identifying with the Democratic Party and they began to lose their identity in addition the economy had recovered in the late 1890s and there was less outrage due to there being less economic hardship in fact times were better for the majority of Americans because of this in addition to the increase of divisions within the People's Party the populist movement quickly faded by 1900 the remaining populous supported Bryan again but this time he lost by much larger margin after Bryan's second presidential defeat the populist party fell apart while some populous retired from politics many ended up continuing with the Democratic Party or followed Eugene debb's into his new Socialist Party though the fatherless party was officially dead by 1909 most progressive ideas that took the country by storm in the coming years had their roots in populism in fact the populist movement is one of the most influential movements in American history today populist is a term frequently used to describe the anti elitist beliefs by people of all political backgrounds anytime you hear a politician talking bad about quote Washington insiders that's populist rhetoric populism has been and continues to be a driving force in politics around the world much of what the American populace said in the 1890s is just as relevant today as it was back then the end you