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Farming and Populism

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Information about Farming and Populism
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Published on December 7, 2007

Author: Noemie

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Exploring American History Unit VI – A Growing America:  Exploring American History Unit VI – A Growing America Chapter 18 Section 3 – Farming and Populism Farming and Populism:  Farming and Populism The Big Idea Settlers on the Great Plains created new communities and unique political groups. Main Ideas Many Americans started new lives on the Great Plains. Economic challenges led to the creation of farmers’ political groups. By the 1890s, the western frontier had come to an end. New Lives in the West:  Farming Breaking up tough grass on the Plains earned farmers the nickname “sodbusters.” 1880s—Mechanical farming was becoming common. 1890s—Farmers began dry farming, growing hardy crops such as red wheat. Crops were shipped east by train and then overseas; the Great Plains became known as the breadbasket of the world. New Lives in the West Building Communities Women were an important force in settling the frontier. Annie Bidwell, a founder of Chico, California, supported many social causes. Harsh life on remote farms led farmers to form communities, creating churches and schools. Children helped with many chores on the farm. Main Idea 1: Many Americans started new lives on the Great Plains. :  Main Idea 1: Many Americans started new lives on the Great Plains. Two important land-grant acts helped open the West to settlers in 1862. The Homestead Act gave government land to farmers. The Morrill Act gave federal land to states to sell in order to fund colleges to teach agriculture and engineering. People who made new lives in the West included women, immigrants, and African Americans. Thousands of southern African Americans, known as Exodusters, moved to Kansas. Homestead Act - 1862:  Homestead Act - 1862 Morrill Act - 1862:  Morrill Act - 1862 Main Idea 2: Economic challenges led to the creation of farmers’ political groups.:  Main Idea 2: Economic challenges led to the creation of farmers’ political groups. The United States was growing during the period 1860-1900. The population more than doubled. The number of farms tripled. Farmers could harvest a bushel of wheat 20 times faster in 1900 than in 1830. Farm incomes fell. More farms and greater productivity led to overproduction, which led to lower prices. Many farmers lost their farms and homes and became tenant farmers. By 1880, one-fourth of all farms were rented by tenants. Farmers formed associations to protect their interests. Farmers- during and after the Civil War.:  Farmers- during and after the Civil War. During the Civil War farmers on both sides prospered- food needed for war, fewer farmers and prices went up. After the War Prices tumbled and so did farm income- demand was down. Railroad rates remained high- transportation monopolies Farmers needed to borrow money- mortgages, machinery and paying the help until harvest. Foreclosures were frequent The National Grange and the Railroads:  The National Grange and the Railroads The National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry was a social and educational organization for farmers. The Grange called for laws to regulate railroad rates. The Supreme Court ruled: 1877 that the government could regulate railroads 1886 that government could regulate only companies doing business across state lines Congress passed the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887 to provide national regulations for trade, but could not enforce them. Free Silver Debate and the Populist Party:  Free Silver Debate The U.S. had been on the gold standard since 1873, resulting in deflation. Many farmers supported the unlimited coining of silver and the backing of paper currency with silver. Congress passed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act to increase the amount of silver purchased for coinage, but it did not help farmers much. Free Silver Debate and the Populist Party Populist Party The Farmers’ Alliances formed the Populist Party to have power and a candidate that would represent them. It supported government ownership of railroads and communication systems, free silver, and labor regulation. It supported William Jennings Bryan in the election of 1896, but his defeat marked the end of the Farmers’ Alliance and the Populist Party. Populist Party- The goal was not just to relieve economic pressure on agriculture, but also to restore democracy by eliminating what the Populists saw as the corrupt and corrupting alliance between business and government.:  Populist Party- The goal was not just to relieve economic pressure on agriculture, but also to restore democracy by eliminating what the Populists saw as the corrupt and corrupting alliance between business and government. Platform: Omaha 1892 Support Labor Unions Wealth belongs to those who make it Government ownership of Railroads, telephone and telegraph. Free Silver Graduated Income Tax Secret Ballot Shorten work hours. Initiative and Referendum Direct election of Senators Restriction of Immigration Mary Lease Populist Party:  Populist Party Farmers as a group did not share in the general prosperity of the latter nineteenth century, and believed that they had been marked out as special victims of the new industrial system Agricultural areas in the West and South had been hit by economic depression years before industrial areas. In the 1880s, as drought hit the wheat-growing areas of the Great Plains and prices for Southern cotton sunk to new lows, many tenant farmers fell into deep debt. This exacerbated long-held grievances against railroads, lenders, grain-elevator owners, and others with whom farmers did business. Party of the People- farmers and reformers- 1892 Governors, Senators and even a presidential candidate- Gen. James B. Weaver. William Jennings Bryan:  Politician from Nebraska; served in Congress Supported free silver coinage Populist Influential speaker and newspaper editor Democratic candidate for president in 1896 Populists supported Bryan instead of splitting the silver vote. William Jennings Bryan Main Idea 3: By the 1890s, the western frontier had come to an end.:  Main Idea 3: By the 1890s, the western frontier had come to an end. Only small portions of the Great Plains remained unsettled by 1870. U.S. officials allowed homesteaders to settle the Indian territory in what is now Oklahoma in 1889. Settlers claimed more than 11 million acres of former Indian land in the Oklahoma land rush. The frontier had ceased to exist in the United States by the early 1890s.

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