The Farmer’s Alliance and the Populist Party

Founded in the 1870s, the Farmer’s Alliance was the largest citizen’s movement of the 19th century and spanned 43 states by 1890. The Farmer’s Alliance would transform into the Populist Party, a political party that was favored in the wheat and cotton belts of America. It found its greatest success in Colorado and Idaho because of the number of miners and industrial workers in the states.

The Populist Party used familiar language such as the language of that of the 19th century Radicalism and it embraced new technologies such as the railroad, telegraph, and the national market however it looked to the federal government to regulate them.

The Populist Party Platform was laid out at the Omaha Convention in 1892 and included a number of objectives including

  • Direct Election of US Senators (17th Amendment)
  • A government controlled currency
  • Graduated Income Tax
  • Low cost public financing to enable farmers to market crops
  • Favored unionization
  • Public ownership of railraods

Due to being widely unwelcome in the southern areas of America, black farmers formed the Colored Farmer’s Alliance. The CFA tried to organize strikes for cotton pickers in South Carolina, Arkansas, and Texas which were violently suppressed by local authorities and landowners as generally, southern populists did not differ in their racial views as their nonpopulist neighbors.

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