Populism review


1. What problems did farmers face in the 1890s? What did Mary Elizabeth Lease say the problems facing farmers were?


2. What was the Farmers' Alliance and how did it propose to improve farmers' lives? what was the subtreasury?

what are the broader implications of the subtreasury plan? what vision of government does it suggest?

3. How are the Populists different from the Farmers' Alliance? What was the Populist platform in 1892?

4. why was Populism appealing in the South? why was the prospect of cross-racial cooperation among farmers frightening to powerful Southern whites? what did they do?

5. how did the Populists do in 1892? where in the country were they strong and weak?

6. why did Coxey's Army and the Homestead and Pullman strikes from 1892-94 increase the Populists' appeal? But why didn't the Populists become a new third, or even second, party?

is this vision of things accurate? do you think farmers and workers are essentially in the same position? how about black and white farmers? when has this idea appeared before? how good are the platform's ideas?

7. US gold reserves were, by law, supposed to be at least $100 million. They dropped to $45M by January 1895, and JP Morgan took the train to DC and told the President that the economy could crash by 3pm that afternoon. He helped arrange loans from Europe and, for the first but not last time, saved the economy. Gold reserves topped $107M by June.

What was free silver and why was the idea appealing?

8. what else did Bryan stand for? what kinds of claims did he make in his speeches?

9. how would you compare the 1892 platform to the 1896 platform? what historical connections do we see in Bryan's rhetoric?

would these things have helped? were they good ideas? better/worse than 1892?

10. The Dow Jones dropped 30% in August 1896 alone due to Wall Street's fears of a Bryan victory. What was the Republican campaign's response to Bryan? why did the Republicans win the 1896 election?

11. what happened to the Populist party after 1896?

looking at the 2007 article on the farm bill, do you think Lease and Bryan would have been happy with its provisions? do these solutions seem like good ones to you?