Populists Vs Progressives Essay Scholarships
Politics in Progressive Era Politics
Populists and Progressives
The famous turn-of-the-century newspaper journalist William Allen White once claimed that a Progressive was a Populist who had shaved his whiskers, washed his shirt, and put on a derby hat.20
In other words, Progressives shared many of the same goals and demands that the earlier Populist movement had unsuccessfully championed: democratic reforms like the initiative (where a popular petition can be voted into law), referendum (where proposed laws have to be referred to the voters for approval), and direct election of senators (rather than through state legislatures). But Progressivism was rooted in the middle class, unlike the earlier Populist movement of struggling farmers and workers. Perhaps as a result of their class status, their usually high level of education, and their resulting influence, Progressives were also more successful at getting their reforms passed into law, even if some of those reforms failed to accomplish all that the Progressives hoped they would.
Progressive initiatives dominated the legislative history of the early-20th century. At the federal level, Progressives substantially lowered import duties with the Underwood-Simmons Tariff of 1913. Progressives were also responsible for the creation of the income tax. Through the first 100-plus years of American history, tariffs had provided the bulk of government revenues, and there was no such thing as a federal income tax. Pressed by the Progressives to reduce tariffs, Congress had to make up for the lost revenue somehow—it settled on the modern income tax as a means of funding the government budget. Americans have been complaining about their taxes ever since.
Progressives also ensured the direct popular election of senators with the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913. Progressives supported Prohibition—the banning of alcohol—by passing the 18th Amendment of 1918, and contributed to the final push for women's suffrage, which was granted by the 19th Amendment in 1920. And Progressive reforms at the state and municipal levels were even more dramatic.
Progressives tended to be less radical than Populists, so they didn't push for nationalization of the railroad and grain storage industries as their rural predecessors had done. Yet during Woodrow Wilson's presidency, Progressives did secure passage of the Warehouse Act, which offered credit to farmers who stored their crops in federally licensed warehouses, which resembled the old Populist subtreasury plan. In the 1890s, farmers sought to improve rural conditions by pressing the government to build warehouses where they could store their crops until they were sold; they could then use the stored crops as collateral for federal loans with low interest rates. The Adamson Act, also passed under Wilson, established an eight-hour day for railroad workers, and the eight-hour day—for workers in all industries—had been a central demand of the labor movement for decades.
For all of their successes, Progressives often found their legislation compromised by the diluting influence of elites like Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Henry Stimson. Such prominent figures positioned themselves as champions of the cause, but were willing to make compromises in order to satisfy key constituents and remain in power. Progressivism championed noble aims, but was often co-opted by businessmen seeking to enact symbolic or less radical reforms, and was hampered by the diverse and sometimes contradictory motives and identities of its own activists.
Teddy Roosevelt and the Square Deal
Progressivism followed hard on the heels of Populism. In 1896, the Democratic party co-opted the Populist platform and nominated Nebraska Congressman William Jennings Bryan for the presidency. Bryan lost to William McKinley and the Populist movement dissolved in the process.
But the push for reform remained a powerful presence in American life. This proved abundantly clear when McKinley's 42-year-old vice president, Theodore Roosevelt, took office upon McKinley's assassination in 1901. Roosevelt would become the first president to be commonly associated with Progressivism, characterized by historian Alan Brinkley as "a champion of cautious, moderate change."21 Roosevelt was the epitome of a Progressive leader—he wasn't out to revolutionize government, but simply to guarantee a balanced approach to both workers and businessmen whenever possible.
Roosevelt tried to distinguish between "good" and "bad" corporations and sought to help the former by stamping out the latter, which he defined as monopolistic trusts in restraint of fair and open competition. This so-called "trust-busting" approach was a popular tactic with voters during the early-20th century, as economic concentration peaked in the United States and some 4,000 smaller businesses were swallowed up by larger conglomerates seeking to attain monopolistic power in the marketplace.22
But trust-busting was always more a matter of legend than fact. The government never attempted to bust most of the country's trusts, though Roosevelt did successfully bring a few well-publicized suits, like a 1902 case against the Northern Securities Company railroad combination. Banker J. P. Morgan had created Northern Securities as a holding company—that is, it held the stock and the control over three large railroad lines in the West. The railroads of Northern Securities controlled most of the transportation lines between the Pacific Ocean and the Great Lakes, depriving Western customers of the benefits of competition. The Supreme Court agreed with the government and ordered Northern Securities to be dissolved in 1904.
That same year, Roosevelt also became the first president ever to intervene in a labor dispute without taking the side of the employers. An ongoing miner's strike threatened to endanger coal supplies for the approaching winter. Roosevelt forced anthracite coal industry leaders and the striking United Mine Workers to accept federal arbitration in their labor dispute. When mine owners refused to accept arbitration, Roosevelt threatened to dispatch federal troops to seize the mines. The owners then capitulated to federally brokered talks and the workers won a 10% wage raise and a nine-hour day in the resulting arbitration.
Roosevelt's pragmatic reformism proved quite popular with the American people. In the 1904 presidential election, Roosevelt won over 56% of the popular vote and pledged to continue his policy of giving everyone a "Square Deal." In 1906, he signed the Hepburn Railroad Act, which gave the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) the added regulatory authority to examine the account books of the powerful railroad companies.
That same year, socialist author Upton Sinclair published The Jungle, a sensationally graphic account of the meatpacking industry in Chicago's stockyards. Sinclair was trying to raise public awareness of corporate corruption and the deplorable conditions in which poor workers toiled, but most of the resulting public outcry instead centered on the disgusting state of the country's meat supply. In response, Roosevelt supported passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act.
Roosevelt called for further reforms, including regulation of the stock market, taxes on income and inheritance, worker's compensation for accidents on the job, and an eight-hour workday. But Roosevelt increasingly came into conflict with conservatives in his own Republican Party, who opposed these measures and kept them from passing through Congress.
Despite the bevy of Progressive legislative reforms passed under Roosevelt's watch, the capitalist marketplace remained quite volatile—financial panic struck in 1907. Progressive reforms didn't cause the economic downturn, though conservative Republicans argued otherwise. The panic proved that the government still held little substantive regulatory power over the financial sector, so Wall Street didn't look to the government to help rectify the crisis. Since the Federal Reserve Bank didn't yet exist, nor did any real regulatory authority, it wasn't the government but financiers like J.P. Morgan who took steps to rectify the economic instability.
Morgan pooled the resources of New York banks to bail out the failing institutions that prompted the recession. He also secured a guarantee from President Roosevelt that the government would not pursue antitrust action against U.S. Steel, which had recently purchased shares of the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company. Morgan successfully presented the acquisition to the Roosevelt administration as an act of goodwill that would shore up Tennessee Coal, one of many companies struggling not to go bankrupt in the panic. Despite this period of economic turmoil, Roosevelt did manage to secure quite a popular reputation before he voluntarily stepped down from office in 1908.
Roosevelt was one of the presidency's greatest environmental advocates. Roosevelt secured his legacy as a steward of the environment thanks largely to the influence of naturalist and Sierra Club co-founder John Muir. Roosevelt read Muir's 1901 work, Our National Parks, and the two met in 1903, when they traveled together to the Yosemite Valley to explore the wilderness. Muir convinced the president to ditch his security detail and appealed to his sense of rugged adventurousness by taking him camping in Yosemite's Mariposa Grove for four days.
The experience apparently had quite an effect on the young president. Five years later, Roosevelt issued a presidential proclamation establishing the Muir Woods National Monument just north of San Francisco. He also used his executive authority to restrict private development on public lands, which constituted millions of acres at the turn of the century. Conservatives, however, acted to thwart Roosevelt's designs by restricting his authority over undeveloped government land. Nonetheless, Roosevelt managed to establish five National Parks, 148 million acres of National Forest, and 23 National Monuments during his eight years in the White House. He also created the nation's first wildlife refuge on Pelican Island in Florida, another result of his meeting with Muir.
And the president could agree with the conservative members of his party on the importance of reclamation and irrigation, in which the government funded construction of reservoirs, canals, and dams in the West in order to facilitate widespread settlement, land cultivation, and provide affordable electric power.
But for all his influence, Muir lost a hard fight against Roosevelt's chief forester, Gifford Pinchot, and the residents of nearby San Francisco when the beautiful and high-walled Hetch Hetchy Valley of Yosemite National Park was converted into a reservoir to provide drinking water for the city by the Bay.
The Taft Presidency
Perhaps no example better demonstrated the internal conflicts and contradictions of Progressivism than the William Howard Taft presidency. Taft was Roosevelt's good friend and chosen successor in 1909, having served as his Secretary of War and a close adviser. Like his predecessor, Taft beat William Jennings Bryan—American history's only three-time presidential loser—to win the presidency.
Taft benefited substantially from Roosevelt's endorsement and the general expectation that he would carry on the Progressive policies of the outgoing administration. Yet Taft ran into trouble with the Progressive wing of the party almost immediately after taking office when he went along with the Payne-Aldrich Tariff, which failed to reduce tariff rates to the degree that Progressives had long demanded. Progressives wanted a lower tariff to increase imports, thereby fostering more open competition that would undermine the trusts' stranglehold on the market. Although Roosevelt had largely ignored this issue, Taft had made it a campaign promise, but the final legislation actually increased some rates instead of dramatically reducing all of them.
Payne-Aldrich represented a compromise measure between the House and the more conservative Senate, and Taft may have been pragmatic to accept it as the only feasible measure that Congress could agree upon. But Progressives ferociously criticized his decision. It proved the first in an ominous series of debacles for the Taft administration.
The president seemed to reveal further conservative predilections when he sided with his new Secretary of the Interior, Richard A. Ballinger, in the so-called "Ballinger-Pinchot controversy." Ballinger was a corporate lawyer whom Taft had chosen to replace James R. Garfield, a staunch conservationist. Shortly after taking office, Ballinger confirmed environmentalists' fears about him by returning almost one million acres of forest reserve land back to the public domain under the argument that President Roosevelt had overstepped his authority in keeping the land off limits to private ownership or access.
Gifford Pinchot, the head of the Forest Service since the Roosevelt administration, accused Ballinger of colluding with business interests, like mining and lumber companies that stood to profit handsomely from use of the newly accessible land. Taft investigated these accusations, but found no evidence to prove them. Since he remained unconvinced, the president took no action. Determined to prevail, Pinchot then leaked the story to the press and called for a congressional investigation of Ballinger. Taft fired Pinchot in response, and the ensuing uproar severed most of the remaining ties between Roosevelt partisans—and Progressives in general—and the president.
Two years after the controversy, in the presidential election of 1912, Teddy Roosevelt reemerged as the spokesmen of the Progressives, while Taft had become the conservatives' candidate.
Paradoxically, however, Taft was an even more aggressive trust-buster than TR himself. Taft's administration took on some of the most powerful corporations in the American economy. While Roosevelt had deemed John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company a "good" trust, the Taft administration convinced the Supreme Court to declare Standard Oil in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Rockefeller's behemoth monopoly was then forced to break up into separate companies, one each for marketing, refining, and producing petroleum.
In 1911, the government filed suit against U.S. Steel, claiming that its 1907 acquisition of the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company was illegal. This suit outraged Roosevelt, for he'd specifically approved the U.S. Steel acquisition during the Panic of 1907 and was personally offended at the implication that he was wrong or even unethical to have allowed it to go through. Under Taft, the Interstate Commerce Commission was strengthened by the Mann-Elkins Act of 1910; a Department of Labor was created the following year. The government also prevailed in a suit against American Tobacco Company, which the Supreme Court ordered to stop using cutthroat pricing policies that were bankrupting smaller businesses.
Taft also supported the 16th Amendment, which was ratified in 1913 before he left office and which authorized Congress to enact a graduated income tax. This tax would help modernize the rapidly expanding federal government and provide it with a stable source of revenue. Up until this time, the government had relied on tariffs as its chief source of revenue. (A first temporary income tax had been passed during the Civil War, but was phased out by 1872.) With the Progressives' push for a lower tariff to encourage more open competition in the marketplace, the government needed a new source of income.
In 1894, Congress tried to pass another income tax, but the Supreme Court quickly rejected it as unconstitutional. In his opinion for the majority, Chief Justice Fuller argued that the Constitution's framers had intended that the "the power of direct taxation would be exercised only in extraordinary exigencies." Since America was at peace, the income tax must not be allowed to serve as a potentially "ordinary and usual means of supply" whenever it is not absolutely necessary.23
A Constitutional Amendment was therefore necessary to pass an income tax. Taft worked to make that amendment a reality.
The Election of 1912: A Progressive Apex
Taft's unpopularity among Progressives prompted Teddy Roosevelt to re-enter the political arena, making for one of the most remarkable presidential elections in American history.
By 1912, the Progressive platform dominated electoral politics from all sides of the political spectrum. That year's election would pit four strong candidates against each other, all of whom embraced at least some of the Progressive agenda: both a current and former president from the Progressive wing of the Republican Party, a strong nominee from the Democrats, and a popular Socialist, to boot. For all of Taft's contributions to Progressive causes-trust busting, expanding government's role in improving Americans' lives, and safeguarding citizens' rights—his mixture of conservatism and Progressivism proved too volatile to prevent challenges to his re-nomination in 1912.
Most Progressives thought that one of the most powerful challenges would come from Wisconsin Senator Robert La Follette. As a legislator and then a governor, La Follette had directed the most influential reform administration at the state level. He'd gained a wide following by appealing directly to the people and pushing through important reforms that came to be known collectively as the "Wisconsin Idea." They included a direct primary law (so that popular vote and not party bosses could nominate candidates for office), tax reform legislation (which included the taxation of corporate profits), railroad rate control, regulation of public utilities, and other measures.
But after campaigning hard for more than a year for the presidency, La Follette, exhausted and preoccupied with his daughter's sickness, experienced something of a nervous collapse during a speech in Philadelphia before the Periodical Publishers Association in February 1912. He spoke for over two hours, fiercely decrying the members of the press in his audience and repeating large sections of his speech. La Follette had intended the talk as a warning against media reliance on advertisers, who wielded considerable influence over the freedom of the press through their business. But La Follette's illness and exhaustion, combined with his daughter's illness, made for a disastrous setting and an equally disastrous speech. His presidential campaign imploded, though La Follette himself recovered and offered no apologies for the incident.
By the end of the month, Roosevelt had announced his candidacy. Seeing an opening for a Progressive candidate, TR decided to jump back in to offer moderate voters an appealing alternative to Taft, but without the more radical brand of Progressivism that La Follette had represented.
Now, the sitting Republican president found himself in the awkward position of competing against a popular former Republican president in the party nomination fight. Roosevelt's Progressive platform clearly captured the interest and the affinity of voters throughout the 13 presidential primaries, which he won easily. Presidential primaries themselves were a new democratic reform measure that Progressives had successfully enacted in several states. Before this time, as author Patricia O'Toole explains, "the electing took place in state conventions and caucuses tightly controlled by party bosses."24
Voters themselves could now directly choose their candidate by majority vote and Roosevelt won 278 "pledged" delegates to Taft's 48. But even with the primaries in place, Progressives had yet to break the stranglehold of state party organizations over the nominating process. The delegates that "pledged" to Roosevelt could be manipulated at the national party convention, and they were. State-level elites supported Taft by replacing the TR-pledged-delegates with "at large" or substitute state delegations that pledged their votes to Taft. Republican Party leaders thereby awarded Taft a disproportionate number of delegates at their Chicago party convention, securing him the party's nomination.25
For Roosevelt and the Progressives, this was only further evidence of the political corruption and anti-democratic tendencies that needed to be rectified in American government. Roosevelt took his supporters out of the Republican Party and formed a new Progressive (or "Bull Moose") Party, so nicknamed because Roosevelt claimed to be "fit as a bull moose" for the coming election fight.26
Many Progressive sympathizers nonetheless refused to take the dramatic step of bolting from their party. TR and Taft ended up splitting the votes of Republicans, opening the door for the Democrats, who'd otherwise been struggling through a long dry spell in national politics, managing to get only a single Democrat—Grover Cleveland—elected to the White House since 1860.
The Democratic nominee in 1912, Woodrow Wilson, was the Governor of New Jersey, where he'd established a worker's compensation program and increased state regulation of railroads and public utilities. With a reputation for getting Progressive legislation passed, Wilson announced a "New Freedom" platform that pledged not only to regulate monopolies, but to destroy them. He promised to support small businesses, protect workers' right to unionize, and to strengthen the current antitrust laws.
Roosevelt, by contrast, developed a "New Nationalism" program that treated big business as an inevitable presence in the country's booming economy and industrial sector. Roosevelt pledged to harness the power of government to regulate and control big business and to heavily tax the very wealthy individuals and corporations who profited the most. Both candidates agreed that government must play an integral role in preserving citizens' rights and freedoms, but they differed on economic policy, the merits of expanding government power, and the inevitability of big business as an outgrowth of rapid industrialization.
Further to the left than Wilson, Roosevelt, and Taft stood Socialist Party nominee Eugene V. Debs, who demanded public ownership of the banks and railroads, a nationwide minimum wage, labor laws that would give workers shorter hours, and government aid to the unemployed.
With all four candidates for president committed to various aspects of the Progressive agenda, 1912 marked a moment of triumph for the reform movement. It was also the beginning of the end for Progressivism. Ironically, because all the major candidates seemed to have accepted the movement, the very meaning of Progressivism was diluted. Though its central premise of expanded government support for individual citizens and its call for economic regulation remained intact, people from different parties and backgrounds now claimed to be Progressives, regardless of the differences between their philosophies and backgrounds.
What's more, Woodrow Wilson's victory in the election—he received 42% of the popular vote compared to Roosevelt's 27%, Taft's 23%, and Debs' 6%—brought a committed "Progressive" into office. Wilson would win many battles in the Progressive cause, but he ultimately lost the war.27
Wilson tied his personal legacy to the spread of Progressive ideals not just in America, but across the world, by promising to "make the world safe for democracy" through military intervention in World War I. When the disillusioned United States turned away from that attempt at international reform in the wake of the devastation of the First World War, Progressivism died along with Wilson himself.
Wilson: The Strong Executive
Woodrow Wilson's presidency began with a degree of optimism and energy characteristic of Progressivism itself. Backed by a Democratic Congress, Wilson passed a series of strong Progressive reforms.
To make amends for the disappointing Payne-Aldrich Tariff that Taft had supported, Wilson pushed through the Underwood Tariff shortly after his inauguration in 1913. This new measure reduced import duties much more substantially, enabling more foreign competition in the marketplace. Progressives hoped that such competition would undermine the power of domestic monopolies. Since the reduced tariff meant that government would be receiving less income from duties, Congress passed a graduated income tax. The first of its kind, the income tax applied a 1% levy to married couples and corporations that earned over $4,000 a year and to single people who made over $3,000 a year. Marginal tax rates increased for even wealthier citizens, maxing out at 6% for incomes over $500,000.
At a time when the average American adult made only about $900 a year, the vast majority of the American people (95%) paid no income tax at all. Even the wealthy paid taxes at rates that seem extraordinarily low compared to today.28
Next, Wilson held Congress in session throughout the summer of 1913 to pass major reforms of the banking system. Even at this early juncture, it became clear that Wilson had abandoned certain aspects of his New Freedom plan and embraced policies reminiscent of Roosevelt's New Nationalism. Rather than aggressively trust-busting, Wilson advocated banking reforms that marked an increased government role in supervising the economy. This included the Federal Reserve Act, which created the Federal Reserve System of 12 regional banks that issued currency and propped up unstable banks in danger of failing. The Federal Reserve would set the interest rate at which its regional banks issued loans to private banks and its currency—Federal Reserve notes—became the country's government-backed medium of trade. With this new system in place, Progressives hoped to prevent future crises like the one that had occurred in 1907, when multiple financial institutions failed and threatened to undermine the entire banking system.
But Wilson hadn't yet given up entirely on his campaign promises to smash monopolies. In 1914, Congress passed the Clayton Act and established the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The Clayton Act exempted labor unions from antitrust laws and prevented courts from issuing injunctions against workers' right to strike. Yet Wilson seemed to lose interest in the bill and conservative congressmen managed to considerably dilute several of its most effective provisions before it was passed. The FTC was designed to regulate businesses and notify them in advance if their action—such as price fixing or monopolistic measures—might be deemed "unfair" or unacceptable to the government. Regardless of such advances in government regulation, Wilson proved himself anything but an enemy to monopolies. Though the FTC represented a substantial boost for the federal government's regulatory capacity, many businessmen welcomed it, along with the Federal Reserve Act, as a means of stabilizing the economy and as a palatable alternative to more radical attacks against corporate wealth and power.
Similarly, though the Clayton Act demonstrated a substantial expansion of the federal government's role, it also signified the disconnect between symbolism and reality in American politics. Clayton was supposed to embody the Wilsonian promise of added labor protections and workers' rights, but because it was watered down in Congress, Americans were left with the impression that their president had passed the necessary reforms without realizing that those reforms had been compromised before they could even be implemented. Once businessmen and others fully understood this potential for deception, they took advantage of it by cloaking themselves in Progressive language and then using all of their influence to ensure that conservative congressmen diluted the reforms.
The push for Progressive reforms empowered Wilson and the Democratic Congress to pass important legislation opposing child labor, mandating an eight-hour day for railroad workers and offering federal grants to match states that supported agricultural extension education. But the broad and multifaceted Progressive agenda was far from complete—the reforms enacted brought about some change, but not the fundamental social transformation that some Progressives sought.
In other matters, progress was nonexistent—or worse. Wilson, who was born in Virginia and raised a Southerner, reintroduced segregation in federal government agencies and presided over one of the worst periods in race relations in American history. Discrimination against Blacks in Washington predated the Wilson administration, but Wilson and his staff oversaw the removal of thousands of Black civil service officials and perpetuated a nationwide trend in segregating federal employment.29 Wilson also refused to support female suffrage until he ultimately capitulated to public pressure in 1916.
Progressivism Writ Large, and Doomed
In 1914, the Democrats suffered major losses in the congressional elections. As they'd continue to do many more times in the years to come, voters used the election to express their disenchantment with the ruling party. This was for a number of reasons.
Activists like Alice Paul had vigorously campaigned against the Democrats that year in response to President Wilson's refusal to publicly support female suffrage. Black voters—though small in number because of their disfranchisement in the South—deserted the Democratic Party because they felt betrayed by the disconnect between Wilson's campaign promises and his administration's actions in segregating federal employment. Theodore Roosevelt's "Bull Moose" (or Progressive) Party continued to run candidates for office, siphoning off potential Democratic votes. An economic malaise was beginning to take hold over the national economy. In response, Wilson attempted to pass a new slate of reforms.
In June of that same year, a Serbian nationalist assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This seemingly isolated incident sparked a series of reactions and counter-reactions between allied nations that led to the opening of World War I in Europe by August 1914. Initially determined to keep out of the conflict, Wilson proclaimed American neutrality. But while the war dragged on in the ensuing years, such attempts to maintain neutrality became increasingly difficult as rumors of German atrocities spread and economic ties to France and England pulled Americans toward an alliance with the Allies.
After running successfully for reelection in 1916 on the slogan "He kept us out of war," Wilson was forced to go to Congress with a request for a declaration of war against Germany less than a month after he was inaugurated into his second term. To justify this sudden policy reversal, Wilson proclaimed a grand extension of Progressive aims. Not only the nation, but "the world," he declared, "must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty."30
The war resolution overwhelmingly passed the House and Senate. Progressives from almost every rank—including intellectuals, muckrakers, social reformers, prominent authors, and union leaders—got behind the war effort. They envisioned the global crisis as an opportunity for obtaining a more just and equal society at home and a chance to share American values and institutions abroad.
But in the war that followed, the United States paradoxically subverted its own democratic principles even as it fought to spread democracy across the globe. Wilson and his administration were so convinced of their righteousness that they deemed any dissent to be synonymous with treason. So, they passed the Espionage Act of 1917, the first systematic restriction on Americans' freedom of speech since the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Under the terms of the Act, citizens were forbidden from interfering with the draft, spying, or even making "false statements" that could affect U.S. success on the battlefield. Exactly how such statements would apply to military movements in Europe was never made clear.
A quarter of a million people joined the American Protective League and spied on their neighbors to help the Justice Department identify war critics and "radicals." Vigilante mobs and the government worked together to crush radical unions like the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). In July 1917, a Bisbee, Arizona anti-union organization called the Citizens' Protective League organized to suppress an IWW-led strike of local copper miners who wanted safer working conditions and a stable wage. Thousands of vigilante "deputies" forcefully deported some 1,186 men—some of them local copper miners and union members, but others sympathizers who weren't on strike at all—into the desert of Hermanas, New Mexico, where they were abandoned without rations or shelter. The copper companies were never held liable for the deportation.31
A month later, a crowd of masked vigilantes in Butte, Montana, kidnapped IWW organizer and outspoken war critic Frank Little and lynched him. Little had been in Butte to help workers who were striking against the Anaconda Copper Company. No one was ever arrested for the murder.32
The postmaster general banned from the mail any newspapers or magazines critical of the war or the administration. Prominent antiwar figures like Socialist Eugene Debs were arrested and imprisoned for years. Debs articulated an eloquent self-defense at his trial on the grounds that dissent was a thoroughly American tradition, dating back to the country's founding with the writing of Thomas Paine, but amidst the wartime hysteria, such history lessons were of no avail.
The war years afforded many Progressive activists an opportunity to push through several other aspects of their platforms. At times, their very success proved disastrous to the movement itself. Temperance, which had been a Progressive goal, was enforced in several states and then became national policy with the 18th Amendment of 1919. The so-called Prohibition period commenced in 1920 and soon turned into a complete debacle. Mobsters like Al Capone got rich off black-market liquor sales, millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens flaunted the new laws to continue drinking alcohol, and virtually none of the promised benefits of Prohibition materialized: workers didn't become more disciplined, American cities remained just as chaotic and crime-ridden as before, and domestic violence didn't disappear.
The Progressive Era was nearing its end. President Wilson tried to embody its goals on a worldwide scale, but he failed so miserably in this endeavor that the movement itself was drowned by a wave of isolationism in the post-World War I period. Progressives thought that they could control the chaos of World War I in order to remake the world anew, according to their "liberal purposes," as the young critic Randolph Bourne termed it.33 But the war was uncontrollable—it destroyed Progressives' optimism, naiveté, and faith in modern science and technology.
The people of America and Europe watched in horror as the very advancements they'd made in industry and technology were applied to the business of killing millions of human beings. Troops poisoned one another with mustard gas and mowed each other down with newly invented machine guns, creating a warfront of unprecedented brutality.
In the aftermath of the war, Wilson traveled to Paris in 1918 to negotiate a peace, hoping to establish a Progressive new world order. Yet his idealism proved no match for the bitter vindictiveness and self-interest of the war-torn European nations, each of which demanded heavy reparations from the defeated Central Powers. Wilson's one major achievement, the creation of a League of Nations, was designed to prevent future wars and apply the principle of self-determination to Eastern Europe, in the former territories of the vanquished Austro-Hungarian Empire. But when Wilson returned home to present the Senate with the Treaty of Versailles in July 1919, he encountered stiff opposition from Republicans who despised the president and argued that the League would unduly restrict future American policies.
Wilson, ever the fervent Progressive, was sure that the treaty represented "the hand of God" and he sought to take his case directly to the people by embarking on a grueling nationwide speaking tour.34 After more than three weeks of nonstop traveling, sometimes speaking four times a day on little rest, Wilson suffered severe headaches and then a major stroke after his return to Washington. He recovered only partially and spent the last 18 months of his presidency as an invalid.
Uncompromising to the end, Wilson wouldn't consider any of the almost 50 amendments that the Senate recommended for the Treaty. Ratification failed in March 1920 and the next fall, Americans turned their back on Wilson's Democrats and the Progressivism they represented, and voted conservative Republican Warren G. Harding—a man with no attachments to the Progressives in his party—into office.
The Progressive Era was over.
A few of its ideas survived among the dissenters of the conservative 1920s. Robert La Follette finally completed a presidential campaign in 1924, only to receive just one-sixth of the total vote. He campaigned on tried-and-true Progressive platforms: environmental conservation, public ownership of the railroads, the abolition of child labor, and government relief for farmers. But in the changed political climate of postwar America, Republican candidate Calvin Coolidge could successfully attack such proposals as "Communistic and Socialistic."35
The Russian Revolution of 1917 had raised the specter of communist revolution before the world and a massive wave of labor strikes in 1919 threatened similarly sweeping changes in American life. Coolidge and the Republicans capitalized on voters' fears of such radical social upheavals in order to associate the old Progressive (and Populist) reform agendas with the radicalism of the new social movements. Progressivism died off when it ceased to be "respectable," although some of its spirit would reemerge in the New Deal of the Great Depression years.
This article is about the American political party, also known as the Populists, which existed from 1891 to 1919. For other American and worldwide parties using the term "populists", see Populist Party. For 1850s groups in Ohio and Indiana affiliated with the Anti-Nebraska movement and Know-Nothing party, see Fusion Party. For the American party with the same name which was active in the 1970s, see People's Party (United States, 1971). For the party existing in the Utah Territory from 1870–1891, see People's Party (Utah).
The People's Party, also known as the Populist Party or the Populists, was an agrarian-populistpolitical party in the United States. For a few years, 1892–96, it played a major role as a left-wing force in American politics. It was merged into the Democratic Party in 1896; a small independent remnant survived until 1908. It drew support from angry farmers in the West and South. It was highly critical of banks and railroads, and allied itself with the labor movement.
Established in 1891, as a result of the Populist movement, the People's Party reached its peak in the 1892 presidential election, when its ticket, composed of James B. Weaver and James G. Field, won 8.5% of the popular vote and carried five states (Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada and North Dakota), and the 1894 House of Representatives elections, when it took over 10% of the vote. Built on a coalition of poor, white cotton farmers in the South (especially North Carolina, Alabama and Texas) and hard-pressed wheat farmers in the Plains states (especially Kansas and Nebraska), the Populists represented a radical combination of agrarianism and urbanism with hostility to banks, landowners, Eastern elites, railroads, and the gold standard.
Though Henry George refused to campaign for the Populist Party, many of his supporters did, which created a contest for power between Georgists and socialists in states such as Illinois, where Clarence Darrow lobbied for the Georgist 'single-taxers'. Another major Georgist figure in the People's Party was Congressman "Sockless Jerry" Simpson from Kansas. The Texas Farmers' Alliance and the Texas People's Party both adopted Georgist planks in their platforms. In more urban states such as New York, the Georgist wing reportedly "practically dominated" the People's Party. Other state branches of the People's Party adopted less radical land tax planks in their platforms.
The party sometimes allied with labor unions in the North and Republicans in the South. In the 1896 presidential elections the Populists endorsed the Democratic presidential nominee, William Jennings Bryan, adding their own vice presidential nominee. By joining with the Democrats, the People's Party lost its independent identity and rapidly withered away.
The terms "populism" and "populist" have been used in the 20th and 21st centuries to describe anti-elitist appeals against established interests or mainstream parties, referring to both the political left and right.
A People's Party grew out of a large mood of agrarian unrest in response to low agricultural prices in the South and the trans-Mississippi West, as well as thought that the "Eastern Elites" were taking advantage of the farmers by charging higher rates on loans and trains. The Farmers' Alliance, formed in Lampasas, Texas, in 1876, promoted collective economic action by farmers and achieved widespread popularity in the South and Great Plains. The Farmers' Alliance ultimately did not achieve its wider economic goals of collective economic action against brokers, railroads, and merchants, and many in the movement advocated 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 high deflation in agricultural prices in relation to other goods such as farm implements.
In 1886, an entirely different "People's Party" elected 6 assemblymen to the Wisconsin State Assembly and 1 senator to the Wisconsin State Senate. However this was a labor party, and by the 1888 elections it was using the Union Labor Party label.
In December 1888 the National Agricultural Wheel and the Southern Farmer’s Alliance met at Meridian, Mississippi, where the national farmers convention was held that year. In that meeting they decided to consolidate the two parties pending ratification. This consolidation gave the organization a new name, the Farmers and Laborers’ Union of America, and by 1889 the merger had been ratified, although there were conflicts between “conservative” Alliance men and “political” Wheelers in Texas and Arkansas, which delayed the unification in these states until 1890 and 1891 respectively. The merger eventually united white Southern Alliance and Wheel members, but it would not include African American members of agricultural organizations.
During their move towards consolidation in 1889, the leaders of both Southern Farmers’ Alliance and the Agricultural Wheel organizations contacted Terence V. Powderly, leader of the Knights of Labor. “This contact between leaders of the farmers’ movement and Powderly helped pave the way for a series of reform conferences held between December 1889 and July 1892 that resulted in the formation of the national People’s (or Populist) Party.”
The drive to create a new political party out of the movement arose from the belief that the two major parties, Democrats and Republicans, were controlled by bankers, landowners and elites hostile to the needs of the small farmer. The movement reached its peak in 1892 when the party held a convention chaired by Frances Willard (leader of the WCTU and a friend of Powderly's) 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. Success was often obtained through electoral fusion, with the Democrats outside the South, but with alliances with the Republicans in Southern states like Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. For example, in the elections of 1894, a coalition of Populists and Republicans led by Populist Marion Butler swept state and local offices in North Carolina, and the coalition would go on to elect Republican Daniel Lindsay Russell as Governor in 1896.
Quite separate from the Populists were the Silverites in the western mining states, who demanded Free silver to solve the Panic of 1893. By allowing the coining of silver coins, they hoped to make the value of the money more than what it represented, which would lead to inflation of the currency, and thus, reduce the debt of the farmers to the Eastern Elites. This idea led former Greenback Party members to join the Populist Party.
The Populists followed the Prohibition Party in actively including women in their affairs. Some southern Populists, including Thomas E. Watson of Georgia, 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. Prominent Populist Party leaders such as Marion Butler, a United States Senator from North Carolina, at least partially demonstrated a dedication to the cause of white supremacy, and there appears to have been some support for this viewpoint among the rank-and-file of the party's membership. After 1900 Watson himself became an outspoken white supremacist and became the party's presidential nominee in 1904 and 1908, winning 117,000 and 29,000 votes.
By 1896, the Democratic Party took up many of the People's Party's causes at the national level, and the party began to fade from national prominence. In that year's presidential election, the Democrats nominated William Jennings Bryan, who focused on the free silver issue as a solution to the economic depression and the maldistribution of power. One of the great orators of the day, Bryan generated enormous excitement among Democrats with his "Cross of Gold" speech, and appeared in the middle of 1896 to have a good chance of winning the election, if the Populists voted for him.
The Populists had the choice of endorsing Bryan or running their own candidate. After great infighting at their St. Louis convention they decided to endorse Bryan but with their own vice presidential nominee, Thomas E. Watson of Georgia. Watson was cautiously open to cooperation, but after the election would recant any hope he had in the possibility of cooperation as a viable tool. Bryan's strength was based on the traditional Democratic vote (minus the middle class and German Catholics); he swept the old Populist strongholds in the west and South, and added the silverite states in the west, but did poorly in the industrial heartland. He lost to Republican William McKinley by a margin of 600,000 votes and lost again in a rematch in 1900 by a larger margin. Historians believe this was because of the tactics Bryan used, which had not been used before; he had aggressively "run" for president, while traditional candidates would use "front porch campaigns." 
Populist-GOP fusion in North Carolina
In 1894-96 the Populist wave of agrarian unrest swept through the cotton and tobacco regions of the South. The most dramatic impact came in North Carolina, where the poor white farmers who comprised the Populist party formed a working coalition with the Republican Party, then largely controlled by blacks in the low country, and poor whites in the mountain districts. They took control of the state legislature in both 1894 and 1896, and the governorship in 1896. Restrictive rules on voting were repealed. In 1895 the Legislature rewarded its black allies with patronage, naming 300 black magistrates in eastern districts, as well as deputy sheriffs and city policemen. They also received some federal patronage from the coalition congressman, and state patronage from the governor.
The Populist movement never recovered from the failure of 1896, and national fusion with the Democrats proved disastrous to the party in the South. National alliance with the Democrats sapped the ability of the Populists to fight the Democrats locally in the South. Early on, this was less of an issue in the Western states where Republicans were strong, as the Democratic-Populist alliance was a more natural fit there, but eventually ended the party.
In North Carolina, the state Democratic-party orchestrated propaganda campaign in newspapers across the state, and created a brutal and violent white supremacy election campaign to defeat the North Carolina Populists and GOP, the Fusionist revolt in North Carolina collapsed in 1898, and white Democrats returned to power. The gravity of the crisis was underscored by a major race riot in Wilmington, in 1898, two days after the election. Knowing they had just retaken control of the state legislature, the Democrats were confident they could not be overcome. They attacked and overcame the Fusionists; mobs roamed the black neighborhoods, shooting, killing, burning buildings, and making a special target of the black newspaper. There were no further insurgencies in any Southern states involving a successful black coalition at the state level. By 1900, the gains of the populist-Republican coalition were reversed, and the Democrats ushered in disfranchisement: practically all blacks lost their vote. The Populist/Republican alliance which had governed North Carolina, the only state in which it had any success, fell apart.
Tennessee’s Populist Party was demoralized by a diminishing membership, and puzzled and split by the dilemma of whether to fight the state-level enemy (the Democrats) or the national foe (the Republicans and Wall Street). By 1900 the People’s Party of Tennessee was a shadow of what it once was. A similar pattern was repeated elsewhere throughout the South, where the Populist Party had previously sought alliances with the Republican Party against the dominant state Democrats, including in Watson's Georgia.
In 1900, while many Populist voters supported Bryan again, the weakened party nominated a separate ticket of Wharton Barker and Ignatius L. Donnelly, and disbanded afterwards. Populist activists either retired from politics, joined a major party, or followed Eugene Debs into his new Socialist Party. In 1904, the party was re-organized, and Thomas E. Watson was their nominee for president in 1904 and in 1908, after which the party disbanded again.
In A Preface to Politics, published in 1913, Walter Lippmann wrote, "As I write, a convention of the Populist Party has just taken place. Eight delegates attended the meeting, which was held in a parlor." This may record the last gasp of the party organization.
Debate by historians over populism
Since the 1890s historians have vigorously debated the nature of Populism; most scholars have been liberals who admired the Populists for their attacks on banks and railroads. Some historians see a close link between the Populists of the 1890s and the progressives of 1900-1912, but most of the leading progressives (except Bryan himself) fiercely opposed Populism. For example, Theodore Roosevelt, George W. Norris, Robert La Follette Sr., William Allen White and Woodrow Wilson all strongly opposed Populism. It is debated whether any Populist ideas made their way into the Democratic party during the New Deal era. The New Deal farm programs were designed by experts (like Henry Wallace) who had nothing to do with Populism.
Some historians see the populists as forward-looking liberal reformers. Others view them as reactionaries trying to recapture an idyllic and utopian past. For some they were radicals out to restructure American life, and for others they were economically hard-pressed agrarians seeking government relief. Much recent scholarship emphasizes Populism's debt to early American republicanism. Clanton (1991) stresses that Populism was "the last significant expression of an old radical tradition that derived from Enlightenment sources that had been filtered through a political tradition that bore the distinct imprint of Jeffersonian, Jacksonian, and Lincolnian democracy." This tradition emphasized human rights over the cash nexus of the Gilded Age's dominant ideology.
Frederick Jackson Turner and a succession of western historians depicted the Populist as responding to the closure of the frontier. Turner explained:
- The Farmers' Alliance and the Populist demand for government ownership of the railroad is a phase of the same effort of the pioneer farmer, on his latest frontier. The proposals have taken increasing proportions in each region of Western Advance. Taken as a whole, Populism is a manifestation of the old pioneer ideals of the native American, with the added element of increasing readiness to utilize the national government to effect its ends.
The most influential Turner student of Populism was John D. Hicks, who emphasized economic pragmatism over ideals, presenting Populism as interest group politics, with have-nots demanding their fair share of America's wealth which was being leeched off by nonproductive speculators. Hicks emphasized the drought that ruined so many Kansas farmers, but also pointed to financial manipulations, deflation in prices caused by the gold standard, high interest rates, mortgage foreclosures, and high railroad rates. Corruption accounted for such outrages and Populists presented popular control of government as the solution, a point that later students of republicanism emphasized.
In the 1930s C. Vann Woodward stressed the southern base, seeing the possibility of a black-and-white coalition of poor against the overbearing rich. Georgia politician Tom Watson served as Woodward's hero. In the 1950s, however, scholars such as Richard Hofstadter portrayed the Populist movement as an irrational response of backward-looking farmers to the challenges of modernity. He discounted third party links to Progressivism and argued that Populists were provincial, conspiracy-minded, and had a tendency toward scapegoatism that manifested itself as nativism, anti-Semitism, anti-intellectualism, and Anglophobia. The antithesis of anti-modern Populism was modernizing Progressivism according to Hofstadter's model, with such leading progressives as Theodore Roosevelt, Robert La Follette Sr., George Norris and Woodrow Wilson pointed as having been vehement enemies of Populism, though William Jennings Bryan did cooperate with them and accepted the Populist nomination in 1896.
Michael Kazin's The Populist Persuasion (1995) argued that Populism reflected a rhetorical style that manifested itself in spokesmen like Father Charles Coughlin in the 1930s and Governor George Wallace in the 1960s.
Goodwyn (1976) and Postel (2007) reject the notion that the Populists were traditionalistic and anti-modern. Quite the reverse, they argue, the Populists aggressively sought self-consciously progressive goals. Goodwyn criticizes Hofstadter’s reliance on secondary sources to characterize the Populists, working instead with the material generated by the Populists themselves. Goodwyn determined that the farmers’ cooperatives gave rise to a Populist culture, and their efforts to free farmers from lien merchants revealed to them the political structure of the economy, which propelled them into politics. The Populists sought diffusion of scientific and technical knowledge, formed highly centralized organizations, launched large-scale incorporated businesses, and pressed for an array of state-centered reforms. Hundreds of thousands of women committed to Populism seeking a more modern life, education, and employment in schools and offices. A large section of the labor movement looked to Populism for answers, forging a political coalition with farmers that gave impetus to the regulatory state. Progress, however, was also menacing and inhumane, Postel notes. White Populists embraced social-Darwinist notions of racial improvement, Chinese exclusion and separate-but-equal.
Populists saw the Panic of 1893 as confirmation that evil global conspiracies and big city villains were to blame. Historian Hasia Diner says:
- Some Populists believed that Jews made up a class of international financiers whose policies had ruined small family farms, they asserted, owned the banks and promoted the gold standard, the chief sources of their impoverishment. Agrarian radicalism posited the city as antithetical to American values, asserting that Jews were the essence of urban corruption.
- ^ b: Office left vacant when Garret Hobart died on November 21, 1899.
- Colorado: Davis Hanson Waite, 1893–1895
- Idaho: Frank Steunenberg, 1897–1901 (fusion of Democrats and Populists)
- 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 (coalition 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:
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
- Haldor Boen, Minnesota's 7th congressional district
- 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
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
- ^Peter Knight (1 January 2003). Conspiracy Theories in American History: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 82.
- ^Norman Pollack (1 January 1976). The Populist Response to Industrial America: Midwestern Populist Thought. Harvard University Press. pp. 11–12.
- ^Palmer, Bruce (1980). "Man Over Money": the Southern Populist Critique of American Capitalism. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-1427-X.
- ^Schwantes, Carlos A. (1976). Left-wing Unionism in the Pacific Northwest: A Comparative History of Organized Labor and Socialist Politics in Washington and British Columbia. University of Michigan - Labor Unions. p. 180. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
- ^Postel, Charles (2007). The populist vision. Oxford New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195384717.
- ^Post, Louis Freeland (1904). The Public, Issues 314-365. The Public. p. 471. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
- ^Miller, Joseph Dana (1904). The Single Tax Review, Volume 4. The Single Tax Review. p. 42. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
- ^Foner, Eric (2005). Give Me Liberty! An American History, Volume Two Second Edition. W. W. Norton & Company, New York, London.
- ^Hild, Matthew (2007). Greenbackers, Knights of Labor, and Populists, Farmer-Labor Insurgency in the Late-Nineteenth-Century South. The University of Georgia Press, Athens & London.
- ^Hild, Matthew (2007). Greenbackers, Knights of Labor, and Populists, Farmer-Labor Insurgency in the Late-Nineteenth-Century South.The University of Georgia Press, Athens & London, p. 123.
- ^Gusfield, Joseph (1963). Symbolic Crusade: Status Politics and the American Temperance Movement The University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Chicago & London, p. 78, 93.
- ^William S. Powell, "Marion Butler", Dictionary of North Carolina Biography (1979)
- ^James L. Hunt, Marion Butler and American Populism (2003), pp. 3-7
- ^James L. Hunt, Marion Butler and American Populism (2003), pp. 4-6.
- ^R. Hal Williams, Realigning America: McKinley, Bryan, and the Remarkable Election of 1896 (2010)
- ^Helen G. Edmonds, The Negro and Fusion Politics in North Carolina, 1894-1901 (1951). pp 97-136
- ^Andrea Meryl Kirshenbaum, "'The Vampire That Hovers Over North Carolina': Gender, White Supremacy, and the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898," Southern Cultures 4#3 (1998) pp. 6-30 online
- ^Eric Anderson, Race and Politics in North Carolina, 1872-1901 (1981)
- ^Connie L. Lester, Up from the Mudsills of Hell: The Farmers' Alliance, Populism, and Progressive Agriculture in Tennessee, 1870-1915 (2007)
- ^Walter Lippmann, A Preface to Politics, New York and London: Mitchell Kennerley, 1913, p. 275.
- ^For a summary or how historians approach the topic see Worth Robert Miller, "A Centennial Historiography of American Populism." Kansas History 1993 16(1): 54-69.
- ^See Worth Robert Miller, "The Republican Tradition," in Miller, Oklahoma Populism: A History of the People's Party in the Oklahoma Territory (1987) online edition
- ^Gene Clanton, Populism: The Humane Preference in America, 1890-1900 (1991) p, xv
- ^Frederick Jackson Turner, The Frontier in American History, (1920) p. 148; online edition
- ^Martin Ridge, "Populism Revolt: John D. Hicks and The Populist Revolt," Reviews in American History 13 (March 1985): 142-54.
- ^C. Vann Woodward, Tom Watson: Agrarian Rebel (1938); Woodward, "Tom Watson and the Negro in Agrarian Politics," The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Feb., 1938), pp. 14-33 in JSTOR
- ^Richard Hofstadter, The Age of Reform: From Bryan to F.D.R. (1955)
- ^Goodwyn, Lawrence (1976). Democratic promise: the populist moment in America. Oxford University Press.
- ^Charles Postel, The Populist Vision (2007)
- ^Hasia R. Diner (2004). The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000. U. of California Press. p. 170.
- Beeby, James M. Revolt of the Tar Heels: The North Carolina Populist Movement, 1890–1901 (2008)
- Clanton, Gene. Populism: The Humane Preference in America, 1890-1900 (1991).
- Formisano, Ronald P. For the People: American Populist Movements from the Revolution to the 1850s (2009), populist movements flourished long before People's Party began
- Goodwyn, Lawrence. The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America. (1978).
- Hackney, Sheldon, ed. Populism: The Critical Issues (1971).
- 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. in JSTOR.
- Hicks, John D. The Populist Revolt: A History of the Farmers' Alliance and the People's Party Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1931.
- Kazin, Michael. The Populist Persuasion: An American History. New (1995).
- Knoles, George Harmon. "Populism and Socialism, with Special Reference to the Election of 1892," Pacific Historical Review, vol. 12, no. 3 (Sept. 1943), pp. 295–304. In JSTOR
- Lester, Connie. Up from the Mudsills of Hell: The Farmers' Alliance, Populism, And Progressive Agriculture in Tennessee, 1870-1915. University of Georgia Press, 2006.
- McMath, Robert C., Jr. American Populism: A Social History, 1877-1898. (1993).
- Miller, Worth Robert. "A Centennial Historiography of American Populism." Kansas History 1993 16(1): 54-69. online edition
- Miller, Worth Robert. "Farmers and Third-Party Politics in Late Nineteenth Century America," in Charles W. Calhoun, ed. The Gilded Age: Essays on the Origins of Modern America (1995) online edition
- Nugent, Walter T. K. The Tolerant Populists: Kansas Populism and Nativism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1962.
- Peterson, James. "The Trade Unions and the Populist Party," Science & Society, vol. 8, no. 2 (Spring 1944), pp. 143–160. In JSTOR.
- Postel, Charles. The Populist Vision (2007).
- Rogers, William Warren The One-Gallused Rebellion: Agrarianism in Alabama, 1865-1896. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1970.
- Stock, Catherine McNicol. Rural Radicals: Righteous Rage in the American Grain. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. 1996.
- Woodward, C. Vann. Tom Watson: Agrarian Rebel (1938) online edition
- Woodward, C. Vann. "Tom Watson and the Negro in Agrarian Politics," The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Feb., 1938), pp. 14–33 in JSTOR