Nevertheless, these efforts in cooperation were exceedingly important both for the results obtained and for their wider significance. President Andrew Johnson commissioned Oliver Kelley to go to the Southern states and to collect data to improve Southern agricultural conditions. In the South, poor farmers bore the brunt of the Civil War and were suspicious of Northerners such as Kelley.
Kelley found he was able to overcome these sectional differences as a Mason. With Southern Masons as guides, he toured the war-torn countryside in the South and was appalled by the outdated farming practices.
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He saw the need for an organization that would bring people from the North and South together in a spirit of mutual cooperation, and after many letters and consultations with the other founders, the Grange was born. In addition to serving as a center for many farming communities, the Grange was an effective advocacy group for farmers and their agendas, which included fighting railroad monopolies and advocating rural mail deliveries.
In the middle of the s, the Granger movement succeeded in regulating the railroads and grain warehouses. The peak of their political power was marked by their success in Munn v. However, this achievement was overturned later by the Supreme Court in Wabash v. Susan B. During the Progressive Era of the s to the s, political parties took up Grange causes. Consequently, local Granger movements focused more on community service, although the state and national Granges remain a political force. When the Grange first began in , it borrowed from Freemasonry some of its rituals and symbols, including secret meetings, oaths, and special passwords.
Small, ceremonial farm tools are often displayed at Grange meetings. Elected officers are in charge of opening and closing each meeting. There are seven degrees of Grange membership. The ceremony of each degree relates to the seasons and various symbols and principles.
One of the goals of the organization was to end the adverse effects of the crop-lien system on farmers in the period following the American Civil War. The political activism of the alliances gained strength in the late s as the organization merged with the nearly ,member Agricultural Wheel in In the South, the agenda centered on demands for government control of transportation and communication in order to break the power of corporate monopolies.
The Southern Alliance also demanded reforms of currency, land ownership, and income tax policies. Meanwhile, the Northern Alliance stressed the demand for free coinage of large amounts of silver. The efforts and unification proved futile, however, and the Southern Alliance organized on its own, eventually reaching 43 states.
Guide to the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry records,
The alliance movement as a whole reached more than , members by For both groups, social events helped cement political ties. This failure prompted an evolution of the alliance into a political movement to field its own candidates in national elections. In —, the alliance was reborn as the Populist Party. The Populist Party, which fielded national candidates in the election, essentially repeated in its platform all of the demands of the alliance.
Convention delegates hoped that future political gains would lead to major economic and political reforms. Populist Party logo : This image shows the Populist Party logo of a bell.
It was most important from to , then rapidly faded away. Based among poor, white cotton farmers in the South especially in North Carolina, Alabama, and Texas and hard-pressed wheat farmers in the plains states especially in Kansas and Nebraska , the party represented a radical crusading form of agrarianism and hostility to banks, railroads, and elites in general.
The party flourished most among farmers in the Southwest and Great Plains, and made significant gains in the South, where it faced an uphill battle given the firmly entrenched monopoly of the Democratic Party. Success often was obtained through electoral fusion with the Democrats outside the South, and through alliances with the Republicans in Southern states such as Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. 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.
In the presidential election, James B. Weaver received 1,, votes. 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 interests. Regardless of these rhetoric appeals, however, racism was present in the Populist Party. The Populist movement coincided with the Third Great Awakening, characterized by pietistic Protestant denominations, and Bryan was a devout Presbyterian who was a strong supporter of temperance and opposed Darwinism.
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, he recanted any hope in the possibility of cooperation as a viable tool.
He lost to Republican William McKinley by a margin of , votes, losing again in a rematch by a larger margin. Fusion with the Democrats was disastrous to the Populist Party in the South. By , the Democrats were using a violently racist campaign to defeat the North Carolina Populists and GOP, and in , the Democrats ushered in disfranchisement.
Populism never recovered from the failure of In , while many Populist voters supported Bryan again, the weakened party nominated a separate ticket of Wharton Barker and Ignatius L. Donnelly, and disbanded afterward. Populist activists either retired from politics, joined a major party, or followed Eugene Debs into his new Socialist Party.
In , the party was reorganized, and Thomas E. Watson became the nominee for president in and in , after which the party disbanded again. Skip to main content. The Gilded Age: — Search for:. The Agrarian and Populist Movements Economic Conditions Decreases in crop prices and crop failures in the s bred economic discontent among farmers that led to the formation of the Populists.
Learning Objectives Assess the economic conditions that led to discontent in the s. Supporters of the Populist Party and many Democrats favored silver, while Republicans and financial interests advocated the gold standard. Under the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of , the government increased its purchasing of silver while depleting its stock of gold.
Key Terms gold standard : A monetary system in which the value of circulating money is linked to the value of gold. Panic of : An economic depression in the United States, beginning in and marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding and shaky railroad financing, which set off a series of bank failures. McKinley Tariff : An act of the U.
Congress, framed by Representative William McKinley and designed to protect domestic industries from foreign competition, that raised the average duty on imports to almost 50 percent. The Granger Movement The Granger movement was founded in to advance the social and economic interests of rural farmers. Learning Objectives Summarize the origins and development of the Grange.
They claimed that the gold standard was the only currency that offered stability.
National Grange Of The Patrons Of Husbandry Records,1842-1994
The financial panic of heightened the tension of this debate. Bank failures abounded in the South and Midwest. Unemployment soared and crop prices fell sharply. The Democratic Party, which supported silver and free trade, absorbed the remnants of the Populist movement as the presidential elections of neared.