January 8

Blog #45 – Brief History of Populism

Populism is a political philosophy that crosses party-lines but tends to put an emphasis on what the people want vs. what the political, economic, or religious elites desire.   The interesting thing is that populism can be as diverse as the anti-government Tea Party Republicans that arose in 2009-10 as well as the Ralph Nader-inspired Green Party in 2000-2004.  Racist Alabama governor George Wallace also had strains of populism running through his 1968 presidential campaign, and we even saw a counter-populist movement in 2010-2011 in the Occupy movement (most famously Occupy Wall Street) with its 99% vs. 1% rhetoric.  No matter what the politics, populism usually has an “us vs. them” element to it.


In many respects, the agrarian revolt of the late 1800s is a reaction to the 2nd industrial revolution.  There were so many more millionaires by 1900 than in 1800 in America, and this situation seemed like the money was being made not only on the backs of industrial workers but also on the huge piles of surplus food that American farmers had grown.  It had seemed to many people during the late 1800s that the American government had been seized or controlled by a small, wealthy elite who controlled government for their own gains.  Democracy seemed a joke b/c laws designed to protect farmers or unions (Sherman Anti-Trust Act / Interstate Commerce Act) backfired or were written to hinder reforms.  In fact, the entire size and scope of the government’s functions seem foreign to today’s active federal government (in 1880, the federal workforce was 100,000 whereas today it hovers around 2.5 million).  The government bought back the Greenbacks issued during the Civil War, and by 1879, the country was back on the gold standard (which limited the amount of money put into circulation, harmful to debt-ridden farmers), and banks controlled the amount of money in circulation, not a federal institution.

As the textbook tells us, the Grange organized in 1867 originally as a social group but quickly mobilized cooperatively-owned stores, grain elevators and warehouses.  The Grange were trying to reduce the cost of railroad shipping, the trust that they targeted as Farmers’ Enemy #1.  The Grange also tried to get many local legislators elected.  In 1878, the Greenback Party (a pro-labor group) got 14 members elected to Congress and ran General James Weaver for President against Garfield and Hancock in 1880.  General Weaver only got 3% of the popular vote that year.

In the 1880s and 90s, amidst high rates of loan defaults and bankruptcies, the Farmers’ Alliance was forged to combat these problems.  However, the Alliance was divided along racial lines (Black farmers had to make their own Alliance), property vs. sharecroppers, and regional lines (the West didn’t agree with the South).   However, the Alliance members did agree on some things: nationalization of the railroads (making them government owned); abolish national banks (like the Federal Reserve that would be created in 1913); a progressive income tax where the rich paid higher rates than the poor (this became law of the land in the 16th Amendment in 1913); and other schemes that would benefit farmers.   The Alliance would eventually elect 40 lawmakers from the South and challenge the eastern “plutocrats” for control of the country.

The farmers’ alternatives weresuccess and freedom, or failure and servitude.”

J.D. Fields, Texas Farmers’ Alliance.

Not only were the railroad freight rates to blame for the farmers’ economic plight, but it was also the banks’ high interest rates and the non-inflationary money policies practiced by the federal government.  By the early 1890s, the Alliance became the Peoples’ Party (or the Populists) which wanted to represent all of the working classes in America and not just farmers.  It won support of miners and industrial workers in Idaho and Colorado and attracted veterans of the old Knights of Labor union when the PP condemned the use of private police forces to break strikes.   Orators quoted Thomas Jefferson to show the evils of banks and large corporations (which by 1892 had become the most important business organization).  In 1892, the Populists ran James Weaver again, but this time he earned more than 1 million votes before losing to Grover Cleveland.  The Populists won four states (Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, and Kansas) and elected three governors and fifteen party members to Congress.


Part of Weaver’s success can be found in the Populist platform.   They added not only the income tax, abolition of national banks, and nationalization of the railroads from the Alliance plan, but they also added direct election of U.S. Senators (to be adopted in 1913 in the 17th Amendment); the recognition of unions to exist (which would occur in 1914 and 1935); and in many states, women’s suffrage (legalized in 1920 by the 19th Amendment).  The Populists also worked hard to unite black and white farmers in the South for a common goal of higher wages.  Blacks, however, hesitated to break with the Republicans, the party of Lincoln.

“…we meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress, and touches even [Supreme Court].  The people are demoralized; most of the States have been compelled to isolate the voters at the polling places to prevent universal intimidation and bribery. The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled, public opinion silenced, business prostrated, homes covered with mortgages, labor impoverished, and the land concentrating in the hands of capitalists… The fruits of the toil of millions are badly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind.”

The Populists had hoped to change the role of government to becoming a more activist one, one that would curb the power of corporations. But the Populists weren’t around as a party to see their reforms become law when the reform spirit continued into the 20th Century with the Progressive Era (1900-1915).  

Your job:

1. Assess the Populist movement as a reform movement – was it effective or not?  Why?

2. How does the Populist movement compare with the Tea Party and / or Occupy Wall Street movements?   Similarities and differences? (use the sites below or the ones in the first paragraph).



250 words minimum total.  Due by Friday 1/11 in class.  



Bailey, Thomas Andrew, David M. Kennedy, and Lizabeth Cohen. The American Pageant. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. Print.

Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty!: An American History. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton and, 2009. Print.

Goodwyn, Laurence. Introduction to the Populist Movement. http://www.ratical.org/corporations/PMSHAGAintro.html



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Posted January 8, 2013 by geoffwickersham in category Blogs

70 thoughts on “Blog #45 – Brief History of Populism

  1. Antonio Delgado

    I believe that the opulist movement was a valiant but unsuccessful movement mainly because of a) they were still unable to gain any benefits from the eastern business people, and b) their inability to unite against a common enemy. It appered to me that the populists wanted to blame someone for their problems, mainly either the easterners or the immigrant minorities (african americans, asian americans, jews). Because of this disunity, each of the two groups that were blamed had an easier time dealing with the populists. Had the populists united against the easterners, they would have had a much better chance of gaining benefits to compensate for the unfair market prices and shipment costs they had prior to the movement.
    I believe many connections can be made between the Occupy movements and the Populist movement. One key similarity is that the common people were matched up against a large, wealthy population that was believed to be oppresive and/or unfair. This leads into my second key argument, that the people, no the government ran the movements. Thousands of people organized protests on wall street as well as eastern cities during the populist movement. However, the two are very different in the sense that the occupy wall street movement was very organized, and the common people had a common enemy, the rick bankers on wall street. Like i said before, the Populists were NOT united and had multiple enemies to blame for their problems.

  2. Ben

    If the Populist movement was viewed as a reform movement, it was effective. The populists were very effective at uniting those of the working, poor, and middle class. This formed a group of like-minded people represented by a shared voice. By doing this, voicing their opinions and their arguments held much more significance. Of the group, there were farmers, factory workers, and others being suppressed by “the man”. Eventually, the populists’ beliefs were made law, thus reforming the government. Some may argue that the populist movement was not effective as a reform movement, but they’re wrong. Just because something doesn’t show immediate results, that does not mean it wasn’t effective. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines effective as: “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect”. Now although the word was used in the definition, it still states that something is effective if it produces desired effects, not the span in which it must be completed. This is also the reason why politicians can say “We’ve been making effective progress towards the matter for the past ten years” even though not much has really changed yet, and why a procrastinator can say “my methods for completing homework are effective”. In many ways, this ordeal is very similar to the one we are experiencing today. In relatively recent news, the “Occupy Wall street” movement seemed like a nostalgic glance to ye olde times. People are vouching for equality against the 1%, the wealthiest of the wealth were attacked. The elite upper-class were seen as a force only to hinder those under them. Even though their fights seem alike in nature, the two movements were conversely different also. The farmers, the poor, the factory workers; most of who made up the Populist movement did it out of necessity, for if not, then they would surely not make ends meet. Back to modern times, Occupy Wall Street and Tom Petty The Tea Party don’t necessarily need to do this. A vision for better times ahead drives the Occupy Wall Street Movement while the daunting reminder of necessity pushes the Populists.

  3. Kacey arnold

    Much can be said about the success or failure of the polulists reform movement. Personally i feel that in ways the populist movements such as their racist ideas similar to that of the Tea Party’s but they did change good things such as the 19th amendment giving womn the right to vote. To singularly declare the populist movemnet a failure is wrong because it has managed to branch out and many of its liberal ideas still exist and help today but some of the bad things and ideas they released have still stained their movement such as the anti-semetic things. Populists have still greatly affected american politics through the tea party even though they tea party is far more branched out then the populist movement it still has the government vs. the people. The occupy wall street movement is far more similar to the populist political views then any other movement the only thing that seperates them is occupy wall street’s openess and lack of racism. It seems like they got it straight from the quote main street vs. wall street. The populists movements were and still are a very strange movemnet.

  4. Marta Plumhoff

    The Populist was effective as a reform, not because the Populists were successful in their attempts to gain control of the nation, but because some of their ideas and beliefs were embedded into the American government. One of the biggest things Populists pushed for was an income tax. Although some taxes already existed, especially on imported goods and foreign machines, a standard income tax was adopted shortly after the Populist movement. When the populists were fighting to put their men into government and legislature, they advocated ideas like state elections for senators, another thing America adopted from the movement. Even though the party ultimately failed, I think the movement was successful because it expressed ideas and policies that the U.S. uses today.
    The Occupy Wall Street movement today is very similar to the Populist movement 150 years ago. Both of the groups of people advocate themselves as being the middle class or poor, common people. They both claim to be fighting against the wealthy elite ruling our country. Both of the groups fought for tax reforms, bank reforms and health care reforms. Both movements were also about defying the center industry at the time of the movement; Wall Street and the stock market for Occupy Wall Street, and the railroads and new industries for the Populists. The Occupy Wall Street movement and the Populist movement were both very similar because they claimed to be advocators for the same group, as well and wanting to acquire the same things.

  5. Anne Kozak

    I think the interesting thing about Populism is that they say they are speaking for the general population of the country, but, for example, only one million people voted for James Weaver out of a total of around thirty million total men who could vote; there were sixty or seventy million people in total in the country in the 1890s. Yes, he did win four states in the West, but the populists were by far the losers in that election. If the ninety nine percent are against the one percent, after all, why does most of the ninety nine percent not do anything about it by voting for a Populist? In all, while the Populists did get some things done, such as a higher tax for the wealthier as the sixteenth amendment, I think that it was impossible for them to really succeed because they wanted everyone to be on an equal footing. They could not reach their goal because it is an impossible goal to meet; social classes, whether they are good or bad, are naturally separated. The gap can be closed, which the populists helped along, but their true goal was unreachable.
    The Populist movement has similarities and differences with the Tea Party we have today. The Tea Party quotes Thomas Jefferson, for one thing, just as the Populists did. Thomas Jefferson connects the Tea Party to the Populists because he was against a stronger government; the Populists—though against a stronger, corrupted force as Thomas Jefferson was afraid of and that the Tea Partiers believe are in the government now—the Populists were against the rich businesses and companies that took advantage of them. Both the Tea Party and the Populists were/are also looking for a free market—or the ability to buy and sell goods “unhindered by external regulation or control by government or monopolies” (from the Free Market page on Wikipedia). The Populist movement, though its people were facing different issues than the ones people face today, is really mostly similar to the Tea Party.

  6. Anna Daugherty

    I believe that the populists were successful as a reform movement. There are several reasons as to why I believe this. One of those reasons is that it united farmer, miners, and people that were from the middle class. Their ideas set up for change in the future. Ideas such as recognition of unions, women’s suffrage, and graduated taxes weren’t put to use until much later, but the populists put these ideas out there. They were part of the reason as to how these ideas later turned into laws. For example, if it was not for the Populists then our labor force would not have equal pay and good working conditions. So, yes during their time things may have not truly gone their way. But, when you look at it in the long run their ideas and wants for this country had an effect on society.
    I believe that you can compare the Populist movement of the 1890s to Occupy Wall Street. One of the main reasons is because Occupy Wall Street’s big issues have to do with economic and social inequality. The Populists also wanted equal opportunities for everyone. Both saw an US vs. THEM situation. They are against the wealthy elites of our society. They both have very similar goals. Both are basically attacking the wealthy people. Both tried to use the government power, so that they may weaken the power of the wealthy. However, both Occupy Wall Street and the Populist movement stood up to them through political force but never physical force.

  7. Kate Voigt

    The populism movement, overall, was not very successful. Although the pamphlets and texts that came out of this surge of anti-technology period were well distributed, no real action was taken. Any real political power that was given to the Populist Party was brushed underfoot by more prominent parties in both the House of Representatives and Senate. The basis of the party was a large group of poor farmers who were just angry, or unemployed rich intellectuals who were too lazy to take action. The entire group was waiting for a “white night” to save them and unite the people. The group is very similar to the Tea Party, another anti-immigration, very conservative party. Like the Populists, the tea party is all talk and no walk. They have no say in any branch of government, and their opinions have no real value to anyone besides the fellow drinkers of the tea party’s Kool-Aid. Both parties wanted a large cut to taxes for their party members and their families, but only the Populists called for inflation because the economy was based less on paper and more on gold back then. Time has worn down both parties. The populists have all but disappeared from history. The ideals remain, but no followers. The tea party is slowing running out of time to gain support. The current generation doesn’t care about gay marriage, or abortions, or immigrants. The need to suppress the latter is becoming less and less of a focus. The Tea Party also wants less government control, which our generation doesn’t really care about either. The Tea Party and Populist Party are very similar, in their little success rates with the modern era.

  8. Kelsey Nowak

    The Populist movement as a reform movement in my opinion was just bust. It didn’t really accomplish something and I felt that the demands of the populist movement were to specific. It seemed as if the populists were trying to blame someone for their issues and they just were not going to get the support the eastern bankers. In addition, I believe that their inability to effectively agree as a group upon everything that they wanted. I believe that populism was more an idea, not an effective movement. Populism is in a way sort of like the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movements in that they all wanted some form of government reform involving the state of the economy and usually involved money. The populism of today versus the past have all hated on the elite big money type of people. The Occupy Wall Street is for the 99% in which the populist movement of the 1890’s was for the farmers who made up a vast amount of the population as well. The Tea Party and the populist movement are a bit different in the fact that the populist movement of the past wanted a more activist government while the Tea Party would like the government to lay off. Again, like I said before, I believe that populism is more of an idea that seems nice and all but not possible.

  9. Laine Boitos

    As a whole, I believe that the populist movement was extremely unsuccessful. The group was very selfish, and rarely took into account the rest of the population. they claimed to be the “people’s party,” but failed to receive more than 8.%% of the vote when they ran a candidate for the presidential election. The populists strive to push our nation back into the days of Jacksonian Agrarianism, when clearly, a large percentage of the population had moved past that way of life. The country stopped relying on farming as the main economic factors, because it had clearly stopped working. What the populists failed to realize was that factory workers and small business owners were coming closer to being the majority. If they claimed to be supporting the popular views on government and taxes, they should have taken into account the fact that more people were moving towards an industrial way of life. The wealthy elite were the ones that ensured a majority of the populists’ economic stability. They were most definitely “biting the hand that feeds them.” Being mostly farmers, they should have realized that their entire income depended upon when and at what price the wealthy people would purchase their goods. Those that were purchasing the populists crops would no longer want to do business with them after they had taken a drastic stand against them. If they would have just realized that a little bit of income was better than no income at all, the nation could have avoided that entire conflict. The entire populist movement in the late 1800’s pulled the nation back a step in its progress. At the time, the U.S. was the leading country in almost every factor. If the populists would have succeeded in pulling our nation back into the days of agriculture and farming, the consequences could have potentially cost us both of the World Wars, and ruined the future for everyone that was and had been successful in industrialism and business.
    I think that the Populist movement of the late 19th century is very different from the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party people of today. For starters, the radicals of today are trying to fight for the 99% in the economy versus the 1%. They have a solid point to fight against. On the other hand, the Populists decided that they were going to rise up against the elites for seemingly no other reason than high taxes. The populists were not the 99%, nor were the businessmen 1%. Now the common, working class are angered over a reasonable point. Although both groups were fighting for the same type of people, the parties have/had extremely different motives behind what they were striving towards.

  10. Seth Rosen

    The Populist movement did not go how the populist wanted it to go. They wanted to become a big political party, make agricultural workers equal to big business men, and have better labor laws for the working class, but mainly farmers. When it was all said and done, they did not have enough political, financial, and popular power to make a huge impact on the U.S. government. The main goal of the Populist Party was to make everyone equal, kind of like communism. Populism was never big in the United States except in the present day mid-west. Populism was big in that area because that whole area is mainly farm lands. The Populism main goal was never fulfilled, but they started a new movement that future parties would reenact, like the Tea Party and Green Party.

    The Tea Party and Populist Party both are a little anti-government. Both parties don’t support big businesses and claim to be for the majority of the American people. Both parties wanted/want higher taxes on the upper class and don’t think Obama is American. The Populist thoughts, however, were more racist and anti-Semitic while the Tea Party does not seem to be as racist or anti-Semitic on the outside. The Populist Party were extreme democrats, almost to the point where democrats would not vote for their own nominee; and The Tea Party is extremely Republican, almost to the point where they can make a third party. Most Americans today would agree that the ideas of the Populist and Tea Parties are very similar, and could have hurt our government if they had any power.

  11. Ethan Webster

    I believe that populism was unsuccessful in its attempt to reform the country. not enough people bought into the movement for it to ever be successful. Even though it was a supposedly popular movement nobody save the poor white farmers ever got together. The populist movement is also very similar to the Tea Party movement because they both were against government involvement in private matters. They both are also popular with only small minorities in the population, despite being called popular movements by others in society.

  12. Ryan Jezierski

    The Populist movement didn’t go as planned as they thought it would. They had a big plan in store which was to become a well known political party, and have better laws for farmers. They didn’t succeed in what they thought could happen. The government didn’t accept them, and they didn’t turn out as big as they thought they would. What the Populist party wanted to do was that they wanted equal rights for everyone. It resembled a lot of communist views and ideas. Populism wasn’t very popular in USA besides in places like Kansas and other states around it because of all the farming land they had. The Populism main goal was never fulfilled, but they started a new movement that future parties would reenact, like the Tea Party and Green Party.

    I guess you could say that the Populist party and the Tea Party were a bit against the government. . The parties wanted to raise the taxes. The Tea Party wasn’t as racist as the Political Party, because they didn’t make it obvious, as the Political Party did. They made it clear that they were very anti-semetic, and thought that the middle class should have equal rights as the rich. The Populist Party were clearly democrats, and The Tea Party is Republican. If either of the parties had made it into the government, I don’t think that things would be as good as they are as modern day America.

  13. Shashank R.

    1. I believe that the populist reform movement can be interpreted as being successful or as being unsuccessful. Populism could be interpreted as being successful, because it showed the type of mindset and things that the farmers wanted and, they actions that they wanted to be taken. Also it did set a foundation for maybe future regimes or other LEFT regional governments to adopt this type of thinking. But on the other hand the more logical answer was that it wasn’t successful and was a huge squander of time for the pathetic “All-talk” farmers who were sure as hell not gonna accomplish much. But this was because they failed to realize how farfetched their ideas sounded in the grand scheme of America and its economy. The action of trying to punish or take something away of the sole companies and industries that are driving this economy forward to help farmers who realize there goals are unreachable because of inevitable deflation and because of LOCATION and TRAVEL time. This ideal of having some sort of inflation hope… was hopeless, Because of 1 Location and because of the inevitably of companies price fixing in companies. But there’s no problem in asking for the government for help or some sort of way to get out of this through some sort of loan system or some smart way that won’t hinder others too much and the means of the economy too significantly. But they took out their frustrations with the Rail road companies because of the high rates that they charge, but they fail to realize it’s all about the location. Now onto why this is structurally impossible in the United States is simple. We live in a capitalist society, where its encouraged to start your own small business and grow it and work hard at it. It’s impossible for such an activist government to work in a capitalist society where the constitution and the foundation of the country was based of the “philosophes” and enlightenment thinkers who proposed a laissaz faire economy where when the government interferes to a certain extent it is supremely immoral and unethical and ruins society as a whole.

    2.The populist movement can be compared to the tea party or Occupy wall street in the sense that part of the party wants more activist government and the other such as the tea party take a more conservative approach to this (which is beyond hypocrisy) and there main goals are to lower taxes, balance the budget, and limit spending to a minimal, so basically a laid back, although there foreign policy is questionable at the least (Yikes…Kinda kills the ethical responsibility as Humanity…huh?) , the tea party believes the idea of in-activeness will somehow spur economy and proved a better society than in what we live in. But if you look to the Theories of Keynes, and is further interpreted and expressed as Keynesian economics it proves through statistics that the way to grow the economy is to invest and spend as a natural cycle in the flow of money and the economy will in term create revenue. Now the populist movement compares with these too kind of in the middle I would think. If you think about it the MINDSET of the populists at this time could be described as (You can’t have the cake and eat it too) They want help and want to punish other for the help of the farmers, and they blame the government for their hardships and they want some sort of economic equality with the monetary/industrial elites who they despised. The occupy Wall Street is definitely more closer in proximity to the populist movement of the late 1800’s because of the activism and interference they want the government to bestow upon another economic steeple or business.

  14. Meredith Hawkins

    I think that the populism movement as a reform movement was unsuccessful for many reasons. Why I believe that it was unsuccessful mainly for the reason that it didn’t unite the country but instead created more racism and tension between various ethnic groups. The populists took all their problems out on minority groups such as African Americans and Jews. Any political power that the Populist Party gained was essentially over taken by more powerful people in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Populist Party was created by farmers who thought the government didn’t do much to help the country and its economy but then moved west, and when their plans failed wanted the same government to help bail them out. The Tea Party and Populist Party are related in the sense that they’re both anti-government groups. Rather than appeal to large numbers of people the groups focus on problems of minorities and a select few. The Occupy Wall Street movement and the Populist movement are also showed the similarities between the two parties. They claimed to be fighting for all people against big businesses and the wealthy elite. The only big difference between the two is that the Occupy Wall Street movement was less racist and appealed to a lager group.

  15. Chris G.

    In short, the populist movement of the 1890’s failed due to lack of financial, popular and governmental support.
    Populism, led by William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 election, was challenged by William McKinley, who represented the wealthy robber barons and political bosses of the time. Populism found support with farmers in the rural areas (The Grange Movement, The Farmers’ Alliance) but these supporters had neither the money nor the numbers to propel Bryan to victory.
    Bryan’s plan to back paper money with silver instead of gold would wipe out 95% of rich peoples’ fortunes – so the Robber Barons donated millions to McKinley’s campaign. Railroad companies also mobilized against the Grange and Farmers’ Alliance, refusing to do business with anyone who was a part of them. In the cities, where poor people should have been able to elect populists, Political Bosses rigged elections and dictated who poor immigrant factory workers had to vote for. William Jennings Bryan and the populists therefore had little chance of successful reform. The Tea Party practically worships at the alter of big business and millionaires, whom the movement seems willing to sacrifice its political life for in order to protect them from paying higher taxes. That’s not populism. But trying hold Wall Street accountable most definitely is. The Canadian anarchist group Adbusters initiated the protest, which subsequently led to Occupy protests and movements around the world. The main issues are social and economic inequality, greed, corruption and the perceived undue influence of corporations on government—particularly from the financial services sector. The OWS slogan, We are the 99%, refers to income inequality and wealth distribution in the U.S. between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population. To achieve their goals, protesters act on consensus-based decisions made in general assemblies which emphasize direct action over petitioning authorities for redress.[7][nb 1]

  16. geoffwickersham (Post author)

    The Populist movement as a reform movement was entirely ineffective. It wasn’t until after the movement had ended that the majority of the reforms they want to implement were actually done. They wanted to add an income tax, abolish national banks and the nationalization of railroads, the direct elections of senators, recognition of the existence of unions, and women’s suffrage. There was a national income tax set in place in 1916 with the passing of the 16th Amendment. National banks did not get abolished. The direct election of senators was made into law with the passing of the 17th Amendment in 1913. Unions were recognized in 1914 and 1935. Women’s suffrage was legalized by the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Almost all of the reforms they wanted to see happened but it was years after the movement had ended.
    Comparing the Populist movement to the Occupy Wall Street movement; there are a few ways they are similar. In both movements the people leading them and people in them believed that they were fighting for the vast majority of the country against the smallest, wealthiest part of the country. The Occupy Wall Street movement was actually like that because they were protesting against the highest income people in the nation. In the Populist movement it was only a small part of the nation that was supported: the farmers. Their numbers had been dwindling and the cities were mushrooming, there were many more day laborers than farmers. There is a similar comparison between the Populist movement and the Tea Party. The Tea Party thinks they have the best interest of the majority of the country in mind and they want lower taxes and government spending to help with the federal deficit.

    Nick B.

  17. geoffwickersham (Post author)

    The populist party was completely unsuccessful in some aspects or way of life we use today. We currently use some economic values but as for social and industrial, not one bit. They wanted to have farmers equal to the big wall street or business men and have better labor work laws. They thought that no one should be given or granted special rewards or priviliges. But, in almost every job or occupation there is a pension or end of the year bonus when one person may get more money then someone else but that person who received more money may have worked harder. Hard work and hard workers should be rewarded differently than slackers. If you look around today you will see that not everyone is the same or treated the same an economic sense. Therefore, they are much like the tea party, they both oppose the use and services of big businesses and feel the need that everyone should be treated the same exact way. But, they are also much like the Occupy Wall Street movement. They are like them because they believe in an economic or business sense that everyone should be treated fairly from a CEO to a mail worker. They both also feel that big businesses should have one percent say on politics or government policies. But, yet again, The Tea Party and the Populist were that small one percent fighting against all when the OWS is ninety nine percent fighting against one percent.

    JerJuice – 2nd

  18. Will Briggs

    The populist movement has, over time been quite effective, though each separate movement was often looked down upon as it can be connected to antisemitism and racism, with tones of socialism and fascism. But it has lived on, through the unions created in our work places, through protests for equal rights in the 60s, and now through the Occupy and Tea Party movements. Populism is very clearly set in the minds of the public even if we don’t call it that anymore. The Tea Party and Occupy Movement were forms of popular because they were movements for taking control from the rich elites of our country, and giving control over to the people (<= use Bane voice). They used sayings like “We are the 99%” and made angry speeches against our leaders, but they're gone now and not much has changed. The Tea Party was probably a little closer to the Populist Party of the late 1800s because they were a political party and ran candidates for various federal offices. You could also say they were similar in the respect that the Tea Party may have had some racist and antisemitic followers. Occupy Wall street was a little farther off because it wasn't a party but a political protest that actually unified people all over the country, but both of the groups essentially wanted the same thing, us to be equal to them.

  19. Sara Keebler

    The Populist movement was not very successful as a reform movement. They believed they had a higher majority than they actually did and their ideas to bring America back to the agrarian society it was in the past wasn’t working. They did not have enough support to go through with these ideas. Even when one of the Populist members ran for president he only received 8% of the popular vote. They were overestimating their supporters by a lot. They were not able to do anything because they were not the majority.
    It compares to the Wall Street movement because they were both fighting for something that they believed would help. They were both somewhat about social and economic un equality. They were both lead to a protest of some sort. They both believed they were the majority and were trying to help the “99%” that they were. They made consensus-based decisions to help their cause as a group. Both groups were failures in a way. They were both peaceful movements that only tried to make things better for the “majority.” They were also both about money and the issue surrounding money and the people it was affecting. The Populists wanted more money in circulation and the Wall Street occupiers wanted less debt. These were both major problems that helped their movements even though they may not have been completely successful. The two movements were similar and can be compared so you can relate to it now.

  20. Ariel Boston

    The populist movement was not very effective as a reform movement because nothing really was changed. It seemed like the populists were ignored because big businesses had the upper hand. All the big businesses had the most influence on the country and the populists didn’t have as much of a say. It was like they were asking for a change and they were asking for equality but everyone that was for the big businesses and for the industry were just ignoring them. They weren’t really taken very seriously; they never even became a real party. They also did not transform our government into a more activist one. The Populist Party is like Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party Movement because it was always the less wealthy people, or the main section of middle to lower class people versus the big businesses and rich people who held their power in their bank accounts. The power of the middle classers came from their ability to band together for one common cause and also their determination to get what they wanted. All of these groups didn’t want the people with money to be the only one running things.

    I’m sorry this was so so late but I do not want a ‘missing’ in the grade book. I also had it done I just forgot to put it on here… Oops! Sorry..

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