The Populist Party, Political And Economic Changes Did The Party Advocate? Why Were They Considered So Radical

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1. What economic issues gave rise to the Populist Party, and what political and economic changes did the party advocate? Why were they considered so radical? Due to “…falling agricultural prices and growing economic dependency” (Foner 636) in the mid-nineteenth century, farmers in the South began to face inevitable economic uncertainty. Farmers, both white and black alike, were thrown into poverty due to sharecropping and the fall of the price of cotton, and many faced the fear of losing everything they had due the inability to pay bank loans. Believing that their situation was caused by “…high freight rates…excessive interest rates for loans…and the fiscal policies of the government” (Foner 636), disgruntled farmers hoped to better their lives and conditions through the founding of the Farmers’ Alliance in the 1870s. However, by the 1890s, the Alliance transformed into what became known as the Populist Party. Keeping their roots in mind, the Populists sought to end what they considered political corruption and economic inequality that arose during the Reconstruction. In order to do so, they proposed “…the direct election of U.S. senators, government control of currency, a graduated income tax, a system of low-class public financing…the right of workers to form labor unions…[and a] public ownership of the railroads” (Foner 638). In addition to their propositions, the Populists were considered radical due to their embracement of science and technology, their belief that the

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