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What was the Farmer’s Alliance?

The Farmers’ Alliance began around the year 1875, when farmers of the south began coming together to target local problems. By 1880, there were more than 4 million members. The problems that farmers faced included the falling prices on crops, increasing debt, and higher interest rates. The members wanted to free themselves from dependence on furnishing merchants, who kept many farmers in debt. They established stores, banks, processing plants, and many other facilities so they could be independent.

The Populists
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In 1880, the movement was pushed into a new phase, with the creation of a national political organization. They formed a third party, the People’s Party, and the members became known as Populists. The Populists approved an official set of principles and nominated candidates for the 1892 election. The party elected 3 governors, five senators, and ten congressmen. Most of the Populist leaders were middle class Protestants. The principles that leader set included: establishment of warehouse to deposit crops, abolition of national banks, end of absentee ownership of land, direct election of U.S senators, establishment of government operated postal savings banks, a graduated income tax, inflation of currency, lower tariffs, free silver (permitting silver to become, along with gold, the basis of the currency to expand the money supply), and the regulation and government ownership of railroads, telephones, and telegraphs.

Women and the Farmers’ Alliance

Women were very involved with the Farmer’s Alliance. They were full voting members, held offices, and served as lecturers. This stood in contrast to virtually every other major institution in American life. One of the Alliance’s goals was to extend the vote to women all over the country. By 1980, 250,000 women had enrolled in the Farmer's Alliance.