Emergence of Populist Movement

1 January 2018

While most studies of Populism have focused on regional activities or on its intellectual and social underpinnings, little has been written about the record of this radical party in the national legislature. Now one of our foremost scholars of Populism presents the first comprehensive treatment of the party in Congress, revealing the programs and personalities that shaped and ultimately doomed the movement. Gene Clayton has combed the Congressional Record to document how these visionaries performed on the national stage during that tumultuous decade.

He examines the contributions of the fifty Populist escalators elected by sixteen states and one territory from 1891 to 1903-from Senator William Prefer of Kansas to Congressman William Unveiled of Nebraska-to show how they represented the party line on such issues as the gold standard, taxation, immigration, government railways, and the Spanish- American War. Clayton demonstrates that congressional Populism was a positive and humane force in American politics totally distinct from the reactionary’ political movement that flourishes today under its name.

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He also suggests that the issues which Populist congressmen grappled with and the leslies they advocated have continued to affect us even into the present. Long awaited by scholars of the Populist movement, Claytons book is the crowning achievement of a career of research and shows how these forgotten radicals fit into the sweeping panorama of American politics. Omaha Platform of 1 892 In 1890, farmers elected 5 United States senators, 6 governors, and 46 congressmen. Encouraged by this electoral success, farmers again set their sights on a national coalition.

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