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Overview of the Populist Movement

            In the late 1800's, the farmers of America faced many serious financial problems, so the decided it was time to restructure the nation. In the 1860s, the first reform movement, the Grange, started. It was a collection of farmers that were unhappy with the way they were being treated by the government, and met together to discuss their problems. As the years went on, more farmers joined these reform movements. Eventually, the party started to select candidates to run for election and succeeded, on many occasions, in the Midwestern states. There were many reasons for the emergence of the Populist, or people's, Party in the late nineteenth century, such as the terrible economic state of the farmers, the monopolistic middlemen and government indifference. The main reason for the emergence of the Populist movement in the late nineteenth century was the economy. Firstly, there was a scarcity of money in the country under the government's tight money policy. Farmers, producing a certain number of crops per year, were not making enough money to be able to pay back their bills. Therefore, they produced more crops in hope of making more money. However, there was not enough money in the country to buy their produce. .
             This caused falling prices and the impoverishment of the farmers. Thus, farmers protested and demanded the government circulate more money. During this period in American history, there were less than fifty dollars per capita. Because of the shortage of money in the United States, the farmers formed reform movements and the Populist Party emerged. The scarcity of money in the United States was directly related to another major problem that farmers faced; there was very little silver in America, and that which was in circulation, was demonetized. As a result, the purchasing power of gold increased tremendously, benefiting the wealthy, but impoverishing the poor. The farmers demanded that silver be coined at a ration of 16:1 in order to increase the amount of silver in the country.

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