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The Age Of Reform

             It is the historian Richard Hofstadter's thesis that the leading themes of the Populist movement were: an idea of agrarian dominance, a concept of natural harmonies, the belief in a social class struggle, a fear of conspiracy, and anti-Semitism.
             The first major theme of the Populists was an idea of a golden age of farming growth. The party supported the Agrarian myth that a state with a healthy economy was dominated by an agricultural income. This archaic point of view caused the Populists to be nostalgic of the early years of the nineteenth century. This ideal made many partisans to believe in an effort to restore the United States to the economy that existed before the Industrial Revolution.
             The second major topic of the Populist Party was the belief of natural harmonies in the social class. To the Populist mind there wasn't a conflict between the worker and the farmer. They believed that both groups had a fundamental value in the function of society. The Populists believed that, although there were many classes in American civilization, there were only two important divisions, the oppressed and the oppressors. Moreover, it was accepted that both the factory worker and farmer were the oppressed.
             The third dominant premise of the Populists was that there was a constant class struggle between the monetarily powered and the workers of America. Many believed that with the death of this "aristocracy" the problems of both the industrial worker and farmer would end. Since the old parties of the United States were those who put the oppressors in power, the Populists believed that the creation of a new, independent party was the only solution to the growing problem.
             Another belief of the Populist Party was that a conspiracy against the workers of the nation existed. Although they were not the only individuals who supported this fear, the Populists advocated most heavily the dread that a plot between the government and the money powered existed.

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