History Of The Populist Movement

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1896: The general election evaporates the Populist Movement In 1896, Republican William McKinley defeated the Democrat (and world-class orator) William Jennings Bryan for the presidency. Before 1896, Bryan was the standard-bearer for one of the most active and widespread social movements and third parties in American history- the Populist or People’s Party. Consisting mostly of farmers, but also factory workers, the populists hoped to slow or reverse the trends of industrialization, urbanization, and immigration in Gilded Age (post Civil-War) America. Believing these trends threatened not only their way-of-life but the very nature of American democracy by concentrating power and money in the hands of Eastern elites, the populists pushed…show more content…
Although Roosevelt and McKinley shared similar populist ideas, Roosevelt was the first to publicly stand for the "square deal”. This was a program he created formed upon three basic ideas: conservation of natural resources, control of corporations, and consumer protection. Roosevelt’s ideas and beliefs spread across the country and strengthened not only the populist party, but the presidency itself. Herbert Croly became one of many leaders of the progressive movement after the publication of The Promise of American Life in 1909. This earned him a lot of attention when it became a bestseller to the progressive thinkers. His argument for a progressive-liberal government in twentieth-century America eventually gave more opportunities to “everyday” Americans. Since Croly’s plan gave jobs to middle class Americans, many of them sought work in industrialized factories. In 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory in New York City burned, killing 145 workers. The deaths of the workers was largely preventable–most of the victims died as a result of neglected safety features and locked doors within the factory building. The tragedy brought widespread attention to the dangerous sweatshop conditions of factories, and led to a series of laws and regulations to be developed that better protected the safety of workers. Progressive were being spread nationwide by the end of William Howard Taft’s presidency. In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt made a last push for the progressive agenda when he launched the third party drive for the presidency against Woodrow Wilson. Although Wilson won the presidency, Roosevelt won, in a sense, because the election was transformative and marked a departure from the decentralized republic that had structured the early 19th century. Before 1912, each state senate would
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