Populism DBQ Essay

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During the late 1800s, a third party known as the Populist Party, driven by the Farmer’s Alliance movement, began to intervene in politics by establishing new goals for the country to pursue. Some of the Populist Party’s main ideas included the direct election of Senators, unlimited coinage of silver, graduated income taxes, and public ownership of railroads. Many of their beliefs however, opposed conventional politics. Ambitious goals of the Farmer’s Alliance and Populists, their mass conventions, and anti-industrialist’s rhetoric frightened mainstream political leadership of the United States. One factor that contributed to the new ideas of political leadership was backed by the Populist Party’s innovative and ambitious goals. In general, the Populist Party pushed for individual freedoms in which the welfare of the individual comes first. Document B supports this rational by stating, “The welfare of the individual must be the object and end of all effort” (Document B). Populists believed that above all else, government’s top priority is to make sure individual freedoms are protected because the individual “should possess the very greatest degree of liberty” (Document B). In addition, the Populist Party built a platform that clarified their goals. These included the demand for a “free ballot and a fair count in all election”, a “graduated income tax”, and the condemning of “the fallacy of protecting American labor under the present system” (Document C). These goals that were established identified the growing need for political leadership to be altered, especially for the reasons mentioned in the Populist platform. The Populist Party gained followers by calling people together and influencing them to take side with their platform. Some of this was accomplished with newspapers, which taught the principles of the “People’s Party to citizens. “The People’s Party
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