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Mary Elizabeth Lease - Page
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Mary Elizabeth (Clyens) Lease is perhaps the best-known Kansas Populist. She was born in Pennsylvania on September 11, 1850 to Irish immigrants. At the age of twenty she moved to Osage Mission, Kansas, in order to teach school at St. Anne's Academy. While there, she met and married Charles L. Lease, a local pharmacist. After several unsuccessful attempts at farming, Lease turned her attention to the plight of her fellow farmers, and by 1890, her passionate criticisms of railroads and big business made her a formidable force in the newly formed People's (Populist) Party. She became a well-known lecturer for the Populist cause, traveling throughout the West, Midwest, and South. Although this statement has in fact been misattributed to her, she is most known for her assertion that farmers must "raise less corn and more hell." Her zeal and refusal to compromise eventually alienated her from mainstream Populists, and by 1896 she had turned her attention toward other reform causes, including prohibition and suffrage. She divorced Charles in 1902, spending the remainder of her life living with various children on the Atlantic coast. She passed away on October 29, 1933 in New York state.

Creator: Deane
Date: Between 1890 and 1899

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This image could be grouped with a number of sources relating to Lease and her role in the development of the Populist movement.

KS:7th:4.2:Populism (2005)

Item Number: 690
Call Number: B Lease, Mary *2
KSHS Identifier: DaRT ID: 690

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