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Curriculum - 7th Grade Standards - Kansas History Standards - 1880s to 1920s (Benchmark 4) - Populism (Indicator 2) - High debts and low prices for farmers

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Between Millstones

Between Millstones
Creator: Kelly, H. B.
Date: 1896
This short pamphlet discusses the problems that high tariffs and the gold standard create for workers and farmers. It clearly presents Populist ideas about the dire situation of Kansas farmers by giving several examples of how businessmen and merchants benefit from the oppression of common laborers. The pamphlet was written by H. B. Kelly and printed by the Jeffersonian Publishing Company in Lawrence, Kansas; each pamphlet cost five cents.


C. C. Evans to Governor Edmund Morrill

C. C. Evans to Governor Edmund Morrill
Creator: Evans, C. C.
Date: December 24, 1894
The chairman of the Sheridan County Republican Central Committee, C. C. Evans, of Allison (Decatur County), writes Governor Edmund Morrill to inform him of the desperate circumstances facing farmers in western Kansas and to ask the state to furnish seed grain to the farmers. Several years of drought and low crop yields left many farmers without sufficient seed grain for the next season's crops. Evans asks the governor to rally Republican legislators to quickly pass an appropriation for farm relief. The letter claims that Populists have thwarted local efforts to address the problem and that effective actions by Republicans at this time would attract more people in western Kansas to the Republican Party.


Governor Lyman Humphrey to John Hughes

Governor Lyman Humphrey to John Hughes
Creator: Humphrey, Lyman Underwood, 1844-1915
Date: December 11, 1889
In this letter Governor Lyman Humphrey of Topeka (Shawnee County) responds to John Hughes of Howard (Elk County) regarding a petition requesting a special session of the legislature to provide farmers relief from mortgages. The Farmer's Alliance and Labor's Union of America of Kansas produced and sponsored the petition. Mr. Hughes sent the first of such petitions to the Governor. The Alliance later cited the Governor's response to this petition in a circular it distributed with the petition forms. See Electors of Chautauqua County to Governor Lyman Humphrey, December 20, 1889-[n.d.], 1890.


How to organize an Alliance

How to organize an Alliance
Creator: Topeka Commonwealth
Date: February 8, 1881
This brief article from the Topeka Commonwealth outlines the basics of how to assemble a local branch of the Farmer's Alliance and the objectives of this reform organization. These objectives included obtaining fair prices for farm produce, enabling farmers to protect themselves against corrupt and unethical businessmen, eliminating government corruption, and opposing legislation that would aid big business at the expense of farmers. The Farmer's Alliance movement would eventually merge with the Knights of Labor to form the People's (Populist) Party.


Light on the money mystery

Light on the money mystery
Creator: Holden, James D.
Date: July 24,1896
James D. Holden of Emporia, Lyon County, wrote this pamphlet to propose his solutions to the money problem raised by Populists. He takes the solution further than the unlimited coinage of silver, arguing that the value of land should also be used as a source of money, in addition to precious metals (gold and silver). He believed this would do away with the need to pay interest, which would increase the wealth of everyone.


Mary E. Lease to Joseph Hebbard

Mary E. Lease to Joseph Hebbard
Creator: Lease, Mary Elizabeth, 1853-1933
Date: September 11, 1890
In this brief letter Mary Elizabeth Lease, a Populist reformer who spoke out against the mistreatment of farmers, thanks Joseph Hebbard, treasurer of the Farmer's Alliance, for his help. She also asks him to do her one more favor: send some information about poverty demographics compiled by the Republicans in order to "dose them with their own medicine." Lease is apparently writing from Hiawatha, Kansas.


Mary Elizabeth Lease

Mary Elizabeth Lease
Creator: Deane
Date: Between 1890 and 1899
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.


"The Farmer Feeds Them All," The Farmer's Wife

"The Farmer Feeds Them All," The Farmer's Wife
Creator: The Farmer's Wife
Date: May 1894
The Farmer's Wife, a Populist newspaper published in Topeka, Shawnee County, printed this poem that illustrates the importance of farmers' work. While farm prices were "fixed by members of the various 'Boards of Trade,'" whom the Populists believed to be corrupt, the valuable labor of farmers was under appreciated. The Farmer's Wife was edited by Emma Pack.


The foolish appeals of the political tramps

The foolish appeals of the political tramps
Creator: Judge Magazine
Date: 1891
This political cartoon from the satirical magazine Jude depicts a farmer (representing Uncle Sam) standing in his wheatfield talking to a Democrat and two Populists, "Sockless" Jerry Simpson and William Peffer, both from Kansas. These three men are attempting to convince the farmer of the importance of free trade and free silver, but he remains satisfied with the current situation. Meanwhile, across the sea in Europe, there are starving peasants begging for relief. The cartoon is meant as a criticism of the Populists' and Democrats' desire to "save" farmers. Judge magazine, created by artists who had worked at Puck magazine and who allied with the Republican Party, began in 1881.


We stand for

We stand for
Creator: The Farmer's Wife
Date: August 1891
In this brief clipping the publishers of this Populist newspaper, Ira and Emma Pack, list the main beliefs of the Populist movement. They began publishing The Farmer's Wife in 1891, using it as a forum to discuss reform movements (including populism and women's suffrage), to present human interest stories, and to offer practical advice to Kansas women.


Why we grow

Why we grow
Creator: The Farmer's Wife
Date: September 1891
This article, originally printed in William Peffer's Kansas Farmer, explains the reasons behind the growth of the Populist movement. Consequently the article focuses on corruption within the government, which has led to legislation that discriminates in favor of the wealthy and privileged and at the expense of the working man. The Farmer's Wife was created by Ira and Emma Pack, who published it from Topeka, Shawnee County, from 1891 until 1894. The newspaper served as a forum to discuss reform movements (including populism and suffrage), to present human interest stories, and to offer practical advice to Kansas women.


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