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Curriculum - 7th Grade Standards - Kansas History Standards - 1880s to 1920s (Benchmark 4) - Populism (Indicator 2) - "Free silver"

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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.


Gulliver bound down by the Democratic Lilliputians

Gulliver bound down by the Democratic Lilliputians
Creator: Judge Magazine
Date: Between 1890 and 1895
This political cartoon from the satirical magazine Judge illustrates the Republican perception of the Democratic Party and Peoples' (Populist) Party by adapting a classic story from Gulliver's Travels. The cartoon depicts politicians, activists, and wealthy Americans tying down a giant man who symbolizes industrial prosperity. The ties stretching across his lower body represent "tariff tinkering" and "free silver," political issues where many Democrats and Populists were in agreement. William Peffer, a Kansas Populist, stands on a podium near the center giving a speech about silver. Judge magazine, created by artists who had previously worked for the well-known magazine Puck, began in 1881.


Handy money for the poor man

Handy money for the poor man
Creator: Topeka Populist
Date: November 5, 1892
This article presents a condensed version of the Secretary of the Treasury's 1890 report on how much paper money was currently in circulation. Most of this money, according to the report, was tied up in large bills that would never make it into the hands of the common man. One of the major objectives of the Populist Party was to increase the coinage of silver.


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 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 Grangers' dream of cheap money

The Grangers' dream of cheap money
Creator: Puck
Date: Between 1880 and 1900
This political cartoon from the satirical Puck magazine illustrates the Republican perception of the People's (Populist) Party belief in the coinage of silver and the redistribution of wealth to the masses. In the cartoon, Populist senator William Peffer uses a bellows to propel the windmill of the U.S. Treasury in order to pump out more "greenbacks." Outside the windmill, farmers are hungrily grabbing bags of money and carting them away in wagons. Billboards in the nearby town refer to the rapid inflation caused by the distribution of so much money.


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.


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