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Curriculum - 7th Grade Standards - Kansas History Standards - 1880s to 1920s (Benchmark 4) - Populism (Indicator 2) - Rise of the third-party system

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A. J. Arnold to Joseph Hebbard

A. J. Arnold to Joseph Hebbard
Creator: Arnold, A. J.
Date: August 11, 1892
In this brief but informative letter A. J. Arnold, a Topeka, Kansas, druggist, informs Joseph Hebbard, treasurer of the Farmer's Alliance, of his decision to switch his allegiance from the Democratic Party to the People's (Populist) Party. He is eager to "release the state of Kansas from the misrule of the Republican Party." While Arnold is confident that he has made the right decision, he also notes that many other Democrats are wavering. Consequently, Arnold has prepared a letter to the Democrats that expresses the benefits of supporting Populism; he asks Hebbard to read through the draft of this letter and provide comments. This enclosure is not with the original letter and has not been located.


Annie (Le Porte) Diggs

Annie (Le Porte) Diggs
Creator: Snyder
Date: Between 1890 and 1899
A portrait of Annie (Le Porte) Diggs, who was born in 1848 in Canada to an American mother and French father. Two years later the family moved to New Jersey, where she attended school. Diggs moved to Lawrence, Kansas, in 1873 and married Alvin S. Diggs shortly thereafter. While in Kansas, Diggs began to attend the local Unitarian Church and developed a strong sense of moral responsibility that prompted her to work for temperance and women's suffrage. During 1882, Diggs and her husband published the newspaper Kansas Liberal, and beginning in 1890 she was the associate editor of the Alliance Advocate. As a radical reformer seeking to wipe out injustice, Diggs also allied herself with the Farmer's Alliance, aiding in the creation of the People's (Populist) Party, serving on the Populist National Committee, and supporting the fusion of the Populist and Democratic parties in the 1898 election. Throughout this time she continued to work actively for women's voting rights and served in the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association. In 1898, she was appointed the state librarian of Kansas, and she was also elected president of Kansas Press Women in 1905. Diggs moved to New York City in 1906, where she worked on two publications: The Story of Jerry Simpson (1908) and Bedrock (1912). She relocated to Detroit, Michigan, in 1912 and died there on September 7, 1916.


A party of patches

A party of patches
Creator: Judge Magazine
Date: June 6, 1891
This political cartoon drawn by Bernard Gilliam was copied from the satirical magazine Judge presents the Republican perception of the People's (Populist) Party. The artist depicts the People's Party as a hot air balloon made up of a patchwork of pieces, with each piece labeled with the name of the political organization or party that has been subsumed under the banner of the Populists. Some of the more recognizable "patches" include the Prohibition Party, the Greenback Party, the Farmer's Alliance, and the Knights of Labor Party. Inside the balloon's basket are two leading Populists from Kansas, William Peffer and "Sockless" Jerry Simpson.


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.


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.


Jeremiah "Sockless Jerry" Simpson

Jeremiah "Sockless Jerry" Simpson
Date: Between 1880 and 1905
Jeremiah Simpson was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada, on March 31, 1842. Simpson and his family relocated to New York State when he was six, and during the Civil War he served in the Illinois Volunteer Infantry, receiving a discharge due to medical reasons. When the war was over, he moved to Indiana and then to Kansas, working as a farmer and cattle rancher. Then, after devastating financial losses, Simpson began his political career by running as a Union Labor Party candidate for the state legislature in 1886 and 1888. Although he lost both of these elections, Simpson rose to the occasion when, in 1889, the newly formed People's (Populist) Party nominated him for Congress. In that election Simpson ran against James R. Hallowell, a Republican attorney who Simpson derided as a wearer of "fine silk hosiery"; Hallowell responded by stating that fine hosiery was better than being sockless. This is how Simpson received the nickname "sockless Jerry." Simpson won the election and a seat in the House of Representatives, going on to serve three terms from 1891 to 1895, and again from 1897 until 1899. He died on October 23, 1905.


Lorenzo Dow Lewelling

Lorenzo Dow Lewelling
Date: Between 1893 and 1895
This photograph represents Lorenzo Dow Lewelling (1846-1900). Born and raised in the Quaker lifestyle in Iowa, Lewelling moved to Wichita, Kansas in 1887, after working a variety of jobs and serving in the Civil War with his second wife and child from his first marriage. As a founding member of the Farmers' Alliance, Lewelling ran as a Populist for the 1892 governor's race. Notable events during his administration was the "Populist War" in 1883, clash with activist Mary Elizabeth Lease over the fusion of the Populists and Democrats, and removing Lease from her position as President of the Kansas Board of Charities. Failing to be re-elected as governor, Lewelling was elected to the Kansas State Senate, a position he held until his death.


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.


Populist members of the Dunsmore House at the Kansas Statehouse

Populist members of the Dunsmore House at the Kansas Statehouse
Creator: Farrow, W. F.
Date: 1893
This group picture, taken during or after the Legislative War of 1893, depicts the members of the Dunsmore House (Populist), and a few women and children, standing on the statehouse steps in Topeka, Kansas. The validity of the election of 1893 had been called in question, and thus two houses, the Douglass House (Republican) and Dunsmore House (Populist), both occupied Representative Hall and claimed to be the legally elected legislative body. On February 13, 1893, the Populist Dunsmore House barricaded the hall and prevented the Republican congressmen from entering the chambers. The Republican Douglass house responded by attacking the doors of the hall with sledgehammers. The Douglass House then recruited six hundred guards (called sergeants-at-arms) to guard the hall, refusing an order from Governor Lorenzo Lewelling to vacate the premises. Finally, on the night of February 16, the ousted Populists agreed to wait for the verdict from the Supreme Court while the Republicans maintained control of the House, and on February 25, the Supreme Court affirmed the validity of the Republican House. This event, although it lasted only twelve days, came to be known as the Legislative War or the Populist War.


The Electoral College

The Electoral College
Creator: Topeka Populist
Date: November 12, 1892
This article announces the results of the Presidential election of 1892. It also lists which states voted for each candidate. The candidates were Grover Cleveland (Democrat), Benjamin Harrison (Republican), and James Weaver (Populist).


The new chicken in the barnyard

The new chicken in the barnyard
Creator: Judge Magazine
Date: June 13, 1891
This cartoon, from the cover of the satirical magazine Judge, illustrates the "birth" of the Populist Party. Hovering over the chick (who has a banner on his straw hat labeled "Farmer's Alliance") is a rooster symbolizing the Republican Party, and a chicken, representing the Democratic Party. The subtitle reads, "THE LITTLE CHICK (to old parties -- "You're too big for me just now, 'tis true, but I'll lick you both in '92. Cock-a-doodle-doodle-doo!!"


The People's Uprising

The People's Uprising
Creator: Spirit of Kansas
Date: Between 1890 and 1892
This poem deals with activities in the Kansas Statehouse from a Farmer's Alliance (or Populist) perspective. A number of Kansas politicians are named in the poem which implies that the Farmer's Alliance had some success against the Republican "bosses" of Kansas. The flyer was printed by the Spirit of Kansas, Topeka, a weekly newspaper published in Topeka from 1884 through 1892 (previously published in Lawrence).


The poor donkey has too many drivers

The poor donkey has too many drivers
Creator: Judge Magazine
Date: Between 1890 and 1899
In this political cartoon from the satirical magazine Judge, Populist senators William Peffer and "Sockless" Jerry Simpson push a boulder (symbolizing the Farmer's Alliance) under the wheel of a wagon that represents the United States. In the driver's seat are five congressmen, each with their own agenda labeled on their sash. The wagon is being pulled by a donkey signifying "democracy." Judge magazine, created by artists who had allied with the Republican Party, began in 1881 and its sales eventually surpassed those of its rival, Puck.


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.


William Alfred Peffer

William Alfred Peffer
Creator: Leonard, J. H.
Date: Between 1891 and 1897
William Alfred Peffer was the first Populist senator elected to U.S. Congress. He was born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, on September 10, 1831. As a young man he traveled across the country, living in California, Indiana, Missouri, and Illinois. After the outbreak of Civil War, Peffer enlisted in the 83rd Illinois Infantry, entering as a private and working his way up to the rank of second lieutenant. He read law while still in the military, and after his discharge in 1865 he was admitted to the bar and began practicing law in Clarksville, Tennessee. Five years later he moved to Fredonia, Kansas, where he established another practice and edited the Fredonia Journal. Peffer served as a state senator from 1874 to 1876, and during his tenure he relocated to Coffeyville, Kansas, where he assumed editorial control of the Coffeyville Journal. Then, in 1881, he launched the Populist publication Kansas Farmer, one of his best-known contributions to this agrarian reform movement. Peffer was instrumental in the creation of the People's (Populist) Party, serving as a Populist U.S. Senator from 1891 to 1897 and running again (unsuccessfully) for re-election in 1896. Two years later, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for Governor of Kansas, losing the election to Republican William Stanley. Peffer died in 1912 in Grenola, Kansas, at the age of 81.


W. W. Cone to Joseph Hebbard

W. W. Cone to Joseph Hebbard
Creator: Cone, W. W.
Date: May 10, 1892
In this letter, W. W. Cone of Topeka, Kansas, discusses the pending election and the People's (Populist) Party nominations. He provides the names of several leading Populists, including John Davis, John Grant Otis, and Jeremiah "Sockless Jerry" Simpson, writing confidently that "I believe every Alliance Congressman from Kansas will be reelected." In addition, Cone was displeased that Republican newspapers had implied that the Peoples' Party Convention made resolutions that favored the Democratic Party platform. Thus, he asked Hebbard to speak to both Jerry Simpson and Tom Watson in order to discover the true result of this convention. Cone also asked Hebbard to send him the names and dates of any newspapers that provided an accurate account of the convention's proceedings.


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