Populism, Progressivism, and the Transformation of Nebraska Politics, 1885-1915

Populism, Progressivism, and the Transformation of Nebraska Politics, 1885-1915

Populism, Progressivism, and the Transformation of Nebraska Politics, 1885-1915

Populism, Progressivism, and the Transformation of Nebraska Politics, 1885-1915

Excerpt

My country, 'is [sic] of thee,
Once land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.
Land of the Millionaire;
Farmers with pockets bare;
Caused by the cursed snare--
The Money Ring.

The Alliance Songster

So sang the angry farmers of Kansas and Nebraska during the summer of 1890. Politics that summer raged like the hot sun that glared down day after day, parching the corn crop. Agrarian discontent, smoldering for more than a decade, erupted as thousands of farm families drove their wagons down the dusty Main Streets of a hundred towns, parading both their unity and their defiance of the small-town bankers, lawyers, and merchants who dominated the social, economic, and political life of their communities. The parades culminated in picnics and rallies. There the embittered farmers put new words to old songs and sang of their frustrations:

Worm or beetle, drouth or tempest,
On a farmer's land may fall,
But for first-class ruination
Trust a mortgage 'gainst them all.

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