Populism, the Grange Movement, and Monetary Policy

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In the 1890s, what were some specific things that were being done to make things better for farmers and for the workers?

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There were really not very many things that were actually done to help farmers and workers in the 1890s.  The 1890s were generally a fairly conservative time.  Two of the three presidents who served in that decade were Republican and the Democrat, Grover Cleveland, could not do much because of the Panic of 1893 and his own political mistakes.  Congress was also controlled by Republicans for most of the decade.

The government did do a few things that were meant to help farmers and, to a lesser extent, workers.  In 1890, the Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.  The silver purchase act helped farmers to some degree by increasing the supply of money and thus making it slightly easier to pay off their debts.  However, the act was not strong enough to really do them much good.  The antitrust act was more helpful to consumers than to workers, but it was at least something of a blow to big business, the enemy of the workers at that time.  There was also the McKinley Tariff of 1890, which helped farmers to some degree by raising tariffs on agricultural products and helped workers to some degree by raising tariffs on manufactured goods.

However, none of these things really did a lot to help workers or farmers.  This was a pretty bad decade for those two groups.

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