The Populist movement also wanted to regulate the banking system, which they felt was unfair to American farmers. The Populists harked back to the days when Republicans such as Jefferson railed against the establishment of a federal bank. Then, as now, it seemed that a centralized banking system existed purely to serve the interests of the east coast banking and commercial elite, ignoring the interests of the agrarian economy.
The Populists proposed to put an end to the federal banking system, a policy that was not widely supported despite its antecedents in American history. The thinking behind this measure was that state banks would be more responsive to the needs of the agrarian economy, especially in places like the South and the Midwest. Whereas under the present system, the Populists argued, the interests of farmers and small businesses were routinely sacrificed to generate profit for the big banks and other financial institutions.