How did agrarian discontent influence American politics from 1866-1896?

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Agrarian discontent during this time had a significant impact on American political life.  Most importantly, it led to the rise of populism and to the importance of "free silver" as a political issue.

Farmers during this time period often tended to have a hard time economically.  They were often in debt to an extent that made it hard to stay solvent.  For this reason, farmers pushed hard for "free silver" and the inflation that would be caused by this.  They felt this inflation would help them pay off their debts.

These economic problems also led to the rise of populism.  Populists wanted to regulate the big businesses (particularly the railroads) that the farmers blamed for their economic difficulties.  Populism was very important as a political force in the late 1800s.

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