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Coalition of U.S. agrarian reformers in the Midwest and South in the 1890s. The movement developed from farmers' alliances formed in the 1880s in reaction to falling crop prices and poor credit facilities. The leaders organized the Populist, or People's, Party (1892), which advocated a variety of measures to help farmers. They also demanded an increase in the circulating currency (to be achieved by the unlimited coinage of silver), a graduated income tax, government ownership of the railroads, a tariff for revenue only, and the direct election of U.S. senators. The party's presidential candidate in 1892, James B. Weaver (1833–1912), received more than one million votes. Many state and local Populist candidates were elected in the Midwest. In 1896 the Populists joined with the Democratic Party to support the Free Silver Movement and the unsuccessful presidential candidacy of William Jennings Bryan. The movement declined thereafter, though some of its causes were later embraced by the Progressive Party.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Populist Movement, visit Britannica.com.
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