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The Peoples Party

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The Peoples Party

The Peoples Party (Populists), established in 1889, was a new political party founded in the American West by disenfranchised farmers and other working-class Americans. The Populists represented a radical opposition to banks, landowners, local and Eastern elites, railroads, and the gold standard.

The “Omaha Platform” of 1892 was the Populists coming out party. This primary source document of the Populist Platform begins with a preamble where the very first line sets the tone for the entire piece, “We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political and material ruin.” Throughout the preamble many different issues are raised, from corruption in government and business, the devaluation of silver, the constant fight for power and wealth between the Republicans and Democrats, the denial of Urban Worker unions, and most prominently the feeling of distrust and disgust towards the capitalists. The document goes as far as to state that conditions are getting so bad they are beginning to degenerate back to those that plague Europe.

Following the preamble comes the Populists official platform. The platform covers a myriad of different issues such as the right for the labor forces to unionize, the national ownership of the railroads, the coinage of silver, a national income tax, the direct representation of Senators and the redistribution of land. The platform takes a sharp jab at capitalists stating that wealth belongs to those who create it, the farmers and other labor workers, not capitalists and bankers.

The source concludes with what it calls an “Expression of Sentiments”, issues that while not part of their official party platform, is expressive of the sentiments that were expressed during the Omaha Platform.

Through the reading of this source, we as historians are able to get an inside, first-hand look, into the feelings and mindset held by all of those who were living out West on the frontier. The author of this platform is sharing the views held by these people, the belief that their voices are not being heard, their money is being taken away from them by wealthy, corrupt businesses, and that wealth truly belongs to those who create it. The author states that the government should be run by the plain people, “the class that it originated from.” The author talks of how the Republicans and the Democrats have such a blood-thirsty hunger for power and control that it has brought these



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