Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

No work such as this is the product of a single individual. It required resources from facilities in a number of states and the District of Columbia, including the knowledge of archivists from the Nebraska State Historical Society, Colorado State Archives, History Colorado Center, Denver Public Library, Washington State Archives, Pettigrew Home and Museum, and Library of Congress, who aided my research at every stop. The insights and enthusiasm of these individuals are a credit to all who preserve the historical record....

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Introduction

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pp. 1-9

Historians of the United States have long been fascinated by the convergence of certain events in the 1890s. The first years of the decade witnessed the development of a large-scale political movement organized by farmers and laborers that advocated wholesale changes to the economic and governmental systems. In the final years of the nineteenth century, the United States engaged in an ostensibly anticolonial war against Spain and a colonial war of its own in the Philippines. Historians have attempted to explain how one...

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1. Western Populist Ideology and Worldview

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pp. 10-38

Amidst the turmoil of the 1890s, increasing numbers of Americans demonstrated frustration with the growing economic inequality and sought new alternatives to the system of unrestrained accumulation that they perceived as a threat to their rights and their well-being. Calls for change took many incarnations over the course of the decade, but in the West, the movement for reform was best embodied by the People’s (or Populist) Party. It would be impossible to comprehend the politics of the region during this period...

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2. The Local Context: Nebraska, Colorado, and Washington, 1890–1897

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pp. 39-66

When the Populists launched their first national campaign on July 4, 1892, they took the opportunity to declare their independence with a powerful statement of principles designed to comprehensively repudiate the old parties and the powers that controlled them. Ignatius Donnelly, a reform politician, Minnesota Alliance leader, and apocalyptic novelist, was the author of the statement, and it was agreed that his words fit the occasion perfectly. “We meet,” it declared, “in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of...

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3. The Money Power and the War of 1898

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pp. 67-93

By the beginning of 1898, Spain’s war to maintain control over Cuba had been raging for three years. McKinley’s cautious dealings with Spain had left many exasperated. Western Populists, Democrats, and Silver Republicans were some of the most vocal advocates of Cuban independence, and these enemies of the administration thought they understood the source of the president’s hesitance. Frank Cannon of Utah, part of the close cohort of Silver Republicans in the US Senate, outlined the western reformers’ view of the administration’s position:...

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4. Hawaiian Annexation and the Beginning of the Debate over Empire

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pp. 94-117

On May 4, 1898, Congressman Francis G. Newlands, the only member of Nevada’s Silver Party in the House, submitted House Resolution 259, “to provide for the annexing of the Hawaiian Islands to the United States.”1 The resolution was immediately forwarded to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Although it did not create much of an immediate stir, it did catch the eye of the McKinley administration, which would use its influence in the committee to garner Republican support for the measure.2 That it was...

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5. Patriotism and the Elections of 1898

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pp. 118-145

Western reformers had begun 1898 with high hopes. In the first months of the year they succeeded in stifling the administration’s new banking plan and demanded in its stead a financial system that was directly accountable to the people. They were confident that, at least in their home states, they had popular support on their side. Just as they had in 1896, many of them believed they would campaign in the fall on a platform that demanded economic justice. But then the war complicated the situation. It was waged on...

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6. Imperialism Comes to the Forefront

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pp. 146-181

“There is mourning in Nebraska to-day,” said Senator William Allen on February 6, 1899. “There will be weeping at the hearthstone of many a Nebraska home to-night.” The first reports of fighting around Manila had just arrived. The initial rumors claimed that the army led by Emilio Aguinaldo had attacked American positions, most of which were held by volunteer regiments from the western states. Allen said he had been informed that ten of the first twenty dead were from the Nebraska regiment. “I can not condemn too...

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7. Setting the Stage for the Campaign

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pp. 182-208

Senator Henry Moore Teller of Colorado was running short of allies in the nation’s capital. Since his dramatic break with the Republicans in the summer of 1896, he had continued to lambaste McKinley and his old party for their subservience to financial interests. His western friends were still fond of him, but since the outbreak of the war with Spain, he had split with them to become one of the most consistent defenders of the administration’s overseas policies. Early in 1900 he continued this course, at one point attacking...

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8. The Contest of 1900 and the Defeat of Reform

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pp. 209-248

In the summer of 1900 William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan began their second campaign for the presidency against each other. The nominations of the two parties had been mere formalities, and in many ways, the previous campaign had never really ended. Bryan had only strengthened his position as the Democratic Party’s leader since 1896, and McKinley had justified every action taken during his first term as though he were running against the same opponent. By midsummer, all that remained was for the...

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Conclusion

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pp. 249-252

The Populist movement was unique in American history. Rarely have so many Americans joined together to call for sweeping political and economic transformations. Their proposals—whether they would have achieved their intended results or not—would have surely reshaped the course of national development. Despite being unable to supplant either of the two existing major parties at the national level, they won offices throughout the West and translated their agenda into action. After just four years in existence, they...

Notes

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pp. 253-310

Bibliography

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pp. 311-324

Index

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pp. 325-331

Back Cover

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p. 332