Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/375

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357
Agrarian Movements

the property itself without due process of the law and in violation of the Constitution of the United States.

Deep was the significance of this decision; property interests now found protection against public regulations, and naturally the courts became the object of increasing criticism by those who were discontented with the existing social and economic order.

The Grange and the minor political parties identified with it declined, but a second wave of discontent in the eighties was the background for the Farmers' Alliance and the Populist party of the early nineties. In the whole range of American political literature no document is more remarkable than the Populist platform of 1892; it summarized the existing discontent and recommended remedies which, generally regarded at the time as too radical ever to be applied, today are a part of our orthodox political system. Most of the literature relating to Populism is ephemeral; but of real artistic merit is The Kansas Bandit, or the Fall of Ingalls, a dramatic dialogue inspired by the defeat of Senator Ingalls of Kansas in his contest for re-election to the United States Senate.

Parallel with the agrarian movement was the demand for bimetallism; indeed Senator Peffer in his Farmers Side urged free silver as a remedy for the grievances of the farmers. The "battle of the standards" became the all absorbing political issue between 1888 and 1896. Most of the economists favoured the gold standard, notably Professor J. Laurence Laughlin of the University of Chicago. His History of Bimetallism in the United States was more than a history; it was also a defence of monometallism, and was widely quoted throughout the silver agitation. The minority of the economists, who defended bimetallism, was best represented by E. Benjamin Andrews, President of Brown University, in his An Honest Dollar. So strongly was the monometallic theory favoured among the conservative classes of the East that President Andrews's contrary views were one cause of his resignation from Brown in 1897. But the pièce de resistance in the whole agitation was W. H. Harvey's Coin's Financial School (1894), a little book, simple in style, graphic in illustration, which, reprinted during the campaign of 1896, enjoyed a circulation similar to that of the