The New International Encyclopædia/Farmers' Alliance

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FARMERS' ALLIANCE. A political party in the United States, which became of national importance in 1890, especially in the South and West. The movement originated in 1876 as a county institution in Texas, which soon grew into a State alliance. Its object at first was similar to that of other farmers' organizations, such as the Grange (q.v.). Kindred societies grew up in other States, such as the Wheel in Arkansas, founded in 1882, and the Farmers' Union in Louisiana. In 1887 a national alliance was formed out of several State societies, and its political character soon became marked. Meetings were held in 1888 and in 1889, and at the latter a platform of principles was agreed upon by the Alliance and the Knights of Labor, and the name became the National Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union. The platform demanded the abolition of national banks, increased issues of legal-tender greenbacks, laws against dealings in futures of agricultural and mechanical products, free and unlimited coinage of silver, and Government ownership of all means of transportation and intercourse. In the South the Alliance demanded the establishment by the Government of sub-treasury warehouses where farmers could deposit their products and receive currency in exchange, and also the opportunity to borrow money from the Government at nominal interest. In the campaign of 1890 the Alliance in the South did not put forth separate candidates, but dictated the nominations of the Democratic party, especially in South Carolina. In the West there were separate nominations. The election gave the Alliance the control of the legislatures of Kansas and Nebraska, and the balance of power in Illinois, Minnesota, and South Dakota. It sent nine men to the House of Representatives, and Senators from Kansas, South Dakota, and South Carolina, but the latter was called a Democrat. In 1892 the organization united with other elements and formed the Populist Party (q.v.), nominating a President. This was not done without a split in the Alliance, however, most of the Southern members refusing to leave their old political connections. The new party continued the demand for the sub-treasury scheme, free silver, more greenbacks, and public ownership of means of communication and transportation. The Alliance ceased to be a political party, but continued as an organization for the betterment of the agricultural classes.