Populism in the South RevisitedNew Interpretations and New Departures

Populism in the South RevisitedNew Interpretations and New Departures

James M. Beeby

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9781617032257

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi


The Populist Movement was the largest mass movement for political and economic change in the history of the American South until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The Populist Movement in this book is defined as the Farmers’ Alliance and the People’s Party, as well as the Agricultural Wheel and Knights of Labor in the 1880s and 1890s. The Populists threatened the political hegemony of the white racist southern Democratic Party during populism’s high point in the mid-1890s; and the populists threw the New South into a state of turmoil. The book brings together nine of the best new works on the populist movement in the South that grapple with several larger themes—such as the nature of political insurgency, the relationship between African Americans and whites, electoral reform, new economic policies and producerism, and the relationship between rural and urban areas—in case studies that center on several states and at the local level. Each chapter offers both new research and new interpretations into the causes, course, and consequences of the populist insurgency. One chapter analyzes how notions of debt informed the Populist insurgency in North Carolina, the one state where the Populists achieved statewide power, while another analyzes the Populists’ failed attempts in Grant Parish, Louisiana, to align with African Americans and Republicans to topple the incumbent Democrats.