United States Greenback Party: Wikis

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Greenback Party
Founded 1874 (1874)
Dissolved 1884 (1884)
Succeeded by Populist Party
Ideology Populism, women's suffrage, labor rights
Political position Fiscal: Left-wing populist
Social: Left-wing
Official colors Green
Politics of the United States
Political parties
Elections

The Greenback Party (also known as the Independent Party, the National Party, and the Greenback-Labor Party) was an American political party with an antimonopoly ideology[1] that was active between 1874 and 1884. Its name referred to paper money, or "greenbacks," that had been issued during the American Civil War and afterward. The party opposed the shift from paper money back to a bullion coin-based monetary system because it believed that privately owned banks and corporations would then reacquire the power to define the value of products and labor. It also condemned the use of militias and private police against union strikes[2]. Conversely, they believed that government control of the monetary system would allow it to keep more currency in circulation, as it had in the war. This would better foster business and assist farmers by raising prices and making debts easier to pay. It was established as a political party whose members were primarily farmers financially hurt by the Panic of 1873.

Contents

History

The Greenback Party was founded at a meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, on November 25, 1874. It was originally called the Independent Party or the National Party. In the late 1870's, the party controlled local government in a number of industrial and mining communities and contributed to the election of 21 members in the United States Congress independent of the two major parties[3].

The Gilded Age was an era of political ferment and conflict over the proper uses of governmental activity[4]. The Greenback movement began as a protest against the national system of money and banking that had emerged by the mid-1870's. In particular, Greenbackers condemned the National Banking System, created by the National Banking Act of 1863, the demonization of the silver dollar (Coinage Act of 1873 was in fact the "Crime of '73" to Greenbackers), and the Resumption Act of 1875, which mandated that the U.S. Treasury issue specie (coinage or "hard" currency) in exchange for greenback currency upon its presentation for redemption beginning on 1 January 1879, thus returning the nation to the gold standard. Together, these measures created an inflexible currency controlled by banks rather than the federal government. Greenbackers contended that such a system favored creditors and industry to the detriment of farmers and laborers[5].

In 1880 the Greenback Party broadened its platform to include support for an income tax, an eight hour day, and allowing women the right to vote. Ideological similarities also existed between the Grange (The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry) and the Greenback movement. For example, both the Grange and the GLP favored a national graduated income tax and proposed that public lands be given to settlers rather than sold to land speculators[6]. However, by the end of the 1880's, the Greenback Labor nationally was losing its labor-based support, in part as a result of craft-union voluntarism and in part as a result of Irish defections back to the Democratic Party[7].

The party's influence declined quickly, and after 1884 it was no longer a force in American politics. Many Greenback activists, including 1880 Presidential nominee James B. Weaver, later participated in the Populist Party.

According to William D. Barns of West Virginia University, West Virginia's Independent Greenback Party attracted reformists in 1878, from both the Democrats and Republicans, dwarfing the latter for a short period. Many state delegates were elected to the W.V. Assembly, but by 1882, nearly all these had returned to their original parties, or had been voted out by conservatives.

Other than name, there is no continuity between this historic movement and the 1952 campaign of Seattle, Washington grocer Frederick C. Proehl (May 24, 1880-June 1970) and Edward J. Bedell [8], nor that of Whitney Hart Slocomb and Edward Kirby Meador in 1960.[9]

Presidential tickets

Election Year Presidential Candidate Vice Presidential Candidate
1876 Presidential Election Peter Cooper Samuel F. Cary
1880 Presidential Election James Baird Weaver Benjamin J. Chambers
1884 Presidential Election Benjamin Franklin Butler Absolom M. West

National Conventions

11/25/1874 - Organizational Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana

5/16-18/1876 - Academy of Music, Indianapolis, Indiana. There were 239 delegates present from 17 states. Peter Cooper was nominated for President with 352 votes to 119 for three other contenders. Newton Booth was nominated for Vice President by a vote of 418 to 58 scattering. When Booth declined to run, the national committee substituted Samuel F. Cary.

February 1878 - The National (Greenback-Labor) Party platform expounded at the party's first convention at Toledo, Ohio declared that reform of the monetary system was necessary in order to "secure to the producers of wealth the results of their labor and skill, and muster out of service the vast army of idlers who, under the existing system, grow rich upon the earnings of others, that every man and woman may, by their own efforts, secure a competence, so that overgrown fortunes and extreme poverty will seldom be found within the limits of our Republic[10]."

6/9-11/1880 - Exposition Hall, Chicago, Illinois. There were 714 delegates present. James B. Weaver was nominated for President with 224.5 votes to Hendrick B. Wright with 126.5, Stephen D. Dillaye with 119, and 246 scattering. (After the roll call, all delegates who had supported other candidates shifted their votes to Weaver: New York Times 6/12/1880.) Benjamin J. Chambers was nominated for Vice President with 403 votes to 311 for Absolom M. West.

5/28-29/1884 - English's Opera House, Indianapolis, Indiana. All states were represented except Delaware and Mississippi. Benjamin F. Butler was nominated for President with 323 votes to 98 for Jesse Harper and five scattering. Absolom M. West was unanimously nominated for Vice President. Butler had been nominated for President two weeks earlier by the Anti-Monopoly Party's National Convention.

9/12/1888 - Cincinnati. Only eight delegates attended, and no candidates were nominated.

Elected officials

The following were Greenback members of the U.S. House of Representatives:

46th United States Congress, March 4, 1879 - March 3, 1881.

47th United States Congress, March 4, 1881 to March 3, 1883.

48th United States Congress, March 4, 1883 to March 3, 1885.

49th United States Congress, March 4, 1885 to March 3, 1887.

50th United States Congress, March 4, 1887 to March 3, 1889.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Hild, Matthew (2007) Greenbackers, Knights of Labor, and Populists; Farmer-Labor Insurgency in the Late-Nineteenth-Century South, The University of Georgia Press. pp 21. {ISBN 0820328979}
  2. ^ Foner, Eric (2006) Give Me Liberty! An American History Volume 2, W.W. Norton & Company. pp 532. {ISBN 0393927849}
  3. ^ Foner, Eric (2006) Give Me Liberty! An American History Volume 2, W.W. Norton & Company. pp 532. {ISBN 0393927849}
  4. ^ Foner, Eric (2006) Give Me Liberty! An American History Volume 2, W.W. Norton & Company. pp 532. {ISBN 0393927849}
  5. ^ Hild, Matthew (2007) Greenbackers, Knights of Labor, and Populists; Farmer-Labor Insurgency in the Late-Nineteenth-Century South, The University of Georgia Press. pp 20-21. {ISBN 0820328979}
  6. ^ Hild, Matthew (2007) Greenbackers, Knights of Labor, and Populists; Farmer-Labor Insurgency in the Late-Nineteenth-Century South, The University of Georgia Press. pp 22. {ISBN 0820328979}
  7. ^ Mink, Gwendolyn (1986) Old Labor and New Immigrants in American Political Development; Union, Party, and State, 1875-1920, Cornell University Press. pp. 87. {ISBN 0801418631}
  8. ^ "It's a Free Country". Time Magazine. 1952-09-01. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/printout/0,8816,816859,00.html. Retrieved 2006-10-03. 
  9. ^ "Female presidential candidates 1870-1990", Guide To Women Leaders. Retrieved 1/11/08.
  10. ^ Hild, Matthew (2007) Greenbackers, Knights of Labor, and Populists; Farmer-Labor Insurgency in the Late-Nineteenth-Century South, The University of Georgia Press. pp 22. {ISBN 0820328979}
  11. ^ seated June 3, 1882, subsequently died August 12, 1882. Seat filled by Democrat Joseph Wheeler after special election.

References

Ohio Elects the President (Mansfield OH: Bookmasters, 2000), pp. 50-59.

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