Source Publication

Heritage of the Great Plains

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Summer 2011

Volume

44

Issue

1

First Page

4

Last Page

13

Rights

Heritage of the Great Plains is published semi-annually by the College of Liberal Arts and Science and the Center for Great Plains Studies of Emporia State University, 1200 Commercial, Emporia, Kansas, 66801-5087. Copyright, 1980 by the College of Liberal Arts and Science. All rights reserved. ISSN 0739-4772

Abstract

As the nineteenth century drew to a close, a new pugilist in the arena of democracy threatened traditional dual-party politics in rural America. What began as an agrarian lobby soon combined with the remnants of single-issue parties from the recent past and manifested itself in the Populist, or People's Party (both supporters and critics would use the two terms interchangeably). During its brief existence, the People's Party captured the imagination of both the downtrodden and idealist and made considerable gains on the state and federal level before imploding like a political nova after the election of 1896. How then did the established politicos and their acolytes react to the upstart that threatened to siphon off their voting base and challenge their ideology? In Kansas, where the People's Party made significant inroads, one can ascertain such a reaction by examining the tone, style, and frequency in which Populist activities were reported and attacked. Specifically the partisan Republican of Hays, edited by George P. Griffith, reflected the fortunes of its own Republican Party and the perceived menace posed by the People's Party during the latter's heyday from 1891 to 1896 in such a fashion.

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