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Democratic Promise: The Populist Movement in America Hardcover – October 28, 1976

ISBN-13: 978-0195019964 ISBN-10: 0195019962 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 28, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195019962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195019964
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.6 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,156,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Lawrence Goodwyn, Professor of History, Duke University.

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By MarkK VINE VOICE on November 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Populism stands as one of the major protest movements of 19th century America. Born out of the economic crisis faced by many farmers during the Gilded Age, it advocated ideas that shaped politics in the 1890s and defined the country in which we live today. For students of the movement, Lawrence Goodwyn's book has long been one of the seminal studies of Populism. His main contention is that the farmers that comprised the ranks of the movement were driven by a concern that the growing industrialization and urbanization of America was creating a system that eroded the "democratic promise" of America, one based on both individual competition and collective cooperation.

Goodwyn argues that the key to understanding the Populists - as well as the post-Civil War period as a whole - is the issue of the prolonged contraction of the monetary supply during the Gilded Age. Because of this, the Greenback movement of the 1870s is a key influence in the development of Populism, in that it shaped the Populists' radical critique of capitalism. The core of the book, however, focuses on the National Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union, a movement better known as the Southern Alliance. Goodwyn sees the Alliance as having a radicalizing effect, creating a movement culture among its millions of disaffected members. Initially seeking to overcome the despised Eastern-dominated financial system by establishing cooperative purchasing and marketing schemes, it never possessed the strength it needed to succeed, and was essentially dead by 1892.

The failure of cooperatives had the effect of pushing its members to form the People's Party. The party advanced a broad agenda of reform in transportation, land, and monetary policy, asking for government control or supervision of Eastern businesses.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This book is a stunning revisionist look at the received wisdom about the history of populism in the late 19th century. Rooting through old trunks in attics and forgotten county library newspaper archives, Goodwyn discovers the true radicalism of the populist movement, and why so much of what we were taught about the populists is wrong, distorted to cover up their fundamental challenge to the consolidation of industrial capitalism that was sweeping the world. A great book, a tragic story
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Based exclusively on original research of the American Populist movement, Goodwyn's book is a masterpiece of historical scholarship. Goodwyn traces the origins of the People's Party to the Farmer's Alliance and shows that the most compelling American challenge to Capitalism came from the conservative agrarian segments of American society. The cooperative principles of the Alliance and the subsequent People's Party formed a uniquely American platform that was neither capitalist nor socialist in nature. This is a powerful account of a great American political movement. Read this book and your understanding of American politics in the 20th Century will be forever changed.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Osha Gray Davidson on September 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The book's actual subtitle is "The Populist Moment in America," not "Movement." Goodwyn who died today, surely understood that his subtitle would be misread by many (I did, at first). But the transitory nature of the movement is an essential theme of the book.
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