We have been this way before

People’s party candidates for president and vice president 1892. Goes Lith. Co. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Gun$ and Money continues his excellent series on Labor History today with a look at the first convention of the People’s Party in  Omaha, Nebraska, in 1892.

During the late 1880s, Farmers’ Alliance members began reaching out to the growing number of reformers and working-class activists. People like Knights of Labor leader Terence Powderly began encouraging the Alliance to mount a political challenge to the corrupt 2-party system of the Gilded Age, when neither party represented working-class interests.

Thus in 1892, the Farmers Alliance and its allies met in Omaha to articulate a political platform and nominate a presidential candidate. The Omaha Platform demanded much that reformers would take up over the next thirty years. It called for the 8-hour day, government control of railroad and communication networks, direct election of senators, civil service reform, the graduated income tax, and the abolition of national banks. It also supported the coinage of silver, which would create inflation, allow farmers to pay off their substantial debts, and alleviate the very real shortage of currency the U.S. faced in the 1890s.

You can read more about the campaign poster pictured above here.