Rarely has a third political party in the United States exerted a force upon national events comparable to that of the Populists during the 1890s. This force reached its climax in the presidential race of 1896, when the national reforms epitomized in the cry for free silver were at issue. Yet despite a number of recent studies, confusion and error regarding the Populists in the crucial election of 1896 still persist.
Robert F. Durden, by extensive use of the papers of Marion Butler, Populist senator from North Carolina and national chairman of the party during the campaign, sheds new light upon many points -- the conduct of the St. Louis convention, the role of Tom Watson, and the fusion strategy. Durden's work is not only valuable for its clarification of the Populist campaign, but also for the example it offers of the practical working of American politics with the baffling balances among regions and groups.
Subjects: History, Political Science
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