In the book The Populist Moment, Lawrence Goodwyn explores the development of the populist movement in the United States. In particular, the author focuses on various factors that gave rise to various political parties and alliances that had anti-elitist agendas. Much attention is paid to the economic difficulties faced by farmers during this period.
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These people believed that their interests had not been sufficiently protected by the government. For example, they were very concerned with the declining prices of agricultural products such as wheat (Goodwyn 1979, 12).
Moreover, the author focuses on the impact of crop-lien system which significantly reduced the bargaining power of farmers (Goodwyn 1979, 39). On the whole, these people believed that they had been given only a partial access to the market (Goodwyn 1979, 39). These are some of the main issues that attract attention of the author.
Furthermore, the writer discusses the way in which this social movement was formed. He strives to describe the way in people became politicized (Goodwyn 1979, 65). The author attaches importance to the communication between people who might have similar political and economic interests.
Moreover, he focuses on lectures that raised people’s awareness about the populist movement. Furthermore, Lawrence Goodwyn examines the way in which American populist tried to gain the support of various citizens. For example, one can speak about such groups as factory workers and black sharecroppers (Goodwyn 1979, p. 99). Apart from that, this author strives to explain the reasons why Republicans and Democrats failed to gain the loyalty of people who represented the populist movement.
Furthermore, this book can be helpful for explaining why the importance of populist movement in the United States declined during the twentieth century. In particular, the writer discusses the impact of racism and white supremacist ideology on this political movement. Furthermore, he lays stress on such trends as corporate growth. These are some of the major themes that should be singled out since they are important for the evaluation of this book.
Overall, Lawrence Goodwyn’s arguments are well-supported. In his book, the author analyzes both primary and secondary sources that can throw light on the development of the populist movement in the United States. For example, he uses the diaries of such people as Ignatius Donnelly whose ideas were widely used by populists (Goodwyn 1979, 187).
In this way, the author gives readers in-depth insights into the experiences of people who witnessesed the most important events described in the book. Additionally, he analyzes quantitative data such as the rates of inflation in the late nineteenth-century (Goodwyn 1979, 17). The information helps the author to describe the motives that prompted people to embrace the new political movement. So, the use of these strategies makes Lawrence Goodwyn’s arguments more convincing.
Additionally, while explaining the origins and evolution of populism, the writer examines the interests of different social groups. This approach enables him to show how the political landscape of the country was shaped during the late nineteenth century.
Unlike many other works related to the economic history, Lawrence Goodwyn’s book enables readers to evaluate first-hand experiences of individuals who witnessed the rise of American populism. This is why one can say that this source can be of great help to people who study the history of the United States.
Goodwyn, Lawrence.1978. The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America. Oxford: Oxford University Press.