What Was the Cause of the Populist Movement?

The main cause of the Populist movement was the ignorance that the Democratic and Republican parties had over the difficulties and interests of farmers in the South and Midwest. Farmers took advantage of their numbers to try to demand positive change. They demanded an increased income tax for people who earned high salaries.

During the time of the movement, senators were not elected by the people. Instead, they were chosen by the state legislatures. The Populists demanded political reform to allow the senators to be elected by the people. They also wanted citizens to be given the privilege of introducing topics for debate in the legislatures. This would allow citizens to be involved in voting for a bill instead of their representatives. Populists also wanted a recall, whereby citizens could end the term of an elected official before it ended.

The movement demanded a secret ballot and wanted presidents to have a one-term limit. In 1892, the movement ran for the presidential seat through James Weaver. He managed to obtain more than 1 million votes and 22 electoral votes. Even though the movement did not manage to win the presidential seat, their grievances were able to be discussed at a national level.