OCALA PLATFORM. During the 1880s an agricultural depression in the South and Great Plains gave rise to several agrarian lobbying organizations, including the Southern Farmers' Alliance and the National Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union. Under the leadership of Leonidas Polk and Charles Macune, the two organizations met at Ocala, Florida, in December 1890 to demand government support for the nation's depressed farmers. The Ocala Platform demanded, among other things, the abolition of national banks, a graduated income tax, free and unlimited coinage of silver, the establishment of subtreasuries where farmers could obtain money at less than 2 percent on nonperishable products, and the election of U.S. senators by a direct vote of the people. When neither major party adopted the Ocala demands, the disgruntled farmers turned to direct political action on their own behalf. In July 1892 they organized the Populist Party at Omaha, Nebraska, and nominated James B. Weaver as their presidential candidate. Weaver garnered 1 million votes; carried the states of Colorado, Kansas, Nevada, and Idaho; but finished third in the race. In 1896 the Populist Party fused with the Democratic Party in support of William Jennings Bryan's presidential campaign. Bryan finished a distant second to William McKinley, and the Populist Party soon disbanded.
Hicks, John D. The Populist Revolt. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1931.
McMath, Robert C., Jr. Populist Vanguard: A History of the Southern Farmers' Alliance. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975.
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