|Date(s):||January 27, 1888|
|Tag(s):||Agriculture, Economy, Race-Relations|
|Course:||“Rise And Fall of the Slave South,” University of Virginia|
After the Civil War, many black and white farmers worked under the oppressive crop-lien system. In theory, banks provided farmers with loans before a growing season to pay for necessary utilities and appliances. After the harvest, the farmer gave back the bank a portion of his profits. Although sound in theory, the crop-lien system fell through in practice. It financially crippled many lower and middle class farmers, especially during drought years. For blacks, the system perpetuated a form of economic slavery.
In the late 1880's, the Farmers Alliance formed. A group of organizations aimed at improving agricultural conditions in the South, it gained steady momentum in the early 1880's by calling for the end of the crop-lien system. The Alliance sought an improvement in labor laws, the use of cooperatives/unions, and a departure from the gold standard. The goal of these reforms would be to ultimately unify and improve the conditions of all poor Southern farmers, regardless of race.
In 1887, membership in the first alliances in Georgia had grown to over 2,000 in four counties alone (Coweta, Carroll, Troup, and Heard). In January, a large organizing drive began in Jackson County. It experienced immediate success, adding 15 suballiances with a membership of nearly 1200 to the main State Alliance by the summer. These drives were commonplace, and helped to spread the Farmers Alliance platform. In only a few years, the Farmers Alliance muddled the political parties of many Southern states, effectively setting up a competitive three party system between the formerly dominant Democrats, the newly formed Farmers Alliance, and the Republicans.