Minutes, Travis County Farmers' Alliance, October 11, 1889
In the early 1880s, the Farmers' Alliance emphasized economic action over political activism. Members attempted to form trade associations to negotiate better prices on farm supplies and also started cooperative stores to compete with traditional retailers. Cooperative mills and cotton gins were established, along with cooperative credit programs to compete with the prevailing "crop-lien" system and cooperative negotiating with textile manufacturers to purchase cotton and eliminate middlemen.
These strategies did result in some advantages for participating farmers but did not address what farmers viewed as the root causes of falling prices for cotton and other crops. In 1886, a more politically militant faction took control of the Alliance and began to agitate for many of the reforms that soon formed the basis of the Populist movement. The free coinage of silver money, the abandonment of the gold standard, and government purchase of surplus crops were some of the political measures advocated by the Alliance.
In the 1890s, the Farmers' Alliance struggled to maintain a separate identity from the Populist Party. When the Populists went down to their final defeat in the 1896 election, it was also the end of the Farmers' Alliance.
Minutes, Travis County Farmers' Alliance, October 11, 1889. Ingram Family Papers, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Page last modified: August 18, 2011