The Farmers" Alliance, formally recognized as the phibìc Carolina State Farmers" Alliance and also Industrial Union, to be a big and prominent organization of farmers and rural citizens the was started in Texas and also spread across the South and also Middle West in the so late 1880s. Its representatives an initial appeared in north Carolina in 1887; by 1891 more than 100,000 phibìc Carolinians had actually joined.

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This spectacular growth resulted from number of factors. Most important, the enhancing commercialization of farming thrust miscellaneous classes that the state"s farmers right into a complex and often-hostile net of trade relationships. Plenty of North Carolina farmers relied on local merchants for credit, materials, and crop marketing. The monopoly of the local seller resulted in high credit transaction rates and also high prices for items purchased top top credit. Market prices for agricultural products were frequently depressed through harvesttime gluts. Further, loans from the vendor were protected through the crop lien, a legal maker that offered the merchant priority rights to plants to satisfy debts. Farmer were also harmed by federal government policy, consisting of the federal government"s protective tariff on purchased goods.

The Farmers" Alliance to be a "secret," all-white organization. It permitted men and also women farmers, countryside mechanics, teachers, preachers, and also physicians come join; it expressly excluded lawyers and merchants. The work admissions test revealed a Republican-inspired confidence in preeminence by agricultural producers. The phibìc Carolina Alliance included an ext landowners than tenants or laborers. In fact, management tended to be delegated to wealthier planters, as shown by the high standing of the order"s two presidents between 1887 and also 1891, Sydenham Alexander the Mecklenburg County and also Elias Carr the Edgecombe County.


n 1890 the Farmers" Alliance was strong enough to make political needs that would get a complete hearing in the democratic Party. Most Alliance members, and specifically most Alliance leaders, to be Democrats. The two problems of greatest contention in 1890 to be the Alliance"s Subtreasury Plan and its demand for a state rail commission. Provided the increasingly evident inability that the order"s participating devices to thwart the existing credit and marketing system, the Farmers" Alliance proposed that the national federal government construct warehouses, or subtreasuries, and issue negotiable notes on plants deposited in the warehouses. Merged with the Alliance"s an ext general setup to boost money volume and have all money authorize by the commonwealth government, the warehouses would certainly raise the price for goods received through farmers and also reduce the credit and marketing power of merchants.

The Subtreasury arrangement was strongly supported by the north Carolina Farmers" Alliance, and considerable press was placed on the state"s congressional delegation to support the proposal. The state railroad commission idea, which had actually been defeated in the 1889 general Assembly, was supported in order to eliminate high intrastate freight rates and low tax of rail property.

Political task by the Farmers" Alliance caused the election of a basic Assembly overcame by members of the organization. One source estimated that 110 that the 170 to represent in the 1891 assembly belonged come the order.

After early 1891, controversy about the future that the Farmers" Alliance escalated. Department within the phibìc Carolina order emerged on such basic issues as the Subtreasury Plan, which maybe one-third the the membership opposed, and a new demand, embraced by the national organization in beforehand 1892, for federal government ownership the railroads. The latter proposal to be criticized by plenty of members, consisting of a former president the the phibìc Carolina Alliance, Elias Carr, that favored public regulation instead of ownership.

These debates were related to increasing rancor in ~ the Farmers" Alliance about the suitable political posture of the organization. In particular, members were divided over the duty the the stimulate in nationwide politics. In the summer the 1892 dispute over this issue climaxed, leaving the organization permanently shattered. The formation of Populist next in various other states contributed to the decline. However more far-ranging were the Democrats" nomination that Grover Cleveland in July for president and also the cultivation opposition by part North Carolina democracy to the influence of the Farmers" Alliance affect within their party.

After 1892 the near connection in between Populist and Farmers" Alliance leadership increasingly alienated democracy from the Alliance. Return the Alliance ongoing to hold annual meetings in phibìc Carolina through the 1890s, and also remnants the the organization persisted till 1941, the order never recovered native the political and also ideological battles of 1892. The nationwide Farmers" Alliance organization ceased to exist after 1897.


Alan B. Bromberg, ""The Worst Muddle ever Seen in N.C. Politics": The Farmers" Alliance, the Subtreasury, and also Zeb Vance," NCHR 56 (January 1979).

John D. Hicks, The Populist Revolt: A history of the Farmers" Alliance and also the People"s Party (1931).

Robert C. McMath Jr., Populist Vanguard: A background of the southern Farmers" Alliance (1975).

Lala C. Steelman, The north Carolina Farmers" Alliance: A political History, 1887-1893 (1985).

Additional Resources:

"N.C. FARMERS" ALLIANCE," phibìc Carolina Highway historic Marker Program. Https://www.ncdcr.gov/about/history/division-historical-resources/nc-highway-historical-marker-program/Markers.aspx?sp=Markers&k=Markers&sv=K-53

Proceedings that the Farmers" State Alliance of phibìc Carolina at Archive.org.

Image Credits:

Proceedings the the very first Annual session of the phibìc Carolina Farmers" State Alliance. Raleigh, N.C.:Edwards & Broughton, 1888. Https://archive.org/details/proceedingsofnor1888farm.

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Drawing that a Farmers" Alliance badge. Contact no. N_85_3_20. Courtesy the the State Archives of phibìc Carolina.