Teaching Guide: Exploring the Populist Movement
This teaching guide helps instructors use a specific primary source set, The Populist Movement, in the classroom. It offers discussion questions, classroom activities, and primary source analysis tools. It is intended to spark pedagogical creativity by giving a sample approach to the material. Please feel free to share, reuse, and adapt the resources in this guide for your teaching purposes.
- Based on a close examination of the campaign button, campaign ribbon, and Watson photograph, explain how the Populist party appealed to voters.
- What were some personal characteristics of Populists like Jim Weaver (as explained in the biography)? How did those characteristics cater to the Populists voters?
- In the NC Congress speech, Isaac Smith, an African American Republican congressman, responded to C.H. Johnson, a white Populist congressman, by criticizing the Populist party for exploiting black voters. Why would the Populist party attract black voters?
- In the last paragraph of the broadside, the writer encourages farmers to mobilize for action. What are his main arguments and how do they reflect the Populist party? Provide a contemporary example of the “little man” against the “giant corporation.”
- Ask students to create a Populist song in the mold of the anti-saloon song from the songbook, taking into account all of the arguments of the Populist party from the sources in this set.
- Ask students to compare and contrast the Populist party and the contemporary Tea Party or Green Party, writing a two-to-three-page argumentative essay explaining how and why there are similarities and differences between the parties.