Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

The People’s Advocate

(Chehalis, WA: 1892-1900)

Report by Jayne Muir

Abstract: People's Advocate was a weekly newspaper published on Fridays in Chehalis, Lewis county, Washington. Affiliated with the People's party, this publication began as the official paper for the Farmers Alliance and Industrial Union local

Dates, Frequency, Size: October 10, 1892 to December 21, 1900. Published every Friday as a weekly paper 4-8 pages, more with special editions, "Second Class Mailing Permit"

Circulation: Annual Subscription $1.25. Payable in advance. Circulation numbers unknown

Publishers/ Editors: Bridges and Yater, Publishers, Editor-in-Chief J. M. Ward 10/92; The Peoples Advocate Publishing Co., Chas. B. Yater, Mgr. & Editor 1/93-7/95;: Nevil, Mgr. 8/94; W. D.Kaylor and N. W. Holze, Publishers, Tugwell, Editor 7/95-9/97; W. D. Kaylor, Mgr. 2/96, Holze resigned;:I. P. Callison, Editor and Proprietor 9/97-12/00

Political Affiliation: Populist Party or People's Party - Reform Agenda

Union Affiliation: Farmers Alliance and Industrial Union

Business Addresses: Commercial State Bank Block, Chehalis

Collection: University of Washington Library Microfilm/Newspaper collection [A3382]. Status: Incomplete

"Hew the Line, Let the Chips Fall Where They May"

Peoples Advocate, a weekly newspaper published in Chehalis, Washington in Lewis County between October 1892 and December 1900, advocated reform. Founded in 1845, Lewis County is the oldest and largest county in Washington State. Chehalis, named in 1859, got its start as an industrial city very early on, with logging, sawmills, and the farming of grain, hay, hops and fruit serving as the major commodities. The county was named after the explorer Meriwether Lewis and is the county seat.

One of the few Populist Party newspapers in Washington state, Peoples Advocate, was the official newspaper of the Farmers Alliance and Industrial Union of Lewis County for the years 1892-1897. The first editor-in-chief was J. M. Ward, with partners Bridges and Yater, as the first business managers. Forty farmers were Alliance members who initially owned and operated The Peoples Advocate Publishing Company soon after the 1892 elections. Bridges resigned with Charles Yater remaining as Manager and Editor. C.P. Twiss, was president of the Farm Alliance during the same time. Other local newspapers were the Lewis County Nugget (Republican) and the Chehalis Bee.

Published every Friday, this newspaper served as a political and educational medium for the Peoples' Party, also known as the Populist "Pops" reform party, reporting internal events and issues at the state and local level. Coverage included state, national ("Beyond the Rockies"), and international news and commentary selected from other publications, as well as focusing on economic circumstances and politics relevant to all county citizens. The paper appears to have appealed to an intelligent readership. Labor and commence news appeared on the first page. There was a column of Farm News featuring the latest produce prices and shipping rates. A column was written entirely in German during the first year by Capt. Wuestney, an associate, prominent citizen, and Civil War veteran . Local social news, home hints, and special events were all given coverage. The editorial column was called "Communicated", and urged readers to report on their local town news. Toledo, Centralia, Pe Ell, Winlock, and surrounding towns at one time had their own news columns. Community support was strong, represented by the many advertisements throughout the 4-6 pages of the paper.

Cost of the paper was $1.25 a year payable in advance. At various times, special offers encouraged subscribers to buy and patronize the businesses who advertised in the paper. Circulation could have been in the hundreds, but no figures could be located.

The overall tone during the years of publication was exciting and upbeat. The optimistic and dark were equally reported with spirited attitude. Overall, People's Advocate was a community paper articulating in quick language contemporary issues relevant to Lewis county citizens, businessmen, and farmers.

Political and Party News

The new Populist movement swept across the state in 1891 as the third party soon dominated politics. Election coverage dominated the campaign seasons of 1892, 1894, and 1896, while intervening years covered many local controversies between Republican and Democratic politics and the Populists. The third issue (11/18/92) listed all People's Party candidates in the upcoming election with a printed ballot insert. On Election Day a supplement with voting results was included. Included in most issues was the Peoples' Party platform, especially near to elections. Prior to elections, additional pages were added with the official ballot printed, and included biographies of endorsed party candidates. In the 1892 presidential election, the People's Party presidential candidate was James Weaver, who received nearly 22% of the Washington popular vote, and in Washington. C. P. Twiss ran as the Populist candidate for Washington State Lt. Governor, 1892. (Attorney and Postmaster of the Know Post Office near Chehalis. May have come originally from Kansas; Civil War veteran)

In the elections of 1894, voters elected twenty-three Populist legislators to Olympia, which was a significant indicator of the broadening of the party's support in the state. The State's Populists were divided about the fusion of the party with the Democrats by 1896. People's Advocate endorsed presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan and was delighted when Fusionist John R. Rogers, a Populist journalist, became governor with 55% of the votes, and a reform majority went to the legislature. Headlines of in the November 6, 1896 issues heralded his victory with "Rogers Sweeps the State!" Rogers considered himself a labor reformer, proclaiming "Labor is the turtle upon which Atlas stood to uphold the world. If the laborer is not proved for sooner or later something will drop." His interest was in promoting the self-sufficient small farmer.

By November 1896, the paper no longer was associated with the F. A. and I U. In 1897, People's Advocate was formally purchased by I. P. Callison. At this point, the paper was relatively stable, and went into its final three years as the official local paper. Advertising continued to fill the pages, and political news was focused on state news and sparring with the Republican Nugget. During this time gold was discovered in Alaska, and the Spanish-American War was raging, both events shaped the direction of the paper and the People's Party popularity. Governor Rogers ran for office again in 1900, and was scheduled to make an appearance in Chehalis, but was too ill to be there. Although, a Republican president (McKinley) was elected, Rogers was able to garner enough votes to be re-elected again as a Democrat that November. Unluckily, he died soon after beginning his term. The Populist Party had fizzled out as the issues that it stood for had been for the most part incorporated into the Democratic Party. People in the state were generally supporting Republican ideals, and People's Advocate had trouble getting enough revenue from subscriptions and advertisements to stay afloat. The last issue was printed on December 21, 1900 without any announcement that the paper was going out of business.


Selected articles and commentary follow. They give some sense of the political views and the styles of journalism to be found in The Advocate. And appendix and bibliography (with sources on Populism, the Farmers Alliance, and Lewis County history) follow.


From first issue October 10, 1892 :


It has been truly said that newspapers are the public educators of a nation. As the years roll on the proofs of the trite statement become more apparent. The writers of metropolitan dailies and for country weeklies wield a potent influence in the moral and intellectual advancement of their readers. Indeed, the benefit done the American nation by its public prints is incalculable. With even a moderate estimate of the great good to be attained by newspaper writers, one cannot overlook or fail so deprecate the veils that may result from the effusion of foolish, ignorant or malicious journalists. Calumny, immoral suggestions, defamation of character and diabolical falsehoods emanate from the pens of men who have little regard of public virtue; me, who without literary endowments, can do naught but excite and sustain a morbid interest by making personal attacks and by conjuring up charges against person whose honorable positions in life are greatly envied. Such literary cannibals, rolling dainty morsels of scandal beneath their ulcerate palates, and little better than the heartless seducer who bobs virgin innocence of its rarest gem. Such a vampire, such a scandalmonger, is the dashing Ichabod that does editorial work on the Chehalis Nugget. A delineation of this conceited "roaster" is not a pleasant task, but the demands of duty are inexorable. For some time the Nugget, with it desultory gossip and obsolescent "jokes" has been sustained simply because of its party affiliations. As a newspaper it has little or no merit. Aware of this fact the pedantic Ichabod who as its editorial management has long apprehended the publication of a people's party paper with ineffable alarm. He therefore enjoyed a short interval of mental rest when he succeeded in suppressing the first attempt that was made to establish a people's party organ in Lewis County. For several weeks past, however, he has been perturbed, frenzied almost by his inanity to place numerous obstacles in the way of the present management of the ADVOCATE. For personal consideration he dare not attack the people's party nominees, but as it dernier resort, he seeks to bring the editor of the ADVOCATE into immediate disrepute. Fearing opposition, fearing a decrease of patronage, he fabricates a charge of treason, which, with a sardonic smile, he lays at the door of the ADVOCATE. He asseverates that for two hundred and fifty dollars we have assumed an amicable view of Rice's candidacy for the judicial office to which he aspires; that for two hundred and fifty dollars we have been transformed into an automaton to be operated in the interest of Rice's candidacy. The Editor


To Members of The Old Party

We would like to talk a few words to you. Please read our paper, study our ideas and investigate if you are not wrong in your judgement. Don’t say that you know all about politics. Do not consider yourself wise enough; it may be possible that you are in error. Do as impartial men should do, read our paper carefully, do not throw it in the wastebasket or give it to you ladies to kindle fire with. Ladies, submit it o your inspection and see if it does not kindle another ablaze to warm the heart of homes. Men, read and study it. The new party papers are entirely different form old party ideas and you find them worthy of your consideration. Lawyers, doctor, bankers, ministers of the gospel, to all intelligent men we appeal in particular to read our paper; see if you do not fin a heap of Christianity in our reform movements. Let no false pride stand between you and your good reason. Do not take you political doctrines as an established fact, because your party papers say so. Read our paper carefully and argue with us.



The Ex-Senator Thanks the Movement Will Grow to Great Strength and Power.

Ex-senator John J. Ingalls, of Kansas in a recent interview expressed the subjoined opinion of the people's party movement:

"This movement is building greater that the majority of the people on the eastern slope are willing to admit. It presents one of the most important political problems of the age. Here in the east, where industries and employment are diversified, this progress is not appreciated and the strength is it gaining is not understood. In the west, a purely agricultural country has taken a deep hold on the public mind and the evolution of the movement is closely watched by our deepest thinkers and political economists. These farmers have concluded that there are wrongs existing that need adjustment. The growth of the organization is not ephemeral or spontaneous, but had versed with a strong undercurrent of reason that will ultimately land it on a solid foundation which will defy all the efforts of political agitators to shake."

Representative Selection of Advertisers of The ADVOCATE

People's Store - sells more goods to the Dollar than any store in Chehalis, boots, shoes, hats, dry goods, groceries, clothing, etc.

J. D. Rice's - No reward, but more goods than any store in Chehalis - all at special price. No rent to pay, why can't I sell goods Cheap? Yes, Cheaper than anyone.

Maynard, Everett & Co. - Deering mowers and binders and Binding Twine

W. F. Futon, successor to Atkins and Co. - Glass, Oils, Sash & Doors, Sherwin-Williams Paints, Masury's Paints & Colors

"Home Comfort" Steel Ranges. - Made in Any Size Desired.

A.P. Tugwell, Attorney-At-Law, Advocate Office, Chehalis, Wash.

K. Bessemer - All kinds of Farm Produce Chickens and Eggs, but his greatest forte is Fruit Trees

Northern Pacific R.R. runs to St. Paul, Minneapolis, Duluth, Fargo, Grand Forks, Crookston, Winnipeg, Helena, and Butte.

Pheasant Pharmacy - 50 per cent SAVED. You can save it! By purchasing your drugs from the Pheasant Pharmacy

Winlock Hotel. - The Best Dollar A Day Hotel In Lewis County - Winlock, Washington

D. W. Leonard, Watchmaker - War is Declared! 75,000 Men wanted for 90 Days to bring clocks, watches and other repairs to me at the following rates for Spot Cash.

M. D. Woods - Owing to the Hard Times, I am selling all kinds of Harness cheaper than ever before.

Home Boarding House - Home-like and Cheerful - The Best 25 Cent Meal in the City - This is the Headquarters F. A. and I. U.

National Watchman, the leading Reform Journal, published at the nation's Capital - 50 cents a year, for a limited number is the price.

The Rocky Mountain News. - The Leading Populist Paper in the Country "Keep in the Middle of the Road." - Cartoon with every Issue - Denver, Col.


From the October 27, 1897 issue


Four Reasons.


It gives all the news from all the parts of the country and all the official county news.


It is the only populist paper in this part of the state and deserves your support. It teaches the principles of genuine populism first, last and all the time.


We are publishing a choice series of articles on the leading questions which populist advocate, such as Direct Legislation, Election of Senators by the People, Government Ownership, etc.


We will give a complete analysis The Facts disclosed by the expert's work on the county books and the people should know these things.

THE ADVOCATE will be clubbed with any paper in the United States. Let us know what paper you want and we will get it for you.



From Various Representative Issues

Published in August 1895.

THE ADVOCATE favors and will ADVOCATE the following reforms.

LAND for homes, and not for speculation.

THE Swiss Initiative and referendum - By the Initiative, a certain per cent of voters, as well representatives, propose laws. By the referendum, the voters at the ballot box approve or veto all laws.

MONEY - Sufficient full legal tender government paper money with silver at 16 to 1 to do the business of the country, to be put into circulation by payment of government expenses.

TRANSPORTATION and Communication - government ownership and operation of all means of transportation and communication.

TAXES - A graduated tax on land value, incomes and inheritance.

THE election of all officials by direct vote.

THE employment of the needy as public works at public expense.


Proposed Basis of Union

Editor of the ADVOCATE: I would like to call the attention of your readers, through the columns of your widely circulated paper, to the following:

The following is the platform adopted by the national reform conference at the Prohibition part, Staten Island, July 3 (1995), as a proposed basis union for the reform forces. Representative Prohibitionist, Populists, Socialists and other reformers in large numbers attended the conference, which adopted the platform almost unanimously. It was voted to call another conference in some representative city October 1 and Mar. 1 next:

As a basis of a union of reform forces,

  1. Resolved: that we demand direct legislation, the initiative and the referendum in national, state and local matters; the Imperative mandate and proportional.
  2. That we demand that when any branch of legitimate business becomes a monopoly in the hands of a few against the interest of the many, that industry should be taken possession of, on just terms, by the municipality, the state or the nations, and administered by the people.
  3. That we demand the election of president and vice-president and U.S. Senators by direct vote of the people and also of all civil officers as far as practicable.
  4. That: we demand equal suffrage without distinction of sex.
  5. That has the land is the rightful heritage of the people, we demand that no tenure should hold without use and occupancy.
  6. That we demand the prohibition of the liquor traffic for beverage purposes, and governmental control of the sale of medicinal, scientific and mechanical purposes.
  7. That all money - paper, god and silver - should be issued by the national government only, and made legal tender for all payments, public and private anon future contracts, and in amount adequate to the demands of business.
  8. That we demand the free and unlimited coinage of silver and gold at the ration of 16 to 1.

The above was adopted unanimously by the conference with much enthusiasm, and it seems to please nearly all genuine reformers everywhere.


"Business Failures in 1895 - The number of business failures for the first half of the current year I given at 6,597, as against 6,239 for the first half of 1894. In fact, the number for 1895 has not been exceeded for many years, if every before in our financial history - certainly not since 1879." (See Panic, Appendix C)


National News

International Machinists' Association, Cincinnati, May 7 - The sixth annual convention of the International Association of Machinists will begin here tomorrow with 100 delegates, among them being President John McBride, of the American Federation of Labor; W. B. Prescott, President of the International Typographical Union, and G. W Perkins, president of the Cigarmakers' International Union.


THE COALMINERS' STRIKE. That in Ohio and West Virginia Causing Manufacturers Much Concern…Increased As Business Improves.

Denver, May 7. - The employees OF the Denver tramway company have accepted the reduction of wages from 22 1-2 to 20 cents an hour, on the understanding that the wages will be gradually increased as business improves until they amount to 25 cents an hour.



What is Socialism?

The Minneapolis Times, which is democratic in name (like the Nugget) but plutocratic, aristocratic, dogmatic and monopolistic in sentiment calls loudly for the suppression of socialism.

The Times either does not know what socialism is or else it supposes that the people do not.

Socialism is integral in society. All political institutions in which the people have a voice are socialistic. Political institutions not monarchial or obsolete, like those of Russia, are socialistic

American institutions are socialistic in their nature and workings. A pure democracy is socialism, because it involved the consent of a majority of the people to the laws and regulations of society.

Our church organizations, our public school system, our public works are all socialist institutions because the people control and run them to suit themselves.

A great many people misunderstand terms and are thereby let to fear and oppose thing which they would otherwise support. The most that advance socialist seek is the more complete control of the people, over their institutions.

The government ownership and control of railroads, elevators, telegraphs and other public utilities is socialism.

Chehalis today is a socialistic town, for Chehalis very sensibly owns and controls her own electric light plant.

Who fears socialism? Those who do, would be afraid in the dark."




"We hear a great deal, of the "blight of populism', that will fall on the State or County, if the people elect the candidates on the people's party ticket. Would it not be a good idea to study the terrible blight on the nation from demo-republican rule? Look at Lewis County, ground down by taxes, forced upon them by the Republican Party, State and County. Farmers and laborers, who cannot send their children to school for reason they have no money to pay for books, clothing and shoes; yet they are forced to pay excessively high taxes, so as to meet interest on bonds, pay count officers large salaries etc. How must the poor farmer feel, when he reads in the papers, that one of these high-toned fellows, (who receive from $1,600 to $1,900 per year, paid by the taxes, these farmers and laborers have to pay) asks the commissioners to allow him a deputy at $60 or more per month. There are thousands, of good and true men, in Lewis county, who would think it a Good send if they could earn, by hard labor, one fourth of the sum this officer receives. It should be the prayer of every honest man and woman to be saved, from this old party blight that is withering the honor and manhood, of our fair land fast away. The way to remove this destruction that brings want, destitution and starvation in its wake is vote for the people's party ticket. Then instead of blight we would have happiness and prosperity."



Alliance Convention at Winlock.

The Lewis County Farmer's Alliance and Industrial Union which convened at Winlock on the 7th, proved to be a very harmonious and profitable meeting.

There were only thirty-five or forty delegates present, but they were all true and tried, and went to work with an earnestness and zeal that would convince the bitterest enemy of the Order that they were working for the good of the people and country, and no ambitious desires whatever. The meeting was called to order at 10 o'clock a. m. on the 7th, by Pres. Herren, and adjourned at 12 m. on the 8th, by President elect J. H. Aust. The first day was taken up in organizing and electing officers for the coming year….


From 1898

Letter to the Editor


Napavine, Wash, March 1st, 1893

In perusing The Advocate, I notice that there are but few correspondents from the various locals, this error should be rectified, since we have no an organ which is considered the best paper in Lewis country, and should have a correspondent from every local, so that the members may keep themselves posted on the movements of the several lodges. Of course some of the schemes which are on foot should be kept secret for the time being, while others should be published to the outside world, as well as to the members of the Alliance. In my opinion, we are much too secretive in our order; we should enter into this great enterprise, the F. A. & I. U., with more of a public spirit and hearty good will toward every one, and denounce no one because his political opinions differ from those of our own. Let us have more entertainment in connections with our meetings; more open meetings. To which everybody should be invited, regardless of class or occupations, encouraging all who feel like it. To speak, give a recitation, read essays pertaining Alliance matters, or any other subject that he or she may prefer. Let us not antagonize the wealthier class of farmers but take pains to point out to them, the advantages of belonging to the Order, as it should have the co-operations of the entire farming population.

In my opinion, politics should never be discussed in the lodge or with anything in connection with the Alliance, as it creates animosity.

Our local is in good working order, though we have had no important business to transact of late. Our members are as enthusiastic as ever before, and are confident that with proper management, the Alliance will greatly better the condition of the farmer.

Now, let us hear from every local in the county, and their proceedings as far as it is best to be made public, and your plans of still bettering the condition of the Order, and promoting the welfare of the tiller of the soil." CORRESPONDENT.


Toledo Tidbits.

For the Advocate. -

Herrin's saw mill will be running full time in a few days.

The enterprising farmers of the Alliance of this place have fenced in a lot near the bridge, where they will build a Hall this summer.

The F. A. & I. U. will give a grand ball at this place, in the Patterson hall, Friday night, April 7th. Tickets, including supper, only one dollar.

The editor of the little sheet printed in this city, who was so near a populist a few weeks ago, says the people's party is the rump party. May God bless his poor little soul! We think he will not talk like this after 1896.

H. J. B.


For THE Advocate. -

March 8. - The Methodists are having protracted meeting, which is very interesting.

As spring has come and as Cleveland has been inaugurated the democrats are expecting better times soon. I would be glad to see better times but my hope is faint.

Every few days new emigrants arrive. There were six applications for membership at the last meeting of the alliance. Let them come. SHORT CUT.



People's Party, or the Populist Party, after the 1892 presidential campaign appeared to have the strength to become a potent force in American politics. In the 1894 congressional races the People's Party candidates polled more than 1.5 million votes and elected a number of candidates to both the U. S. Senate and House of Representatives including the election of a Populist governor to Washington State. The People's Party platform of 1896 is notable for several reasons. First it summed up two decades of resentment by farmers against a system that they believed ignored their needs and mercilessly exploited them. But it was not just big business to which they objected. The Populists worried that the alliance between business and government would destroy American democracy, and the various proposals they put forward had two aims. The goal was not just to relieve economic pressure on agriculture, but also to restore democracy by eliminated what the Populists saw as the corrupt and corrupting alliances between business and government. The Populist Party disappeared after the presidential election of Republican McKinley and defeat of Populists' supported Democratic candidate Bryan in 1896, absorbed for the most part into the Democratic Party, although continued on the edge of politics in Lewis County into the next century.

The Farmers' Alliance History

After the post-Civil War deflation caused farm prices to fall, and the farmers sank deeper into debt, two principal groups emerged: the National Farmers' Alliance (Northern Alliance) in the plains and northwest states, and the National Farmer's Alliance & Industrial Union (southern alliance). The Northern Alliance was more radical and was thinking of forming a third party. The stronger F. A. & I. U. was supported by thousand of sub-alliances in a network of cooperatives, traveling lecturers, and newspapers, all promoting a strong sense of group solidarity. Efforts were made in 1889 to bring the two Alliances and the Knights of Labor into a coalition of "producing classes", but regional disagreements overrode the groups' common interests. The Southern Alliance organized to reach forty-three states. The combined Alliances took the lead in creating a new farm-labor party, the People's (Populist Party in 1892) and nominated presidential candidate James Weaver. Members focused on economic and political interest combing to deny farmers a decent living. Their demands included government control of transportation and communication, reforms of currency, land ownership, and income tax policies, and emphasis on the free coinage of silver at 16:1. Their platform that year was nearly represented all the Alliance demands, but the defeat of the Populist in 1896 finished both the party and the Alliance; however many of the reforms they had advocated were adopted over the next half century.


Two central towns figure prominently in the history of Lewis County. (Lewis County Historical Museum)

George Washington, an African-American pioneer, who settled in this area in 1852, founded Centralia. During the Panic of 1893, Washington, a successful landowner, kept the town fed.

At the same time, Eliza Barrett was helping to develop the neighboring town of Chehalis. Having claimed 300 acres of land in the Chehalis Valley with her first husband, Eliza took her time dividing and selling off her parcels, unwilling, like the men, to sell her holdings to make quick money. Her large land ownership and foresight gave her control over much of the way the town grew and expanded. As she gradually donated it to the community, she constructed the firs music hall, the Tyman Opera House, in 1889, the first Catholic Church, 1889, a Catholic boarding school for girls in 1895, and the commercial building Barrett Block in 1891.

According the author Marilyn P. Watkins in her book, Rural Democracy: Family Farmers and Politics in Western Washington, 1890-1925, the "networks and the commitment to the larger community that many people felt…blunted the radicalism of the agrarian political movements" (p. 12). Although settlers occasionally expressed racist attitude, she argues, settlers tolerated and even showed respect for non-whiles, especially if they "acted in ways acceptable to their white neighbors" (p. 42). This attitude, she states, was shattered after WWI, in the historical 1919 clash between the American Legion and the Wobblies. Her overall premise in this study between political and agrarian relationships is focused on gender and women's involvement. She concludes that women made a significant contribution to the Alliance and Populism in Lewis County, which helped to preserve the Populist spirit there. In Chapter Three "New Visions: Political Culture in the Farmers' Alliance", according to Watkins, Lewis County farmers did not become Populists because of severe economic hardship because most Alliance leaders owned their land free of debt. These farmers had moved to Lewis County within the previous ten years. They were motivated by fear of the future: that they would go into debt and perhaps lose their land if the depression continued. She also stress that the movement used "cultural forms" (like The Advocate-my note) accepted by most in Lewis County that enabled them "to live for the most part peacefully with their Republican neighbors". Watkins provided a view of the Populist Party in Chapter Four, "Populists and Republicans" National Parties and Local Issues." She notes that the party's most important local concern was the high level of county debt and high salaries paid to county officials. Her analysis of the electoral support of Populism includes the observation that Populism was strongest in outlying areas. She concludes that the "degree of commitment to agriculture rather than economic circumstances per se" was the strongest factor to explain support for the people's party (pp. 78-9). The importance of local issues cut across party lines. Watkins also discusses the issue of fusion between Populists and Democrats, and the Republican Party responses to Populism.



Panic of 1893

In the spring of 1893, a drop in the U.S. gold reserves triggered a national depression. The Panic hit the northwest hard with corporate bankruptcies, mass layoffs, bank failures, and white-collar crime. The second-worst depression in U. S. history began staggering the economy. "The depression was partly the fault of federal policy. Under President Harrison (1989-93), a Republican-led Congress had profligately spent away $100 million Treasury surplus mostly on enrichment programs for wealthy industrialist. It also in 1890 passed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which obligated the government to pay told in exchange for million of ounces worth the coinable silver being mined from Western states. This Act assigned a value to the silver that was radically greater than what public markets paid. Seven weeks after the "Industrial Black Friday" on May 5, 1893, just before the inauguration of Grover Cleveland (Democrat 1885-89 and 1893-97), the value of an American silver dollar dropped to 58 cents. For the next two years, newspapers all over this region would be peppered with tales of monetary woes. Despite the fact that the Great Northern Pacific Railroad opened easy access to Washington State, predicting a surge in the economy, the Panic of 1893 shattered many lives in the Northwest. The depressions reverberated throughout the 1890's. Mines shut down; lumber interests were hurt when nervous railroads cut shipments out of Washington by a full third. Three-quarters of the shingle plants in 1893 had closed with two years. This seriously undermined the US gold reserves and skyrocketing inflation. Western Washington did not fully recover until 1898, after the Klondike Gold Rush helped to bring renewed economic stability to the region.



Peoples' Party Platform of 1896

"Peoples' Party Platform of 1896." Source: National Party Platforms, 1840-1972 (Johnson and Porter, eds. 1973), 104.

Detailed overview of the Populist Party can be found at:

Edwards, Rebecca.. 1896: The Populist Party, Vassar College, 2000, Rebecca Edwards,

Cresswell, Stephen.. The People's Party. This article first appeared in Issue 19 of Buttons and Ballots, in Fall 1998.

Lewis County population statistics

Metz, W. J., "State of Washington". The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV, Online Edition, 1999. Edited by Kevin Knight.

Lewis County Historical Museum:

Schwantes, Carlos A. Radical Heritage; Labor, Socialism, and Reform in Washington and British Columbia, 1885-1917, pages 49-66. University of Washington Press, Seattle and London, 1979.

People's Advocate, October 7, 1892 to December 21, 1900. University of Washington Suzzallo Library Microfilm/Newspaper collection [A3382].

Click to enlarge

(October 7, 1892, p.1)




(October 7, 1892, p.1)

(November 8, 1892, p.3)

The Peoples' Party

Part of the Populist movement of the late nineteenth century, the Peoples' Party advocated for workers and farmers.  The Peoples' Advocate often served as a mouthpiece for the party in Washington state, reprinting campaign speeches, election news, and ballots.

(June 15, 1894, p.4)

(October 7, 1892, p.4)

Representing the Disenfranchised

Both the party and the paper stood for the disenfranchised workers and farmers.  Here, a cartoon draws attention to the fact that not all people have equal access to government.

(October 12, 1894, p.1)


Copyright (c) 2001  by Jayne Muir