FROM POPULISTS TO MUGWUMPS TO "PROGRESSIVES"
How Old-Money Liberals Co-Opted the *Vox Populi*
"There was in fact a widespread Populist idea that all American
history since the Civil War could be understood as a sustained
conspiracy of the international money power," writes Richard
Hofstadter in his book, "The Age of Reform." (New York: Knopf,
1972 [c1955].) Abraham Lincoln's issuing of "greenbacks"
threatened the money masters, so they convened and came up with a
plan to create demand for the gold they had hoarded, according to
Mrs. S.E.V. Emery's book, "Seven Financial Conspiracies which
have Enslaved the American People." The Seven Financial
Conspiracies unfolded, according to Emery, in the following
(1) The "Exception Clause" (1862) which undermined Lincoln's
(2) The National Bank Act (1863).
(3) Retirement of "greenbacks" as currency, starting in 1866.
(4) The "Credit Strengthening Act" (1869).
(5) Refunding of national debt (1870).
(6) The demonetization of silver (1873). Also known as "The
Crime of '73." [e.g., see CN 11.07]
(7) Destruction of fractional paper currency (1875).
During the Civil War, the money masters had purchased government
bonds using the then-plentiful "greenbacks." Later, after the
"greenbacks" had been retired and the U.S. currency was no longer
backed by silver ("The Crime of '73"), the money masters could
demand re-payment in =gold= for the Civil War bonds they had
purchased with "greenbacks." Between about 1865 and 1893, the
amount of "money" in circulation decreased sharply and there were
"hard times" indeed.
Former-congressman Ignatius Donnelly declared, in his preamble to
the People's Party platform of 1892, that "a vast conspiracy
against mankind" had been "organized on two continents..." An
1895 People's Party manifesto, signed by 15 leaders of that
populist political party, asserted that, "As early as 1865-66 a
conspiracy was entered into between the gold gamblers of Europe
and America... For nearly thirty years these conspirators have
kept the people quarreling over less important matters while they
have pursued with unrelenting zeal their one central purpose...
Every device of treachery, every resource of statecraft, and
every artifice known to the secret cabals of the international
gold ring are being made use of to deal a blow to the prosperity
of the people and the financial and commercial independence of
"Those who owned bonds wanted to be paid not in a common currency
but in gold, which was at a premium; those who lived by lending
money wanted as high a premium as possible to be put on their
commodity ["money"] by increasing its scarcity. The panics,
depressions, and bankruptcies caused by their policies only added
to their wealth; such catastrophes offered opportunities to
[absorb] the wealth of others through business consolidations and
foreclosures. Hence the [money masters] actually relished and
encouraged hard times." 
"One of the more elaborate documents of the [populist] conspiracy
school traced the power of the Rothschilds over America to a
transaction between Hugh McCulloch, Secretary of the Treasury
under Lincoln and [Andrew] Johnson, and Baron James Rothschild,"
writes Hofstadter. According to Gordon Clark, "The most direful
part of this business between Rothschild and the United States
Treasury was not the loss of money... It was the resignation of
the country itself into the hands of England..." 
-+- The Mugwumps -+-
Unlikely allies of the Populists ("Politics makes strange
bedfellows") were the "Mugwumps." The Mugwumps "were
Progressives not because of economic deprivations but primarily
because they were victims of an upheaval in status," brought on
largely by the growing shift to industrialism in late
19th-century America. . The Mugwumps had their roots in the
small-town, agrarian, pre-Civil War United States. They were
sort of the "old money" branch of the American aristocracy,
increasingly displaced and out-ranked by the emerging *nouveau
riche* corporate industrialists. "During the late 1880s and the
'90s there emerged in the eastern United States a small
imperialist elite representing, in general, the same type that
had once been Mugwumps, whose spokesmen were such solid and
respectable gentlemen as Henry and Brooks Adams, Theodore
Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, John Hay, and Albert J. Beveridge."
Henry and Brooks Adams expressed, "in their sardonic and morosely
cynical private correspondence [Populist] feelings, and
[acknowledged] with bemused irony their kinship at this point
with the mob." 
Both Populists and emerging "Progressives," "found themselves
impotent and deprived in an industrial culture and balked by a
common enemy." 
-+- "Progressives" Co-Opt Populists -+-
The two forces merged, for a time. The Populists had little
financial backing and needed to connect with those who did have
economic clout. Unfortunately, "when the farmers [Populists] and
the gentlemen ['Progressives'] finally did coalesce in politics,
they produced only the genial reforms of Progressivism." 
But, writes Hofstadter, "successful resistance to [Populist]
demands required a partial incorporation of the reform program."
THE POPULISTS WERE CO-OPTED BY THE "PROGRESSIVES." These same
"Progressives" are alive today: the East Coast "Liberals," who
sneer now at the "conspiracy theorists." (And said "conspiracy
theorists" have their roots in the 19th-century Populism co-opted
and destroyed by the "Progressives.")
---------------------------<< Notes >>---------------------------
 *The Age of Reform* by Richard Hofstadter. (New York:
Knopf, 1972 [c1955])
 *Shylock: As Banker, Bondholder, Corruptionist, Conspirator*
by Gordon Clark. (Washington: 1894). Qtd. in Hofstadter.
 Hofstadter. Op cit.
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