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ďRaise Less Corn and More Hell!Ē

Populists and Progressives in Kansas

Keith Rains

                   William Peffer                                     Mary Elizabeth Lease

 

This title of this WebQuest is a quote was attributed to Mary Elizabeth Lease, but she never took credit for it.

Why were these people interested in raising hell? What conditions caused a political party to barricade itself in the Capitol with Winchester rifles?  

You will be transplanted in Kansas during the 1890s and into the early 20th Century.  In this WebQuest you will learn why reform movements were necessary, which ones were successful, and how they changed Kansas and America.  You will be divided into two groups.  Each group will play the role of an interest group that found themselves at odds in Kansas in the 1890s.  The objective for you is to use technology, to research using print and nonprint resources, and to use oratorical and critical thinking skills. 

At the end of the unit students will write a response to the following statement in essay form:

Although Populism failed in Kansas, it planted the seeds that became the more successful Progressive Movement. The Progressive Movement succeeded in achieving many of the goals set by the Populists.

 

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Task             Process             Conclusion             Evaluation           Teacher Information

 

Task:

You are preparing for a debate set 100 years ago in the Kansas House of Representatives. Each team will create power point presentations to use in their opening and closing statements.  A good place to start is a general history of the time period and its economics.  All students should do this before they work on individual roles.  The following sources are a good start:

Kansas Land, Raymond Wilson and Thomas Isern

Kansas: The Prairie Spirit-History People Stories, Phyllis Griekspoor and Becky Tanner

Web Resources

Timelines
http://www.kshs.org/perspect/timeline.htm

Kansas History Day Guides
http://www.kshs.org/you/hdayguid.htm

 

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Process

The work will be divided into four parts.  Each student  will only get a grade for three parts.  Some students will work on the power point presentations for 25% of their grade.  Others will be responsible for the debate  for 25% of their grade.  All students will be responsible for group participation (30% of their grade).  In addition, all students will be responsible for responding to the following statement which is 20% of their grade: 

Although Populism failed in Kansas, it planted the seeds that became the more successful Progressive Movement. The Progressive Movement succeeded in achieving many of the goals set by the Populists.  

You will be divided into two groups.

Each group will play the role of an interest group (Big Business or Kansas Farmers) that found themselves at odds in Kansas in the 1890s.  You will learn the reasons for this conflict and begin to understand living in a market economy.

 

The Roles

Big Business and Kansas Farmers

 

Big Business

           The first group will represent big business (i.e. railroads, elevators and banks).  You will focus mostly on the railroads.  You will defend your business practices and explain your opposition to Populist reforms in the debate.  You will defend the following statements and answer the following questions to prepare for the debate.

 

Why are they attacking our business practices?

Our freight rates are not unreasonable.

Isnít this free enterprise/isnít it our right to determine our business practices?

Doesnít life for all Americans improve because of us?

You are attempting to stop progress.

This is survival of the fittest.

The business of America is business!


Web Resources

The History of Railroads
http://www.multied.com/railroad/History.html

Kansas Conflict: Populist Versus Railroader in the 1890s
http://www.ku.edu/carrie/kancoll/khq/1977/77_3_dpress.htm

Kansas State Historical Society
http://www.kshs.org/research/index.htm

Throttling The Railroads: The Thrust to Regulation
http://www.libertyhaven.com/theoreticalorphilosophicalissues/economichistory/thrusttoregulation.html

William Allen White Timeline
http://www.kshs.org/perspect/wawhite.htm

 

Kansas Farmers

            The second group will be representing Kansasís farmers.  You will explain the difficulty of making a living in a deflated economic condition.  Other reformers will be on your side.  They include women suffragettes, those who want to clean up government and protect consumerís rights. 

 

Why are railroad freight rates so high?

Why are grain prices so low?

Because of the business practices of big business, I canít pay my mortgage.

The government is corrupt and has protected big business.

The country canít grow if reforms are not made to protect the little man.

Why canít the economy be inflated?

 

Web Resources

A Kansas Portrait
http://www.kshs.org/people/lease.htm

Kansas History Day Guidelines
http://www.kshs.org/you/hdayguid.htm

Kansas Conflict: Populist Versus Railroader in the 1890s
http://www.ku.edu/carrie/kancoll/khq/1977/77_3_dpress.htm

Mary Elizabeth Lease
http://www.harwich.edu/depts/history/pp/gilded/sld097.htm

The Populist Party
http://iberia.vassar.edu/1896/populists.html

William Allen White Timeline
http://www.kshs.org/perspect/wawhite.htm

 

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Conclusion

 

          Students should have learned a lesson on history, civics and economics in this WebQuest.  To complete this task, students should respond to the following statement in essay form: Although Populism failed in Kansas, it planted the seeds that became the more successful Progressive Movement. The Progressive Movement succeeded in achieving many of the goals set by the Populists.  

Students can use the following sources to complete the task.

Kansas State Historical Society
http://www.kshs.org/research/index.htm

Progressive Era
http://www.kshs.org/you/hdayguid.htm#progressive

Kansas Land, Raymond Wilson and Thomas Isern

Kansas: The Prairie Spirit-History People Stories, Phyllis Griekspoor and Becky Tanner

 

Evaluation:

            The grade will be divided into four parts.  However, you will only get a grade for three parts.  Some students will work on the power point presentations.  That will be 25% of their grade.  Others will be responsible for the debate.  This will account for 25% of their grade.  All students will be responsible for group participation.  This will account for 30% of their grade.  In addition, all students will be responsible for responding to the following statement which is 20% of their grade: 

Although Populism failed in Kansas, it planted the seeds that became the more successful Progressive Movement. The Progressive Movement succeeded in achieving many of the goals set by the Populists.   

 

Teacher

Additional Teacher Information

 

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Linda Carlton
Deb Johnson
Greg Rasmussen

Last Update:

Dr. Jeri Carroll
Tonya Witherspoon
Wichita Public Schools

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