Ocala Demands

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The Ocala Demands was a platform for economic and political reform that was later adopted by the People's Party.

In December, 1890, the National Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union, more commonly known as the Southern Farmers' Alliance, its affiliate the Colored Farmers' Alliance, and the Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association met jointly in the Marion Opera House in Ocala, Florida, where they adopted the Ocala Demands.

Context in the Farmers' Movement[edit]

The Ocala convention was part of a trend in the Farmers' movement of moving from its fraternal and mutual benefit roots towards an increasingly political and radical position. Earlier in the year the Farmers' Alliance had successfully backed a number of candidates for state and Federal office, and the convention delegates hoped that future political gains would lead to major economic and political reforms.

Content[edit]

The "Demands" adopted by the Ocala convention called for the abolition of national banks; the establishment of sub-treasuries or depositories in every state, which would make low interest direct loans to farmers and property owners; the increase of money in circulation to not less than $50 per capita; the abolishment of futures of all agricultural and mechanical productions; the introduction of free silver; the prohibition of alien ownership of land, the reclamation of all lands held by railroads and other corporations in excess of what was actually used and needed by them, held for actual settlers only; legislation to ensure that one industry was not be built up at the expense of another; removal of the tariff tax on necessities of life; a graduated income tax; the limitation of all national and state revenues to the necessary expenses of the government economically and honestly administered; strict regulation or ownership of the means of public communication and transportation; and an amendment of the United States Constitution providing for the direct election of United States Senators.

Result[edit]

In 1892 the Farmers' Alliance founded the People's (or Populist) Party, and the Ocala Demands were incorporated in the party's Omaha Platform. As the focus of the Farmers' Movement shifted into politics, the Farmer's Alliance faded away.

Text of the Ocala Demands[edit]

1: We demand the abolition of national banks.

2: We demand that the government shall establish sub-treasuries or depositories in the several states, which shall loan money direct to the people at a low rate of interest, not to exceed two per cent per annum, on non-perishable farm products, and also upon real estate, with proper limitations upon the quantity of land and amount of money.

3: We demand that the amount of the circulating medium be speedily increased to not less than $50 per capita.

4: We demand that Congress shall pass such laws as will effectually prevent the dealing in futures of all agricultural and mechanical productions; providing a stringent system of procedure in trials that will secure the prompt conviction, and imposing such penalties as shall secure the most perfect compliance with the law.

5: We condemn the silver bill recently passed by Congress, and demand in lieu thereof the free and unlimited coinage of silver.

6: We demand the passage of laws prohibiting alien ownership of land, and that Congress take prompt action to devise some plan to obtain all lands now owned by aliens and foreign syndicates; and that all lands now held by railroads and other corporations in excess of such as is actually used and needed by them be reclaimed by the government and held for actual settlers only.

7: Believing in the doctrine of equal rights to all and special privileges to none, we demand --

a: That our national legislation shall be so framed in the future as not to build up one industry at the expense of another.

b: We further demand a removal of the existing heavy tariff tax from the necessities of life, that the poor of our land must

c: We further demand a just and equitable system of graduated tax on incomes.

d: We believe that the money of the county should be kept as much as possible in the hands of the people, and hence we demand that all national and state revenues shall be limited to the necessary expenses of the government economically and honestly administered.

e: We demand the most rigid, honest and just state and national government control and supervision of the means of public communication and transportation, and if this control and supervision does not remove the abuse now existing, we demand the government ownership of such means of communication and transportation.

f: We demand that the Congress of the United States submit an amendment to the Constitution providing for the election of United States Senators by direct vote of the people of each state.

References[edit]