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"F" is for Farmers’ Alliance

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"F" is for Farmers’ Alliance.  Organized in Texas in the late 1870s, the National Farmers’ Alliance and Industrial Union, along with its counterpart the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance addressed the problems of debt and depressed commodity prices that confronted much of rural America. The first county Alliance in South Carolina appeared in 1887. By 1890 over one thousand suballiances existed in the state, which claimed more than 80,000 members, black and white. Attempts at various cooperative enterprises failed, so the Alliance turned to political action. With Alliance backing Ben Tillman was elected governor; the president of the state Alliance was elected to Congress, and more than one-third of the General Assembly were members. After being reelected in 1892 Tillman subsumed the state’s Alliance political identity into his Democratic Party faction—and the Farmers’ Alliance soon collapsed in South Carolina.

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.