American populism is an enduring and prominent intellectual and political tradition, as well as a specific political movement of the late nineteenth century. Populism lionizes the middle-class “producer” as a model of ideal manhood while blaming both the rich and the poor for the perceived decline of the white patriarchal family. This ideal, seen by its adherents as the foundation of the American republic, is based on a concept of masculinity grounded in breadwinning, protection of family, and citizenship.

Often infused with moral and evangelical fervor, populism has sought to restore an idealized past era of small-scale capitalism in which white male producers had the economic power to support their families, acted as independent citizens, and succeeded or failed on their own merits. Its promise ...

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