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NAMED AFTER THE “greenbacks” (paper money) issued during the American Civil War, the Greenback Party found its way into national prominence in the mid 1870s. Formed in 1874, the party reflected the national trend of political and financial dissatisfaction among farmers, laborers, and even small businessmen with the national parties, Republicans and Democrats. Tied to the anti-monopolist movement that blamed the depression of 1873 in part on the tendency toward national banks and other monopolistic enterprises, the members of the first national Greenback platform opposed the return of specie payments and advocated continued and inflated issuance of paper money.

Growing out of a decade-old agrarian and laborer unhappiness with the old political parties, the monopolies of corporations such as railroads, and the sad state of ...

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