The Farmers’ Alliance in Western North Carolina

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Thomas, Aaron
Farmers' Alliance; Agriculture; Western North Carolina; Populism; Zebulon Vance; United States History
thesis / dissertation description
The Farmers’ Alliance in Western North Carolina receives only cursory analysis in studies concerned with the late nineteenth-century agrarian reform movement in the state. Historians have uniformly labeled the mountain region as inconsequential on the twin basis of geographic isolation and Republicanism. Their analyses have concluded that the Alliance did not matter to Western North Carolinians and that the mountains did not matter to the state Alliance. These assumptions are incorrect. An in-depth examination of the Alliance’s role in WNC demonstrates that the order most certainly mattered to these mountaineers, and their leaders, such as Senator Zebulon Vance, exerted considerable influence upon state and national agrarian reform agendas. Moreover, Western North Carolina agricultural conditions directly impacted farmer’s receptiveness to the Alliance and later Populist movements. This manuscript demonstrates the evolution of the Farmers’ Alliance in WNC using research collected from numerous documents, newspapers, census records, and secondary sources.