The editorials of George H. Gibson constitute the core of Editing Populism's sources. His political and social ideology is examined via his relationship with and response to the Omaha Platform of 1892 and George Herron's 1894 commencement address at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The responses of other area newspapers are used to provide historical context for reactions to both Herron's address and the Populist platform. Gibson's editorials appear in the archive under the three different names the paper had throughout his time as editor: the Alliance-Independent, Wealth Makers, and Nebraska Independent.
The digital archive will be expanded as Editing Populism continues to be developed.Newspapers by Topic:
Herron's Address | The Omaha Platform | The Silver Issue | Applied Christianity Socialism | Anarchy | Political Fusion
"Salutatory" | 5 October 1893 | Alliance-Independent
Gibson introduced himself to readers as the new editor with this brief salutatory piece. Rather than assure the readers of the state’s official Populist newspaper of his steadfast commitment to the party objectives as defined by the Omaha Platform, Gibson instead deemed it necessary to emphasize his belief in God and in the brotherhood of man. Although he expressed hatred for monopolies, he based his anti-monopolism on the belief that such “oppression and robbery” went against God’s law. He was clearly more concerned with what he viewed as the overarching goal of the Populist Party: “to spread the truth, moral, economic and political, the truth which shall make men free.” There is no doubt, however, that Gibson identified with the objectives of the Populist Party as set forth in the Omaha Platform of 1892.
"Why I Am A Populist" | 30 November 1893 | Alliance-Independent
Early into his position as editor, Gibson outlined the reasons why he considered himself a Populist. He referenced many points of the Omaha Platform, and frequently wove his religious beliefs into his justifications for Populist reforms. This editorial reveals that faith was central to Gibson’s reform ideology. His involvement with Populism cannot be understood without acknowledgement of the fact that he believed there were tangible connections between the objectives of the Populist Party and the principles of social Christianity.
"The State Conference" | 11 January 1894 | Alliance-Independent
In this editorial Gibson discusses a Populist state conference and the future of the People's Party. He declares that the meeting was "important above all others since the national convention at Omaha" due to reformation of the party's organization. He applauds the conference's emphasis on the importance of education and increasing the circulation of Populist papers.
"Our National Platform" | 28 June 1894 | Wealth Makers
The Omaha Platform of 1892 was the official Populist Party Platform. It was adopted in Omaha, Nebraska on July 4, 1892 and was printed in nearly every edition of the Wealth Makers throughout Gibson's time as editor. The platform was centered upon the idea that the people should have more control (and corporations much less control) over the government, the nation’s natural resources, land, railroads, and telephone and telegraph lines. Free coinage of silver was also a key issue, as it was intimately related to farmers’ concerns regarding interest rates and wages. Gibson referred to the platform time and again - particularly its position with regard to free silver - as he defended himself against charges of using the Wealth Makers to advance his own personal religious and political views.
"The Returns Roughly Analyzed" | 15 November 1894 | Wealth Makers
In this editorial Gibson analyzes the preliminary results and long-term implications of the election of 1894. He reiterates his opposition to political fusion and is very critical of William Jennings Bryan, stating that if Bryan had come over to the Populists "squarely and honestly" the Populists could have "easily elected a majority of the state legislature and sent him as a Populist to the United States Senate." Gibson asserts that the lesson of the election is that "parties must grow; they can not be pieced together at conventions," and concludes with exhortations for greater loyalty to the Omaha Platform.
"The Danger Just Ahead" | 13 December 1894 | Wealth Makers
In this editorial Gibson discusses the "dangers" of political fusion with the Democratic Party. While he asserts that the money question is "the greatest, most pressing question," he also argues that the People's Party will "assuredly go to pieces and deserves to if it allows itself to be tied down to the silver dollar." He urges fidelity to each of the planks of the Omaha Platform, and states that he anticipates a debate over the full implications of the money question. Gibson was similar to other "middle-of-the-road" Populists in that he opposed fusion with the Democrats, but his arguments (typically framed within biblical rhetoric) that currency reform was only one of many reforms that were needed reveal his strong connections with the ideology of the Social Gospel movement.
"Comparing Their Importance" | 28 March 1895 | Wealth Makers
In this editorial Gibson rates the importance of "the three great questions contained in the Omaha platform:" the land monopoly, the transportation monopoly, and the money question. Like most "middle-of-the-road" Populists (who opposed political fusion with the Democrats), Gibson asserted that the land and transportation monopolies were more important than the money question, but in this editorial he states that since the money question "can be most easily acted on" it will "receive first attention when the Populist party comes to power."
"Speaking of Log Rolling" | 28 March 1895 | Wealth Makers
In this editorial Gibson expresses strong opposition to the idea of political fusion with the Democratic Party. Referring specifically to Senator William V. Allen and William Jennings Bryan, Gibson states that "the men who undertake to break up and cast aside the Omaha platform will raise a storm, will be disturbers of harmony, and may only suceed in bringing distrust and political destruction upon themselves." He asserts that the People's Party is capable of political success without a union with the Democrats, and states that the "socialistic planks of our platform—the principal demands" are "not our load, but our power [sic]."
"The Crisis Just Ahead" | 25 April 1895 | Wealth Makers
In this editorial Gibson warns of impending crisis should the Populists confine their demands for reform to the silver issue alone. He states that silver is "an incidental," and that "government ownership of the great monopolies" is the "main idea" of the Populists. Gibson viewed the People's Party as the only political party that recognized the true threat monopolies posed, and believed that if the Populists did not win the next election the monopolies' powers would grow to such an extent that "a revolution...will be precipitated." Gibson's belief that the reforms called for in the Omaha Platform of 1892 could and should be enacted as a means to prevent revolution reveal that his socialist tendencies were non-Marxian in nature.
"Make Way for Liberty" | 9 May 1895 | Wealth Makers
In this editorial Gibson tells readers not to be troubled by the criticism that some of the People's Party's leaders are receiving. He takes it as a good sign that the Populists are willing to "sit in personal judgment" on their leaders. He states that "the People's party [sic], standing on the Omaha platform, is the only hope of our country's salvation and the preservation of world-wide civilization," and asserts that the Wealth Makers is prepared to die in its fight against the fusionists of Nebraska.
"Untitled" | 9 May 1895 | Wealth Makers
In this editorial Gibson ties his definition of socialism directly to the Omaha Platform. He tries to dissuade readers from supporting political fusion with the Democratic Party by referring to the silver issue as "a stolen portion of the things which drew us together," and states that all the Populists need to do to win in the next election is "keep our batteries blooming, and keep cheering the Omaha platform."