“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Axtell Park in Sioux Falls in Minnehaha County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

The People's Party National Convention

Cathedral Historic District

The People's Party National Convention Marker image. Click for full size.
March 26, 2022
1. The People's Party National Convention Marker
Inscription.  Near this site in a giant tent on May 9, 1900, the People's Party held its national convention in Sioux Falls to select its second presidential candidate. The Populist Party, as it was also known, was primarily a political party of Westerners and Southerners. It was born out of the struggle to make a living from the land during a time of shrinking incomes and rising prices. Among its membership were farmers, small business owners, laborers, advocates of free coinage of silver, assorted radicals, and a large number of women. In 1896 the People's Party had a major impact on American politics, winning seats in Congress and many governorships and making a strong showing in the presidential race.

Hosting a national political convention was a first for Sioux Falls, an isolated prairie town of 12,000. Excited merchants predicted the convention would bring the young city into unaccustomed prominence, and they prepared for an estimated 25,000 visitors. As hotels were expected to be filled to capacity, residents offered rooms in private homes.

The convention attendance was a disappointment and merchants were bewildered. Few politicians
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of stature made the trip to Sioux Falls. Even William Jennings Bryan, the party standard bearer in 1896 and the front-runner for nomination, failed to appear. Many states were not represented and the planned-for great crowd fell far short of expectations.

Nevertheless, while many concluded that the Populist movement was weakening, the convention crowd was enthusiastic about the party's future. Delegates and reporters from major national newspapers heard numerous fiery speeches. Sioux Falls' own United States Senator Richard F. Pettigrew, who had bolted the Republican Party in 1896, played a prominent role in the proceedings. Amid great cheering, the delegates selected William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska as their candidate for president and debated the major issues of the day: free silver, imperialism, and public ownership of utilities. The party platform contained many concepts that have since become law and policy.

Although the low turnout disappointed Pettigrew and the convention committee, they all rallied behind Bryan as their choice for president. Delegates returned to their respective states to engage in the great political struggle that lay ahead against the Republican ticket of William F. McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Bryan lost the election and the People's Party soon languished, but Populism has remained as a political thread in Northern Plains
The People's Party National Convention Marker image. Click for full size.
March 26, 2022
2. The People's Party National Convention Marker
Erected 1999 by the Minnehaha County Historical Society, City of Sioux Falls, Mary Chilton DAR Foundation, Blake Law Offices, and Don & Cara Lee Davis.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Government & Politics. In addition, it is included in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) series list. A significant historical date for this entry is May 9, 1900.
Location. 43° 32.833′ N, 96° 44.122′ W. Marker is in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in Minnehaha County. It is in Axtell Park. Marker is at the intersection of West 9th Street and South Summit Avenue, on the right when traveling east on West 9th Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 631 W 9th St, Sioux Falls SD 57104, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Prehistoric Prayer Rock (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); U.S. Senator R.F. Pettigrew (about 500 feet away); The Woman's Alliance (about 600 feet away); Dakota Conflict (about 700 feet away); 215 N Duluth Avenue (approx. 0.2 miles away); Kaufmann House Mystery (approx. 0.2 miles away); Two Cemeteries (approx. 0.2 miles away); Early Firefighting in Sioux Falls (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sioux Falls.
The People's Party National Convention Marker, from the west image. Click for full size.
March 26, 2022
3. The People's Party National Convention Marker, from the west
The People's Party National Convention Marker, from the east image. Click for full size.
March 26, 2022
4. The People's Party National Convention Marker, from the east
Credits. This page was last revised on February 16, 2023. It was originally submitted on March 31, 2022. This page has been viewed 123 times since then and 34 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on March 31, 2022.

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Jun. 6, 2023