A. How money supply and deflation work
Money supply is the amount of money in the national economy. When the government increases the money supply, the value of every dollar drops. This is inflation and it causes a widespread rise of prices on goods of all kinds. This is favorable toward those who borrowed money because the money they have to pay back will be worth less than what they borrowed. If the money supply is reduced, the value of every dollar becomes greater. This is called deflation, and it causes prices to drop. This is favorable towards those who lent money because what they receive back will be worth more than what they gave.
B. The difference between bimetallic standard and free silver
Bimetallic standard is currency consisted of gold or silver coins or United States treasury notes that could be traded in for gold or silver. Free silver is the unlimited coining of silver dollars to increase the money supply and help "silverites", mostly silver mining interests and western farmers.
C. Bland Allison Act
The Bland Allison Act of 1878 required the federal government to purchase and coin more silver, increasing the money supply and causing inflation. The act was a step in the right direction for silverites, but had a limited effect because the Treasury Department refused to buy more than the minimum amount of silver required under the act and refused to circulate the silver dollars that the law required it to mint.
D. Sherman Silver Purchase Act
The Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890 increased the amount of silver the government was required to purchase every month, even though it did not authorize the free and unlimited coinage of silver that silverites wanted. In the early 1890's, the government's gold reserves dwindled and the government nearly went bankrupt. President Cleveland blamed the Silver Purchase Act and had it repealed in 1893.
E. The Grange
The Grange was a group founded by Oliver H. Kelly that helped farmers form cooperatives, through which they bought goods in large quantities for lower prices. The Grange also pressured state legislators to regulate businesses on which farmers depended, such as the operators of grain elevators that stored farmers' crops and the railroads that shipped goods to market.
F. Farmers' Alliance
In the 1880's many farmers joined a network of Farmers' Alliances that were formed around the nation. These alliances launched harsh attacks on monopolies, such as those that controlled the railroads. The southern alliance was especially powerful and called for many actions, such as federal regulation of the railroads, more money in circulation, creation of state departments of agriculture, antitrust laws, and farm credit. The organization also held a special importance for women, who served as officers and won support for women's political rights. African Americans worked through a separate but parallel "Colored Farmers' Alliance".
G. Interstate Commerce Act
The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 regulated the prices that railroads charged to move freight between states, requiring the rates to be set in proportion to the distance traveled. The act also made it illegal to give special rates to some customers. The law did not control the monopolistic railroad practices that angered farmers, but it established the principle that Congress could regulate the railroads, a significant expression of federal authority. The act also set up the Interstate Commerce Commision to enforce the laws.