Mary Elizabeth Lease

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Mary Elizabeth Lease

Mary Elizabeth Lease (September 11, 1850 – October 29, 1933) was an American lecturer, writer, Georgist, and political activist. She was an advocate of the suffrage movement but she was best known for her work with the People's Party (Populists).


"The Red Dragon of Wall Street Vs. the Farmer" (1891)[edit]

Caption in Outspoken Women: Speeches by American Women Reformers, 1635-1935: The following speech was delivered at a Pupulist rally in Kansas City, Kansas in March, 1891. It was later printed in the Kansas City Star (April 1, 1891).
  • Wall Street owns this country. It is no longer a government of the people, by the people and for the people, but a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street and for Wall Street. The great common people of this country are slaves, and monopoly is the master. The West and South are bound and prostrated before the manufacturing East. Money rules and our Vice President is a London banker. Our laws are the output of a system which clothes rascals in robes and honesty in rags.
  • The North and South have been kept separated because of the unscrupulous scheming of the leaders of both political parties. Let us today cherish none but sacred and fraternal memories for the boys in blue and the boys in grey. It was only those who skulked at home who all these years have kept up the strife between the North and South. The mortgage indebtedness and the opposition by the money power rests just as heavily on the Southern states as on the Federal states, just as heavily on the Democratic brother as on the Republican brother.
  • Tariff is not the paramount question. The main question is the money question. Kansas suffers from two great robbers, the Sante Fe railroad and the loan sharks. The common people are robbed to enrich their masters. There are thirty men in the United States whose aggregate wealth is over one and one-half billions of dollars.
  • What the Alliance wants are money, land and cheaper transportation. We want the abolition of national banks and we want power to make loans direct from the government. We want either the amendment or the accursed foreclosure system wiped out. Land equal to a tract thirty miles wide and ninety miles long in Kansas has been foreclosed on and bought in by the loan sharks in a year. We will stand by our homes and stay by our firesides by force if necessary, and we will not pay our debts to the loan shark companies until the government pays its debts to us. The people are at bay; let the bloodhounds of money who dog us beware!

Quotes about Mary Elizabeth Lease[edit]

  • My speech was not popular. What they wanted from me was a rousing attack on the Standard Oil Company. They wanted a Mary Lease to tell them to go on raising hell, and here I was telling them they had got all they could by raising hell and now they must settle down to doing business.
  • The great Populist orator from that state, Mary Ellen Lease

External links[edit]

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