The historian’s Wizard of Oz: Hardly the writings of a silverite! According to Littlefield, Baum, a reform-minded Democrat who supported William Jennings Bryan’s pro-silver candidacy, wrote the book as a parable of the Populists, an allegory of their failed efforts to reform the nation in Additional allegories have been developed, without claims that they were originally intended by Baum. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. He was tremendously successful in this, producing not only the first real American fairy tale, but one that showed American society and culture in all its wonderful diversity and contradictions, a story so rich it can be, like the book’s title character, anything we want it to be–including, if we wish, a parable on Populism.

One could try to reconcile the differences by suggesting that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was not so much about the Populists themselves as it was about the culture that gave rise to the Populists. From Greek Myth to Computer Chips. But this oversimplifies Littlefield’s argument, which was about silver and gold, William Jennings Bryan and dehumanized factory workers, not just “agrarian discontent. The thesis achieved considerable popular interest and elaboration by many scholars in history, economics and other fields, [6] but that thesis has been challenged. He implicitly qualified Littlefield by pointing out that not all pro-Bryan silverites were Populists.

henry littlefield thesis and wizard of oz

Journal of the Georgia Association of Historians. Great will be our satisfaction When the “honest money” faction Seats McKinley in the chair! The power of gold proves finite and illusory, and it requires the coexistence of silver bimetalism to sustain its power. Would not the Populists have done likewise if Bryan had defeated McKinley and, presumably, slain the trusts? The connection between The Wizard of Oz and the contemporary political landscape was not even raised untilwhen a summer school teacher named Henry Littlefield, while trying to teach the Presidential election and the turn-of-the-century Populist movement to bored history students, stumbled upon the idea of using the characters and events of The Wizard of Oz as metaphors to thesia the concepts.


Like many politicians, he is unwillingly to help them without a quid pro quo: My presentations Profile Feedback Log out. Silver shoes on a golden road? I also believe that it was meant as a parable with a “moral” to teach. Leach has shown us another new way of looking at the book, a way that emphasizes a different side of the Gilded Age–the fascination with the city and urban abundance, the rise of a new industrial ethic, and so on.

Later, they are forced to do the bidding of the Western Witch, who commands them with the golden cap. Prejudiced notion that farmers were ignorant and not smart enough to xnd their own interests and felt too intimidated to enter the realm of politics.

The Wizard of Oz: A Parable for Populism?

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Website. Other writers have used the same evidence to lead to precisely opposite allegorical interpretations. Populists and other free-silver proponents advocated unlimited coinage of the white metal in order to inflate the money supply, thus making it easier for cash-strapped farmers and small businessmen to borrow money and pay off debts.

She is Everymanled astray and seeking the way back home. A few tthesis later, literary scholar Brian Pittlefield wrote that “it is too much to say.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Scholars have examined four quite different versions of Oz: Baum might have been “a shopkeeper, a traveling salesman, an actor, a thsis, a windowdresser,” 15 but he was also a reform-minded Democrat who supported Bryan’s pro-silver campaign in Littlefield, “The Wizard of Oz: He is powerless and, as he admits to Dorothy, “I’m a very bad Wizard”.

Unfortunately a number of other articles later came tjesis that misunderstood or reinterpreted what Littlefield had lkttlefield or meant, and other writers took the ideas even further, many not even aware of Littlefield’s original essay. Rockoff, who saw in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz “a sophisticated commentary on the political and economic debates of the Populist Era,” discovered a surprising number of new analogies.


The predatory beast symbolizes the great trusts and corporations that were thought to dominate economic life at the turn of the century. If you wish to download it, please recommend it to your friends in any social system.

henry littlefield thesis and wizard of oz

Did Baum intend to pen a subtle political satire on monetary reform or merely an entertaining fantasy? Oz Before the Rainbow: Second, the Celestial Kingdom was the only major nation still on the silver standard.

Oz Populism Theory

However this may have been sarcastic or a rhetorical question, as he also wrote “An eastern contemporary, with a grain of wisdom in its wit, says that ‘when the whites win a fight, it is a victory, and when the Indians win it, it is a massacre. In itself, however, this discovery proves nothing. Only Dorothy’s silver slippers can take her home to Kansas,” meaning that by Dorothy not realizing that she had the silver slippers the whole time, Dorothy, or “the westerners”, never realized they already had a viable currency of the people.

Baum was not the first to use thesls metaphor.

henry littlefield thesis and wizard of oz

And because the images are still there, the Littlefield interpretation especially as modified by Clanton, Rockoff, and others remains a useful pedagogical device. Strictly speaking, it is not a parable at all if parable is defined as a story with a didactic purpose.