Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Jerold Simmons


This study examines the United States Senate career of Nebraska Populist William Vincent Allen (1893-1901). A relatively neglected figure in Populist historiography, Allen has been the subject o f widely divergent opinions on the part of those historians who have commented on his place in the movement. The dominant view reflected in the published literature is that Allen, who was elected with the help of Democratic votes in the Nebraska legislature, was, ideologically and politically, more of a Democrat than a Populist. On this view, Allen’s principal policy concern was promoting the cause of free silver coinage, and his primary political orientation was to follow the lead of the Bryan wing of the Democratic Party. Historians in this camp see Allen as a pseudo-Populist at best. But several other scholars view Allen as a true Populist. While not denying Allen’s emphasis on free silver, a dedication to which Populists shared with Bryanite Democrats, or his support of Populist-Democratic fusion, these historians have argued that Allen’s detractors have overlooked evidence pointing to his commitment to other Populist concerns such as nationalization of the railroads. The present study, based on the Allen Papers at the Nebraska State Historical Society, the Congressional Record, and the relevant secondary literature, attempts to answer the question of whether Allen was a real Populist. The focus is on Allen’s Senate activities, but it also briefly addresses the Nebraska Senator’s much-maligned political positions. It is primarily concerned with how Allen’s thought and efforts matched up with the Omaha Platform promulgated at the People’s Party National Convention in 1892.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of History and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 2003, David W. Hoelscher

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