Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




This study follows the career of Joseph Columbus Manning (1870-1930), an Alabamian who took part in both the People's Party movement of the 1890's and the early work of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.;Manning founded the People's Party of Alabama in 1892, and subsequently fought to preserve its independence. Hampered by the leadership of powerful conservative agrarian Reuben Kolb and by voting frauds practiced by entrenched Bourbon Democrats, Manning speedily adopted the battle cry: "A Free Ballot and a Fair Count.".;In 1894, after "Jeffersonian Democratic" gubernatorial candidate Kolb had been counted out for the second time, Manning and his Populist cohorts assumed control of the agrarian movement and invited the Alabama GOP to join them in requesting a congressional investigation of state politics. Discussion of this "Congressional Strategy" dominated reform politics in Alabama for the next two years.;In 1896, when the disruption of Populism was certain, Manning joined the Republican Party, eventually gaining a post office appointment in Alexander City, Alabama. He held this position until 1909.;As a Populist and as a Republican, Manning worked to preserve the rights of all men. In his later years--the years of the disfranchisement movement in the South--he wrote civil rights pamphlets and was a rank-and-file worker for the NAACP. The story of his life is a striking testimony to the democratic and equalitarian spirit inherent in agrarian thought.



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