The People’s Party of the United States was the most successful third party in American history. The formation of that party was linked to that of local Farmers’ Alliances in a number of states. One such organization, the South Dakota Farmers’ Alliance, was founded and led by a Canadian immigrant named Henry Langford Loucks. Although historians have noted the influence of Americans like Henry Wise Wood on Canadian agrarian movements, few have considered Canadian influence south of the border.
This study uses Loucks’ speeches and newspaper writings as well as secondary sources, to examine the politicization of Loucks and the Dakota Alliance. Dakota populists faced many of the same pitfalls and the same fate as the People’s Party nationally, for many of the same reasons. Trapped between pragmatism and principles, the group split and was eventually coopted by another political party. Loucks, who chose principle over pragmatism, lost political power.