Introduction
Greenback_party.gifThe National Greenback Party was founded on November 25, 1874 at a
meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana in response to growing discontent among farmers
and poor Americans concerning the amount of paper money in circulation. The Coinage Act of 1873 (also known as the "Crime of '73" to many greenbacks) as well as other laws that eliminated paper money was the deciding factor in banding together and establishing a new independent party dedicated to pushing "soft" money in lieu of money backed by gold (called "hard" money*). Protests from greenbacks continued as the Federal Government passed further laws mandating paper money to be repaced by hard currency entirely. Examples of these laws are the Specie Resumption Act of 1875 (the U.S. Treasury was to issue specie (another word for "hard" currency) in exchange for weak greenback currency) and the National Banking Act of 1863.

*see Hard Money vs. Soft Money

The Panic of 1873 had a huge impact on the economic status of most Americans, which ulimately encouraged more Americans to support the Greenback Party as money grew more and more sparse.

The word "greenback" refers to the paper money that was issued during the Civil War (as an emergency measure for financing the war) and afterward.
Those who opposed the Greenback Party's platform included large businesses and members of the wealthy class who favored the Gold Standard (which is when all of the currency in circulation is backed by gold) because it reduced inflation, stablized the economy, and tightened economy.

Although the end of the economic hardships in the 1870s brought a decrease in popularity to the Greenback Party, the issues that it had brought up about money in circulation continued to prevail as one of the most pressing issues into the 1900s.

Its Platform
Greenbacks opposed the use of specie because it caused credit to tighten and made loans less accessible to the general American public. Paper money was more readily available to the poor and made loans easier to obtain. In addition to its support of "soft" currency, the Greenback Party pushed for other reforms. In the 1880s, the Greenback Party began to support an income tax, an eight-hour workday, federal regulation of interstate commerce, and women's sufferage.


greenback.gifIts Members
Members of the Greenback party tended to be poor farmers (similar to members of the Populist Party later on...) who wanted more currency in circulation so debts could be repaid more easily. Having paper money in circulation also increased the availability of money, meaning that the poor may not have to borrow as much (and if they did, then loans would be easier to receive).
The Greenback Party would also support the coinage of silver to increase inflation in the economy (see Free Silver ).
In the congressional election of 1878, the Greenback Party supplemented its membership by taking in workers and managed to receive more than one million votes nationwide and elected 14 party members to Congress.

Although the end of the economic hardships in the 1870s brought a decrease in popularity to the Greenback Party, the issues that it had brought up about money in circulation continued to prevail as one of the most pressing issues into the 1900s.


Sources
http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h212.html
http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/history/A0821734.html
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAgreenbackP.htm
http://www.dcpoliticalreport.com/PartySymbols/greenback.gif
An American Survey textbook (Alan Brinkley)
The Amsco text