The Free Silver Movement and Inflation

Vintage Cartoon

Students learn that money is a medium of exchange that facilitates economic activity. Next, students learn the relationship between the money supply and inflation by participating in an inflation auction using gold and silver notes to better understand the historic debate of the Free Silver Movement. Students then read William Jennings Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech to relate the historical context. The students use historical data to calculate income, fixed expenses, and variable expenses of a farmer to further understand the historical argument presented by the Free Silver Movement. Finally, students analyze two political cartoons against the Free Silver Movement. This lesson includes primary source documents obtained from FRASER.

•  Lesson (pdf)

NAEE Gold Award Badge

This lesson received the 2015 Curriculum Gold Award from the National Association of Economic Educators. Read more about this and other awards.


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Audience:   High School, Middle School
Language:   English
Subjects:   History, Economics
Resource Types:   Primary Source Documents, Charts/Graphs, Lessons
Concepts:   Trade/International Trade, Money, Budget/Money Management, Inflation/Deflation
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