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The Wizard of Oz and Money

November 28, 2006

Tags Media and CultureU.S. HistoryPhilosophy and Methodology

Jeff Saut Presents: The Emerald City argues that The Wizard of Oz was

based on an economic and political commentary surrounding the debate over "sound money" that occurred in the late 1800s.... Baum's book was penned in 1900 following unrest in the agriculture arena (read: farmers) due to the debate between gold, silver, and the dollar standard. The book, therefore, is supposedly an allegory of these historical events making the information easier to understand. In said book, Dorothy represents traditional American values. The Scarecrow portrays the American farmer, while the Tin Man represents the workers, and the Cowardly Lion depicts William Jennings Bryan. Recall that at the time Mr. Bryan was the official standard bearer for the "silver movement," as well as the unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate of 1896. Interestingly, in the original story Dorothy's slippers were made of silver, not ruby, implying that silver was the Populists' solution to the nation's economic woes. Meanwhile, the Yellow Brick Road was the gold standard, and Toto (Dorothy's faithful dog) represented the Prohibitionists, who were an important part of the silverite coalition. The Wicked Witch of the West symbolizes President William McKinley and the Wizard is Mark Hanna, who was the chairman of the Republican Party and made promises that he could not keep. Obviously "Oz" is an abbreviation for "ounce."

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