The Wizard of Oz
In the period that followed the end of the American Civil war, attempts to reduce the country's money supply by withdrawing greenbacks and backing the currency with gold resulted in an economic panic. unsurpassed until the Great Depression of 1929.
The banks and upper class wanted a small money supply backed by gold to protect the value of their weath against inflaton. The lower class workers and farmers felt oppressed by the stronger money and they were drawn to proposals to increase the money supply by backing the currency with both gold and silver.
William Jennings Bryan was a three time Populist Democratic Candidate for President (1896, 1900, 1908) who personified the message of a weaker currency backed by both gold and silver.
The opening scene, Kansas. The ugliness of Kansas in the late 19th century. Everything is grey, the house needs to be painted, the ground little more than dust. Uncle Henry and Aunt Em like the common people of the late 1800s have little to smile about.
The late 1890s saw a leftist "Peoples Party" that had significant strength in states such as Kansas which also supported Bryan.
The tornado represents the economic upheavel devasting the nation during this period. Dorothy (America) will soon find herself as a result of the tornado lost in a strange place wishing only to return home (normalcy). Video clip #1
The House lands in Munchkinland: Just as the "gilded age" hid great poverty under a gilt of gold, munchkinland appears to be a beautiful land of milk and honey. Yet the munchkins (eastern workers) are diminished in size, the population lives in fear of the witches (banks) that hold these people in bondage. Note how they are unable to accompany Dorothy past the end of their land. Video clip #2
Witch of the North sends Dorothy on her way: Bryan had considerable support in the area to te nort of Kansas. The kiss from the witch represents tthe political/electoral mandate from the north. The witch sends Dorothy on her way to the Emerald City (color of money) which represents the capital, Washington D.C.
Silver Slippers: Early on the witch of the North provides Dorothy with the slippers (the option of using silver) which will ultimately allow her to be successful. Dorothy however, is unable to recognize the significance of silver until further in to the journey. Support for silver as a monetary policy growing only over time.
Follow the Yellow (Gold) Road: The munchkins all have been "brainwashed" in part by the witches (bankj) and are unable or unwilling to understand that the yellow brick road (gold) leads only to the capital and center of political power. Unaware of their error, the munchkins believe that gold will get Dorothy (America) where she wants to go. In heading to OZ (oz being how we measure gold), Dorothy will in her innocence will ultimately see the truth before the others that the road of gold is a false promise and that the answer will be somewhere else, the Silver slippers. Video clip #3
Dorothy Meets up with the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and The Lion. Dorothy encounters the Scarecrow at a crossroads both literally and in history. The Scarecrow represents the farmers, considered dumb by most. the Scarecrow stock in place for what seems like forever is unsure of how Dorothy should proceed. Video Clip #4
Dorothy and The Scarcrow are Joined by the Tin Man. As they proceed the two next meet the Tin Man, representing the city workers who have been left heartless by the woodsman who uses the labor of his worker but fails to care for him properly. The Tin Man was left voiceless and rusting in the forest. Receiving a minimal of care from Dorothy, America the Tin Man is resored to his true, loving self. He still is confused having come to believe that he is somehow heartless while in fact its those who have abused him that were the heartless ones. In his campaign for the Presidency, Bryan tried to unite the farmers and the city workers. Video Clip #5
The Cowardly Lion