In the 1890s, the issue of gold became central to the unlikely crusade of William Jennings Bryan, the populist Democratic Senator for the state of Nebraska and serial candidate for President.
Southern farmers in the United States borrowed from North Eastern bankers to finance their farms, equipment and crops. The debt had to be repaid in gold. As gold prices rose and the price of farm produce fell, the farmers earnings fell and their debt repayment grew fuelling resentment of the bankers.
The US was debating whether a gold standard should be adopted. The farmers wanted more money in circulation and advocated silver as well as gold currency - known as "bimetallism".
Bryan took up the cause and at the 1896 Democratic convention spoke passionately: "You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold." Bryan was defeated in the 1896 and 1900 election by William McKinley and the US adopted the gold standard in 1900.
The Bimetallism debate spawned Frank Baum's iconic work the Wizard of Oz, a satire on the currency debate.
The Wizard of Oz is actually the Wizard of Ounce (of gold).
Dorothy, the Kansas farm girl, represented rural America. The Scarecrow, Tinman and Cowardly Lion represented farmers, factory workers and Bryan respectively. Dorothy and her companions' journey down the golden road to fairyland is the 1894 Coxey march of unemployed men (named after its leader Jacob Coxey) to secure another public issue of $500 million of paper money and employment.
The wizards and witches are evil bankers and politicians. The wizard was a caricature of Marcus Hanna who was widely seen as the controlling force of the McKinley administration's economic policy.
Baum's plot has Dorothy and her companions exposing the evil wizards and witches for frauds and establishing a new monetary order based on gold and silver. Dorothy returns to Kansas City courtesy of her magic silver slippers. In the film, version, Dorothy's slippers are red in a concession to Hollywood cinematography.