In 1889, Charles W. Macune organized the National Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union. The organization had three million members by 1890. This organization only permitted whites to join. At the same time, the National Colored Farmers' Alliance and Cooperative Union formed for African Americans. Both of these organizations began in the South, but they quickly moved to the North and the West as well. Regional Farmers' Alliances had existed before the advent of the two national organizations. Hoping to bring more pressure to bear on politicians and business owners, the regional alliances united together in the national groups. The Farmers' Alliances grew out of the Patrons of Husbandry. While the Grange was a more social organization, Farmers' Alliances were much more politically active.
The Farmers' Alliances called for a graduated income tax, state ownership of the railroads, lower tariffs, and "free silver." The Farmers' Alliances had some success during the 1880s and 1890s in having supporters elected to local and state offices. In Nebraska, Farmers' Alliances supporters had gained control of the state legislature by 1890.
In Ohio, the Farmers' Alliances existed but did not meet with much success in recruiting members. While conditions were difficult for farmers across the United States, Ohio farmers faced fewer problems than their counterparts in the South and the West. By the early 1890s, the Framers' Alliances had given way to the Populist Party. In Ohio's gubernatorial election of 1891, the Populist candidate received less than one percent of the votes that were cast.