The Living issues. (Atlanta, Ga.) 1892-18??



The Living issues.

Place of Publication:

Atlanta, Ga.

Geographic coverage:

  • Atlanta, Fulton county


M.D. Irwin

Dates of publication:



  • Began in 1892?




  • English


  • Atlanta (Ga.)--Newspapers.
  • Fulton County (Ga.)--Newspapers.
  • Georgia--Atlanta.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204627
  • Georgia--Fulton County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01211153


  • Also on microfilm: Athens, Ga. : University of Georgia Libraries.
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 52 (Oct. 5, 1893).





The Living issues. October 5, 1893


The Farmers’ Alliance, a non-partisan organization of white farmers and rural southerners, met its rapid demise in 1892 due to a schism caused by the newly-formed Populist Party. Although its members largely voted for the Democratic Party, there were internal differences among Alliance leadership regarding the organization’s role in partisan politics. It is within this context that M. D. Irwin and C. O. Peavy published the first issue of Living Issues on October 20, 1892. Irwin was the former managing editor of the Georgia Farmers’ Alliance’s official organ, the Southern Alliance Farmer, and he was at the center of that newspaper’s very public cessation. Several major Georgia newspapers covered the Alliance’s schism, and the subsequent closure of the Farmer matches the entire movement’s disintegration. On April 5, 1892, the Union Recorder, citing an article from the Atlanta Constitution, reported ‘a secret conference of forty-three Third Party leaders which took place in a back room of The People’s Party Paper office in Atlanta on Wednesday (March 30, 1892). The purpose of the conclave, it is said, was to perfect a state organization and make plans for the state campaign.’ Among those present at the ‘secret conference’ was M. D. Irwin, who was appointed to the Populist Party’s campaign committee. Irwin steadily began promoting the Populist platform in the pages of the Southern Alliance Farmer, including supporting Thomas E. Watson for Congress and William L. Peek (Irwin’s father-in-law) for governor. This partisanship drew the ire of other prominent Alliance men, notably Colonel L. F. Livingston and M. V. Calvin. The Athens Weekly Banner of April 19, 1892 detailed the growing dispute in an article titled ‘What’s Next? Irwin Refuses to Step Down and Out.’ The story revealed that Livingston and Calvin sent Harry C. Brown, president of the Southern Alliance Farmer Publishing Company, a letter stating the board of control for the State Alliance organ voted to remove ‘Mr. Irwin from the head of the paper, on account of his partisan stand in politics, and that Mr. Joe M. Massey had been named as his successor.’ Brown, however, refused to comply with the letter and since he and Irwin held majority stock in the Southern Alliance Farmer, Livingston’s influence was limited. Livingston and Calvin’s response, then, as described in the May 7, 1892 issue of the Thomasville Daily Times-Enterprise, was to adopt a resolution condemning the Southern Alliance Farmer and announcing their discontinued subscriptions. About Irwin, the resolution stated, ‘...he has turned our organ into a rank, mischievous and unfair party organ, and his editorials and communications published in said paper are not only unkind, unjust and contrary to the spirit of our order, but many of them abound in falsehood and misrepresentations.’ The ensuing loss of dedicated subscribers meant the Southern Alliance Farmer was financially struggling by fall of 1892. In its October 12, 1892 issue, the Savannah Morning News announced the Farmer’s problems in an article titled ‘Irwin’s paper hard up - He and two other employees call for back pay.’ In an apparent attempt to stop Col. Livingston from seizing printing materials, Irwin, C. O. Peavy, and R. L. Peavy filed laborers’ liens against the plant of the Southern Alliance Farmer. By the time of the Morning News report, the Farmer had missed two weeks of publishing.

Irwin was not discouraged by the collapse of the Southern Alliance Farmer, and he used the defunct paper’s materials to establish a thoroughly Populist paper titled Living Issues. The eight-page paper, much like its predecessor, circulated weekly at a subscription cost of one dollar. Living Issues also replaced the Southern Alliance Farmer as the State Farmers’ Alliance’s official newspaper. C. O. Peavy briefly joined Irwin at the new paper, but he was gone by 1893 and replaced by F. M. Kimble. Irwin was a high-ranking Georgia populist and eventually became president of the Georgia State Farmers’ Alliance in 1894, which was by then considered a subset of the Peoples’ Party of Georgia (Populist Party). His position of importance in the short-lived third party places Living Issues as second only to Tom Watson’s own People’s Party Paper in terms of significant Populist papers in Georgia. Irwin ceased publication of Living Issues in 1895 and moved to Winder, Georgia, where he established another Populist paper titled Reform World.