Farmer-Labor party

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Farmer-Labor party

Farmer-Labor party, in U.S. history, political organization composed of agrarian and organized labor interests. Formed in 1919 as the National Labor party, it changed its name at its 1920 presidential nominating convention in order to appeal to farmers. The party's platform called for the public ownership of railroads, utilities, and natural resources; an end to private banking; and the nationalization of unused land. The convention resisted the efforts of former Progressives to nominate Robert La Follette and instead chose as its candidate Parley P. Christensen. The party made a poor showing in the 1920 election; its main strength lay in the states of Washington, Montana, and South Dakota. In 1923, Communists gained control of the party, and in the following year it joined other dissident groups in the Conference for Progressive Political Action, which supported the presidential candidacy of La Follette. After the 1924 election, the party passed out of existence. Meanwhile, representatives of the Nonpartisan League in Minnesota, along with various labor unions, had entered a slate of candidates for state elections in 1918 and 1920 under the name of Farmer-Labor party. Remaining aloof from the national party of the same name, it established a permanent party structure in 1922. It quickly became a powerful political force in Minnesota, electing Henrik Shipstead and Magnus Johnson to the U.S. Senate and Floyd B. Olson to the governorship. It also won many local elections. At first the party agitated for government ownership of industry, but in the 1930s it came to support Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal programs. In 1944 it merged with the Minnesota Democratic party, where it remains a part of the official party name.

See S. A. Rice, Farmers and Workers in American Politics (1924, repr. 1969).

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