Labor and Farmer Parties in the United States, 1828-1928

Labor and Farmer Parties in the United States, 1828-1928

Labor and Farmer Parties in the United States, 1828-1928

Labor and Farmer Parties in the United States, 1828-1928

Excerpt

Before there could be any independent labor politics in the United States the property-less wage earners had to exist in sufficient numbers, they had to possess the ballot, and they had to have the provocation and desire to unite on the political field. The democratic forces which swept Andrew Jackson into the presidency brought the franchise to the white man without property. The change in marketing processes and the introduction of the factory system developed a distinct and growing wage earning class in the cities. Economic abuses and social inequalities drove this class into independent political action.

In July, 1828, after a referendum vote of the membership, in much the same way as the Chicago Federation of Labor organized the Cook County Labor Party ninety years later, the trade unions of Philadelphia launched the first workingman's party in the United States. The movement spread to other cities in Pennsylvania, New York, most of the New England states, and into Delaware, New Jersey, and Ohio. A knowledge of the economic and political conditions which gave birth to it is necessary for a proper understanding of the first labor party in the new republic.

The property-less wage earner obtained the suffrage in the United States because on the frontier all men were equal economically and therefore equal politically and socially. When Vermont and Kentucky entered the Union in 1791 and 1792 they provided full manhood suffrage in their constitutions. When the new agricultural states . . .

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