History of Labour in the United States - Vol. 2

By John R. Commons; David J. Saposs et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE GREENBACK LABOR AGITATION, 1876-1880 1

The change in labour's attitude towards politics produced by the great strikes of 1877, 240. Organisation of the National party, 241. Fusion with the greenbackers, 241. State labour ticket in New York, 242. The "Greenback and Labor" combination in Pennsylvania, 242. Success of the Greenback party in the West, 244. National convention of labour and currency reformers and the formation of the National party, 244. Predominance of the farmers, business men, and lawyers, 244. Platform, 245. Further Greenback successes, 245. T. V. Powderly, 245. Congressional election of 1878, 245. Obstacles to a unified movement in New York City, 246. "Pomeroy Clubs," 246. The organisation of the National Greenback Labor Reform party, 246. State election in Pennsylvania, 247. Analysis of the vote, 247. State election in Ohio, 248. Successes elsewhere, 248. Effect of the returning industrial prosperity, 248. Effect of the resumption of specie payment, 249. Tendency to fuse with the Democrats, 249. National pre-nomination conference, 249. Denis Kearney and Albert R. Parsons, 250. The national nominating convention, 250. Labour demands, 250. Failure of the movement, 251.

DURING the campaign of 1876 the greenback movement was purely a farmers' movement. The workingmen cast hardly any votes for Peter Cooper.2 The great strikes of July, 1877, changed the situation completely. Their suppression by Federal troops and state militia brought labour face to face with an openly hostile government. Immediately after the strikes workingmen's parties began to spring up like mushrooms. There was probably no important centre between New York City and San Francisco in which some movement toward a party was not begun. The movement reached its height in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, where strong state organisations were formed. In every instance where the workingmen took to political action they established workingmen's parties independent of the Greenback party.

In Ohio an unpromising greenback state convention met in

____________________
1
In the preparation of this chapter the author drew largely from the unpublished monograph by Louis Mayer, The Greenback Labor Movement, 1874-1884.
2
See above, II, 167et seq.

-240-

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