Working Men's Party

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The Working Men's Parties (whose members were known as "the Workies") were the first labor-oriented political organizations in the United States. The first Working Men's Party was founded in Philadelphia in 1828 by William Heighton. Similar parties were also established in New York City and Boston. Additionally, party member George Henry Evans established the Working Man’s Advocate, the first labor newspaper, in 1829.[1]

The political platforms of the Working Men's Parties included such planks as state-supported public education, universal male suffrage, protection from debtor imprisonment, compulsory service in the militia, and shorter working hours. One of its most eloquent proponents was Samuel Whitcomb, Jr., who wrote speeches and lobbied behind the public political scenarios to promote public education.[2] The Workingmen's Party attacked both the Whigs and the Democrats for their lack of interest in labor, and they achieved sizable votes in municipal elections.[3]

Despite some local electoral successes, the Workingmen's Parties effectively died out in the early 1830s. Likely causes for this decline and disappearance include lack of experience with political organization, factional disputes over doctrine and leadership, and incursions by the increasingly pro-labor Democratic Party.[4]


  1. ^ "Workingmen's Party". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Commons, John R., et. al. (1918). History of labour in the United States. New York: The Macmillan Company. pp. 202 & 295. 
  3. ^ Lipset, Seymour (2000). It Didn't Happen Here. New York: W.W. Norton. p. 20. ISBN 0-393-32254-8. 
  4. ^ Zorn, Roman. "The Working Men's Parties of 1828-1831" (PDF). Retrieved 19 July 2012.