The party had its origins in the national associations that were established during the 1848 revolution, but was formally established when the first Reichstag was elected in 1871. It won 13 seats in the elections, the lowest number of seats it held in the Reichstag until World War I. Its best performance was in the 1907 elections, when it won 20 seats.
Following the war and the loss of Polish-dominated territory to newly established Poland, the party ceased to exist.
The party opposed the Germanisation and secularisation policies of the government, seeking to protect the rights of Poles living in Germany. It was usually allied with the Centre Party and other minority parties.