Farmer-Labor Party

Farmer-Labor Party

The Farmer-Labor Party was formed in 1920 by John Fitzpatrick, leader of the Federation of Labor in Chicago. Party leaders put forward a semi-Socialist program that attempted to gain the support of small farmers and industrial workers. Parley Christensen, co-founder of the Utah Labor Party, won over 265,000 votes when he ran for president in 1920. Christensen won 19% of the vote in South Dakota. He also did well in Washington (19%) and Montana (7%).

Henrik Shipstead from Minnesota who won a seat in the Senate in 1922. Other victors included Magnus Johnson, Ernest Lundeen and Elmer Benson.

In the 1924 presidential election the party's leader, Jacob Coxey, decided not to run and instead supported Robert La Follette and the Progressive Party.

In 1930 Floyd B. Olson, a member of the Farmer-Labor Party, was elected as Governor of Minnesota. He told voters: "I am not a liberal, I am what I want to be - I am a radical." Olson won 82 of the state's 87 counties and beat the candidate of the Republican Party by 200,000 votes. Olson was expected to be the party's presidential candidate in 1936 but unfortunately was diagnosed with stomach cancer and died later that year.

Olson had been very important in holding together the coalition of farmers, trade unionists and small business people. After his death the party began to disintegrate and in 1944 the organization was absorbed into the Democratic Party. Former supporters of the Farmer-Labor Party, Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy and Walter Mondale, all became important political figures after the Second World War.