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Greenback-Labor Party

Timeframe: 1878 - 1884

The greenback idea came up again in March, 1875, when a national convention met at Cleveland to organize a new party. This was soon followed by a nominating convention at Indianapolis in May, 1876, which named Peter Cooper President. Its platform included the repeal of the Resumption Act of 1875 and issuance of legal tender notes convertible into government bonds with an interest rate not to exceed one cent a day per hundred dollars. Peter Cooper was a well known philanthropist and did not lead much of a campaign.

In the next two years, the party grew rapidly and Labor Reformers had greatly aided the cause and a conference at Toledo in February, 1878, arranged a farmer-labor partnership under the name "National" party, but it became better known as the Greenback Labor Party. In fall elections the third party won a million votes and fifteen members of Congress. The Greenbacks sought labor support which called for an issuance of the greenback and a bimetallistic money policy. The labor groups desired Greenback support for a reduction of working hours, establishment of a labor bureau and a curtailment of Chinese immigration.

In the following year, economic conditions in the nation improved and interest in politics among farmers and workers decreased. At the national convention in Chicago on June 9, 1889 agrarian and labor delegates, including members of a Socialist Labor party composed their differences and adopted a platform.

The convention named for President General James B. Weaver of Iowa, who was a Civil War veteran and a former Republican, elected to Congress in the Greenback wave of 1878. B.J. Chambers of Texas was named for Vice President. Weaver made an active campaign, speaking in all parts of the country and giving a leadership that it needed to dispel the impression it was a refuge for radicals. The return of prosperity and the success of the Resumption Act however removed agrarian and labor discontent. In the election they received only 308,578 votes, but eight Greenback Labor candidates were elected to Congress. In the ensuing years the party continued to decline. Its last national campaign was for the 1884 elections where it ran Civil War general Benjamin Butler, winning 175,370 votes.

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