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Introduction to Volume II

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 November 2022

Marcel van der Linden
Affiliation:
International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam
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Summary

The idea that social justice could be promoted by conquering and transforming state power first emerged at the municipal level in the eastern part of the United States, where local workingmen’s parties were founded in about 1830. Three factors seem to have played roles in their establishment. First, the weakness of state governments compared with the relative power of municipalities. Secondly, the early enfranchisement of a large part of ‘the non-propertied class’: in Pennsylvania in 1790, in Massachusetts in 1820, and in New York in 1822. And, thirdly, recent economic problems (the Panic of 1825, the trade war with England in 1826–7, and the recession of 1828–9), which made artisans and wage-earners realize that equality at the ballot box was by no means the same as equality of working and living conditions.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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