Locofoco Party

Locofoco Party
Radical wing of the Democratic Party organized in New York City in 1835.

Made up largely of workingmen and reformers, the party opposed state banks, monopolies, tariffs, and special interests. Its name derives from the friction matches, known as locofocos, that radicals used to light candles when Democratic Party regulars tried to oust them from a Tammany Hall meeting by turning out the gas lights. Never a national party, the Locofocos reached the height of their influence when Congress passed the Independent Treasury Act (1840), which effected the primary Locofoco aim of complete separation of government and banking. The party was reabsorbed into the Democratic Party in the 1840s.

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▪ United States history
      in U.S. history, radical wing of the Democratic Party, organized in New York City in 1835. Made up primarily of workingmen and reformers, the Locofocos were opposed to state banks, monopolies, paper money, tariffs, and generally any financial policies that seemed to them antidemocratic and conducive to special privilege. The Locofocos received their name (which was later derisively applied by political opponents to all Democrats) when party regulars in New York turned off the gas lights to oust the radicals from a Tammany Hall nominating meeting. The radicals responded by lighting candles with the new self-igniting friction matches known as locofocos, and proceeded to nominate their own slate.

      Never a national party, the Locofocos reached their peak when President Van Buren urged and Congress passed (July 4, 1840) the Independent Treasury Act; it fulfilled the primary Locofoco aim: complete separation of government from banking. After 1840 Locofoco political influence was largely confined to New York, and by the end of the decade many Locofocos were allied with the Barnburner Democrats, who eventually left the party over the slavery extension issue.

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Universalium. 2010.

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