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American Labor Party

AMERICAN LABOR PARTY

AMERICAN LABOR PARTY (ALP), formed in July 1936 as the New York State branch of the Nonpartisan League. Circumstances specific to New York—a Tammany machine unsympathetic to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal; a large pro-Socialist ethnic bloc; and a state law permitting dual nomination—dictated creation of a separate party rather than a Committee for Industrial Organization campaign body allied to the Democratic Party. The successful campaigns of Fiorello H. La Guardia for New York City mayor in 1937 and Herbert H. Lehman for governor in 1938 demonstrated that the ALP held the balance of power between the two major parties. Nevertheless, this potent position, displayed again in the elections of the next five years, eroded because of factional disputes and loss of union support and voter allegiance—the result primarily of Communist influence in the ALP. Furthermore, the election of Republican gubernatorial candidate Thomas Dewey in 1942 reflected a conservative resurgence in New York State. In 1944 the right wing split off to form the Liberal Party, and subsequently the ALP lost its swing position in New York politics. Although it recorded its highest vote in the national election in 1948 as the New York branch of the Progressive Party, the ALP thereafter declined rapidly and disbanded shortly after a poor showing in the 1954 governor's race. The New York pattern of third-party pressure politics that it had pioneered continued, however, through the activities of the Liberal Party and, from the opposite end of the political spectrum, of the Conservative Party, founded in 1962.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Garrett, Charles. The La Guardia Years: Machine and Reform Politics in New York City. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1961.

Kessner, Thomas. Fiorello H. La Guardia and the Making of Modern New York. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1989.

Moscow, Warren. Politics in the Empire State. New York: Knopf, 1948.

DavidBrody/a. g.

See alsoNew York State ; Nonpartisan League, National ; Political Parties .

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American Labor party

American Labor party, organized in New York by labor leaders and liberals in 1936, primarily to support Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal and the men favoring it in national and local elections. It gathered strength in New York state and particularly in New York City and had considerable weight there in tipping the scales toward chosen Democratic or Republican candidates. After 1939 it was much torn by strife between left-wing and right-wing factions, chiefly concerning policy toward the USSR. In 1944 an anti-Communist group led by David Dubinsky, defeated in the primaries, dropped out and formed the Liberal party. In 1948 the party polled over 500,000 votes for Henry A. Wallace for President, but many members withdrew in opposition to his candidacy. Failing to poll 50,000 votes in the 1954 New York state election, it lost its place on the New York ballot. In 1956 the party was voted out of existence by its New York state committee.

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