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National Workingmen's Convention

Union or Secession
  • National Workingmen's Convention
A National Workingmen's Convention met in Philadelphia on February 22, 1861, George Washington's birthday, and debated whether to form a national political party.
Related documents:
  • Rockbridge County Resolutions
    Resolutions of Rockbridge County Working Men
  • No disunion but no concessions
    No disunion but no concessions
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National Workingmen's Convention

Alexandria Gazette, February 26, 1861

Newspapers during the winter of 1860–1861 reported on a large number of meetings in many parts of the country at which workingmen adopted resolutions about the secession crisis. The National Workingmen's Convention that met in Philadelphia on February 22, 1861, George Washington's birthday, included representatives from the mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, and Ohio. The report of the first day's proceedings as published in the Alexandria Gazette quoted one of the representatives of Pennsylvania as saying that he represented 52,000 workingmen and that "these 52,000 men would be satisfied with nothing but the Crittenden compromise as a settlement of our national difficulties." He referred to the proposals that Senator John J. Crittenden, of Kentucky, had introduced in December, including a constitutional amendment that prohibited Congress from abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia without the consent of Maryland and from interfering with slavery in the states where it then existed.

Alexandria Gazette, February 26, 1861

WORKING MEN'S CONVENTION.– On the 22d, a National Workingmen's Convention assembled in Philadelphia. Delegates were present from the States of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee and Ohio.
 A permanent organization was effected by electing the following officers: President, S. W. Cloyd, of Pa., Vice Presidents, A. N. MacPherson, Pa., and John Pritchard, Va.; Secretaries, James Touchstone, Md., and S. C. Wood, Delaware.
On Saturday morning a resolution was offered by Mr. Wolf, of Kentucky, that a committee should be appointed to prepare a platform, or a code of principles, for the organization of the workingmen throughout the country.
The motion excited a long debate, during which a variety of views were expressed.– Some of the speakers were in favor of any organization which would advance the interests of the workingmen, but they were unwilling to join in the formation of a new political party, as the resolution seemed to look to that course.
Other speakers were in favor of creating a political party, and of compelling men in authority to obey the will of workingmen.
Mr. Lowry, of Philadelphia, announced himself as the representative of 52,000 workingmen. He further said that these 52,000 men would be satisfied with nothing but the Crittenden compromise as a settlement of our national difficulties.