Friday, July 26, 2013
Jul 28 (1844) The Masked Battery of the Loco-Foco Strategy
The above cartoon is taken from the Library of Congress, and was first published on July 28, 1844. For a full description, click here.
The Locofoco Party was a radical wing of the Democratic Party, organized in New York City in 1835. It was made up primarily of reformers who opposed state banks, monopolies, paper money, tariffs, and generally any financial policies that seemed to them antidemocratic and conducive to special privilege.
Originally named the Equal Rights Party, the group became known as the Locofocos, after a type of match. During a legislative session, Democratic Party regulars in New York turned off the gaslights in an effort to stop the reformers from legislating. The radicals responded by lighting candles with the new self-igniting friction matches known as locofocos and proceeded to nominate their own slate (loco as in "locomotive" meaning "move" and foco from the Italian "fouco" meaning "fire").
Never a national party, the Locofocos reached their peak when President Van Buren urged and Congress passed the Independent Treasury Act in July 1840. This fulfilled the primary Locofoco aim: complete separation of government from banking. The Independent Treasury Act was law until 1921.