[1869 Broadside]
The National Labor Union was organized in Baltimore in August 1866 as an annual forum where delegates from local unions, city central labor bodies, and 8-hour leagues could formulate labor reform demands. Issues of interest included the adoption of the 8-hour day, the establishment of producer cooperatives, currency and tax reform, and the right for wage-earners to organize unions.

In 1872, the NLU created the National Labor Reform party and nominated U. S. Supreme Court Justice David Davis for president of the United States.

According to Samuel Gompers, this action doomed the NLU.  "A candidate was placed in the field," he explained in 1892, "but it was at the cost of the life of the organization. Another convention of the National Labor Union was never held after that."

Following the demise of the NLU, its leaders met in 1873 to organize the Industrial Congress.

Follow newspaper reports of the founding convention: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Baltimore Sun Editorial, New York Times Editorial

Read about the 1872 brush with politics in the Chicago Times and the New York Times (scroll down)