After building trades workers in Philadelphia lost a strike for the ten hour day, they joined other trades in the city to form the Mechanics' Union of Trade Associations, a central labor organization that soon got involved in politics. Determined to promote "the interests and the enlightenment of the working classes," the group organized the Working Men's Party on Aug. 11, 1828.

Between 1828 and 1831, the party organized political clubs in various wards and districts and nominated candidates pledged to support a broad range of issues including the 10-hour work day, free public education, the abolition of imprisonment for debt, reforming the militia system, and an end to monopolies, among others. Around the same time Working Men's parties were organized along similar lines in New York City, Boston, Newark, N.J., Cincinnati, Ohio, and other cities.

None of these political parties lasted for long -- some split into factions, some joined forces with existing parties, and some represented a mixed membership that included radicals as well as middle-class professionals which made it difficult for supporters to agree on issues, candidates, strategies, and goals.