|Preceded by||Nonpartisan League|
|Succeeded by||Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party|
|National affiliation||Labor Party of the United States (1919-20)|
Farmer-Labor Party of the United States (1920-23; 1924-36)
Federated Farmer-Labor Party (1923-24)
None (1918-19; 1936-44)
The Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party (FL) was a left-wing American political party in Minnesota between 1918 and 1944. Largely dominating Minnesota politics during the Great Depression, it was one of the most successful statewide third party movements in United States history and the longest-lasting affiliate of the national Farmer-Labor movement. At its height in the 1920s and 1930s, party members included three Minnesota Governors, four United States Senators, eight United States Representatives and a majority in the Minnesota legislature.
The Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party emerged from the Nonpartisan League in North Dakota and the Union Labor Party in Duluth, Minnesota, on a platform of farmer and labor union protection, government ownership of certain industries, and social security laws. One of the primary obstacles of the party, besides constant vilification on the pages of local and state newspapers, was the difficulty of uniting the party's divergent base and maintaining political union between rural farmers and urban laborers who often had little in common other than the populist perception that they were an oppressed class of hardworking producers exploited by a small elite.
According to political scientist George Mayer:
The farmer approached problems as a proprietor or petty capitalist. Relief to him meant a mitigation of conditions that interfered with successful farming. It involved such things as tax reduction, easier access to credit, and a floor under farm prices. His individualist psychology did not create scruples against government aid, but he welcomed it only as long as it improved agricultural conditions. When official paternalism took the form of public works or the dole, he openly opposed it because assistance on such terms forced him to abandon his chosen profession, to submerge his individuality in the labor crew, and to suffer the humiliation of the bread line. Besides, a public works program required increased revenue, and since the state relied heavily on the property tax, the cost of the program seemed likely to fall primarily on him.
At the opposite end of the seesaw sat the city worker, who sought relief from the hunger, exposure, and disease that followed the wake of unemployment. Dependent on an impersonal industrial machine, he had sloughed off the frontier tradition of individualism for the more serviceable doctrine of cooperation through trade unionism. Unlike the depressed farmer, the unemployed worker often had no property or economic stake to protect. He was largely immune to taxation and had nothing to lose by backing proposals to dilute property rights or redistribute the wealth. Driven by the primitive instinct to survive, the worker demanded financial relief measures from the state.
The Minnesota Democratic Party, led by Hubert Humphrey, was able to merge the Farmer-Labor party with the Minnesota Democratic Party on April 15, 1944. Since 1944, the two parties together make up the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.
|Year||Gubernatorial candidate||Popular votes||Percentage||Place|
|1918||David H. Evans||111,948||28.73%||2nd|
|1924||Floyd B. Olson||366,029||43.84%||2nd|
|1930||Floyd B. Olson||473,154||59.34%||1st|
|1932||Floyd B. Olson||522,438||50.57%||1st|
|1934||Floyd B. Olson||468,812||44.61%||1st|
|1936||Elmer A. Benson||680,342||60.74%||1st|
|1938||Elmer A. Benson||387,263||34.18%||2nd|