Democrats need to resurrect the Locofoco party

The Dead-end Democrats of 2010 continue to impugn the Tea Party movement and it's candidates, regardless of the remarkable groundswell of support that will carry these conservatives to a resounding victory a week from today. There was a time however, when the Democrats were the party incensed over the rising costs of a food commodity, and those same Democrats founded a grass-roots movement that caught America's attention and boldly influenced the elections of the period.

In 1837, a splinter group of Democrats known as the Locofocos helped instigate the Flour Riot of 1837 in New York City. Incensed over the rising price of flour, a group of Democrats who had already split off from the Tammany Hall crowd as the Equal Rights Party, organized a meeting near flour merchant Eli Hart's store. As often happens when a disaffected group of Democrats gather, the crowd decided to take matters into their own hands, and began rolling out hundreds of barrels of flour and wheat from the store. Although Merchant Hart arrived with the police soon after, the looting went on late into the night and required considerable additional police and military support.

The Equal Rights Party Democrats joined forces with some labor union veterans from the Working Men's Party (is this beginning to sound familiar?) and scheduled a night meeting at one of the Tammany municipal buildings. The Tammany thugs were wise to them however, and cut off the gas supplies that would have provided light in the building. Being Democrats themselves, the men were prepared for subterfuge and carried with them bundles of primitive friction matches made at the time called Locofocos and were able to conduct their meeting with sufficient light. The movement took their name from the incendiary matches and had a short but successful run. The Locofocos influenced Democrat President Martin Van Buren to the point that the entire Democrat party was labeled the Locofocos for a time in the early 1840's.

The Locofocos were eventually turned back by the entrenched Tammany Democrats including bankers Gideon Lee and Preserved Fish , from the same family as Hamilton Fish, Governor of New York. Really, you could look it up.

While the Democrats seem have to have played out their hand trumpeting their part in the birth of the civil rights movement, I would like to helpfully suggest that perhaps by reminding Americans of their Locofoco past, the Democrats might get their foot back in the door to America's heart.

Ralph Alter is a regular contributor to American Thinker.