Working Man’s Advocate (1829-1836)

The Working Man’s Advocate

Prospectus: [W]e shall oppose the establishment of all exclusive privileges, all monopolies, and all exemptions of one class more than another from an equal share in the burdens of society; all of which, to whatever class or order of men they are extended, we consider highly antirepublican, oppressive, and unjust. . . . Our voice, therefore, shall be raised in favor of a system of education which shall be equally open to all, as in a real republic it should be. We will oppose everything which savors of a union of church and state; particularly the daring advances now . . . . [being made] toward that union under the cover of the Sabbath mail question.

Examined: 1:1 (Oct. 31, 1829) – 7:22 (Jan. 16, 1836).

Editor:  George H. Evans.[1]

Publication Information:

George H. Evans, New York, New York. 1:1 (Oct. 31, 1829) – 1:32 (June 5, 1830).

Lynde, Stanley, & Co. New York, New York. 1:33 (June 9, 1830) – 2:26 (Feb. 12, 1831).

“An Association of Working Men.” New York, New York. 2:27 (Feb. 19, 1831) – 3:10 (Oct. 22, 1831).

George H. Evans and William J. Stanley. New York, New York. 3:11 (Oct. 29, 1831) – 7:22 (Jan. 16, 1836).


Weekly. 1:1 (Oct. 31, 1829) –  1:32 (June 5, 1830); 2:1 (Aug. 21, 1830) – 7:22 (Jan. 16, 1836).

Twice Weekly. 1:33 (June 9, 1830) – 1:52 (Aug. 14, 1830).

Subjects/Features: Working Men’s Movement and Party, Equal Republican Education, Republicanism, Secularism, Ward Meetings, Labor Saving Machinery, Electoral Politics, Sunday Mails, Imprisonment for Debt, Lien Laws, Auctioning System, National Bank, Hours of Labor, Federal and State Legislative Activities, Masons, Foreign News, European Revolutions of 1830, Christian Party in Politics, Robert M. Johnson’s Candidacy for Vice President, Religious Revivals, Congressional Chaplains, Cholera Epidemic of 1832, Black Hawk War, South Carolina’s Ordinance of Nullification, and Paper Money and Banking.

Reprints from: Mechanic’s Free Press (Philadelphia), Spirit of the Age (Tuscaloosa, Alabama), Free Enquirer (New York), Herald of Reform, London Morning Chronicle, Albany Argus, and New York Courier and Enquirer.


Freedom of Conscience

“The Elections.” 1:2 (Nov. 7, 1829): 2. Noting how the privileged orders denounced the working men’s ticket as infidel, the author observes, “The cry of infidelity has ever been a fruitful theme and powerful auxiliary in the hands of the aristocracy; but we were rejoiced to find it had lost much of its magic influence. The reflecting part of society begin to see that men may be intelligent, honest, virtuous, and useful, without being religious-nay, who will assert the contrary, while the names of Franklin and a Jefferson are held in remembrance?- and they begin to doubt the disinterestedness of those who are so ready to couple religion with politics.”

Cornelius C. Blatchly. “Slanders Exposed- No. II.” 1:4 (Nov. 21, 1829): 2. In conclusion, Blatchly clarifies, “We are not anarchists, nor opposers of all law, nor of all religion; but we wish equal and inclusive, not unjust and monopolizing laws. And we would not meddle with religion politically; but let that between God and every man’s own conscience. A just system of laws would gradually tender property nearly equal; and the rich know this and tremble.”

Tullius. “A Stumbling Block.” 1:7 (Dec. 12, 1829): 2. Tullius states, “I respect the religionist who is open and bold, and charitable; and I respect the sceptic who is honest in the avowal of his scepticism. I will give the hand of fellowship to both, in the cause of liberty, if they will leave their creeds at home . . . . I approve Francis Wright when she speaks for the people, just as I approve you, Mr. Editor, or Henry Clay or Andrew Jackson, or any other man, when I think they speak sincerely and usefully; and I am not afraid to say so because designing politicians have raised a hue and cry against her . . . . I am a republican, and I never mix up religion with politics. I am a friend to the people, and I should be sorry to see their cause either ruined by insolence, or disgraced by imbecility.”

“Working Men’s Meeting.” 1:12 (Jan. 16, 1830): 1-2. Includes an address and resolutions which accompanied the Plan of Organization adopted by the general meeting of mechanics and other working men of the city of New York. Among other things, the mechanics resolved “That we explicitly disavow all intentions to intermeddle with the rights of individuals, either as to property or religion; but that we hold those rights as sacred as life, not to be approached by ruthless despots, or visionary fanatics.”

“Religion and Politics.” 1:41 (July 8, 1830): 1. The editors make clear that they “wish to see speculative opinions left out of the question, in temporal, political affairs, and confined to the church, the closet, the private room, and the private conduct of each man and woman; unmolested, unchallenged; never either proclaimed or denounced from the house top.”

“Working Men’s Meeting at Brooklyn.” 1:49 (Aug. 4, 1830): 4. Chaired by Alanson Raymond, the following resolutions, among others, were adopted: “That we consider the freedom of opinion and of speech, on all subjects . . . indispensable to the preservation of our republic” that religion and politics “should be kept, on all occasions, entirely distinct” and that “whoever attempts to introduce religious questions into our political meetings, or to stigmatize a fellow laborer on account of his [speculative] opinions . . . we will consider an enemy to our cause.”

“Infidelity.” 1:50 (Aug. 7, 1830): 2. The editor states “The irreligious sectarian denounces all piety as bigotry, and all religion as cant. The religious sectarian pronounces unbelief to be wickedness, and sincere doubts to be Satan’s whisperings. The spirit in both is the same. . . . We have defended the opinions of no sect, religious or irreligious, but only the rights of all. We have recommended that a man’s political integrity be not judged by his creed.”

“Working Men of Boston.” 2:2 (Aug. 28, 1830): 1. Chaired by George Woodman, the following resolution, among others, was adopted, “that we view with abhorrence every attempt to disturb the public peace by uniting with political doctrines any question of religion or irreligion.”

“Political Disabilities of the Clergy.” 2:4 (Sept. 11, 1830): 2. The editor wonders, “Can we safely dispense with a law excluding clergymen from civil offices? Or is there danger to the State in dispensing with it? We think there is no danger. . . . If we begin to exclude, where shall we stop? Are lawyers, as a body likely to make honest, disinterested legislators? We opine not. Are speculators, as a body, likely to make economical, upright legislators? As a general rule, certainly not. Is the child that is brought up in the lap of luxury, born to wealth and influence, likely to make a plain, republican legislator? We doubt it. Yet, shall we exclude, by law, lawyers, speculators, or the children of luxury from our legislative halls?”

An American Citizen. “The Rights of Conscience.” 2:15 (Nov. 27, 1830): 1. The author reports the fining of a complainant for refusing to kiss and take an oath on a bible before a court martial in New York. He concludes, “If the principle is acknowledged, that a man may be catechized with respect to his religious opinions, and fined if they are not found to be orthodox, I cannot see why an inquisition should not be established, and hellish tortures invented, to compel those into confession, who might show any reluctance when called upon by their judicial inquisitors to avow their orthodoxy or heterodoxy.”

“Respect for the Right of Conscience.” 2:16 (Dec. 4, 1830): 1. Speaking on the subject of public prayer, the editor comments “Religion ought to form no part of any public ceremony; because, whenever it does, it is certain that some will be dissatisfied. . . . Let each, then, keep his religion to himself. . . . This may seem a trifle, it is not a trifle. A great principle is involved; the same principle which would be violated by stopping the Sunday mails. Nothing is trifling which involves the rights of conscience.”

“Political Atheism.” 2:17 (Dec. 11, 1830): 1. The author argues that “political atheism” is a phantom menace of Dr. Beecher and the “Sunday mail stoppers.”

“Religious Freedom.” 2:17 (Dec. 11, 1830): 2. The editor defines religious freedom as “the right of non-molestation and non-legislation and non-interference, touching speculative opinions; the right to hold, without privilege or reproach, the most mysterious of creeds or no creed at all; the right to pay a priest or to pay none; to go to church or to synagogue, or to stay at home.”

“Manifest of the Principles of the Working Men of New York.” 2:20 (Jan. 1, 1831): 3. The working men of the city and county of New York stand “opposed to all ecclesiastical interference in secular affairs, and to all legislation on religion. They consider religion a private, not a public concern; and they believe that those who desire to amalgamate political and religious questions are actuated by ambition, not by piety.”

“The Boston Working Men’s Advocate.” 2:38 (May 7, 1831): 3. The article reports that a group of Boston infidels planned to begin a newspaper based on both infidel and working men’s principles, while the Boston WMA came out against infidelity. The editors reaffirmed their commitment to remaining neutral on the subject of religion and irreligion.

Church and State

“An Expose of the Rise and Proceedings of the American Bible Society, During the Thirteen Years of Its Existence. By a Member.” 1:17-18 (Feb. 20-27, 1830): 1-2, 1-2. According to the editor, the following pamphlet “shows where that despotic encroachment on our liberties, the chaining up of the public highways on the first day of the week, originated; unfolds to us the causes which have contributed to the growth of the “Christian party in politics;” and points to the source of numerous schemes for effecting a union of church and state powers, the most prominent of which is the one now so industriously prosecuted, for establishing a religious Sabbath by law.”

Editors. “To the Editors of the “Genius of Temperance.”” 2:50-52, 3:1 (July 30- Aug. 20, 1831): 3, 2, 1, 2. In this series of editorials, the editors defend themselves against accusations of belonging to the “Fanny Wright School,” and generally being hostile to Christianity, while insisting that the editorials in the Genius of Temperance supporting unconstitutional legislation on religion suggests that their paper “belongs to that class of papers which fight under the banner of the Christian party in politics.”

“To the Legislature of the State of New York.” 3:22 (Jan. 14, 1832): 5-6. This memorial begins, “That your memorialists have satisfactorily and clearly ascertained that the law made to oblige all the people of this State to observe and keep Sunday as a religious Sabbath day, according to the creed of a particular religious sect, is a violation of the unalienable rights of conscience and the religious liberty of all the citizens of this State whose religious opinions or creeds do not enjoin the observance of that, or any one day more than another, as a religious Sabbath. Of the same character are those laws and those judicial decisions which require a particular religious creed as an indispensable qualification of a witness to testify on oath; and by virtue of which a portion of your constituents are deprived of their political rights and privileges for exercising their “right to think on the subject of religion according to the dictates of their understanding.” The like objection also justly attaches to all those laws by which church property and the property of Priests are exempted from taxation; and also those by which Priests have been appointed to offices both civil and military; as well likewise all those laws in pursuance of which money has been abstracted from the public treasury, the joint property of all the citizens of this state, and derived from taxes imposed on them for other purposes than to pay wages of men hired to do religious duty or to perform religious ceremonies.”


“Church and State – The Secretaries of War and Navy, Chaplains, &c.” 3:26 (Feb. 11, 1832): 2. The author observes, “I conceive that congress has no more right to coerce a soldier or sailor to religious acts than any other citizen; and on board of vessels and in garrisons where there are chaplains, they are compelled to attend them unless excused by sickness, &c. What right has congress to take any religion by the hand, clothe her in fine linen, and feed her sumptuously every day, fill her pockets with silver and gold, seat her in a pulpit, and command the worship of their fellow citizens- when the nation has solemnly sworn they will not have her to reign over them?”

“Chaplains to the Legislature, &c.” 3:41 (May 26, 1832): 4. This is a report from a select committee of the New York legislature, chaired by David Moulton, on the twenty-six memorials received by the citizens of New York against appointing chaplains to the legislature. The report states in part that the New York legislature “possesses no legitimate authority to associate religious prayers with legislative proceedings, nor to appoint legislative chaplains, nor to appropriate the public money to pay for any religious service.”

“Chaplains to the Legislature.” 4:14 (Nov. 17, 1832): 1. This article features a memorial addressed to the legislature of New York which states in part that “when the political delegates of the people, who are empowered only to manage the concerns of civil government, convert the halls of political legislation into religious session rooms, and transform the legislative assemblies of the political representatives of the people into religious prayer meetings; such an incongruous intermingling of politics and religion, such an intimate association of official legislative duties, with religious forms and ceremonies, not only transcends their legitimate authority, but is an actual “union of Church and State.”

“Chaplains to the Legislature.” 4:17 (Dec. 8, 1832): 3. This article features a memorial from citizens of Madison County New York to the State’s legislature calling for the abolition of the practice of appointing chaplains to the legislature.

“Legislative Chaplains.” 4:22 (Jan. 12, 1833): 1. This is a transcript of the New York assembly’s proceedings on January 2-3 discussing a resolution to invite members of the clergy to officiate at the opening of the House each day of business.

“Legislative Chaplains.” 4:26 (Feb. 9, 1833): 4. Mr. Herttell’s and Myers’ remarks on a proposal to repeal a law that provides for the payment of chaplains with public money. Herttell declares that “the legislature have no right officially to legislate on religion, nor to put their fingers into the public treasury and abstract money therefrom to pay their clergymen for the performance of any religious worship or ceremony at any time or place.” Myers added, “If the clergy wish to pray for us let them retire to their closets and shut the door, and therefore offer up their fervent prayers to the omnipotent and universal God, invoking his blessings, and that he will bestow a share of his divine wisdom on the legislature, that no laws may pass excepting such as are for the public good.”

“Legislative Chaplains.” 4:37 (Apr. 27, 1833): 1. This article reports that the New York legislature repealed a law that authorized payment to Chaplains, but that while the assembly discontinued employing chaplains, the senate continues to employee them. Excerpts from the debate with editorial comments are included.

“A Defender of Legislative Chaplains.” 4:37 (Apr. 27, 1833): 2. The editor reprints a letter from the editors of the Elmira Republican and makes clear that the Advocate would oppose the employment of chaplains whether paid by the public, the private funds of the members of the legislature, or not at all.

“Legislative Chaplains.” 4:45 (June 22, 1833): 2-3. The editor remarks, “We have great pleasure in stating that the Legislature in New Hampshire . . . . have concluded to transact the people’s business without charging them with their parsons’ bills, as had been the practice of former Legislatures. Thus we see state after state experiencing the march of reform, which we trust will not be arrested till church and state be entirely separated, and every citizen in possession of his political rights.” The article includes excerpts from the House of Representatives’ debate.

Fast Proclamations

“Correspondence.” 3:47 (July 7, 1832): 4. This is a letter from New York Governor Enos T. Throop to “Reverend Sirs” concerning their requests that he “proclaim a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer.” Throop responds, “As fasting, humiliation, and prayer are religious rites, so the recommendation of a day for that purpose is an appeal to the religious sentiments of the community, and should in my opinion, proceed from an authority which has its influence over the conscience of men, rather than their civil obligations.”

“The Fast “By Authority.”” 3:51 (Aug. 4, 1832): 1. The editor denounces as unconstitutional the decision by the common council of the city of New York to proclaim a day of fasting and prayer. On of the councilman was credited with stating that “he could scarcely believe it possible that men could entertain an idea of the Deity so little exalted as to suppose that he would inflict them with the cholera as a special curse . . . . and deem it necessary that the wheels of government should be suspended in order to induce him to change his decrees.”

Judicial Oaths

“Disability of Witnesses.” 3:1 (Aug. 20, 1831): 2. In reporting the removal of a witness on account of his “want of belief in certain religious opinions,” the editor comments, “If men are to be deprived of their rights for their opinions, and without reference to their moral character, we say let us have an inquisition at once, to decide what opinions shall be tolerated; such an institution would be preferable to the mode of leaving such matters to the arbitrary decision of “his honor the presiding judge.””

“Outlawry for Unbelief.” 3:4 (Sept. 10, 1831): 3. This editorial denounces the rejection of a witness in the Courts of Chester County, Pennsylvania on account of a witness’s disbelief in orthodox religious opinion.

Sabbath Observances

Cornelius C. Blatchly. “Sabbath Mail Concern.” 1:8-9 (Dec. 19-26, 1829). Blatchly simply asks “If the first day is made the Christian Sabbath, are not Jews and seventh day sabbatarians as much imposed on as Presbyterians would be, if congress made the seventh day the Sabbath? . . . . Shall some sects be thus allowed to oppress others whose Sabbath is another day?”

“Petition. To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, in Congress Assembled.” 1:8 (Dec. 19, 1829): 4. The petitioners representing Jews, Baptists, Tunkers, Quakers, etc. prayed for the suspension of the transportation of the mail on the holy sabbath, which they identify as the seventh day of the week, commonly called Saturday.

“To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, in Congress Assembled.” 1:9 (Dec. 26, 1829): 1. Signed by Abdal Ruhamey “and all other faithful Mussulmen in the United States” request that the mail no longer be transported on their day of worship- Friday. The editor introduces the petition by commenting, “Where this sabbath petitioning will end, we know not. Three days of the seven are already bespoke, besides all the extra feast days and fast days, and holy and thanksgiving days which custom sanctions or pious governors recommend; but we should not be surprised if our red brethren of the forest hold councils on the occasion, and our congressional table groan with sabbath petitions from the Mohawks, Seneccas, the Creeks, the Cherokees, the Sacs and Pawnies, from here south and west to Mexico’s gulf, the Rocky mountains, or even the Pacific ocean.”

“Sunday Mails.” 1:10 (Jan. 2, 1830): 2. Signed by Robert Bogradus, Andrew S. Garr, and Aaron Leggett. The authors make clear they are not opposed to a day of rest from labor but rather efforts to compel others to observe one day a week as a religious Sabbath day. They sum up the principle underlying their opposition by stating “When we see any religious sect endeavoring to effect legislative enactments, to favor their own particular sectarian views of religious duty; to oppose their measures, and disappoint their purpose, is necessary to the support of the principles of our free government, and the preservation of the equal rights of other persons, and other religious sects.”

“Sunday Mails.” 1:10 (Jan. 2, 1830): 4. Extracts from an address delivered at Tammany Hall, Jan. 31, 1829. The speaker declares, “That men who attempt to influence the legislature to pass an act which would “favor their own particular views of religious duty,” and whose measures “are calculated to prepare the way for the establishment of a national religion,” are truly and emphatically, in principle, action, and character, real and rank Tories . . . .”

“Sunday Mails.” 1:21 (Mar. 20, 1830): 1-2. This feature includes two reports from Senator Richard M. Johnson regarding the transportation of the mail and opening of post offices on Sundays. The first, delivered to the US Senate on January 19, 1829 and the second, delivered to the US House of Representatives on March 4, 1830. Also included is an “adverse report” from Representative William McCreery.

Your Fellow Citizen. “To the Liberals of All Parties.” 2:32 (Mar. 26, 1831): 1. Referring to New York City’s Sabbath day law, the author asks, “Shall we, who made such a gorgeous display in celebration of French regeneration, still allow a most outrageous inroad on our liberties to remain . . . . Tell it not to Paris, nor let it be known at Brussels, that the boasted freemen of New York, who congratulate others on their exertions for liberty, still allow in silence their own liberties to be invaded by their streets being chained up one day in seven for the supposed benefit of some sects, while for others who keep sacred the seventh day, no chains dare be put up; thus, in defiance of our constitution, giving a “preference” to some religious creeds.”

“Sabbath Mails and Sabbath Carriages.” 2:41 (May 28, 1831): 1. The editors highlight the hypocrisy of those who oppose the carrying of the mails on Sunday but not the employment of grooms, footmen, and carriage horses to transport churchgoers. The editorial concludes by asking, “Can we avoid the conclusion, that the whole mail-stopping scheme is but a deep laid plan to strengthen ecclesiastical influence, and connect temporal things with spiritual?”

“Connecticut “Blue Laws” Revived.” 6:25 (Jan. 31, 1835): 1. This article reports the arrest of Joseph C. Dean in Connecticut for fishing on the Sabbath.

Tax Exemption

“Working Men’s Meeting.” 1:1 (Oct. 31, 1829): 1-2. Features the report and resolutions of the Committee of Fifty. Signed by Isaac Odell (Chair), William G. Tillou (Secretary) and Robert Dale Owen (Secretary), the committee resolved, among other things, “that exemption is privilege, and as such, the exemption from taxation of churches and church property, and the property of priests, to an amount not exceeding fifteen hundred dollars, is a direct and positive robbery of the people” and “that so far as it goes, it is a connection of church and state; since the principle which would remit to a priest the taxes on his property, thus making a gift to him from the public treasury of that amount, might with equal propriety be extended to the payment of his annual salary.”

“Highly Important.” 1:16 (Feb. 13, 1830): 1. Reprinted from Priestcraft Exposed. This article features a petition to the Pennsylvania legislature requesting, among other things, that charters to religious associations no longer be granted in perpetuity.

“To the Legislature of the State of New York.” 4:52 (Aug. 10, 1833): 1. A memorial concerning tax exemptions for churches and the property of the clergy which states in part that, “Such partial, unequal, and unjust taxation, predicated on considerations exclusively of a religious character, is incompatible with the genius and spirit of the free institutions of our country, inimical to the free exercise of the unalienable rights of conscience, and inconsistent of all those provisions of the constitution which were intended to prevent the civil government of the State from meddling with the religious concerns of its constituents in any other manner than to secure to each individual the unmolested exercise and enjoyment of his own opinions on that subject.”

Freedom of Speech

 Thomas Cooper Case

 “Dr. Cooper of South Carolina.” 2:42 (June 4, 1831): 1. The editors opine that “Although the alleged reason for wishing his removal [as President of South Carolina College] is said to be, that he has endeavored to influence the minds of the students on the subject of religion, it is proved beyond question that the charge is utterly groundless, and that, on the contrary, he has carefully abstained, as public teachers of youth should do, from any allusion to the subject, leaving it entirely to the parents of the pupils and to their own mature judgment. The inference, therefore, is, that his opponents are not satisfied with neutrality on the subject of religion, but wish to introduce it into the public institutions of learning and instruction, with a view of keeping up that influence by which they are enabled to make religion a profitable trade.”

“Dr. Cooper.” 3:21 (Jan. 7, 1832): 1. Under this title is featured a letter to the New York Daily Sentinel calling for the removal of Dr. Copper, described as “a foreigner whose principles are openly and avowedly infidel.” The Advocate editor’s comments follow.

“Trial of Dr. Cooper.” 4:19 (Dec. 22, 1832): 2. Reprinted from the Columbia Telescope, this article provides an abstract of the charges against Dr. Cooper and of his responses to each charge delivered to the Board of Trustees of of South Carolina College.



“An Indian Talk.” 2:32 (Mar. 26, 1831): 3. A letter reprinted from the Washington Globe; signed by Capt. Good Hunter, Hard Hickory, Cornstick, Seneca Steel, Small Chord Spicer, and George Herring of the Seneca Nation. The letter in part states, “Brothers and Sisters- We ask you to hear what we say, for it is true. We have found the Black coats [missionaries] treacherous, and they deceive us. They come among us and ask us to give them our property for saving our souls after we die. We do not like it, for they know no more about the next world than we do.”

Matthias the Prophet

“Examination of Matthias.” 6:8 (Oct. 4, 1834): 3. Matthias declares himself to be “the chief and high priest of the Jews of the order of Melchizedek, being the last chosen of the twelve Apostles, and the first in the resurrection . . . .”

“A Chapter in the History of Robert Matthews, Otherwise called Matthias the Prophet, Otherwise Matthias the Imposter.” 6:8 (Oct. 4, 1834): 4. This article features the sworn testimony of Benjamin H. Folger, a merchant defrauded by Robert Matthews.

“Matthias the Prophet.” 6:23 (Jan. 17, 1835): 3. This article reports on an indictment against Robert Matthews for the murder of Elijah Pierson.

“Trial of the Prophet Matthias.” 6:36 (Apr. 18, 1835): 2. This is the editor’s transcript of the proceedings. Featured is an inquest into Matthias’ sanity.

“Memoirs of Matthias the Prophet, with a Full Exposure of his Atrocious Impositions and of the Degrading Delusions of his Followers.” 6:40 (May 16, 1835): 2.

“Melancholy Fate of Matthias the Prophet.” 7:12 (Nov. 7, 1835): 2. Reprinted from the New York Herald.


“The Insurrection in Virginia.” 3:3 (Sept. 3, 1831): 1. Reporting a slave revolt in Southampton county, Virginia, the editor advocates gradual emancipation.

“Daring Outrage of Virginia Slavites.” 3:6 (Sept. 24, 1831): 1. This article reports the abduction and public scourging of a Mr. Robinson in Petersburg, Virginia by slaveholders for daring to argue that blacks have a right to be free and ought to be emancipated. The article features extracts from Robinson’s journal chronicling the outrage.

“The Petersburg Outrage.” 3:6 (Sept. 24, 1831): 2. The editor remarks, “The recent events show clearly it is necessary for the people of the non-slaveholding states to interfere and save our country from the disgrace of adding to the horrors of slavery the crime of destroying hundreds upon hundreds of those who are only guilty of conspiring, as did the founders of our republic, to obtain their freedom.”

“Negro Slavery.” 3:7 (Oct. 1, 1831): 1. The editor remarks that the eradication of slavery must be “done by degrees, as well for the safety of the slaves as the slaveholders, but it must be done as rapidly as is consistent with the safety of both. Instead of the numbers of slaves increasing, they must decrease, and instead of passing laws to keep them in ignorance, they must be enlightened.”

A Free Colored Floridian. “Prejudice against Color.” 3:7 (Oct. 1, 1831): 3. This is a circular which encourages the “free people of color” to seek refuge in Mexico where they can “peaceably exist by the fruits of their own industry.”

“Slave Insurrection in Southampton County, Virginia.” 3:9 (Oct. 15, 1831): 1. Commenting on an article by the same title in the Courier and Enquirer, the editor explains, “we believe it our duty to take the part of the oppressed, against the oppressor, whatever may be the kindred or country of the oppressor and the oppressed. In relation to the question of slavery our kindred are mankind – our color is the color of freemen. And we will not seek sanction for our sentiments, in “perversions of Holy Writ:” all Nature proclaims their justice.”

“American Colonization Society.” 4:45 (June 22, 1833): 1. This is a summary of the proceedings of a recent American Colonization Society meeting with comments from the editor. In conclusion, the editor remarks, “If the colonization scheme were only regarded as a scheme for colonizing the Clergy, which we belief it mainly is, we should not so much object to it; but so far as it is considered a scheme of negro emancipation, we look upon it as producing evil, by diverting the efforts of the benevolent from what is practicable in favor of emancipation.”

“Views of the Abolitionists.” 7:14 (Nov. 21, 1835): 3. Responding to comments made by Governor Vroom of New Jersey concerning abolitionists laboring to achieve immediate emancipation “without and against the consent of those communities in which it (slavery)  is recognized”, the editor remarks, “We believe many of them are actuated by a species of fanaticism, and are desirous of freeing the slaves, more for the purpose of adding them to a religious sect than for a love of liberty or justice; but their desire to free the slaves, so far as they can do so by the force of moral power, we believe to be a good and a just cause, and one that they have not attempted to advance by any but constitutional means.”

Thomas Paine

Birthday Celebrations

“Anniversary of the Birthday of Thomas Paine.” 2:33 (Apr. 2, 1831): 2. A brief account of Paine’s birthday celebration at Tammany Hall, including toasts to, among other things, “our cause – The cause of reason, truth and benevolence – may it never want supporters to defeat the attempts of priests and fanatics to perpetrate mental slavery.”

“Birthday of Thomas Paine.” 3:25 (Feb. 4, 1832): 3. The 8th public celebration of Paine’s birthday, held at Tammany Hall, including a ball attended by over 400 people. The volunteer toasts included one to “science – may it spread through the world, and uproot every fable that has cursed the earth.”

“Paine Festival.” 4:26 (Feb. 9, 1833): 1. An account of the Paine festival celebrated at Tammany Hall featuring toasts, original songs, and a “love letter” from Paine, addressed to “My dear Citoyenne.”

“Sary of Thomas Paine’s Birthday.” 5:27 (Feb. 15, 1834): 4. Under this title appear the usual regular and volunteer toasts as well as poems, songs, and an excerpt from the Chairman’s address. Among the volunteer toasts was a toast to “the substitute for religion; practice for profession; morals and good conduct in the place of mystery and hypocrisy; and universal benevolence in the place of sects and illiberality.”

“Celebration of the Birthday of Thomas Paine.” 6:26 (Feb. 7, 1835): 3. Paine’s birthday was celebrated with a dinner at City Saloon and a ball at Tammany Hall. Featured is an invocation to Paine’s memory and volunteer toasts, including to, “Education free from superstitious thralldom: Its result, universal mental emancipation. May its universal accomplishment be as speedy as it is desirable.”


“The Working Men’s Party and the Evening Post.” 1:5 (Nov. 28, 1829): 3. The editor offers a line-for-line refutation of the Evening Post’s characterization of the Workingmen’s Party as Owenites.

“Conduct of the Troy Executive Committee.” 1:34 (June 12, 1830): 1. This article highlights the Troy Executive Committee’s resolve to oppose the “insidious circulation of the visionary and wicked principles of Owen and his abettors, under the colors of the farmers, mechanics and working men.” To which the editor remarks “Men who think and speak thus throw firebrands among their brethren. They light a flame of discord such as ancient days of rack and faggot witnessed. Such men must cease to lead our cause, or our cause will fall.”


Alexander Ming & Thomas Skidmore. “To Robert Dale Owen.” 1:12, 14 (Jan. 16, 30, 1830): 4, 1-2. Reprinted from the Free Enquirer. Ming and Skidmore respond to Owen’s misapprehensions of their views regarding the equal rights of men to property.

“Thomas Skidmore.” 1:19 (Mar. 6, 1830): 3. The editor accuses Skidmore of “endeavoring to effect a division in the ranks of the working men, and refusing to submit to the will of the majority in relation to the plan of organization.”

“An Explanatory Hint.” 1:35 (June 16, 1830): 1. The editor contends that the recent cries of infidelity and agrarianism against the Working Men’s Advocate is an organized plan, by those seeking to elect Henry Clay as the next President, comparable to the “political scare-crows, such as were formerly set up to terrify the democrats of 1801.”

“Agrarianism.” 1:50 (Aug. 7, 1830): 1. The editor briefly surveys Thomas Skidmore’s proposal for the equitable distribution of property, defends Skidmore’s right to propagate his proposal, but exclaims “All the hue and cry that has been raised about agrarianism is a perfect farce. There is just as much chance of getting a majority to build steam boats to ply between this and the moon, as to get them to vote for such a mad “ripping up.””


“The Association for the Protection of Industry, and for the Promotion of National Education, To the Public.” 1:6 (Dec. 5, 1829): 2. Signed by Abner Kneeland and John Baxter, on behalf of the Association. The Association warns against sectarianism, particularly on questions of religious opinion, and recommends against endeavors to obtain by law an equal division of property. Instead, it proposes uniting to achieve a system of equal national education.

“Equal Education.” 1:22 (Mar. 27, 1830): 3. The editor states, ““All men are born free and equal,” and with equal rights, among which is the right of self-government. The right of self-government implies a right to a knowledge necessary to the exercise of the right of self-government. If all have an equal right to the first, all must consequently have an equal right to the second; therefore all are entitled to equal education.”

“Equal Education.” 1:30 (May 22, 1830): 3. The editor denies advocating a system of education “which would force children away from their parents”; and contends that the right of equal education “has been admitted, by adopting the principle of universal suffrage and equal eligibility to office.”

“History of the Unmasking.” 1:31 (May 29, 1830): 2-3. Under this heading the editor compiles reports, “protests” and the proceedings of the various factional meetings which reveal a deep schism within the Working Men’s movement on the subject of education. At the heart of the schism is the charge that the educational system advocated by the Working Men’s Advocate embraces state guardianship and is based upon the doctrines of infidelity and agrarianism.

Paul Grout. “Report of the Committee on Education.” 1:36 (June 19, 1830): 4. This is the minority report rejected by a majority of the sub-committee on education. The report’s advocacy of boarding schools in the country where the children would be equally fed and clothed, and provided daily instruction in agriculture and the trades, led the majority to condemn the proposal’s embrace of infidel and agrarian principles.

“From Albany – Infidelity &c.” 1:37 (June 23, 1830): 1. Addressing the editors of the Albany Advocate, the author asks “even if we were individually and collectively sceptics in religion, what on earth has that to do with our proposal regarding public education? Have we ever proposed that religion, or that infidelity should be taugh

t? And if we had, would not the proposal have been ridiculous?”

“Anniversary of Independence.” 1:41 (July 8, 1830): 1. The editor observes, “The ignorant man has no freedom, for his mind is enslaved; has no feeling of equality, for knowledge is power, and that power is denied him; has no means to pursue happiness, for ignorance seeks happiness in vain. The ignorant man, therefore, is a slave; and for a nation to be practically free and equal, it must first be freely and equally enlightened.”

Imprisonment for Debt

“Imprisonment for Debt.” 1:13 (Jan. 23, 1830): 1. The author rants, “There may be seen the rich swindler who has scattered desolation into fifty families, insulting those who he has ruined, and rioting on the fruits of their honest industry- to which industry he was ever a stranger. There, also, may be seen the wife and children of a poor working man, suffering all the evils of poverty- exposed to all the temptations of vice; but where is there protector?- Incarcerated in a dungeon, perhaps dependent on charity for the very means of existence, and exposed to the insults of rascals “clothed with a little brief authority,” and destitute of the most common feelings of humanity; and all this for no other crime but poverty- poverty not improbably caused by the successful villainy of the character first sketched- and in a land of liberty, so called.”

“Liberty and Principle.” 1:18 (Feb. 27, 1830): 4. A memorial addressed to the New York legislature and signed by H.G. Guyon, A.L. Balch and Simon Clannon, on behalf of the General Executive Committee of Mechanics and other Working Men. The authors contend that “

No principle in human society is more incontrovertibly true, than that property, and property alone, ought to be answerable for debt.”

“Imprisonment for Debt.” 1:20 (Mar. 13, 1830): 4. A memorial addressed to the New York legislature and signed by Thomas Herttell, George D. Strong and Calvin W. Preston. The authors argue that the law of imprisonment for debt “is radically wrong in moral principle, a violation of the unalienable rights of man, adverse to the express provisions of the constitution . . . . cruel and oppressive to the debtor, useless to the creditor, demoralizing to both, and fertile of mischief to society.”

Equal Rights

“Equal Rights.” 1:5-6, 8 (Nov. 28-Dec. 5, 1829). The author begins with the following series of questions, “The words of that great instrument [The Declaration of Independence] have been the boast of all of us; but have we, as a class of men, obtained in common with others, the great inheritance which these words designate? We have changed masters, it is true, but have we changed our condition? We are allowed to vote for a choice of masters, but have we equal rights with them? Included in the series is “The Workingmen’s Declaration of Independence.

“The People of the World Have But One Cause.” 2:6 (Sept. 25, 1830): 3. The editor points out “Reformers of New York! your cause is one and the same with that so nobly won by the people of Paris. You are ahead in the race, but their goal and your goal is the same- the triumph of the interests of the many- of the equal rights, the equal happiness of all.”

French Revolution

“The Revolution.” 2:4 (Sept. 11, 1830): 1. Commenting on events in France, the author asks, “May we not hope to see established, even in the very midst of king-governed Europe, a second Republic, governed, like our own, by a President, and freed from the follies and oppressions of a hereditary aristocracy?”

Letters from an American/Republican correspondent in Paris. 2:10 (Oct. 23, 1830): 1-2; 2:12 (Nov. 6, 1830): 2-3; 2:13 (Nov. 13, 1830): 1-3; 2:27 (Feb. 19, 1831): 4; 2:28 (Feb. 26, 1831): 1-3; 2:29 (Mar. 5, 1831): 1; 2:34 (Apr. 9, 1831): 2.

Bank of the United States

“Bank of the United States.” 2:26-27 (Feb. 12-19, 1831): 2-3, 1. This series features excerpts from a speech given by Senator Thomas H. Benton arguing against the renewal of the U.S. Bank’s charter and comments from the Advocate’s editors.

“A National Bank a Public Blessing.” 2:38 (May 7, 1831): 1. The editors express their support for a “National Bank of Deposit and Transfer, not of Discount; a Bank that should facilitate the transmission of money from one end of the Union to another, at the least possible expense; but not a Bank with powers of coining paper money.”


E.J.W. “No. II.” 1:4 (Nov. 21, 1829): 2. The author argues that “The nonproducers most assuredly are an aristocracy, and under that title we shall hereafter designate them. And the most mischievous, and worse than useless of the American aristocracy, will be found in the following enumeration- bankers, brokers, auctioneers, lawyers, speculators in land or houses, money lending usurers, chartered companies, &c. Of this cunning aristocracy we caution the people to be aware.”

“Thomas Herttell’s Letter.” 2:10 (Oct. 23, 1830): 4. Hertell outlines for the mechanics, farmers and other working men of the city and county of New York his positions on imprisonment for debt, militia training, capital punishment, auction sales, licensed monopolies, banks, education, and judicial reform.

“Who Shall make Legal the Marriage Contract?” 3:34 (Apr. 7, 1832): 2. This article features a memorial to the New York legislature which argues that vesting priests with the legal authority to solemnize marriages is unconstitutional.



All children are entitled to equal education; all adults to equal property; and all mankind to equal privileges. 1:1 (Oct. 31, 1829) – 1:2 (Nov. 7, 1829).

All children are entitled to equal education; All adults to equal privilege. 1:3 (Nov. 14, 1829) – 1:32 (June 5, 1830).

Working Men’s Measures. equal universal education, abolishment of imprisonment for debt, an entire revision or abolition of the present militia system, a less expensive law system, equal taxation on property, an effective lien law for laborers on buildings, a district system of elections, no legislation on religion. 2:15 (Nov. 27, 1830). Over time, measures were removed (e.g., “abolishment of imprisonment for debt” when accomplished in 1831) and added (e.g., “abolition of all licensed monopolies,” and “abolition of capital punishment.”)

The Working Man’s Advocate had agents in the following states: New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio and Indiana. 2:48 (July 16, 1831).

Accession Numbers: 10012112, 10364585.


[1] The first 32 issues simply identified “A Mechanic” as editor. George H. Evans was the mechanic/editor of The Working Man’s Advocate. Frank T. Carlton, “The Workingmen’s Party of New York City: 1829-1831.” Political Science Quarterly 22, no. 3 (1907):403-404.