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Vito Marcantonio: American Laborite

Vito Marcantonio - Wikipedia

On this day 119 Years Ago, Vito Marcantonio was born in an Italian ghetto in East Harlem. While Vito is not too remembered in the US Political Scene as he appears to be a relative footnote, he still played an interesting part in it nonetheless.

After he graduated high school, he entered law school, eventually earning a Bachelors of Law from New York University School of Law in 1925. Vito first got involved in minor party politics campaigning for the Farmer-Laborite Parley P. Christensen for President in 1920. Although he became more active in 1924 campaigning for Robert La Follette for President and Fiorello La Guardia for Congress, he would end up working for La Guardia’s reelections bids every two years. When not campaigning, he used his law degree to represent labor causes, working with Joseph R. Brodsky, who would end up pushing him towards more radical causes. He served a role in the background until Fiorello decided to run successfully for New York City Mayor, and Vito felt that the void he would leave in congress needed to be filled. Vito would end up first running for Congress in 1934 as a Republican, while he was successful, he quickly grew ire amongst both major parties conservative wings, and ended up serving only 1 term. However he would soon return with a new force…

American Labor Party logo.png
American Labor Party Logo

The American Labor Party was a New York Based political party founded in 1936, the party was created by former Socialist Party members who were supportive of FDR’s New Deal. Coincidentally, the party’s creation coincided with Vito’s exit from Congress, and since there was overlap in their platforms, Vito would end up running for Congress under the ALP banner in 1938, cross-filing as both the ALP and GOP candidate. While he still had the ire from both political establishments, he was no longer beholden to any of them, rather he could focus on his East Harlem District. He would end up becoming known as one of the Furthest Left Members of Congress, not only at the time, but in the entire history of congress. Being a fierce champion of Anti-Racism and Anti-Imperialism. He was such a martyr in congress that he would be used as a campaign tool in races on the other side of the country, as was the case in the 1950 California Senate Race. However he would end up being defeated that same year after New York changed their laws to prevent Marcantonio from cross-filing. Afterwards he ended up returning to his law practice, but he still remained very politically active. He did plan to make a return to congress under the “Good Neighbor” banner, however on August 9th 1954 right as he left the printers with petitions ready to file for congress, he collapsed of a heart attack.

While not remembered as much as other figures, Vito played an important role to the 20,000 attendees of his funeral, and arguably many others.

About Post Author

E Pluribus Unum

The host of the Progressive Oriented YouTube Channel E Pluribus Unum, which has the main focus of educating people on Minor Parties, their history, and their candidates alongside the latest political news of the day. So when an 14 Year Old Website with that same goal says they needed new writers, I felt the need to carry this torch.

3 Comments

  1. SocraticGadfly SocraticGadfly December 10, 2021

    Filling in what Fernando just references in passing as “across the country … 1950 Senate race.” It’s arguably the biggest part of the footnote: His connection to “Pink Lady,” who was “Pink right down to her underwear” infamy.

    https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1990-04-09-me-664-story.html

  2. Fernando Mercado Fernando Mercado Post author | December 10, 2021

    I was contemplating putting the infamous pink sheet in the article as an image, but the ALP Logo was better

  3. Michael F Gilson "MG" Michael F Gilson "MG" May 10, 2022

    Thanks for the timely article.

    Fun fact: Hon. Vito Marcantonio was the attorney for the Libertarian International Organization (LIO), did key libertarian work with my father in the attempted first modern Civil Rights statute (viciously opposed by the far-left), independent Puerto Rico status, and developing worker/union-based medical healthcare co-ops (which the far-left went spastic over and managed to forbid–so much for capitalism denying you healthcare at low cost–they hated his championship of voluntary libertarian socialist communities and legal defenses of actual worker co-ops), fought organized crime, and much more. He was the master of the effective nasty little lawsuit when his charming diplomacy failed.

    He proposed and did initial work on the idea of a Libertarian Institute which I later founded in 1969 with the then LIO attorney Hon. William P. Rogers.

    Libertarians when they join me for dinner are still taught to use and remember his motto:

    “It’s not nice to say ‘no’ to a man called Vito.”

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