trades union

General Trades Union

City of New York

The General Trades Union of the City of New York (GTU) was formed in 1833 by delegates from nine craft trades. It was responsible for a surge of labor militancy between 1833 and 1836.

The union evolved over time, first espousing the views of Ely Moore, who was a Tammany politician who made moderate criticisms against aristocrats who were greedy and corrupt. By 1835, the GTU had progressed to the beliefs of John Commerford, who made pointed attacks on “Capital”, which he defined as including not only aristocrats, but also Master Artisans. By this time, the union’s membership consisted of Craft journeymen, and sympathetic small Master Artisans were excluded because of their status.

Acceptance of female members was spotty, with many Male members hoping that their efforts against Female exploitation would result in their being returned to their previous domestic status.

The Union was affiliated with the Locofoco Democrats, who were against the Second Bank of the United States, but refrained from political activity so as to avoid the kind of demise suffered by the Working Man’s Party in 1829-30.

They staged over 40 strikes and by 1836 had a membership including 66% of New York City’s Journeyman labourers.

The union was disbanded in 1837 as a result of the financial panic of that year, and the subsequent Depression .

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The GTU of the City and County of Philadelphia was formed in 1834.


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