The Democratic Party

In the early twentieth century, Democrats, as the minority party, were hungry for votes.  The perennial Democratic presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan, vocally supported organized labor and courted the AFof L vote.  during the campaign of 1906, a strong alliance developed between the Democratic party and the AFof L.  The Democratic platform of 1908 was heavily influenced by Samuel Gompers, president of the AF of L.The AF of L clearly saw its interests as being allied with the Democratic Party.   According to Gompers, his union had given up on the Republican Party: "Of the Republican party, as a party, so long as it has had entire control of the legislation and the administration, it was impossible to get from it any consideration, much less action, on any fundamental question affecting the rights, interests of and the justice due to the toilers of our country . . . ." (from the American Federationist, October 1912)Gompers saw trade unionists' fortunes rise in 1910  when "the Democratic party gained control of the House of Representatives and diminished the Republican majority in the Senate and Labor elected fifteen trade unionists to Congress."   Gompers continued: "The Democratic party has shown its good faith in enacting the Eight-Hour law. It has passed the Clayton Injunction Limitations and Contempt bills, the Convict Labor bill, and a bill creating a separate and distainct Department of labor with a Secretary at its head who will have a seat in the President's Cabinet.  It has consistently maintained the extension of the eight-hour principle.  Some progress has been made."  (from The American Federationist, August 1912)Woodrow Wilson, however, tended to oppose organized labor.  Wilson was suspicious of any form of large organization in the American economy, both within business and labor.   Wilson's belief in free competition also led him to oppose a minimum wage standard.  Wilson's antipathy to organized labor was exposed to his fellow Democrats when the Hearst newspapers called attention to Wilson's anti-labor writings in his History of the American People.  Theodore Roosevelt, for one, criticized Wilson's position on labor as backward-looking.  From "The Minimum Wage" by Theodore Roosevelt
I believe that Mr. Wilson, whose sincerity of conviction in this matter I do not for a moment question, and the other worthy and respectable men who in the name of conservatism oppose the minimum wage plank, are misled by the fact that they get their information from study of the laws laid down by political economists who wrote when all social and industrial conditions were utterly different from what they have now become. Under present industrial conditions, to leave wages in all cases to free competition must sometimes mean that under the pressure of the competition the freedom left to the laborer is only the freedom to starve outright or else to starve slowly by accepting a wage insufficient to sustain life as it should be sustained. (The Outlook, September 28, 1912)