Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.


Locofocos (lōˌkōfōˈkōz), name given in derision to the members of a faction that split off from the Democratic party in New York in 1835. Tension had been growing between radical Democrats, who believed that Andrew Jackson's war against the national bank should be extended to state banks and other monopolies, and the regular Tammany Democrats in New York City. When the Tammany leaders expelled (Sept., 1835) William Leggett, the radical editor of the New York Evening Post, from the party, the radicals decided to act. At a Tammany Hall meeting held on Oct. 29, 1835, to ratify the Tammany nominations, the revolt began. The antibank men voted down the chairman selected by the organization; before the meeting could be reorganized, the gas was turned off and the hall plunged in darkness. The reformers, however, continued their work by the light of candles and of self-igniting “locofoco” matches, from which their nickname derived. In Jan., 1836, this group organized a new party, called the Friends of Equal Rights or the Equal Rights party. They opposed the chartering of state banks and other forms of monopoly as well as exclusive privilege, as antidemocratic and advocated the suspension of paper money and of legal protection for labor unions. By nominating fusion candidates with the Whigs, the Locofocos defeated (Apr., 1836) Tammany men for city office and elected (Nov., 1836) two of their members to the state assembly. However, their intention was not to build a permanent new party, but to convert the regular Democrats to their platform. After Martin Van Buren and his administration adopted a large part of their program, especially its financial policies, Tammany also accepted much of their platform, and by 1838 most of the Locofocos had been reabsorbed into the Democratic party.


See F. Byrdsall, The History of the Loco-Foco or Equal Rights Party (1842, repr. 1967).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
Mentioned in ?
References in periodicals archive ?
Committed locofocos such as Whitman believed politicians such as James K.
Young Americans and locofocos of all stripes could see in the telegraph the fulfillment of their grandest, most astounding dreams, and they ran positively headlong into the unknown future--Mexican War, Civil War, and all.
AS ALL THIS social and economic ferment was underway, the locofoco and Young America movements emerged.
In the late 1840s, one of my favorite 19th century libertarians, a locofoco and Young American named Frances Whipple, was living in Pomfret, Connecticut, when she encountered a man named Samuel Brittan.
It was the Owenite faction of the "Workies" that went on to form the Equal Rights Party (or Locofocos) in 1836 in New York.
The Locofocos were a radical offshoot of the Jacksonian Democrats.
The Locofocos adhered to more traditional notions of the role of joint-stock bodies such as banks.
The Owenite free enquirers and the Locofocos shared a common Painite civic republicanism predicated on the separation of church and state that set them at loggerheads with evangelical Whigs.
Given the programmatic similarities of the Canadian rebels and the Locofocos, it is not surprising that the us Patriot movement gained large numbers of adherents.
(42) The name Locofoco derived from an incident in 1835 when conservative pro-bank Democrats turned the gas lights off in a NYC meeting hall on anti-bank radicals who then struck the new friction matches (popularly called "locofocos") to provide light in order to continue the meeting.
The President's support of the Independent Treasury plan further stoked the fires of an already raging national debate on the economy causing the disciples of finance capital to respond to the Locofoco critique with impassioned and lengthy defenses of their "credit system." (49) In its fourth essay in a series on business, The New York Times made a bid for understanding: "If all the banks were abolished the rich would engross all the money, and the poor but enterprising man could not borrow as he can now.
Alexander Ming, Jr., was a tavern owner who advertised in the New Era and was also active in locofoco politics.