National Party Platforms


Independence Party Platform of 1908

We, independent American citizens, representing the Independence party in forty-four States and two Territories, have met in national convention to nominate, absolutely independent of all other political parties, candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States.

Our action is based upon a determination to wrest the conduct of public affairs from the hands of selfish interests, political tricksters and corrupt bosses, and make the Government, as the founders intended, an agency for the common good.

At a period of unexampled national prosperity and promise a staggering blow was dealt to legitimate business by the unmolested practice of stock watering and dishonest financiering. Multitudes of defenceless investors, thousands of honest business men, and an army of idle workingmen are paying the penalty. Year by year, fostered by wasteful and reckless governmental extravagance, by the manipulation of trusts and by a privilege creating tariff, the cost of living mounts higher and higher. Day by day the control of the Government drifts further away from the people and more firmly into the grip of machine politicians and party bosses.

The Republican and Democratic parties are not only responsible for these conditions, but are committed to their indefinite continuance. Prodigal of promises, they are so barren of performance that to a new party of independent voters the country must look for the establishment of a new policy and a return to genuine popular government.

Our object is not to introduce violent innovations or startlingly new features. We of the Independence party look back as Lincoln did, to the Declaration of Independence as the fountain-head of all political inspiration. It is not our purpose to attempt to revolutionize the American system of government, but to restore the action of the Government to the principles of Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln. It is not our purpose, either, to effect a radical change in the American system of government, but to conserve for the citizens of the United States their privileges and liberties won for them by the founders of this Government and to perpetuate the principles and policies upon which the nation’s greatness has been built.

The Independence party is, therefore, a conservative force in American politics, devoted to the preservation of American liberty and independence, to honesty in elections, to opportunity in business and to equality before the law.

Those who believe in the Independence party and work with it are convinced that a genuine democracy should exist; that a true republican form of government should continue; that the power of government should rest with the majority of the people, and that the Government should be conducted for the benefit of the whole citizenship, rather than for the special advantage of any particular class.

As of first importance in order to restore the power of government to the people, to make their will supreme in the primaries, in the elections and in the control of public officials after they have been elected, we declare for direct nominations, the initiative and referendum and the right of recall.

It is idle to cry out against the evil of bossism while we perpetuate a system under which the boss is inevitable. The destruction of the individual boss is of little value. The people in their politics must establish a system which will eliminate not only an objectionable boss but the system of bossism. Representative government is made a mockery by the system of modern party conventions dominated by the bosses and controlled by cliques. We demand the natural remedy of direct nominations by which the people not only elect, but which is far more important, select their representatives.

We believe in the principle of the initiative and referendum, and we particularly demand that no franchise grant go into operation until the terms and conditions have been approved by popular vote in the locality interested.

We demand for the people the right to recall public officials from the public service. The power to make officials reside in the people, and in them also should reside the power to unmake and remove from office any official who demonstrates his unfitness or betrays the public trust.

Of next importance in destroying the power of selfish special interests and the corrupt political bosses whom they control is to wrest from their hands their main weapon—the corruption fund. We demand severe and effective legislation against all forms of corrupt practices at elections, and advocate prohibiting the use of any money at elections except for meetings, literature and the necessary travelling expenses of the candidates. Bidding for votes the Republican and Democratic candidates are making an outcry about publicity of contributions, although both the Republican and Democratic parties have for years consistently blocked every effort to pass a corrupt practices act. Publicity of contributions is desirable and should be required, but the main matter of importance is the use to which contributions are put. We believe that the dishonest use of money in the past, whether contributed by individuals or by corporations, has been chiefly responsible for the corruption which has undermined our system of popular government.

We demand honest conduct of public office and business alike and an economical administration of public affairs, and we condemn the gross extravagance of Federal administration and its appalling annual increase in appropriations. Unnecessary appropriations mean unnecessary taxes, and unnecessary taxes, whether direct or indirect, are paid by the people, and add to the ever increasing cost of living.

We condemn the evil of over-capitalization. Modern industrial conditions make the corporation and stock company a necessity, but over-capitalization in corporations is as harmful and criminal as is personal dishonesty in an individual. Compelling the payment of dividends upon great sums that have never been invested, upon masses of watered stock not justified by the property, over-capitalization prevents the better wages, the better public service and the lower cost that should result from American inventive genius and that wide organization which is replacing costly individual competition. The collapse of dishonestly inflated enterprises robs investors, closes banks, destroys confidence and engenders panics. The Independence party advocates as a primary necessity for sounder business conditions and improved public service the enactment of laws, State and national, to prevent watering of stock, dishonest issues of bonds and other forms of corporation frauds.

We denounce the so-called labor planks of the Republican and Democratic platforms as political buncombe and contemptible claptrap, unworthy of national parties claiming to be serious and sincere.

The Republican declaration that "no injunction or temporary or restraining order should not be issued without notice, except where irreparable injury would result from delay," is empty verbiage, for a showing of irreparable injury can always be made and is always made in ex parte affidavits.

The Democratic declaration that "injunctions should not be issued in any case in which injunctions should not issue if no industrial dispute were involved" is meaningless and worthless.

Such insincere and meaningless declarations place a low estimate upon the intelligence of the average American workingman and exhibit either ignorance of or indifference to the real interest of labor.

The Independence party condemns the arbitrary use of the writ of injunction and contempt proceedings as a violation of the fundamental American right of trial by jury.

From the foundation of our Government down to 1872 the Federal Judiciary act prohibited the issue of any injunction without reasonable notice until after a hearing. We assert that in all actions growing out of a dispute between employers and employés concerning terms or conditions of employment no injunction should issue until after a trial upon the merits, that such trial should be held before a jury, and that in no case of alleged contempt should any person be deprived of liberty without a trial by jury.

The Independence party believes that the distribution of wealth is as important as the creation of wealth, and indorses these organizations among farmers and workers which tend to bring about a just distribution of wealth through good wages for workers and good prices for farmers, and which protect the employer and the consumer through equality of price for labor and for product, and we favor such legislation as will remove them from the operation of the Sherman antitrust law.

We indorse the eight hour work day, favor its application to all Government employés, and demand the enactment of laws requiring that all work done for the Government, whether Federal or State, and whether done directly or indirectly through contractors or sub-contractors shall be done on an eight hour basis.

We favor the enactment of a law defining as illegal any combination or conspiracy to blacklist employés.

We demand protection for workmen through enforced use of standard safety appliances and provisions of hygienic conditions in the operation of factories, railways, mills, mines and all industrial undertakings.

We advocate State and Federal inspection of railways to secure a greater safety for railway employes and for the travelling public. We call for the enactment of stringent laws fixing employers’ liabilities, and a rigid prohibition of child labor through co-operation between the State governments and the National Government.

We condemn the manufacture and sale of prison-made goods in the open market in competition with free labor manufactured goods. We demand that convicts shall be employed direct by the different States in the manufacture of products for use in State institutions and in making good roads and in no case shall convicts be hired out to contractors or sub-contractors.

We favor the creation of a Department of Labor, including mines and mining, the head of which shall be a member of the President’s Cabinet.

The great abuses of grain inspection, by which the producers are plundered, demand immediate and vigorous correction. To that end we favor Federal inspection under a strict civil service law.

The Independence party declares the right to issue money is inherent in the Government, and it favors the establishment of a central governmental bank, through which the money so issued shall be put into general circulation.

We demand a revision of the tariff, not by the friends of the tariff, but by the friends of the people, and declare for a gradual reduction of tariff duties, with just consideration for the rights of the consuming public and of established industry. There should be no protection for oppressive trusts which sell cheaply abroad and take advantage of the tariff at home to crush competition, raise prices, control production and limit work and wages.

The railroads must be kept open to all upon exactly equal terms. Every form of rebate and discrimination in railroad rates is a crime against business and must be stamped out. We demand adequate railroad facilities and advocate a bill empowering shippers in time of need to compel railroads to provide sufficient cars for freight and passenger traffic and other railroad facilities through summary appeal to the courts. We favor the creation of an Interstate Commerce Court, whose sole function it shall be to review speedily and enforce summarily the orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission. The Interstate Commerce Commission has the power to initiate investigation into the reasonableness of rates and practices and no increase in rates should be put into effect until opportunity for such investigation is afforded. The Interstate Commerce Commission should proceed at once with a physical valuation of railroads engaged in interstate commerce.

We believe that legitimate organizations in business designed to secure an economy of operation and increased production are beneficial wherever the public participates in the advantages which result. We denounce all combinations for restraint of trade and for the establishment of monopoly in all products of labor, and declare that such combinations are not combinations for production, but for extortion, and that activity in this direction is not industry, but robbery.

In case of infractions of the Anti-Trust law or of the Interstate Commerce act, we believe in the enforcement of a prison penalty against the guilty and responsible individuals controlling the management of the offending corporations, rather than a fine imposed upon stockholders.

We advocate the extension of the principle of public ownership of public utilities, including railroads, as rapidly as municipal, State, or National Government shall demonstrate ability to conduct public utilities for the public benefit. We favor specifically government ownership of the telegraphs, such as prevails in every other civilized country in the world, and demand as an immediate measure that the Government shall purchase and operate the telegraphs in connection with the postal service.

The parcels post system should be rapidly and widely extended and Government postal savings banks should be established where the people’s deposits will be secure, the money to be loaned to the people in the locality of the several banks at a rate of interest to be fixed by the Government.

We favor the immediate development of a national system of good roads connecting all States, and national aid to States in the construction and maintenance of post roads.

We favor a court of review of the censorship and arbitrary rulings of the Post-Office Department.

We favor the admission of Arizona and New Mexico to separate Statehood.

We advocate such legislation, both State and national, as will suppress the bucket shop and prohibit the fictitious selling of farm products for future delivery.

We favor the creation of a national department of public health, to be presided over by a member of the medical profession, this department to exercise such authority over matters of public health, hygiene, and sanitation which come properly within the jurisdiction of the National Government and does not interfere with the rights of states or municipalities.

We oppose Asiatic immigration which does not amalgamate with our population, creates race issues and un-American conditions, and which reduces wages and tends to lower the high standard of living and the high standard of morality which American civilization has established.

We demand the passage of an exclusion act which shall protect American workingmen from competition with Asiatic cheap labor and which shall protect American civilization from the contamination of Asiatic conditions.

The Independence party declares for peace and against aggression, and will promote the movement for the settlement of international disputes by arbitration.

We believe, however, that a small navy is poor economy and that a strong navy is the best protection in time of war and the best preventive of war. We, therefore, favor the speedy building of a navy sufficiently strong to protect at the same time both the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts of the United States.

We rejoice in the adoption by both the Democratic and Republican platforms of the demand of the Independence party for improved national waterways and the Mississippi inland deep-waters project, to complete a ship canal from the Gulf to the Great Lakes. We favor the extension of this system to the tributaries of the Mississippi by means of which thirty States shall be served and 20,000 miles added to the coast line of the United States. The reclamation of arid land should be continued and the irrigation programme now contemplated by the Government extended and steps taken for the conservation of the country’s natural resources, which should be guarded not only against devastation and waste, but against falling into the control of the monopoly. The abuses growing out of the administration of our forest preserves must be corrected and provisions should be made for free grazing from public lands outside of forest or other reservations. In behalf of the people residing in arid portions of our Western States we protest vigorously against the policy of the Federal Government in selling the exclusive use of water and electric power derived from public works to private corporations, thus creating a monopoly and subjecting citizens living in those sections to exorbitant charges for light and power, and diverting enterprises originally started for public benefit into channels for corporate greed and oppression, and we demand that no more exclusive contracts be made.

American citizens abroad, whether native born or naturalized, and of whatever race or creed, must be secured in the enjoyment of all rights and privileges under our treaties, and wherever such rights are withheld by any country on the ground of race or religious faith, steps should be taken to secure the removal of such unjust discrimination.

We advocate the popular election of United States Senators and of judges, both State and Federal, and favor a graduated income tax and any constitutional amendment necessary to these ends.

Equality of opportunity, the largest measure of individual liberty consistent with equal rights, the overthrow of the rule of special interest and the restoration of government by the majority exercised for the benefit of the whole community; these are the purposes to which the Independence party is pledged, and we invite the co-operation of all patriots and progressive citizens, irrespective of party, who are in sympathy with these principles and in favor of their practical enforcement.


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Chicago: "Independence Party Platform of 1908," National Party Platforms in Donald B. Johnson, Ed. National Party Platforms, 1840–1976. Supplement 1980. (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois), Pp.151-154 Original Sources, accessed June 6, 2023,

MLA: . "Independence Party Platform of 1908." National Party Platforms, in Donald B. Johnson, Ed. National Party Platforms, 1840–1976. Supplement 1980. (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois), Pp.151-154, Original Sources. 6 Jun. 2023.

Harvard: , 'Independence Party Platform of 1908' in National Party Platforms. cited in , Donald B. Johnson, Ed. National Party Platforms, 1840–1976. Supplement 1980. (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois), Pp.151-154. Original Sources, retrieved 6 June 2023, from