"Loco Foco" in 1833?

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Tue Dec 6 19:46:54 UTC 2005

I've added "loco foco." The OED entry (and etymology--check for this) is  way 
The "loco foco party" dates from an incident in 1835.
Isn't the 1833 "loco foco" hit in the LIBERATOR (APS Online) a bit off? Or  
is 1833 the correct date for it?
Loco Foco Party
“Loco foco” matches were named that in New York City in the early 1930s. The 
 Loco-Foco Party (now the Democratic Party) was named from the matches in 
See the last article below for the origin of “loco  foco.”
(Oxford English  Dictionary)
U.S. Pol. Hist. Used attrib. or  quasi-adj. as the designation of the ‘Equal 
Rights’ or Radical section of  the Democratic party (for the origin of the 
name see 
quot. 1842). Hence  absol. a member of this party. 
The name was given in 1835; the section originally so named soon became  
extinct, but the name long continued to be applied by opponents to the Democrats  
1837 P. HONE Diary 6 Sept, The President’s message..is locofoco to the  very 
core. 1838 H. CLAY Let.. 28 Aug. in Private Corr. (1855) 428  The Locofocos 
have carried that [election] in Missouri. 1838 W. IRVING in  Life & Lett. (1866) 
III. 120 Those loco foco luminaries who of late  have been urging strong and 
sweeping measures. 1842 J. D. HAMMOND Polit.  Hist. N.Y. II. 491-2 A very 
tumultuous and confused scene ensued, during  which the gas-lights..were 
extinguished. The Equal Rights party..had provided  themselves with loco-foco matches 
and candles, and the room was re-lighted.  Immediately after this outbreak at 
Tammany Hall, the Courier and Enquirer, a  whig, and the Times, a 
democratic..newspaper, dubbed the anti-monopolists with  the name of the Loco-Foco Party, a 
sort of nick-name which the whigs have since  given to the whole democratic 
in U.S. history, radical  wing of the Democratic Party, organized in New York 
City in 1835. Made up  primarily of workingmen and reformers, the Locofocos 
were opposed to state  banks, monopolies, paper money, tariffs, and generally 
any financial policies  that seemed to them antidemocratic and conducive to 
special privilege. The  Locofocos received their name (which was later derisively 
applied by political  opponents to all Democrats) when party regulars in New 
York turned off the gas  lights to oust the radicals from a Tammany Hall 
nominating meeting. The radicals  responded by lighting candles with the new 
self-igniting friction matches known  as locofocos, and proceeded to nominate their 
own slate.  
30 November 1833, Liberator, pg. 1:
Thank  GOD, the Whigs of the State and City of New York, while they feel as 
men should  feel on this subject, have clearly demonstrated that they at least, 
are prepared  to hold Abolitionism as only worthy of being associated with 
Loco  Focoism and Fanny Wright Agrarianism.
November 1835,  Genius of Universal Emancipation, pg. 119:
One might suppose, from the  manner of their expression, that the pens of the 
“abolitionists” are surcharged  with gunpowder, and the paper on which they 
write and print is made of loco-foco  matches!
7 November 1835, Workingman’s Advocate, pg.  3:
We had a corps of loco foco match and wax candle men, and in an instant  
there were fifty wax candles burning. We passed democratic resolutions. We  passed 
one with three cheers, stating that the Evening Post was a regular organ  of 
the democracy.
January 1836, The Knickerbocker, or New  York Monthly Magazine, pg. 40:
For me, nullification has no terrors; I am  indifferent about the payment of 
the French claims; I am not alarmed at the  proceedings of the abolitionists; 
and I care not whether the Fanny Wright  doctrines or Agrarianism prevails, or 
whether the Loco Focos can keep their  tallow candles burning in Tammany-Hall.
22 July 1837, Spirit  of the Times, pg. 182:
You may see on a single dead wall in Broadway a  Whig, S Tory, and a Loco 
Foco handbill, side by side, as lovingly as if the  contents of each were a 
conserve of the sympathies of all.
19  January 1839, The Huntress, pg. 3:
Origin of the word  Locofoco.—Many of our readers ask frequently the meaning 
of the term “loco  foco” as applied to the Fanny Wright, infidel, agrarian, 
Jacobin, and leveling  portion of the Van Buren party. The name originated with 
a fellow in New York,  who in 1834 opened a shop in that city for the sale of 
cigars and what are now  termed loco foco matches. Loco loco is a “barbarous 
compound” of two Italian  words meaning “place” and “fire” and the word was 
quaintly used to signify  portable fire. How it came to be applied to the Van 
Buren party, may be  learned from the “Weekly Ledger” of October 18th, a Van 
Buren paper published in  Philadelphia, now before us: 
In the autumn of 1835, the democratic party was divided into “regulars” or  “
Conservatives,” who were in favor of regular nominations, and deposite banks, 
 and “ultras,” who were in favor of unlimited freedom in nominations, and 
opposed  to all “corporations.” THe party which was intended to mean the “
regulators,”  called a meeting at Tammany Hall, for the purpose of making 
nominations. The  “irregulars” considering themselves included in “the party” 
regularly attended,  and afterwards appeared, with the determination to oppose the “
regulars”  nominations, and to carry their point “by some means or other.” The 
“regulars”  apprehanding fun organized a meeting, made their nominations, 
voted to  adjourn, and ordered the lights to be extinguished, all which was 
done. But the  “regulars,” aware of this manoeuvre, and being “up to trap” went 
to the hall  with candles and loco foco matches in their pockets. So soon as 
the “regular”  lights were out, the drill sergeant of the “irregulars,” who 
has everything  cut and dried, called out “draw candles!” All obeyed the word, 
and  hundreds of dips and moulds in the air like the sabres of Napoleon’s  
cuirassiers: or would have gleamed if the room had been dark. THe drill officer  
continued, “Handle pocket?” and the slapping and clapping was like a 
hailstorm.  “Pull out loco-foco!,” and the wizzing in the air as every fellow pulled 
out was  like a flock of pigeons rising from a wheat field. “Light candles” 
and the  snapping off the locofoco matches was like the discharge of musketry 
in a  shamfight, and the sudden illumination was like a flash of mock lighting 
at a  theatre. Light being thrown upon the business of the State of New York 
which the  irregulars had met to adjust, the nominations were made and the 
essence  of “the party” dispersed in as good order as could be expected. 
The next say the New York Times, the organ of the “regulars” gave an account 
 of the proceedings, and mentioned the loco-foco matches as the epilogue of 
the  “regular” lamps, and on the day following, in another cut at the “seeders”
 from  the party and the democratic usage of “regular nominations,” it 
nicknamed them  locofocs, and so they have been called ever since. 
The locofocos, having become the majority of “the party,” now call 
themselves  the “regulars” and “conservatives” the “irregulars.” 
“Things change their titles as our manners turn.”  
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