Scholarship on American labor politics has been dominated by the view that the American Federation of Labor, the dominant labor organization, rejected political action in favor of economic strategies. Based upon extensive research into labor and political party records, this study demonstrates that, despite the common belief, the AFL devoted great attention to political activity. The organization's main strategy, however, which Julie Greene terms 'pure and simple politics', dictated that trade unionists alone should shape American labor politics. Exploring the period from 1881 to 1917, Pure and Simple Politics focuses on the quandaries this approach generated for American trade unionists. Politics for AFL members became a highly contested terrain, as leaders attempted to implement a strategy which many rank-and-file workers rejected. Furthermore, its drive to achieve political efficacy increasingly exposed the AFL to forces beyond its control, as party politicians and other individuals began seeking to influence labor's political strategy and tactics.

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