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In the 1990s, democracy and market freedom are often discussed as though they were synonymous or interchangeable. What the experience of workers in the United States actually reveals is that as government became more democratic, what it could do to shape daily life became more restricted. This original and significant work examines the relationship between workers and government by focusing not on the legal regulations of unions and strikes, but on popular struggles for citizens' rights. The extent and failures of workers' efforts to exercise power through political parties provide insights from the nineteenth century to guide our thinking about the twenty-first.