Parley P. Christensen

Parley Parker Christensen (July 19, 1869 – February 10, 1954) was an American attorney and politician who served as an Utah state representative, a Los Angeles City councilor, and served as the Farmer–Labor Party's presidential nominee during the 1920 presidential election. He was a member of numerous third parties and served as chairman of the Illinois Progressive party.

Parley Christensen
Parley Parker Christensen circa 1920.jpg
Member of the Los Angeles City Council from the 9th district
In office
Preceded byWinfred J. Sanborn
Succeeded byEdward R. Roybal
In office
Preceded byGeorge W. C. Baker
Succeeded byHoward E. Dorsey
Personal details
Parley Parker Christensen

(1869-07-19)July 19, 1869
Weston, Idaho, U.S.
DiedFebruary 10, 1954(1954-02-10) (aged 84)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political partyRepublican (Before 1912)
Progressive (1912–1919)
Labor (1919–1920)
Farmer-Labor (1920–1924)
Progressive (1924–1934)
Independent (1934–1937)
Democratic (1937–1954)
EducationUniversity of Utah (BA)
Cornell University (LLB)


Parley Parker Christensen was born on July 19, 1869 in Weston, Idaho to Peter and Sophia M. Christensen and later moved to Newton, Utah. In 1890 he graduated from the University of Utah Normal School and University of Deseret then served as a teacher and principal in Murray and Grantsville. In 1897 he graduated from Cornell University law school and practiced law in Salt Lake City.

Early politicsEdit

From 1892 to 1895 he served as superintendent of schools for Tooele County, Utah. In 1895 he served as secretary of the Utah constitutional convention when the state's constitution that was to be submitted to Congress for statehood was drafted. In the late 1890s he served as city attorney of Grantsville. Between 1900 and 1904 Christensen was a Republican state officer, including party chairman. In 1902 he was defeated for renomination as county attorney but was elected again to that office in 1904. Christensen unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for Congress in 1906, 1908 and 1910, against incumbent Joseph Howell.

From 1901 to 1906 he served as prosecuting attorney for Salt Lake County and in 1906 he was cited to appear before a district court judge to show why he had not approved the issuance of a warrant for the arrest of Joseph F. Smith, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "on a charge of sustaining unlawful relations with one of his five wives. From 1910 to 1912 he served in the Utah House of Representatives as a Republican. In the latter year, Christensen joined Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party and ran as the Progressive candidate for the Utah House of Representatives. He lost, but two years later he was elected to that office as a Progressive; he served one term, "supporting a number of reforms.

Between 1915 and 1920 Christensen became "increasingly involved with various left-wing and labor groups" in Utah. He helped organize the Utah Labor Party in 1919 defended several radicals incarcerated at Fort Douglas, Utah, charged with opposition to American involvement in World War I. He was president of the Popular Government League, organized in 1916, which argued for adopting the initiative and referendum in Utah.

Presidential campaignEdit

In June 1920 Christensen was a delegate to the Chicago joint conventions of the Labor Party of the United States and the progressive Committee of Forty-Eight, whose leaders hoped to merge and to nominate a presidential ticket.[1] The Farmer-Labor Party was the result, with Christensen chosen as presidential nominee. Christensen campaigned for nationalization of railroads and utilities, an eight-hour working day, a federal Department of Education, and an end to the Espionage and Sedition Acts. In the election he received 265,411 votes in nineteen states. Christensen did best in Washington and in South Dakota, where he came close to out-polling the Democratic candidate, James M. Cox.

Later lifeEdit

He remained in Chicago after the convention and became chairman of the Illinois Progressive Party and its unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senator in 1926.

In 1921 Christensen moved to Los Angeles, California and was elected to the city council in 1935. He joined the End Poverty in California crusade of Upton Sinclair, with the Utopian Society and with "other leftist groups in the state. Christensen had the endorsement of the End Poverty in California movement when he ran for Los Angeles City Council District 9 seat in 1935 and took it away from George W.C. Baker, the incumbent. He held it for two years, but did not run for reelection in 1937. Two years later, though, he was sent back to the council, and he held the post until 1949, when he was defeated by Edward R. Roybal. In the first part of his terms, the 9th District covered the core of Downtown Los Angeles, but later it was shifted eastward to encompass an area with a heavy Hispanic population.

On February 9, 1954 Christensen died after suffering from an illness while as a patient in the Queen of Angels Hospital in Los Angeles at age 84.[2][3]


  1. ^ "Dramatic Incident". Petaluma Argus-Courier. 15 July 1920. p. 1. Archived from the original on 30 December 2019 – via
  2. ^ "Once Bid For Presidency". The Kansas City Times. 11 February 1954. p. 6. Archived from the original on 30 December 2019 – via
  3. ^ "Death Takes Ex-Councilman Christensen, 84". The Los Angeles Times. 11 February 1954. p. 26. Archived from the original on 30 December 2019 – via

External linksEdit

Party political offices
New political party Farmer-Labor nominee for President of the United States
Succeeded by
Duncan McDonald
Political offices
Preceded by
George W. C. Baker
Member of the Los Angeles City Council
from the 9th district

Succeeded by
Howard E. Dorsey
Preceded by
Winfred J. Sanborn
Member of the Los Angeles City Council
from the 9th district

Succeeded by
Edward R. Roybal