Marcus Thrane
Marcus Møller Thrane was a Norwegian author, journalist, and the leader of the first Norwegian
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 labor movement, later known as the Thrane movement (Norwegian: Thranebevegelsen).

Early life

Thrane was born in Christiania
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

 in 1817. Shortly after his birth, his father, a merchant and managing director in Norges Rigsbank, was arrested for involvement in corruption, a case that devastated the family's reputation. Later, only fifteen years old, Thrane was orphaned and had to move in with friends of the family.

In 1837, Thrane left Norway and traveled to France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 through Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

. Thrane stayed in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 for several months before returning to Norway in December 1837. After finishing artium
Education in Norway
Education in Norway is mandatory for all children aged 6–16. The school year in Norway runs from mid August to late June the following year. The Christmas holiday from mid December to early January historically divides the Norwegian school year into two terms...

 in 1840 and a brief period as a student of theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

, Thrane and his newly wed wife, Maria Josephine Buch, moved to Lillehammer
is a town and municipality in Oppland county, Norway, globally known for hosting the 1994 Winter Olympics. It is part of the traditional region of Gudbrandsdal. The administrative centre of the municipality is the town of Lillehammer. As of May 2011, the population of the town of Lillehammer was...

 in 1841 where they ran a private school. In 1846, Thrane moved his teaching to Åsgårdstrand
Åsgårdstrand is a city in Vestfold, Norway. It is also the name of a former independent municipality and a center of trade. The town is situated 10 km south of Horten, 10 km north of Tønsberg and 100 km south of Oslo by the west coast of the Oslofjord.From 2007, the town has had the...

, but moved again the year after.

In March 1847, Thrane came to Åmot
Åmot, Buskerud
Åmot is a village in Modum municipality, Norway. Located just south of Geithus, the two villages have grown closer to each other. They have a combined population of 5.694 .-References:...

 in Modum
Modum is a municipality in Buskerud county, Norway. It is part of the traditional region of Hallingdal. The administrative centre of the municipality is the town of Vikersund. The municipality of Modum was established on 1 January 1838 .The area has a long tradition of skiing with several famous...

 where he began work as a teacher for the workers children at the large industrial company, Blaafarveværket
Blaafarveværket in Modum, Norway, founded by King Christian VII of Denmark-Norway in the 1770s, became the largest industrial company of the country in the mid-19th century. The works mined cobalt ore and manufactured by smelting blue cobalt glass and cobalt blue pigment...

. It was here he experienced his first political awakening. In April, the year after the company was experiencing difficulties, Thrane together with 250 workers were sacked.

The family then moved to Drammen
Drammen is a city in Buskerud County, Norway. The port and river city of Drammen is centrally located in the eastern and most populated part of Norway.-Location:...

, the hometown of his wife, where Thrane became the editor of the local newspaper Drammens Adresse, but because of his radical opinions, he was fired after only five months. At this time, Thrane had already begun his political activities.

The Labor Movement

On December 27, 1848 Thrane founded Drammens arbeiderforening (Drammen labor union) with 160 members. The following year several other local labor unions were initiated under a national organization and Thrane printed the first edition of the union's paper Arbeiderforeningernes Blad. In May 1850, the union delivered a petition
A petition is a request to do something, most commonly addressed to a government official or public entity. Petitions to a deity are a form of prayer....

 to King Oscar II of Sweden
Oscar II
Oscar II may refer to:*Oscar II of Sweden , who ruled Sweden and Norway.*Oscar class submarine, used by the Russian Navy.*Oscar II, Steamship used by Henry Ford for his peace expedition in 1915....

 and the Storting (parliament) signed by 13,000 members. The union asked for universal voting; universal mandatory military service (not just for those without property); equality before the law; better schools; low or no border taxes on necessary goods such as grains; and a special support for poor farmers in the form of arable land on reasonable terms.

In November, the government dismissed the petition. The labor union's national conference in February the following year sought a revolution. Although Thrane managed to stop these plans, the authorities seized the opportunity to have him arrested. Thrane and 132 other members were sentenced on June 25, 1855. Marcus Thrane was sentenced to four years in prison in addition to the four years that had passed before the sentence was final. The imprisonments and internal tension resulted in the end of the movement and Thrane's attempts of revitalizing it after his release from prison were unsuccessful.

Post Political Life

After the collapse of the Thrane movement, Thrane became a photographer and when his wife died in 1862, he emigrated to the United States. He restarted his political activities among Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

n immigrants and he continued his career as a journalist. In 1865, Thrane started the Chicago based newspaper, Norske-Amerikanerne . On May 2, 1866, John Anderson purchased the subscription lists of the foundering Norske-Amerikanerne, to start the Norwegian language newspaper, Skandinaven
Skandinaven was a Norwegian language newspaper published in Chicago, Illinois from 1866 until 1941.-Background:Skandinaven was established by three Norwegian immigrants; John Anderson, Knud Langeland and Iver Lawson. John Anderson administered the business side of the newspaper. Iver Lawson...

In 1866, Thrane started a second Chicago newspaper, the Dagslyset which he published until 1878..

In 1866 the Norwegian Synod had felt sufficiently threatened to issue "A Warning to all Christians," which condemned his socialistic ideas, but the writings he put out in Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 actually reached only a small number of fellow socialists. He published a satirical depiction of the visit of the Norwegian author Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
Bjørnstjerne Martinius Bjørnson was a Norwegian writer and the 1903 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate. Bjørnson is considered as one of The Four Greats Norwegian writers; the others being Henrik Ibsen, Jonas Lie, and Alexander Kielland...

 which he called The Old Wisconsin Bible (Norwegian: Den gamle Wisconsin-bibelen). It was mainly directed against the church leaders in the Synod.

Among a number of more or less successful ventures in the United States, Thrane wrote and produced a number of plays for Norwegian-speaking audiences. The Norwegian Theater (Norwegian:Norske Teater) was established by Thrane in Chicago in September 1866. Many of the plays presented by the theater were written by Thrane.

In 1883, he returned to Norway for a brief visit and held a number of lectures but, disappointed by the moderate interest, he returned to the United States where he died on April 30, 1890, in Eau Claire
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Eau Claire is a city located in the west-central part of the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The population was 65,883 as of the 2010 census, making it the largest municipality in the northwestern portion of the state, and the 9th largest in the state overall. It is the county seat of Eau Claire County,...

, Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...



Although his movement only existed for a few years, Thrane's work was an important contribution in the politicization of the Norwegian worker. The Norwegian Labor Party (founded in 1887) refers to him as one of its founding fathers. Indeed, the Thrane movement brought the rural and urban lower classes together in common cause for the first time in Norway.

Other sources

  • Karen Larsen, A History of Norway (Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, 1949)
  • Leiren, Terje I. Marcus Thrane: A Norwegian Radical in America (Norwegian-American Historical Association. 1987)
  • Leiren, Terje I. Selected Plays of Marcus Thrane (New Directions in Scandinavian Studies. University of Washington Press. 2008)
  • Oddvar, Bjørklund Marcus Thrane, Socialist leder i et Utland. (Oslo, Norway. 1970) Norwegian
  • Koht, Halvdan
    Halvdan Koht
    Halvdan Koht was a Norwegian historian and politician representing the Labour Party.As a politician he served as the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1935 to 1941. He was never elected as a member of the Parliament of Norway, but was a member of Bærum municipal council in 1917–1919 and...

      Arbeider-rørsla av 1848 i Noreg (Norske Folkeskrifter Nr. 60. Norigs Ungdomslag og Studentmaallaget. Oslo [sic.] 1914)Norwegian

External links

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