It was historically significant because it was a victory for the workers. It was established by the supreme court that labor unions are not and can’t be forbidden and that workers can unionize to protect themselves.


To understand the significance of Commonwealth vs. Hunt, one should know what this case was about. Commonwealth vs. Hunt was held in 1842, when the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that labor unions were legal if they were organized for legal purposes and used lawful strategies for achieving their aims.

The case of Commonwealth vs. Hunt allowed trade unions to strike and use other peaceful ways to advocate for their needs. Until Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw’s ruling, workers’ attempts to gather and collaborate could be considered illegal.

The case took place when the Boston Journeymen Bootmakers’ Society demanded an employer to fire one of its workers for disobeying its rules. When the employer complied with the requirement, the dismissed individual filed a complaint and approached the district attorney. As a result, the society was charged with conspiracy and found guilty.

The case of Commonwealth vs. Hunt showed that the combinations of workers could be considered illegal only when the gatherings were held for unlawful purposes or accomplishing something by criminal means.

There are several reasons why Commonwealth vs. Hunt is highly significant. First, it contributed to the legality of labor unions in the United States. Before Commonwealth vs. Hunt , organizations wanting to advocate for workers and their rights could be considered illegal and labor unions were believed to be conspiracies.

Moreover, the laws existing before Commonwealth vs. Hunt  were not clear on the legality of such unions. In addition, the case was important worldwide because now workers from other countries saw that it was possible to win something like this.

Another important issue related to Commonwealth vs. Hunt  is, several decades later, that it became the basis for the law on labor combinations.