Easily embed White House petitions from We The People into your WordPress site via shortcodes and widgets.
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We The People

We The People WordPress Plugin

In May 2013 the White House released an API for We The People, a petition application designed to give citizens a direct line to the White House. The White House has committed to issue an official, public response to petitions that cross a particular signature threshold.

This plugin allows WordPress site owners to search and embed petitions from We The People into WordPress. Perhaps you're writing an opinion piece on a petition and want real-time statistics on signatures and any response from the White House. Maybe you're a supporter of a particular issue and want to feature it on your sidebar to help promote awareness. The ease of WordPress with the totally customizable templates of the We The People plugin give you the power to share what's important to you.

API keys

Version 2.0 of the plugin introduced the ability to sign petitions via the We The People Write API. In order to enable this feature within the plugin, it's necessary to acquire an API key from We The People, then enter in the We The People WordPress settings page (Settings > We The People). Alternatively, you may add the API key to your wp-config.php file by adding the following code above the "stop editing" comment:

// We The People API
define('WTP_API_KEY', 'your-api-key');

Note: If you go the wp-config.php route, the plugin settings page will disappear as the API key is the only plugin option at this time.

Using the plugin


The simplest way to get started is through WordPress shortcodes. The syntax is as easy as: [wtp-petition id="123"].

Petitions IDs aren't especially easy to uncover from the We The People site so the We The People plugin includes a TinyMCE button to help you. Clicking the "Insert We The People Petition" button will open an overlay that will let you search the We The People petitions by title to find your issue. You may also limit your search results to open petitions.


To add a We The People petition to a WordPress dynamic sidebar go to Appearance > Widgets and drag a "WTP Petition" widget into the desired sidebar. Like the TinyMCE button the widget allows you to search for your desired petition by title and show only open petitions.

$GLOBALS['we-the-people'] global variable (advanced)

If you're a developer and need more complete access to the We The People API you can use the api() method available through the $GLOBALS['we-the-people'] global variable. The api() method accepts two arguments: the API method to call ('retrieve' or 'index' in version 1.*) and an array of arguments to pass to the API.

Note: Before version 2.0, the plugin used a global $we_the_people variable. If you did customizations to We The People templates you'll want to be sure to update this reference.


Retrieving a single petition with ID '123abc'
// equivalent to https://api.whitehouse.gov/v1/petitions/123abc.json
$petition = $GLOBALS['we-the-people']->api( 'retrieve', array( 'id' => '123abc' ) );
Searching for open petitions with "war" in the title
// equivalent to https://api.whitehouse.gov/v1/petitions.json?title=war&status=open
$petition = $GLOBALS['we-the-people']->api( 'index', array( 'title' => 'war', 'status' => 'open' ) );

Full API documentation is available on the We The People API page.

Styling the petition display

We The People has a built-in petition template but makes it easy to override in your theme. It may be easiest to copy templates/wtp-petition.php into your theme to get started but a very basic custom template might look something like this:

<div id="wtp-petition-<?php echo $petition->id; ?>" class="wtp-petition">
  <h2 class="petition-title"><?php echo $petition->title; ?></h2>
    <strong><?php printf( __( '%d signatures.', 'my-theme' ), $petition->signaturesNeeded ); ?></strong>
    <a href="<?php echo $petition->url; ?>" title="<?php echo esc_attr( __( 'Sign this petition on We The People', 'we-the-people' ) ); ?>" class="sign-btn" rel="external"><?php _e( 'Sign this petition' ); ?></a>
</div><!-- #wtp-petition-<?php echo $petition->id; ?> -->

We The People uses the following order to determine which template to use when displaying a petition:


  1. wtp-petition-{id}.php (child theme)
  2. wtp-petition.php (child theme)
  3. wtp-petition-{id}.php (parent theme)
  4. wtp-petition.php (parent theme)
  5. templates/wtp-petition.php (plugin)


  1. wtp-petition-widget-{id}.php (child theme)
  2. wtp-petition-widget.php (child theme)
  3. wtp-petition-widget-{id}.php (parent theme)
  4. wtp-petition-widget.php (parent theme)
  5. templates/wtp-petition-widget.php (plugin)

Actions and Filters

The We The People WordPress plugin has been built with a number of actions and filters to let you easily control the default petition display without having to build your own.

If you're new to WordPress actions and/or filters it's highly recommended that you read the documentation on these topics in the WordPress Codex.



If this filter returns a boolean FALSE, the plugin will not load its custom JavaScript on the front-end.

// Don't let We The People load its JavaScript files
add_filter( 'wethepeople_load_scripts', '__return_false' );

Like it's JavaScript counterpart, wethepeople_load_scripts, a FALSE value from this filter will prevent We The People from loading it's stylesheet.

// Don't let We The People load its stylesheet
add_filter( 'wethepeople_load_styles', '__return_false' );

This filter is run on the actual body of the We The People petition before display.

  • $content (str) The body of the petition
Return value

String (a modified version of $content).

function insert_preamble( $content ) {
  return '<p class="preamble">We petition the Obama Administration to&hellip;</p>' . $content;
add_filter( 'wethepeople_petition_body', 'insert_preamble' );

The plugin has intentionally avoided a [petition] shortcode in favor of [wtp-petition] to reduce the risk of conflicting with other [petition] shortcodes that may be registered in another plugin or theme. Returning a string at this filter will allow you to override the default shortcode name of wtp-petition.

Note: This will not update existing post content - if you change the shortcode name and find yourself with a bunch of [wtp-petition] shortcodes appearing throughout the site these will need to be manually updated to match the new shortcode name. In extreme cases you may just want to double-register the shortcode and forgo the wethepeople_shortcode_name filter:

add_shortcode( 'my-petition-shortcode-name', array( 'WeThePeople_Plugin', 'petition_shortcode' ) );
  • $shortcode_name (str) The current shortcode name ('wtp-petition')
Return value

String (the desired shortcode name)

 * Change the [wtp-petition] shortcode to something easier to remember like [petition]
 * @return str
function change_wtp_petition_shortcode_name() {
  return 'petition';
add_filter( 'wethepeople_shortcode_name', 'change_wtp_petition_shortcode_name' );

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prevent We The People from loading the bundled scripts and styles?

The We The People stylesheet and JavaScript file are enqueued in typical WordPress fashion when the plugin is loaded on WordPress init. Dropping this function in your WordPress theme should prevent the default We The People assets from loading:

 * Prevent We The People from loading scripts and styles
 * @uses wp_dequeue_script()
 * @uses wp_dequeue_style()
function mytheme_disable_wtp_scripts_styles() {
  wp_dequeue_script( 'we-the-people' );
  wp_dequeue_style( 'we-the-people' );
add_action( 'init', 'mytheme_disable_wtp_scripts_styles' );

Since version 2.0, there are also two filters that can also be used to disable the scripts/styles:

add_filter( 'wethepeople_load_scripts', '__return_false' );
add_filter( 'wethepeople_load_styles', '__return_false' );

Can visitors sign a petition using the plugin?

Version 2.0 of the plugin uses the new Write API to enable you to collect signatures on We The People petitions. In order to activate this functionality, you'll need to apply for a We The People API key and add it to WordPress either through the plugin settings page (Settings > We The People) or in your wp-config.php file (see "API Keys" for more information).

I just upgraded and am getting errors about a $we_the_people variable being undefined

Version 2.0 of the plugin replaced the global $we_the_people variable with the cleaner $GLOBALS['we-the-people']. You can safely replace instances of the former with the latter, though it's unnecessary to have a global $GLOBALS['we-the-people'] declaration in your theme. If this change affects you, a simple (temporary) fix would be to add the following to your theme's functions.php file:

// Alias $we_the_people to $GLOBALS['we-the-people']
global $we_the_people;
$we_the_people = $GLOBALS['we-the-people']


Version 2.0

  • Leverage the new write API, enabling sites with a valid API key to sign petitions
  • Breaking change: Removed references to global $we_the_people variable, opting instead for $GLOBALS['we-the-people']
  • Better compatibility with WordPress 3.9+ and the TinyMCE changes it brought with it
  • Added ability to limit petition search results to open petitions
  • Added wethepeople_load_scripts and wethepeople_load_styles filters to easily stop We The People from loading assets in custom themes.
  • WTP will now load additional stylesheets to fix display issues with TwentyTwelve, TwentyThirteen, TwentyFourteen, and TwentyFifteen.

Version 1.1

  • Ensure the plugin fails more gracefully in the event that the We The People site becomes unavailable (like during a government shutdown).

Version 1.0

  • First public release of the plugin, coordinated with the National Day of Civic Hacking at the White House on June 1, 2013.


Version 2.1

  • Better petition searches on the back-end (#6)
  • Themes that can be applied if the user doesn't want the hands-off approach we're currently taking (#7)
  • Set cookies to track which petitions a user has signed so we can hide the signature forms


If you'd like to contribute to the ongoing development of the We The People WordPress plugin, please feel free to fork the repository and issue pull requests for enhancements, bugfixes, etc. We'd also really like to get a good Spanish translation in place, so if you're able to help out, please see the WordPress.org Translators Handbook for details on how to get started.

Special Thanks

  • The White House for putting together the We The People API and inviting Buckeye Interactive to participate in the National Day of Civic Hacking (two years in a row!).
  • Tony Todoroff for the WordPress.org banners and TinyMCE icon.