Update 11-16: Sunday, December 18, 2011.

"Report of the NEC to the  2nd National Convention of the  Socialist Labor Party of America, Allegheny City, PA," by Philip Van Patten
[Dec. 26, 1879]  This lengthy keynote report to the 2nd National Congress of the Socialist Labor Party details the activities of that organization since its previous national gathering, held in 1877. Outstanding detail is give about the party press and the development of the various Sections of the organization, as well as electoral activities. The NEC of the SLP had based itself in Cincinnati, Ohio in March 1878, in accord with the decision of the 1st National Congress of 1877, but had seen that Section, previously one of the most vital in the entire organization, shattered by factional infighting and discouragement over plummeting vote totals. Sometime in the following 24 months Corresponding Secretary Van Patten and the NEC had made their way to Detroit, site of a more vital local movement. Van Patten details the bitter struggle between the Detroit-based NEC and Section Chicago over the latter's willingness to allow armed units of the workers militia groups known as the Lehr und Wehr Verein (Educational and Defense Societies) to march under a red banner, bearing arms. This had been the cause of sensational coverage in the popular press, leading the electorally-oriented NEC headed by Van Patten to attempt to reign in the radicals of Section Chicago -- who had only recently seen 18 strikers killed by the National Guard in an 1877 railroad strike of which Van Patten himself had been a prominent leader. The squabble had been fanned in the pages of the SLP's official German-language weekly, Vorbote, which bitterly criticized the NEC and provoked the latter to briefly severe its connection with the paper. The rationale behind the NEC's advisement of party members to cease participation in the Lehr und Wehr Verein is carefully explained.

"The Passing of the Debs Democracy." (The People) [June 13, 1898]  Account of the split of the Social Democracy of America into pro-colonization and pro-political action wings, written by a member of the rival Socialist Labor Party in the vituperative lingo favored by party editor Daniel DeLeon. The editor notes that 11 of the purported 95 organizations said to be represented at the convention had been organized on the spot for the purpose of packing the convention on behalf of colonization. These are said to be people engaged in a mere business enterprise, who maintained "the worst thoughts and most backward ideas that this country ever produced." In contrast, the political actionists were little more than "a rabble-rout of queers, most of them expelled members of the SLP, and constructively so; in short, the offal and refuse of the party." These were "incapable of any feeling except hatred for the party that would not tolerate their monkeyshines, and of any thought except how to hurt it." The split of these two elements at the convention is deemed to have been "inevitable," albeit a proverbial tempest in a teapot by the anonymous Chicago observer.

"That 'Convention': Nonsense, 'Americanism,' Superlativeness, Back-numberism," by Herman Simpson [July 10, 1898]  Another blistering attack on the Social Democracy of America from the weekly press of the rival Socialist Labor Party, this by Daniel DeLeon loyalist Herman Simpson. Simpson recounts the fights at the recently completed convention of the Social Democracy over credentials and the direction of the organization, portraying the scrum as a battle between those who favored so-called "American Socialism" by means of utopian colonization against those seeking a particularly incoherent version of "political action." Simpson intimates the political action group of Debs and Berger have opportunistically and ahistorically attempted to "harmonize" the interests of urban workers and rural petty proprietors, all the while ignoring the interests of propertyless rural workers. All that is beneficial is ascribed to the propaganda absorbed through osmosis from the SLP and its trade union auxiliary organization, the Socialist Trade & Labor Alliance. Includes a short biography of Herman Simpson, later a journalist for the New York Call and founding editor of The New Review.

"The Story of the British Labor Party," by Morris Hillquit [undated, c. 1924] (PDF graphic file). Socialist Party propaganda leaflet by Morris Hillquit. Hillquit attempts to draw a parallel between British experience and American prospects, noting that in the UK voters were "handicapped by the superstitious belief in the 'two-party' system of government" for generations. Then in 1899 the Trades Union Congress set in motion a mechanism for the working class to secure "better representation of the interests of labor in the House of Commons." The federative Labour Party had started modestly, electing just 2 candidates in the election of 1900. But steady growth had been show, Hillquit indicates, until at the "last general parliamentary elections...held in 1923," the Labour Party had seen the election of 191 Members of Parliament. "This is the story of the political achievements of the British workers," Hillquit declares: "Its lesson is inspiring, its moral is simple. It loudly cries to American labor: 'Go thou and do likewise!'" Hillquit asserts: "With the example and ready methods of England back of us we can form a powerful Labor Party in this country today; we can challenge the supremacy of the old parties in a few years." First published in The Socialist World [Chicago], vol. 4, no. 9 (September 1923), pp. 3–4. Parallel file uploaded to Archive.org/

"The Workers Party Convention," by Philip Kerr [events of Dec. 30, 1923 to Jan. 2, 1924]   First-hand account of the third national convention of the Workers Party written by an activist in the rival Proletarian Party of America. Kerr calls the WPA a "aggregation, permeated...with many contradictions and conflicting views," with an officialdom intent on casting their activities before the Comintern as a success in order to maintain their jobs. Executive Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg is depicted as the head cheerleader, offering a "glowing eulogy" of the organization's activities, proclaiming the "dying Trade Union Educational League" to be a "gigantic success." Kerr charges the WPA with "bungling tactics" in relation to the July 1923 Farmer-Labor Party convention, the chances of success of which are said to have been detroyed by the Communists' convention-packing activities. Reported memberships of both the Federated Farmer-Labor Party and the TUEL are said to have been grossly inflated by the "common opportunists and tricksters" of the WPA, Kerr charges. Kerr characterizes the dominant Foster-Cannon faction has having "strong syndicalist tendencies," while the Pepper-Ruthenberg faction are called "rank opportunists." A reduction of the size of the governing Central Executive Committee from 28 members to 13 is noted.

"Letter to All Branches of the Workers Party of America from C.E. Ruthenberg, Executive Secretary." [published Jan. 14, 1924]  "State of the Party"-type message by the newly re-elected Executive Secretary of the Workers Party of America to the party membership, published in the pages of the Daily Worker. Ruthenberg notes that Sunday, Feb. 3, 1924, is to be a coordinated day of public meetings nationwide, organized around the issue of recognitions of Soviet Russia. Ruthenberg notes other key initiatives for the WPA in the coming year, including continuation of the campaign for protection of foreign-born workers and continued efforts to establish a Federated Farmer-Labor Party. Towards the latter objective, Ruthenberg states that the weekly Chicago party paper, Voice of Labor, had been formally transferred to the FFLP and renamed Farmer-Labor Voice -- a precursor to the paper's termination for budgetary reasons. A membership drive is announced, with Ruthenberg noting that at the time of the 3rd National Convention "the figures gathered showed 25,000 members on our Party rolls, although the dues payments have not reached that amount." A goal of 10,000 new members is declared.

"Winitsky Hears of Pardon Action Two Days Later: Gets Copy of Freiheit by Accident." (Daily Worker) [Jan. 16, 1924]  Short news account in the official English-language daily of the Workers Party of America detailing the "strange manner" in which party leader Harry Winitsky initially learned of his pardon by New York Governor Al Smith. Rather than being directly informed in person, by telegram, or by phone, Winitsky is said to have learned of his full pardon from a published news account in the Yiddish-language Communist daily, the Freiheit. Prior to his May 1922 release from Sing Sing Penitentiary on bond, Winitsky was subject for two years to "the harshest treatment that could be concocted by the Department of Justice Torquemada," according to this news account. "He was beaten repeatedly and brutally, threatened with confinement in an insane asylum, and framed on false charges of attempted murdermade by an embittered prison warden at the Department of Justice’s instigation," the story indicates.


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