Update 12-05: Sunday, January 29, 2012.

"The Wheatland Victims: Speech at a Protest Meeting for the Wheatland Hop Pickers: Chicago -- Sept. 28, 1913," by Vincent St. John.  Stenographic text of an agitational speech by Vincent St. John, General Secretary-Treasurer of the Industrial Workers of the World at a meeting held in support of workers jailed in the aftermath of the August 1913 Wheatland Hop Riot in rural Yuba County, California. St. John's grasp of the basic facts of the affair is......... basic and........ somewhat factual. By St. John's rose-colored count there were 7 who died in the affair, including the sheriff (who actually survived) and four workers (actually two were killed). St. John's biggest applause line comes when he declares that the enraged workers, fighting to defend the fleeing crowd from random gunfire into the fleeing crowd (seemingly erroneous), "turned their own guns upon the sheriff and district attorney...with such good effect that when the smoke of battle cleared, the district attorney had gone to his reward as well as the sheriff and one of the deputies." No IWW connection is claimed with the actual strike. The limited access of field workers to drinking water is exaggerated and wage concerns, a major cause of the work stoppage, not mentioned at all. The piece is a useful indicator of the amount of factual spin that the top leader of the IWW was willing to employ in a public setting.

"The Rise and Failure of an Unemployed League: Showing How Seattle Radicals Tried to Organize with a View to Conservative Slave Psychology and Failed," by Charles J. Schiffman [Jan. 5, 1915]  A decade and a half before the Communist Party established "Unemployment Leagues" in the 1930s, attempting to unite unemployed, unorganized, non-party workers to advance party objectives, individuals associated with the radical Industrial Workers of the World attempted to do the same thing in the city of Seattle, Washington. This article from the IWW press, written by the secretary of the "Unemployed League of Seattle," Charles J. Schiffman, documents the effort. Schiffman notes that police interference forced the fledgling group to operate under the auspices of the previously-existing  "Open Forum," operated left wing Socialist Party stalwart Hermon Titus. The organization raised funds, collected clothing, and distributed food to unemployed workers, seemingly attempting to reach these individuals with a radical message "through their stomachs." A newspaper was produced by the Unemployed League (no copies seemingly extant) and provided to the unemployed in bundles so that they might be sold, with "paper girls" keeping a portion of the 5 cent cover price. Four issues were produced. After two issues, leading activist and editor Joe Foley moved to Portland, Oregon. A factional split developed over the direction of the newspaper in Foley's absence, with radicals objecting to the conservative tone of issue 3 and winning control of the publication. The radical fourth issue alienated the mainstream businessmen who had been a source of financial support and the organization seems to have been merged away into another social service organization.

Letter to the Executive Committee of the Communist International in Moscow from the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of America in New York, Jan. 19, 1921.  With the Executive Committee of the Communist International putting on maximum pressure to united the divided American Communist movement into a single organization, the anti-unity majority of the Communist Party of America found its continued obstructionism increasingly difficult to explain. This letter from New York to ECCI attempts to explain why the latest deadline for unity (Jan. 1, 1921) set by the Comintern was ignored. Onus for the failure is placed upon the rival United Communist Party, which is said to have "refused, and still refuses" to abide by ECCI's instructions for a unity convention delegated on the basis of average actual paid membership for the period July through October 1920. Instead, the CPA insists, the UCP sought majority control of the CEC of the forthcoming united organization -- and thus decision-making authority over structure and personnel. Copies of correspondence between the CEC of the CPA and ECCI's representative "Charles E. Scott" (Karlis Janson) is included.

"Memorandum to the Executive Committee of the Communist International in Moscow from the Communist Unity Committee in New York City, Jan. 21, 1921."  With both the CPA and the UCP attempting to sabotage American Communist unity on the Communist International's terms, each for their own reason, it was left to pro-unity elements from both parties to provide unbiased information and to attempt to build consensus from the bottom up. The Communist Unity Committee was the organized expression of these pro-unity forces. This letter to the Comintern indicates that from an initial membership of about 55,000 in the fall of 1919, the combined Communist parties "have now hardly 15,000 members." The letter relates the existence within the 20,000 or so members of a Socialist Party a left wing group who enthusiastically support the Russian Revolution and who seek to join the 3rd International. "The Socialist Party is disintegrating rapidly. The Communist parties, what there is of them, are not in a position to carry on the work, since they are composed mainly of foreign speaking elements, and make no effort to reach the American workman in a manner that he can understand," the letter advises. The ground is ready for an organization of 50,000 or so "class-conscious elements" to join in a new, legal organization, the letter opines. It adds: "Only this work must be done openly, above ground, avoiding the legal restrictions of the 48 separate states, to as great an extent as may be found necessary. Secret agitation here will only invite spying, corruption, and eventual disintegration."


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