Update 13-06: Sunday, June 30, 2013.
"The Negro and Socialism," by J.A. Wayland [May 12, 1900] Socialism would solve the problem or racial relations in America by making possible a perfect, segregated world intimates publisher and editor of the Appeal to Reason Julius Augustus Wayland. Wayland supposes that in the Socialist future every citizen, black and white, would be raised in a decent environment and trained in some useful calling upon maturity. Since he regards as axiomatic the idea that "the white population would not like to have the black work side by side with it, as it does today, nor would the black like to work where it felt a difference between them," cities and sections would consequently emerge "where the colored race would be supreme." In these places "they would have as good homes and factories and surroundings as the white race, because the whole nation would be interested in them having such conditions," Wayland blandly prophesies. Both races would thereby be freed for cultural and economic development in parallel -- and thus would Socialism "solve the race question."
"Debs’ Denial," by J.A. Wayland [July 23, 1900] With the Presidential campaign heating up in the summer of 1900, the Democratic Party reached into its bountiful bag of dirty tricks in an effort to undermine the new left wing opposition represented by the Social Democratic Party. False reports were trafficked indicating that SDP candidate Eugene V. Debs would be dropping out of the race on Oct. 1 to throw his support to the Democratic nominee, William Jennings Bryan. This allegation brought immediate refutation by the Social Democratic Party candidate and his brother at the National Office -- the full text of which is reproduced here. Gene Debs declares himself "equally opposed to all capitalist parties of whatever name," while his brother notes that socialist activists remained "highly amused" to the crude attempt at trickery by the Democratic Party. Appeal to Reason editor J.A. Wayland indicates a target of a million votes for the new party and likens the place of Debs on the ticket to that of Abraham Lincoln in the election of 1856.
"Platform of the Social Democratic Party of America, 1900." [Sept. 15, 1900] The election of November 1900 marked the first time that the Social Democratic Party of America was able to field a national ticket, featuring Eugene V. Debs for President and Job Harriman for Vice-President. This document reproduces the national platform of the SDP in this inaugural campaign. The maximum program is short and sweet, two planks calling for the organization of the working class into a political party and the abolition of "wage slavery" in favor of a system of cooperative industry on the basis of the social ownership of capital and the means of distribution. A 12 plank minimum program is also part of the platform, featuring two planks in favor of women's rights; several in favor of public ownership of utilities, natural resources, and means of transportation and communication; establishment of the initiative and referendum; and initiation of programs of national accident and unemployment insurance and old age pensions.
"E.V. Debs." (St. Louis Chronicle) [Sept. 29, 1900] A published personal biography from the first Debs Presidential campaign by a reporter (unfortunately unnamed) who conducted extensive interviews with Debs and others who knew him in constructing a detailed, positive piece. Debs is quoted directly and at great length. The formation and demise of the American Railway Union is recent history and is therefore covered in detail here, including interesting material on the Chicago trial and potential legal peril he faced. Debs indicates that he left working as a railway fireman following the death on the job of a friend, at his mother's request. Glowing testimonials of a local Terre Haute clothing manufacturer and a Baptist minister are directly quoted as evidence of Debs' quality as a human being.
"National Constitution of the Socialist Party" [1902, not before April 12] Large file. Basic document of organizational law of the Socialist Party of America. Extremely rare first version of the national constitution of the SPA, with full original text plus text of first amendment, dated April 12, 1902. As National Secretary Leon Greenbaum was replaced by the National Committee at its January 1903 annual meeting and the headquarters moved from St. Louis to Omaha, this leaflet can thus be dated with precision to 1902, not before April 12. In general the Socialist Party in this period was a federation of largely autonomous state organizations. The national organization was governed by an annual meeting of the National Committee, consisting of one member of each organized state or territory. This group would in turn elect a "local quorum" of five members living in the "headquarters city" of the organization. These would assist the National Secretary -- also elected by the National Committee -- in the day-to-day operation of the organization. Dues of 5 cents per member per month were remitted by the State organizations to the National Office to support its operations. Higher resolution version available from Archive.org.
"Letter to William Z. Foster in Chicago from Eugene V. Debs in Terre Haute, July 23, 1924." A snippet from an acrimonious exchange of correspondence between Socialist Party leader Gene Debs and Communist Party leader Bill Foster which marked the end of the Farmer-Labor Party fiasco of 1924. Debs takes umbrage at Foster's criticism of his endorsement of Robert LaFollette for President and Debs' acceptance of the ceremonial position of National Chairman of the SPA. "I know, of course, that you have a very poor opinion of the Socialist Party -- quite as poor as my opinion of the Communist Party -- and I can readily understand why it should have suited you far better had the Socialist Party ended its career at Cleveland and disappeared from the scene, or remained dissevered to cut as sorry and discrediting a figure as the Communist Party will in the campaign this year," Debs notes. He intimates Foster's "shock" is hypocritical in light of testimony that the Communists had themselves planned to endorse LaFollette through the Federated Farmer-Labor Party had not LaFollette first formally denounced such an effort. "You may be right in your criticism of my position and I may be wrong, as I have been before. Having no Vatican in Moscow to guide me I must follow the light I have, and this I have done in the present instance, as I always have in the past," Debs declares.
"Correspondence between William L. Patterson, Communist Candidate for Mayor of New York City and Morris Hillquit, Socialist Candidate for Mayor of New York City, Late Sept. 1932." This article from the Socialist weekly The New Leader reproduces a vituperative letter from Communist candidate for Mayor of New York William Patterson demanding a debate of Socialist candidate Morris Hillquit and Hillquit's reply. Citing a 60% unemployment rate in Harlem, Patterson accuses Hillquit and the Socialists of offering noting to "ameliorate the suffering of Negro or white workers." He accuses Hillquit of living an opulent lifestyle which separates him from the sufferings of the working class in the depression. Patterson posits Hillquit's failure to protest a passage from The New Leader published two years previously as evidence the Hillquit stands "openly on the side of those who support Jim-crowism, lynch-terror, brutal exploitation, and oppression of the Negro people." In reply Hillquit accuses Patterson of taking the perspective not of Socialism or Communism but rather that of crude nationalism, noting that the Socialist program treats workers of all ethnicities as a class and offers one relief program for all. Hillquit denies the assertion that he lives a posh lifestyle and subtly accuses Patterson of either incompetence or dishonesty by garbling the passage from The New Leader. Hillquit uses understatement to mock Patterson's nasty attack upon himself and the Socialist Party in declining to debate: "From the mild tone of your observations I infer that you are a novice in the Communist movement and have not yet fully mastered the picturesque vocabulary of Communist invective."
"Eugene V. Debs is Dead But His Spirit Still Lives," by James Oneal [Oct. 22, 1932] With the 6th Anniversary of the death of Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs nearing, Old Guard leader James Oneal takes to the pages of The New Leader to assign political meaning to the icon. Oneal indicates that Debs had disdain for those espousing the half-measure of "progressivism." Instead Debs is depicted as a Marxist whose chief value was as an agitator who "inspired millions of workers with confidence in themselves as a class." Oneal also depicts Debs not only as a spokesman for revolutionary socialist but also a committed believer in political action, citing his 1912 alignment with the center-right coalition against William D. Haywood and the anti-political syndicalist left wing which had emerged in the party. Oneal calls for renewed commitment to the working class orientation of Debs -- a veiled critic of the emerging intellectual-oriented "progressive" faction in the Socialist party, exemplified by Norman Thomas and Harry Laidler.
"Finnish Branch Celebrates 30th Year," by Wilno Hedman [April 29, 1933] Brief 30 year retrospective of the history of "the largest Socialist branch of New York and of the Finnish Federation." Independent for its first two years of existence, the New York City Finnish branch joined the Socialist Party of America in January 1905. It moved into spacious headquarters located on Fifth Avenue in 1917 and subsequently hosted no fewer than three national conventions of the SPA, in addition to at least two gatherings of the New York state organization. The New York Finnish branch peaked with a membership of 918 in 1921 before splitting, with fewer than 300 remaining in the Socialist branch following an acrimonious split. This number had expanded somewhat in subsequent years, with the branch sitting with a membership between 350 and 400 by 1933. A July 1931 raid is recounted, in which more than 400 attendees of a ball were held for questioning and 18 taken in for failure to prove the legality of their entry into the USA. Recent establishment of an English-language subdivision of the Finnish branch, organized by younger members, is noted.
"Sinclair is Expelled by California Socialists." (The New Leader) [event of Sept. 20, 1933] Short news report from the Socialist Party press noting the expulsion of Upton Sinclair, future candidate for Governor of California of the Democratic Party. Although the State Executive Committee of the Socialist Party of California held a special meeting on Sept. 20, 1933 to handle the Sinclair case, in actuality Sinclair had already allowed his membership to lapse effective at the end of December 1932 and under the constitution he would have been previously been dropped from the party for non-payment of dues. The expulsion resolution, reproduced in full in this article, is thus so much window dressing for political effect. The "capitalist Democratic Party" is decried in the resolution as "a powerful and dangerous enemy of the working class and of the Socialist Party" and Sinclair is declared separated from the latter for having "flatly broken his pledge" to sever connections with all other parties. Socialists are "warned against the futile supposition that they can use a capitalist party to further the interests of the working class."
"New York Yipsels Organize Vanguard; Acts as Colorful Unit in Mass Action: Blue Shirts and Red Emblems Worn by Young Socialists." [Oct. 1933] One of the greatest aggravations of the Old Guard Socialists in New York state was the emergence of fist-clenching, royal blue shirted young radicals at the mass meetings of the party -- a quasi-militarized form of participation reminiscent of the fascist and communist movements of Europe. The origins of this "shirts" movement in the American Socialist Party has been largely undocumented. This article from the monthly newspaper of the Young People's Socialist League reveals the origins of this organized campaign -- an initiative of the organization and propaganda committee of the Socialist Party of New York to form a "disciplined, uniformed band" called the "Socialist Vanguard." Head of the Socialist Vanguard was Jack Altman, a veteran of the Young People's Socialist League turned party functionary who was soon to emerge as a top figure in the Militant Faction. The Vanguard was organized into "squads" of 8 members, each headed by a "captain," the article indicates. There were approximately 40 of these squads in existence at the time of the writing of this piece shortly after the group's debut, a Sept. 24 meeting attended by nearly 2,000 and addressed by Norman Thomas.
"Millions Mourn Hillquit: World-Famous Socialist Leader Dies After Long Illness." (The New Leader) [event of Oct. 8, 1933] Unsigned front-page news report of the death of Socialist Party National Chairman Morris Hillquit as published by The New Leader, at the time the party's weekly newspaper of record. The report indicates that Hillquit's death of tuberculosis at age 64 was not an expected event -- that he had continued to accept party assignments running through the coming months. The story notes that Hillquit's fatal illness marked his third bout with tuberculosis over the previous two decades and speculates whether the exertion of his November 1932 run for Mayor of New York might have sapped Hillquit of his vitality and thereby "shortened his life by years."
"His Memory Will Point the Way," by Algernon Lee [event of Oct. 8, 1933] On October 7, 1933 the last of the three primary leaders of the early Socialist Party of America, Morris Hillquit, succumbed to a two decade-long battle with tuberculosis at the age of 64. The death inspired a spate of obituaries, testimonials, and poems in the party press, including this short piece by his political comrade of nearly 40 years, Algernon Lee. Lee emphasizes the place of Hillquit as a "great leader" with an acute eye for choosing a principled and correct course in a world of changing political situations and issues, inspiring loyalty rather than demanding obedience. Hillquit's greatest faults, in Lee's estimation, were an overly trusting nature which led him to periodically "push forward men who did not deserve it" and an inability to "feign a liking for those he disliked," even when doing so would have been politically expedient. Hillquit is remembered as a man of sensitive spirit who was quietly injured by "petty and ruthless and sometimes thoughtless" individuals who personally attacked him.
"A Story of Fifty Years of Devotion to Socialism," by William M. Feigenbaum [event of Oct. 8, 1933] Official memorial biography of Morris Hillquit from the Socialist Party's newspaper of record, The New Leader. Although unsigned this lengthy piece was clearly written by the paper's leading journalist William M. Feigenbaum, a worthy party historian. Feigenbaum provides a complete overview of Hillquit's life, from his middle-class Jewish origins in Riga, Latvia (then part of the Russian empire) to menial work in a shirt factory and as a $3 a week Yiddish journalist, to his emergence as a top leader of the American socialist movement before the age of 30. Feigenbaum repeatedly employs the word "brilliant" in reference to Hillquit, noting his place in the organizational merger which established the Socialist Party of America, his place as a delegate to every Congress of the International Socialist movement, his role as party leader during the 1912 battle against syndicalism in the Socialist Party and in the 1924 effort to fuse behind the Presidential campaign of Robert LaFollette, and his various political campaigns for New York State Assembly (1906, 1908), for Congress (1916), for Mayor of New York (1917, 1932).
"Hillquit, Leader of SP, Dies of Heart Attack at Age 63." (Daily Worker) [Oct. 8, 1933] Notice of the death of the National Chairman of the rival Socialist Party of America from the front page of the English-language daily of the Communist Party. The CPUSA gets both Hillquit's cause of death and age at death wrong in the headline before launching into a short litany of tendentious historical misrepresentations and dubious quotations. Hillquit is damned for having visited Roosevelt at the White House and for having been the recipient of posthumous condolences from conservative head of the American Federation of Labor, William Green.