Update 13-15: Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013.

"How I Became a Socialist Agitator," by Kate Richards O’Hare [October 1908]  Autobiographical sketch by professional Socialist organizer and journalist Kate Richards O'Hare about her early life and decision to live the life of a touring radical agitator. Beginning life on the ranch of a reasonably successful Kansas rancher, O'Hare recalls that the economic crisis of 1887 caused her family to lose its Kansas homestead and forced her father to become a wage-worker in Kansas City. Although recovering his financial position somewhat, the experience left the young Kate Richards scarred. After time as a religious zealot in the temperance movement, Richards came to understand that the liquor trade and prostitution were effects rather than causes of poverty and she began to look for solutions in other places. She pushed until she was eventually allowed to become an apprentice machinist, which gave her entre into the trade union and eventually the Socialist movements, with a speech by Mother Jones reckoned as of particular importance. Richards met Coming Nation and Appeal to Reason publisher Julius Wayland and eventually became in a school for the training of Socialist party workers in Girard, Kansas underwritten by Wayland and taught by Walter Thomas Mills. It was there where Richards met her husband, Frank O'Hare, a fellow student. Upon completion of the course at Mills' school the pair embarked on seven years as touring socialist agitators.

"Put Federations to Work," by David P. Berenberg [June 15, 1921]  With the 1921 National Convention of the Socialist Party in the offing, the Rand School of Social Science's David Berenberg offers thoughts on the future role of the Foreign Language Federations in the SPA. Berenberg wants the federations to become a "clearing house for the foreign workers," teaching newcomers English "with the greatest possible speed." This would not only get the newcomer ready for participation in the English-speaking Socialist movement, but would also "save the worker from the contaminating influence of the usual night classes in English for foreigners." As soon as English was learned, newcomers would leave the federation altogether and join one of the "regular" branches of the party, under Berenberg's scheme. Federations should also prepare immigrants for American citizenship and continue to conduct Socialist propaganda in their own language directed to workers who do not know English, Berenberg believes.

"Enemies Within the Party," by Abraham Tuvim [June 18, 1921]  Party regular Abraham Tuvim continues the National Office's agitation for an expulsion of the left wing at the forthcoming 1921 National Convention of the Socialist Party. "Frankly, there are enemies within our ranks," Tuvim declares, "Men who hate the Socialist Party with a vindictiveness which makes a Security Leaguer a friend by comparison. Men who never speak of our party without an accompanying sneer. Men who garble the truth, misrepresent, and slander. Men who are doing more to keep the party from functioning than then enemy outside of our ranks — the defender of capitalism." He calls for the expulsion of these "Engdahls, Trachtenbergs, and Glassbergs." Honest criticism and disagreement with party policy should remain acceptable, but "active opposition" should not. In addition to divorcing itself from the left wing, the coming convention should forbid affiliation with "anti-Socialist Party organizations and periodicals, including all Communist groups and publications or independent anti-party groups," Tuvim opines.

"Socialist Party’s Stand on International Settled: Four-Hour Debate Presents Every Argument, Pro and Con, Before Vote." (NY Call) [June 25, 1921]  News report of the first day of the 1921 National Convention of the Socialist Party of America, highlighted by a four hour debate on the question of international affiliation. As anticipated, the pro-Moscow affiliation/pro-21 points faction headed by Bill Kruse and Louis Engdahl was routed on the convention floor in four hours of debate. Motions for Comintern affiliation, conditional Comintern affiliation, and affiliation with the Vienna international were defeated in favor of a 4th option, non-affiliation — backed by Victor Berger and Morris Hillquit.

"Joining the Socialist Movement," by Emil Seidel [1944]  Short excerpt from a previously unpublished memoir by the Socialist Mayor of Milwaukee, Emil Seidel, dealing with the socialist movement in that city during the decade of the 1890s. Seidel notes that he was brought into a non-party socialist club called the Vereinigung [Association] by a foreman at the metal fabrication plant where he worked. The group included 35 to 40 German-speaking socialists and was closely linked to the publishing ventures of Victor L. Berger, the daily Arbeiter Zeitung [Workers' Newspaper], which was replaced by the weekly Vorwärts [Forward]. Seidel relates an anecdote of a disillusioned Victor Berger attacking in print the People's Party's "free silver" plank of 1896 before turning down $10,000 from a Republican Party insider to print a 100,000 copy extra edition of the paper containing this editorial. Berger won trade union leader and orator Eugene Debs to socialism when Debs was serving a six month jail term in connection with the 1894 Pullman strike. A new organization called the Social Democracy resulted; Seidel states that he was the first person to sign up for membership in Branch One of the group when it was established in Milwaukee at a meeting addressed by Debs. This gave way to the Social Democratic Party of America in 1897. Seidel details the first slate of this new organization in Milwaukee, which stood in the city elections of 1898, drawing just over 2,400 votes.


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