Update 14-03: Sunday, January 19, 2014.

"Constitution of Local St. Louis of the Social Democratic Party of America (Adopted August 5, 1900)."  Basic document of organizational law of the 210-member Local St. Louis of the Springfield SDP. This document specifies the election of four officers by Local St. Louis and the division of the membership into geographic branches for propaganda work (there were a total of 7 of these early in 1901). Each branch elected an organizer who would sit with the officers of the Local on a "City Central Committee" to govern the affairs of the Local, subject to its instructions. Dues were set at 25 cents per month, plus an additional 10 cents a quarter to pay for an official publication. An order of business for the monthly general meetings of Local St. Louis is specified. No provision is made for language-based branches, branches were constructed strictly on the basis of city voting wards. Branches were instructed to "devote their attention solely to propaganda and organization work in their respective localities."

"Unity Referendum of the Social Democratic Party (Springfield NEC group), December 29, 1900."  The Socialist Party of America, established in the summer of 1901, was the product of grassroots pressure for unity from locals of the Social Democratic Party. This is the text of the unity referendum submitted to the SDP associated with the National Executive Committee headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts -- the former "kangaroos" of the SLP featuring most prominently New York City attorneys Henry L. Slobodin and Morris Hillquit. The referendum was submitted by National Secretary William Butscher in the form of eleven questions asking whether a unity convention should be held, with whom, and whether the basis of representation should be 1 delegate per local and 1 additional delegate per 100 members or major fraction thereof. Authorization was also sought by the NEC to negotiate changes to this referendum required by its prospective main unity partner, the Social Democratic Party with headquarters in Chicago (Berger, Debs & Co.).

"Report of the Provisional National Executive Committee of the Social Democratic Party of America, March 9, 1901," by Henry L. Slobodin  Published minutes of the March 1901 session of the National Executive Committee of the Springfield organization of the Social Democratic Party of America. Revealed here are the results of balloting on the question of a unity convention. The rank-and-file of the Springfield SDP is overwhelmingly supportive of a unity convention being held, with only 2.6% of those voting opposing the notion. Support for including the Socialist Labor Party (from whence the Springfield SDP came) in this convention is similarly overwhelming, with only 3.9% of voters opposing such an appeal. All 11 points submitted in the referendum were approved by a similar margin. Chief vote-getter for location of the convention is Indianapolis -- apparently echoing the first choice of the Chicago SDP -- with Chicago and Buffalo each getting a like number of votes. The list of new locals is heavy in the states of Washington and New York, clearly two centers of Springfield SDP activity. A five member arrangements committee, chaired by Leon Greenbaum of St. Louis, is appointed to conduct further negotiations with the Chicago SDP and others for the unity convention. The Springfield SDP objects to the suggestion of September 1901 for the joint unity convention, preferring a meeting in June or July.

"Minutes of the Meeting of the National Executive Committee of the Social Democratic Party of America: Springfield, MA -- June 1, 1901," by Henry L. Slobodin  This document contains the full text of the Springfield SDP's official convention call for the Joint Unity Convention which established the Socialist Party of America. Rather than dealing with phantom locals and paper members, the basis of representation was to be on the basis of individual signatures on convention documents. Each state was instructed to select an official state delegate, who would receive the credential signatures of any local or branch not electing a delegate. Locals electing delegates were left to their own devices as whether to join with other locals to elect a single delegate or to elect one or more delegates themselves; they were also to assign signatures (which would translate into votes at the convention) as they saw fit. Executive Secretary William Butscher was designated to write and give the official report of the Springfield SDP at the Unity Convention, which was slated to begin July 29, 1901 in Indianapolis.

"Constitution of the Socialist Party of St. Louis: Adopted August 26th, 1901."  What is today known as "instruction creep" is evident in the constitution of the Local St. Louis of the newly organized Socialist Party, with the document more than twice as long as the equivalent document for Local St. Louis of the Social Democratic Party from one year previous. The Missouri Socialist (later renamed St. Louis Labor) is specified as the official organ of Local St. Louis. Organization is on the basis of electoral ward branches, with only five members needed for the establishment of a branch. Expulsion procedures are spelled out in detail. Dues of 15 cents per member per month paid to the City Central Committee are specified.

"The State Convention: What the Socialists Did at Jefferson City -- Delegates Pleased with Growth -- The State Platform," by Phil A. Hafner [c. Sept. 10, 1908]   Participant's account of the 1908 state convention of the Socialist Party of Missouri, as published in the small circulation Scott County Kicker of Benton, MO. Editor Hafner notes the convergence of 5 political parties simultaneously at the state capital of Jefferson City for political conventions. Each were addressed by a representative of the Woman's Suffrage League of St. Louis and asked to instruct their elected candidates to support women's right to vote in the state at the next meeting of the legislative assembly. It seems the Socialists and the People's Party resolved as such, with the Democratic, Republican, and Prohibition parties rejecting the suggestion. Hafter also notes the way the party delicately worked around a new state law which would have stripped the rank-and-file of the ability to elect the party's officers by referendum and notes the adoption of a state platform for the Socialist Party of Missouri.

"The Rights of Working Women," by Eugene V. Debs [March 1913]   Socialist Party publicist Eugene Debs takes aim at Cardinal James Gibbons and other members of the conservative Catholic hierarchy for an address in opposition to woman suffrage. Gibbons and his peers are deemed by Debs to be "pious agents of the master class who admonish their subjects to obey their masters and be content with their lot." Moreover, "Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop Ireland, and other high priests have not only declared against the right of women to vote but they have announced their opposition to the initiative and referendum, the recall, and every other measure that has to do with democracy and self-government," Debs declares. "These gentlemen in gowns speak for Wall Street, for the plutocracy, the ruling class. They traffic in the ignorant reverence of the masses. At heart they hold the common people in contempt. They pretend to be chosen of God and to be his representatives on earth, a pious invention that has served in every age to keep the ignorant masses at their mercy." Blind obedience "is not religious duty but debasing slavery," says Debs, and he urges working women to end their passivity and submission and to insist upon their rights. "The day of awakening is at hand," Debs pronounces. "The workers of all the world are breaking away from kingcraft and priestcraft and swelling the conquering hosts of the international army of emancipation."


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