Update 14-04: Sunday, January 26, 2014.

"Equality’s Struggles for An Existence," by G.E. Pelton [May 27, 1899
]   Rare self-critical participant's history of the Equality Colony in rural Skagit County of Northwestern Washington state. "The mainspring of all out troubles has been, as usual, the childish weakness of human nature, intensified by our poverty," Pelton declares, noting that over concern with the job-shirking of others and difficult living conditions in contrast to the unrealistic expectations generated by Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward and other idealistic writings about socialism were principle difficulties. He adds: "Not possessing the necessary stamina to endure and assist in building up the ideal, gloom, homesickness, tears, reproaches, etc., naturally follow, and then comes departure, and perhaps a statement that Equality is a 'fraud,' and they have been 'deceived.'" Pelton characterizes the colony as an "experimental proposition" as well as a "grand school for the study of human nature." He intimates the colony experienced a high number of departures and that this had weakened the enterprise, threatening not just it but the entire socialist project since, Pelton notes, "the plea can very plausibly be raised that if we make a fizzle of colony socialism, we would do the same in an attempt to establish state socialism, and we cannot controvert that statement."

"Will Meet in a Tent" by E. Val Putnam [event of Oct. 18-19, 1901]   News account of the forthcoming first convention of the Socialist Party of Missouri. In the aftermath of the September 1901 assassination of William McKinley by an anarchist, a red scare ensued, during which the Sedalia Citizens' Alliance organized a boycott by meeting hall owners to prevent the Socialist Party of Missouri from renting a hall in the town for their scheduled state convention, to be held Oct. 19. Rather than cancel or move the gathering, plans were made to obtain a "monster tent which will accommodate 1,000 people" in which to hold the convention. The article reprints quotes from prominent Socialist orators Gene Debs and Walter Thomas Mills and Appeal to Reason Assistant Editor Fred Warren promising to attend the Sedalia conclave. "There is a prospect of great times and every branch in the state should make herculean efforts to send at least one delegate," the article notes.

"Missouri Convention," by E. Val Putnam [event of Oct. 18-19, 1901]   Fissures appeared in the boycott of the Socialist Party of Missouri's attempt to rent space for its first convention in Sedalia, MO, this article from the party's weekly newspaper reveals. A vacant lot had been successfully rented in downtown Sedalia for the pitching of a big top tent for the convocation of the meeting. However, at the 11th hour the local lodge of the Knights of Pythias had offered to break the boycott by renting space. While this article indicates that plans for raising a tent were continued, the more practical and conventional venue was ultimately chosen. Walter Thomas Mills announced as keynote speaker at a mass meeting to be held the night before the Oct. 19 opening of the formal convention.

"Victory Over Ignorance: State Convention is a Great Event for the Socialist Movement," by E. Val Putnam [events of Oct. 18-19, 1901]  The Sedalia Citizens' Alliance boycott was ultimately broken by the local lodge of the Knights of Pythias and a massive vacant storeroom owned by the lodge was rented to the Socialist Party of Missouri for conduct of its first convention, this newspaper article reports. Constitutional revisions were debated, resolutions passed, and new officers elected for the state organization. The Missouri Socialist was turned over by Local St. Louis to the ownership and control of the state organization, with editor E. Val Putnam retained. Putnam was also elected as the first State Secretary of the SPM, succeeding Chairman of the State Committee George H. Turner, who was himself elected as the state's delegate to the SPA's National Committee. A mass meeting following the conclusion of the convention was attended by 1,000 wildly applauding residents of Sedalia, according to the report, with Debs speaking for 90 minutes, accompanied by a brass band which played "The Marseillaise."

"National Movement in Danger: The Neglect of State Committees in Sending National Dues Must Be Rectified by the Comrades" (St. Louis Labor)  [Feb. 22, 1902]   In reaction to tendency towards centralization and individual domination in the Socialist Labor Party which preceded it, the Socialist Party of America was founded on the concept of "State Autonomy" -- as a federation of semi-independent state affiliates. This structure was not without its difficulties, including among them a tendency of State Secretaries to ignore the timely remission of national dues to the National Office in St. Louis. This article from the Socialist Party of Missouri's St. Louis Labor reproduces National Secretary Leon Greenbaum's distress call to the states regarding the party's "very critical" financial situation. "Eleven State Committees failed to send national dues in January [1902]," Greenbaum writes, adding "Twenty State Committees have sent no national dues for February up to this writing," thus leaving the national Socialist Party with "barely enough money for salaries of office help." The St. Louis Labor article writer urges immediate national efforts to force the various State Secretaries to fulfill their duty sending in dues money. "If this is not done then it will become absolutely necessary to take some steps looking toward the payment of national dues, direct to the National Office, in order to prevent a complete collapse," the writer warns.

"Socialist Ideals," by Eugene V. Debs  [Nov. 1908]   Socialist Party leader Gene Debs completely conflates philosophical and economic materialism in this article for B.O. Flower's liberal monthly magazine The Arena. As Socialism "pays chief attention to the bread-and-butter problem, [it] has been called materialistic," says Debs. Rather: "it is really the most idealistic movement of the centuries. So idealistic is it in its aims that, while having no specific religious tendency or purpose, it partakes somewhat of the nature of a religious movement and awakens something of a religious enthusiasm among its adherents." Debs calls Socialism "an extension of the ideal of democracy into the economic field" and remarks that unlike the founders of the democratic movement of 1776, "we do not need, like them, to resort to arms, but may use the democracy they bestowed on us as a means for obtaining further democracy." In Debs' vision, a simple change of  ownership of productive machinery from private to public hands would result in productive labor for all wanting it at any time, a banishing of want from the earth, and education, homes, and income for all. Moreover, Debs promises that under Socialism the mind and soul will flourish, as will literature and art, fear of war will vanish, a new divinity will emerge in religion, and domestic bliss will reign triumphant.

"The Butte Affair Reviewed," by Eugene V. Debs [Aug. 1, 1914]   Eugene Debs rushes to the defense of Charles Moyer and the Western Federation of Miners in the wake of the bombing of the Butte Miners' Union hall in Butte, Montana, ostensibly by dissidents in the union. Debs castigates the bombers as attempted assassins who had participated in a "treasonable, cowardly, and disgraceful plot" in the service of the mine owners who intended to rupture the organized labor movement. Debs notes that the WFM is the most fully democratic of unions and if Moyer was the head of a "self-perpetuating machine," as some had charged, then "the rank and file have themselves to blame and they but add crime to stupidity when they blow up the union with dynamite to destroy the alleged machine." To charges that the bombers were associated with the IWW, Debs notes that "it should not be forgotten that the workers at Lawrence and at Akron were most basely betrayed, sold out, and treacherously delivered to their enemies by IWW Judases, who while passing as industrial unionists were at the same time on the payrolls of the detective agencies in the service of the corporations." Debs predicts a return of the Butte Miners' Union as a united, militant, progressive union in the aftermath of the bombing and disruption.


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