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pensed with by the party, for its place was amply filled by the numerous local German papers. It was different, however, with the National Socialist. An English organ was necessary to carry on the agitation among the English-speaking workingmen. This consideration moved Van Patten to seek to obliterate his differences with the Chicago section, for Chicago, he thought, was the only place where an English organ could be sustained. His negotiations were crowned with success. The new English organ, called the Socialist, appeared in Chicago on September 14, 1878,42 under the joint editorship of Frank Hirth, formerly editor of the Detroit Socialist, a paper sympathising with the trade-union faction, and A. R. Parsons.
At the next national and state elections, the socialists in Chicago polled 7,000 votes and elected 4 members to the legislature, 1 senator and 3 assemblymen.43 In New York the previous vote of about 2,000 was now doubled. In St. Louis, 3 socialist representatives to the legislature were elected. But in Cincinnati, where the vote had been over 9,000 a year before and 1,800 six months before, it now fell to about 500. The complete fiasco in Cincinnati is explained by the fact that the vote in the autumn election of 1877, immediately following the big strikes, was unnaturally swollen, and that the Cincinnati socialists, belonging to the political faction, had established no connections with the trade unions. They therefore missed the opportunity of perpetuating in the latter the political discontent of 1877, with the inevitable result that they were now at the mercy of the receding wave of political enthusiasm. In fact, the Cincinnati trades council turned against the socialists and endorsed the Republican candidates. 44
Chicago now became the undisputed centre of the socialist movement in the country. Its section numbered 870 members in good standing.45 It published 4 socialist papers: 2 in the German language, the Chicagoer Arbeiter-Zeitung (daily) and the Vorbote; 1 in English, the Socialist, and 1 in Scandinavian, the Nye Tid. Peace reigned within the section. The political faction, represented by the English-speaking members, under Thomas J. Morgan's leadership, peacefully co-operated with the
42 The Chicago Socialist expired within
43 Chicago Vorbote, Nov. 9, 1878.
44 Cincinnati National Socialist, Oct. 19, 1878.
45 Chicago Vorbote, Feb. 8, 1879.
trade union element, a fact which was largely due to the efforts of A. R. Parsons, who enjoyed the full confidence of both factions. The influence of the socialist members of the legislature was considerable. They succeeded in bringing about the appointment of a joint committee to investigate causes of industrial depression in the State. Karl Eberhardt, a socialist, was made chairman of the committee.16 Thomas J. Morgan, one of the most influential men in the socialist section, appeared before the committee on behalf of the Socialist Labor party and the Chicago Trades Council. The intimate relations that existed between the trade unions and the socialists is further illustrated by the fact that A. R. Parsons was secretary of the trades council. Taking all these facts into consideration, it is not at all surprising that, at the next municipal election in April, 1879, the socialist vote rose to 11,800 and three aldermen were elected, in addition to the one elected the preceding year.47 In Cincinnati the socialist vote was even less than it had been in the autumn.
The victories at the polls in Chicago, while naturally tending to bring the political faction into greater prominence, nevertheless caused no great change in the attitude of the trade union faction. On October 11, 1879, in connection with the forthcoming party congress, the Vorbote wrote as follows:
"The trade-union organisation always appears to us as the natural and fundamental organisation of the working class, and, being convinced that it should be entitled to all the support we can possibly give it, for its own sake, we cannot utter too strongly our feeling of protest, when here and there the over-zealous but unintelligent followers of the political labour movement desire to use the trade unions as mere auxiliaries for the Social-Democracy and demand that they should become socialistic in the sense in which that word applies to our political party.”
The Vorbote declared in the same article that if it were obliged to choose between trade union and political action, its choice would invariably fall on the former. But we have no such alternative before us, it proceeded to say; therefore, we can be active in both spheres. Nevertheless, we must always place economic action above political.
46 Ibid., Feb. 15, 1879.
47 Ibid., Apr. 5, 1879.
The return of industrial prosperity in 1879 put an end to the socialist success at the polls in Chicago. At the autumn election in 1879, the socialist vote fell from 12,000 to 4,800. The Vorbote frankly acknowledged that the defeat was due, not to fraudulent practices by the other parties, but to the return of "good times." 48 The situation was characterised by Van Pat
"The result of the fall election shows little progress made toward uniting the workingmen. Our party has gained slightly in New York, Detroit, Cincinnati,50 and lost considerably in Chicago. Were it not that we have succeeded in awakening a great revival among the trade unions of the West, we should feel discouraged at the slow growth of our political strength. . . . The only reliable foundation to-day is the Trade Union organisation, and while political efforts of a spasmodic nature will often achieve temporary success, yet the only test of political strength is the extent to which trade union organization backs up the political movement."
Van Patten's admission does not signify that he accepted the position of the trade union faction. Subsequent events will show that he sought salvation from a different source than trade unions.
The next national convention of the Socialist Labor party met in December, 1879, at Alleghany City.51 The report of the national executive gave neither the number of sections nor the membership-a reliable proof of the diminution in the party's strength. The protest raised by the Chicago German sub-section against the circular issued by the National Executive Committee with respect to the military organisations was disposed of by a compromise. The convention praised the National Executive Committee for disclaiming all official connection between the party and such organisations, but censured it for calling upon individual party members to withdraw from them. It also adopted a lukewarm resolution calling for the support of trade unions, and passed on to its chief businessthe presidential campaign of 1880.
48 Chicago Vorbote, Nov. 8, 1879.
49 Bulletin of the Social Labor Movement, I, No. 2, November, 1879. This was issued by the National Executive Committee in Cincinnati, Ohio, in place of the deceased Socialist in Chicago.
50 In these cities the socialist vote had fallen off at previous elections.
51 It was attended by twenty-five delegates; Chicago sent Jeffers and Parsons.
There were three distinct currents of opinion at the convention. The delegates from Brooklyn and Philadelphia stood for a compromise with all liberal and labour organisations, not only in the selection of candidates, but, if necessary, also in framing a platform. The delegates from St. Louis, Chicago, and the Middle West generally advocated the sending of delegates to the greenback conference 52 and to the one called by Kearney," with instructions, however, that they should use their utmost endeavours to secure the united support of all labour organisations and liberal elements for the socialist principles and platform and a socialist candidate. Failing in this, they were to withdraw from the conferences and nominate an independent socialist ticket. Lastly, the delegates from New York, Boston, and Alleghany City insisted that the socialist party should nominate candidates without reference to any other party.
The convention adopted none of these views in its entirety, but decided to nominate three men who should be voted upon by the sections, the one getting the largest number of votes to be presidential candidate and the next, vice-presidential candidate. It was further resolved that a special socialist convention be called in Chicago on the day when the Kearney conference was set to meet so as to influence it in the direction of socialism. The three nominees were Caleb Pink and Osborne Ward, of New York, and Orin A. Bishop, of Chicago. They were chosen, not by reason of their prominence in the movement, but because they were the most eligible among the small portion of the membership which satisfied the constitutional requirements of age and native birth.
After it had re-elected Van Patten as national secretary and transferred the seat of the National Executive Committee to Detroit, the convention adjourned.54
In spite of the fact that the Socialist Labor party had taken no official steps for representation at the greenback conference in Washington, to be held in January, 1880, the socialist element, as shown above, was there represented by A. R. Parsons, who went as a delegate from the Chicago Eight-Hour League.55
52 See above, II, 250.
53 See above, II, 249.
54 Bulletin of the Social Labor Movement (Detroit), January and February,
1880. (The Bulletin was transferred with this issue from Cincinnati to Detroit,) 55 Ibid,
Through a referendum vote, the Socialist Labour party also rescinded its former decision to proceed with the nomination of independent candidates, and decided to send delegates to the convention in Chicago called by the above conference.56
At the convention the socialists had 44 delegates out of 756. The prominent leaders, such as Van Patten, Parsons, Douai, and McGuire were in attendance. Realising that they were too weak numerically to play an important rôle in the convention, they decided to centre their efforts upon the adoption of the following plank:
"We declare that land, light, air and water are the free gifts of nature to all mankind, and any law or custom of society that allows any person to monopolise more of these gifts than he has a right to, to the detriment of the rights of others, we earnestly condemn and seek to abolish.” 57
Even this colourless plank, which contained nothing specifically socialistic, proved unacceptable to the greenback leaders. Through a skilful use of parliamentary methods they succeeded in preventing a vote upon it until after the platform had been adopted and nominations made. Then it was adopted by a large majority, not, however, as a plank in the platform, for the greenback parliamentarians claimed that nothing could be added to the platform after nominations had been made, but merely as a special resolution of the convention which was "just as good." Notwithstanding this procedure, the socialist delegates met after the convention had adjourned and issued a declaration to the effect that the Socialist Labor party had a right to view with satisfaction the adoption of a radical platform and the nominations of Weaver and Chambers. However, should the national committee of the Greenback party under any pretext go back upon the land resolution, they would still continue to give their support to the greenback candidates, but would openly declare that their resolution had been barred from becoming a part of the platform through parliamentary trickery.58 The New Yorker Volkszeitung 59 likewise expressed full satisfaction with the effected compromise.
56 Chicago Vorbote, Apr. 24, 1880.
57 Labor Review, June, 1880. The Bulletin of the Social Labor Movement
appeared under this name from March to June, 1880.
59 June 14, 1880.