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But the delegates and the Volkszeitung voiced the sentiments of only one element in the Socialist Labor party. The trade union faction, which was keeping in the background while negotiations were carried on with the Greenback party, raised a cry of protest when the compromise was completed. Paul Grottkau, in the Vorbote, and Peterson, the editor of the Scandinavian paper, Nye Tid, at once started a passionate agitation for the repudiation of the compromise. The slump in the socialist vote in the autumn election of 1879 in Chicago had finally broken the moral prestige that the political faction enjoyed in that city. Also the disappointment with the outcome in the spring election of 1880 when, in spite of all predictions, the vote failed to rise again, helped to fix a well-settled sentiment against political action. This sentiment was further enforced by the fact that the only alderman who succeeded in getting reelected at the latest election (by a majority of thirty-one votes) was kept out of his seat by the manipulation of a Democratic city council.60

These circumstances prompted the trade union element in the control of the German and Scandinavian subsections to take a firm stand against the greenback compromise which was, of course, supported by the political faction under the leadership of the American section. The latter, still having a majority on its side in the general meeting of the section in the city, retaliated by expelling Grottkau and Peterson from the party. The German and Scandinavian subsections, however, rallied strongly to their support and the factional struggle reached a high pitch. The American subsection then issued a call against its trade unionist opponents, and the conflict was justly described as one between the trade union and political factions of socialism." The protest against the compromise was not confined to Chicago. The section in New York had even preceded Chicago in

60 He gained his seat one year later after a jury trial. Chicago Vorbote, Nov. 13, 1880. George A. Schilling said in his "History of the Labor Movement in Chicago," in Life of Albert R. Parsons (Parsons, 2d ed.), XXVIII, that this unlawful unseating of the socialist alderman "did more, perhaps, than all the other things combined to destroy the faith of the Socialists in Chicago in the efficiency of the ballot." However, as far as the trade


union faction was concerned, the counting out of the socialist candidate merely helped to strengthen an aversion to politics which had existed in a more or less latent form throughout the seventies. Schilling had been, until 1882, a member of the political faction and naturally reflected in his recollections his sentiments at that time.

61 Chicago Vorbote, July 17, 1880.

voicing their disapproval of the "deal." The delegate from New York, Bachman, at the Chicago convention had instructions to vote against it. The opposition in New York, however, differed substantially from that in Chicago in the manner in which it arrived at the attitude of non-compromise, if not in the attitude itself. In New York the anti-compromise faction did not coincide with the trade union faction. In fact, there, as will be seen, the trade union faction, together with McDonnell, had left the party as early as 1877, so that the line was drawn, not between the trade union and political socialists, but between the moderates on one side and the revolutionaries on the other. The moderates were grouped around the New Yorker Volkszeitung and the revolutionaries were for the most part refugees from the German anti-socialist law of 1878 and those under their influence. As stated above, the trade union socialists in Chicago had started with a general lack of enthusiasm for political action. They consequently felt averse to sacrificing the purity of their movement in exchange for the chimerical political advantage that the greenback compromise would bring. Added to this, though of lesser importance, was a more or less wide-spread revolutionary feeling caused mainly by the fraudulent unseating of the only alderman whom they had elected at the last election, as well as by the still burning memory of the police outrages of 1877, and by the influence of the few refugees from Germany. In New York, on the contrary, the opposition to the greenback compromise was due solely to a revolutionary sentiment. The revolutionaries there regarded trade unionism with the same unfavourable eyes that they cast on Van Patten's practical politics, for they believed that when allowed free rein both would equally lead the labour movement into the perilous channel of opportunism, and that both should, therefore, be reduced to the rank of mere auxiliaries to the social revolutionary agitation.

The result of the party referendum on this vexatious question became known in the middle of August. All sections except New York, Lawrence, Massachusetts, New Orleans, and the German and Scandinavian subsections of Chicago, voted as units in favour of the compromise. The membership vote was more evenly divided, the greenback candidates were endorsed by

608 votes against 396, and the platform by 521 votes against 455.62

The Chicago opponents of the greenback compromise were the first to raise the standard of rebellion. They gained control 63 of the local central committee one week after the results of the referendum had been made known, and started an agitation to elect provisionally a new executive committee and a board of control.64 The New York section likewise refused to bow to the decision of the referendum and demanded a new

party convention.65 In order to appease the agitation, Van Patten wrote to the presidential candidate, General Weaver, inquiring whether he accepted the land plank. A letter came in from Chambers, the candidate for vice-president, in which absolute assurance was given that the land plank was heartily endorsed by Weaver and himself as well as by every greenbacker.66 But this was hardly sufficient to put a stop to the rebellion. In fact, the New York section immediately passed a resolution declaring that the land plank was not socialistic since it allowed for private property in land, that Van Patten's letter to Weaver was entirely uncalled for, and that, therefore, the socialists ought not to vote for the greenback candidates.67

The outcome of the election was in full accord with the situation. In view of the "good times" the vote for Weaver and Chambers fell from the aggregate congressional vote of over 1,000,000 in 1878 to barely 300,000. The Socialist Labor party was beaten even more badly than the Greenback party. The compromise agreement had only covered the candidates for president and vice-president. All other candidates the socialists nominated independently. But dissensions broke out also over these nominations. In Chicago the anti-compromisers seceded and nominated A. R. Parsons, who had meantime come over to the trade union side, for assemblyman in the sixth disdistrict, against Christian Meier, the regular socialist candidate who was supported by Thomas J. Morgan and George A. Schilling, the leaders of the political compromisers. Meier

82 Ibid., Aug. 21, 1880. 63 Ibid., Sept. 4, 1880.

64 Ibid., Oct. 16, 1880.

65 Ibid., Sept. 11, 1880.

66 New Yorker Volkszeitung, Aug. 25,

67 Bulletin of the Social Labor Movement, September, 1880. The bulletin was resumed in September, 1880, and continued for three more months.

received 3,418 votes and Parsons only 495, since many Vorbote socialists refrained from voting.68 Neither was elected. In New York there was only one socialist ticket in the field, put forth by the "political" minority in the section, and it received the normal vote of approximately 3,000. In St. Louis the anticompromise faction, headed by Albert Currlin, seceded from the section with the result that the vote fell off considerably.69

The election of 1880 brought the political strength of socialism back to the point where it was prior to the political upheaval of 1877. From this election also dates the development of the socialist movement towards pure anarchism in the eastern cities, towards anarchistic trade unionism, or a kind of a "syndicalism," in Chicago and the cities of the Middle West, and towards the new trade unionism of the American Federation of Labor.


The Socialist Labor party emerged from the campaign of 1880 weakened in membership and divided into hostile factions. The German, Bohemian, and Scandinavian subsections, and the radical members in the English-speaking subsection in Chicago, held a meeting immediately after the election, and resolved to issue an address to all sections in the country recommending the election of a new national executive committee. The same meeting laid down a radical plan for future action in which the strongest emphasis was laid upon trade unionism. A permanent union was urged with the workingmen's military organisation, and political action was favoured only in districts where the socialists had a fair chance of being elected.70 Following this, the central committee of the Chicago section issued, in conjunction with the Agitation Committee of the Grand Council of the Armed Organisations, a call 71 to" all revolutionists and armed workingmen's organisations in the country," pointing out the necessity of "getting ready to offer an armed resistance to the invasions by the capitalist class and capitalist legislatures." The English-speaking socialists in Chicago remained loyal to the National Executive Committee. They

68 Chicago Vorbote, Oct. 30, 1880.

69 Bulletin of the Social Labor Movement, October and November, 1880.

70 Chicago Vorbote, Nov. 27, 1880.
71 Ibid., Dec. 4, 1880.

held a meeting in the latter part of December,72 at which they condemned the violent utterances of the address and declared that political action was the only reliable weapon of the workingmen.


In New York, as in Chicago, the movement was divided into two hostile factions, the revolutionary and the moderate. former seceded from the Socialist Labor party and organised a social revolutionary club with Hasselman, Bachman, and Justus Schwab as the leading spirits.73 A similar club, consisting mostly of newly arrived German immigrants, who were for the most part refugees escaping from the German antisocialist law, was organised in Philadelphia.

An attempt to organise the revolutionary socialists on a national scale was made at a convention which met in Chicago, October 21, 1881. The original call came from New York, where the social revolutionary club had meantime affiliated with the International Working People's Association, the so-called Black International, having its headquarters in London, which had been organised in July, 1881, by European anarchists. Delegates came also from Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis, Louisville, Omaha, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Paterson, Jersey City, Jersey City Heights, Union Hill, and Hoboken. Justus Schwab of New York, and the four Chicago delegates, Winnen, Parsons, August Spies,74 and Petersen, were the leading figures at the convention. In the discussion of the platform of the proposed national organisation, New York showed itself more radical than Chicago. Schwab condemned in unqualified terms all participation in political campaigns, while Spies, Winnen, and Parsons were

72 Ibid., Jan. 8, 1881.

73 Hasselman had been expelled from the German Social Democratic party for denouncing parliamentarism. Bachman had been an advocate of the greenback compromise at the Chicago convention, but had now become more radical.

74 August Vincent Theodore Spies, one of the Chicago anarchists, was born in 1855 at Friedewald, Kurhessen, Germany. His father was a government forester. He studied forestry at first, but was obliged to emigrate at the age of seventeen, after his father died. Landing in New York, he began to learn the trade of upholsterer. In 1872 he went to Chi

cago and after several years set up in the furniture business for himself. His first interest in socialism was aroused in 1876, and the strikes of 1877 made him a convinced socialist. From that year until 1880 he was a member of the Socialist Labor party and ran for office on the ticket of that party in 1879 and 1880. Like other Chicago socialists he was 8 trade union socialist, laying the greatest emphasis upon trade union action. In 1880 he became business manager of the Arbeiter Zeitung and the Vorbote, and in 1881, editor. He carefully studied Marx, Proudhon, Buckle, and Morgan.

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