THE RADICAL TRADITION IN THE LAW
ON June 27, 1905, the founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) met in Chicago, pursuant to a call urging the creation of "one big industrial union" to be "founded on the class struggle." The Credentials Committee reported the attendance of nearly two hundred delegates--socialists, anarchists, members of industrial trade unions, and a handful of representatives from craft unions. The Committee recommended the seating of the delegates and also recommended the seating, as a fraternal delegate, of a lawyer from New York. A long and bitter debate followed. Daniel de Leon, speaking against the recommendation to seat the lawyer, said:
. . . If you admit a lawyer because he nominally works and does not derive interest--though every dollar that goes into his pocket is tainted with the blood of workingmen in some way or other, because he lives upon interest indirectly--if you allow such a man in here, by what process of reasoning can you exclude the policeman? . . . I would say that I know of no lawyer who deserves any place in the labor movement. . . . What does the class struggle mean but that the material necessities of a man control his action? And will you deny that the material necessities of the lawyer will compel him to commit the crimes against the working class that every lawyer in the country commits today?1
Others made similar comments. The convention resolved not to seat the lawyer, after refusing to permit him to address the convention.
The New York lawyer was Louis B. Boudin. His exclusion by the IWW convention did not put an end to either his political or his legal career. He became a part of the leadership of the Socialist Party and, dur