Writings and Speeches of Eugene V. Debs

By Eugene V. Debs | Go to book overview

From "WALLS AND BARS":


THE RELATION OF SOCIETY TO THE CONVICT1

A prison is a cross-section of society in which every human strain is clearly revealed. An average prison, and its inmates, in point of character, intelligence and habits, will compare favorably with any similar number of persons outside of prison walls.

I believe that my enemies, as well as my friends, will concede to me the right to arrive at some conclusions with respect to prisons and prisoners by virtue of my personal experience, for I have been an inmate of three county jails, one state prison and one federal penitentiary. A total of almost four years of my life has been spent behind the bars as a common prisoner; but an experience of such a nature cannot be measured in point of years. It is measured by the capacity to see, to feel and to comprehend the social significance and the human import of the prison in its relation to society.

In the very beginning I desire to stress the point that I have no personal grievance to air as a result of my imprisonment. I was never personally mistreated, and no man was ever brutal to me. On the other hand, during my prison years I was treated uniformly with a peculiar personal kindliness by my fellow-prisoners, and not infrequently by officials. I do not mean to imply that any special favors were ever accorded me. I never requested nor would I accept anything that could not be obtained on the same basis by the humblest prisoner. I realized that I was a convict, and as such I chose to share the lot of those around me on the same rigorous terms that were imposed upon all.

It is true that I have taken an active part in public affairs for the past forty years. In a consecutive period of that length a man is bound to acquire a reputation of one kind or another. My adversaries and I are alike perfectly satisfied with the sort of reputation they have given me. A man should take to himself no discomfort from an opinion expressed or implied by his adversary, but it is difficult, and often-times humiliating to attempt to justify the kindness of one's friends. When my enemies do not indulge in

____________________
1
This, the only full-length book written by Debs, was published by the Socialist Party, Chicago, Ill., 1927. The following excerpt is from Chap. I.

-456-

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Writings and Speeches of Eugene V. Debs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Contents xv
  • Proclamation to American Railway Union 1
  • Labor Omnia Vincit 4
  • Liberty 6
  • The Martyred Apostles Of Labor 20
  • Prison Labor - Its Effect on Industry and Trade 24
  • Outlook for Socialism in the United States 34
  • Martin Irons, Martyr 41
  • How I Became a Soclialist 43
  • Stopped the Blacklist 47
  • What's the Matter with Chicago? 50
  • The Western Labor Movement 54
  • The Negro and His Nemesis 66
  • The rape-fiend? Horrible! 73
  • The American Movement 76
  • Unionism And Socialism 95
  • The Socialist Party and The Working Class 125
  • The Federal Government and the Chicago Strike Reply to the Article on "The Government in the Chicago Strike of 1894" in Mcclure's Magazine, July, 1904, by Grover Cleveland, Ex-President of the U. S. 140
  • An Edeal Labor Press 161
  • Labor Day Greeting 163
  • Childhood 165
  • The Crimson Standard 166
  • Growth of the Injunction 167
  • Craft Unionism 171
  • Class Unionism 189
  • Revolutionary Unionism1 209
  • You Railroad Men 242
  • Arouse, Ye Slaves! 256
  • The Growth of Socialism 259
  • Open Letter to President Roosevelt 268
  • Prince and Proletaire 271
  • Roosevelts Labor Letters 274
  • December 2. 1859 279
  • John Brown: History's Greatest Hero 280
  • Looking Backward 281
  • Mother Jones 285
  • Thomas Mcgrady 286
  • Revolution 291
  • The Issue 293
  • Railroad Employees and Socialism 311
  • The Socialist Party's Appeal 317
  • Industrial Unionism 323
  • A Letter from Debs 326
  • A Letter from Debs on Immigration 326
  • Industrial Unionism 328
  • Working Class Politics 331
  • Danger Ahead 333
  • The Crisis in Mexico 337
  • Labor's Struggle for Supremacy 340
  • The McNamara Case And The Labor Movement 343
  • Sound Socialist Tactics 350
  • This is Our Year 358
  • Speech of Acceptance 361
  • Revolt of the Railroad Workers 373
  • Homestead And Ludlow 378
  • The Gunmen And The Miners 383
  • The Knights of Columbus 387
  • The Prospect for Peace 391
  • Fantine in Our Day 392
  • Letter Of Acceptance 395
  • Politicians and Preachers 398
  • Ruling Class Robbers 399
  • The Class War And Its Outlook 400
  • Tom Mooney Sentenced To Death 403
  • The I. W. W. Bogey 405
  • John Swinton: Radical Editor and Leader 409
  • The Canton, Ohio Speech 417
  • Address To The Jury 433
  • Statement To The Court 437
  • The Day of the People 440
  • Serving the Labor Movement 443
  • Sacco and Vanzetti 450
  • Woman--Comrade And Equal 453
  • The Relation of Society to the Convict 456
  • My 1920 Campaign for President 463
  • Leaving The Prison 468
  • Capitalism and Crime 473
  • Poverty and the Prison 477
  • Socialism and the Prison 481
  • Bibliography 485
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