The Forging of American Socialism: Origins of the Modern Movement

By Howard H. Quint | Go to book overview

IX. The Communitarians' Last Stand

IN SENTENCING Eugene V. Debs to a jail term of six months for defying a court injunction during the tempestuous 1894 Pullman Strike, Federal Circuit Court Judge William A. Woods helped to further the transformation of a wage-conscious labor leader into a class-conscious socialist. In the homelike atmosphere of the little McHenry County jail in Woodstock, Illinois, Debs crowded the reading of several socialist books and pamphlets into a busy and highly organized daily routine. His constant stream of visitors included many socialists, among them Victor Berger, Thomas J. Morgan, and Keir Hardie, the last having recently arrived from England for an extended lecture tour. During the evening hours between eight and ten, Debs habitually discussed socialism and social and economic reform with six other American Railway Union officials who were with him at Woodstock serving three-months sentences.1

Debs was impressed by the relevancy of the general Marxist critique of contemporary economic life and particularly by its contention that the economically dominant class always controlled a nation's political and judicial machinery. The cogency and reality of this analysis had been revealed to him in the crushing of the Pullman Strike through a court injunction secured by the General Managers' Association. In Judge Woods, a friend of the railroads, and in his colleague, Judge Peter Grosscup, a pronounced foe of labor unions, the Association possessed a pair of obedient servants willing and eager to accom

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1
In general, the most satisfactory and scholarly biography of Debs is Ray Ginger's The Bending Cross, A Biography of Eugene Victor Debs ( New Brunswick, 1949). Also see McAlister Coleman, Eugene V. Debs: A Man Unafraid ( New York, 1930); Floy Ruth Painter, That Man Debs and His Life Work ( Bloomington, Ind., 1929); H. T. Schnittkind, The Story of Eugene V. Debs ( Boston, 1929); David Karsner, Debs, His Authorized Life and Letters ( New York, 1919); H. M. Morais and William Cahn, Gene Debs: The Story of a Fighting American ( New York, 1948); August Claessens, Eugene Victor Debs: A Tribute (Pamphlet; New York, 1946).

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The Forging of American Socialism: Origins of the Modern Movement
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Note on the Second Edition x
  • Contents xi
  • I. Marxism Comes to America 3
  • Ii. Failure of Boring from Within 37
  • Iii. Bellamy Makes Socialism Respectable 72
  • Iv. the Christian Socialist Crusade 103
  • V. Deleon Molds the Socialist Labor Party 142
  • Vi. Wayland Plants Grass Roots Socialism 175
  • Vii. Socialism Faces Populism 210
  • Viii. Non-Partisan Socialism 247
  • Ix. the Communitarians' Last Stand 280
  • X. American Socialism Comes of Age 319
  • Xi. Socialist Unity Achieved 350
  • Bibliographical Essay 389
  • Index 395
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