Socialism and Christianity in Early 20th Century America

By Jacob H. Dorn | Go to book overview

might well qualify generalizations largely based on studies of individuals, groups, and institutions of the Northeast. 99

Finally, Wilson is a significant example of the persistent thread of religion in American political life and traditions. Religion and faith have been intertwined in the United States since the nation's political birth. The separation of church and state has left neither the sphere of religion nor politics devoid of significant infusions of the other. 100 Wilson's public career can remind us that the ambiguities and problematics of prominent contemporary intertwinings of religion and partisan politics on the Right have had their predecessors and counterparts on the Left. "Except this civilisation be born again," Wilson exclaimed, "we cannot enter the next phase of the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh of Capitalism is Capitalism. That which is born of the new spirit is of the kingdom of the free. Marvel not that I say unto you, Ye must be socially born again."101


NOTES

I would like to express my special appreciation to Dr. Jacob H. Dorn for his collegial sharing of his notes on the Social Crusader, the Christian Socialist, and J. Stitt Wilson's master's thesis. This chapter could not have been attempted without this generosity.

1.
"The Impending Social Revolution," in How I Became a Socialist and Other Papers ( Berkeley, Calif.: published by the author, 1912), 18, 21. Each speech in this collection has its own pagination. For simplification, further references to these will be by speech title, page number, and the abbreviation HIBS.
2.
Herbert Coggins, "Herbert Coggins: From Horatio Alger to Eugene Debs," transcript of oral interview conducted by Corine L. Gilb, Regional Oral History Office, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1957, 88, 125. Quoted by permission of the Bancroft Library. For indications of responses by British audiences, see Peter d'A. Jones, The Christian Socialist Revival, 1877-1914: Religion, Class, and Social Conscience in Late-Victorian England ( Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1968), 427-29.
3.
Biographical sources on Wilson are scattered and often partial or ambiguous. Wilson himself is the best source: see Who Was Who in America, Vol. 3: 1943-1950, s.v. "Wilson, J(ackson) Stitt," and Wilson, "How I Became a Socialist," Parts I and II, and "Moses: The Greatest of Labour Leaders," HIBS. Other important sources include Joseph E. Baker, ed., Past and Present of Alameda County California, 2 vols. ( Chicago: S. J. Clarke, 1914), 2:275-77; Oakland (Calif.) World, 8 April 1911, 1; San Francisco Call, 3 April 1911, 1, 2; and Berkeley Gazette, 29 August 1942, n.p. The single best secondary source is Michael Hanika , "J. Stitt Wilson: California Socialist" (M.A. thesis, California State University, Hayward, 1972), but it does not adequately explore, let alone highlight, Wilson in the context of either Chicago or Herronite social Christianity.
4.
Baker, Past and Present, of Alameda County, 2:275; Hanika, "J. Stitt Wilson,"37.
5.
Wilson, "Moses: The Greatest of Labour Leaders,"1; "How I Became a Socialist," Part I, 1; "How I Became a Socialist," Part II, 6-9, HIBS. Two helpful critical overviews to the Anglo-American Wesleyan Methodist tradition, including its experiential emphasis, are Charles I. Wallace Jr., "Wesleyan Heritage" and Charles Yrigoyen Jr., "United Methodism," in Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience: Studies of Traditions and Movements, eds. Charles H. Lippy and Peter W. Williams ( New York: Charles Scribner's, 1988), 1:525-37, 539-53.

-57-

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