Making Working-Class Activism: Anglo-American Organizational Strategies
They were in the last stage of the agitation. The first stage was the creation of public opinion; the second was the organization of public opinion; the third was the direction of public opinion.
-- Feargus O'Connor, in the Northern Star 1
The Chartists of Great Britain, the Repealers of Ireland, the Republicans and Associationists of France, and the Communists of Germany--Noble pioneers of a 'good time coming' when National Reform for a Free Soil shall be triumphant throughout the world." 2 So George Henry Evans, stalwart of American National Reform, raised his glass and toasted his fellow workers in the cause of international land reform at a ball held in his honor. Although the newspaper which chronicled this toast does not record the response of his fellow revelers, his words probably met with cheers, the ring of glass upon glass, and the stomping of approving feet. Evans was not alone in viewing land reform as a transatlantic effort requiring the cooperation and coordination of workers in both Britain and the United States. Rather, as this chapter will show, internationalism was a common sentiment among land reformers, and had a strong impact on the creation and maintenance of common organizational strategies: newspapers, public meetings, and the cultivation of leadership. 3
Once the ideology of land reform and its relationship to a particular solution were conceived, leaders faced the monumental task of disseminating their messages to the widest possible audience on a shoestring budget and in the face of press or governmental hostility. The obstacles that each group faced differed, and the previous forms of activism which working-class reformers had used set parameters within which organizers were accustomed to operate--eliminating