The Historic Left
The older native American communists were born, with few wxceptionsn in the decade 1881-91. They were still relatively close to the birth of the modern American labor movement; to the infancy of socialism, trade unionism, anarchism, and syndicalism; to the heyday od radical and reform movements now only dimly remembered.
The first Marxian Socialist in the United States were German immigrants who came over after the ill-fated German revolution of 1848. These German immigrants brought with them a degree of trade-union and political conciosness then unknown in the United States. No sooner had they arrived than they set about duplicating their old-world allegiances in their new homeland. But they do not get very far until after the Civil War. The Internation Workingmen's association, the so-called First International, founded in London with the help of Karl Marx in 1864, obtained its first American section five years later.
The next and larger wave of German immigrants in the seventies and eighties however, owed their socialism less to the exiled Marx than to the romantic founder of German social democracy, Ferdinand Lassalle. Lassalle taught that state aid through political action was the only road to the future revolution. He believed in the "iron law of wages"-that it was impossible in an economic system based on free competition for workers to receive more than the bare minimum