Eugene V. Debs and the Rise of American Socialism
Liberty, be it known, is for those only who dare strike the blow to secure and retain the priceless boon.
Eugene V. Debs, 1895
The very character and principles of Eugene Victor Debs made a Debs legend inevitable. No man of such warm temperament, colorful personality and unorthodox beliefs could escape becoming a legend in America. Born in the great, frontier Indiana of 1855, he seemed to possess from birth the traces of radicalism that spring so often from that great watershed of discontent. Named after two radical writers favored by his Alsatian father, Eugene Sue and Victor Hugo, the boy seemed destined from the first to follow unorthodox lines.
Terre Haute, Indiana, his birthplace, was then a frontier settlement, a railhead and center for commerce and transport. The veil of memory cast a spell over it for him in later years, when he recalled it as a place of tall sycamores and carefree days. In truth it was muddy and dusty, rutted and ramshackle, populated by as many varieties of men as there were nationalities, a rough western town made rougher by railroad influences.1