Tales from the Trenches (19-18)



Appeal to Reason whole no. 755 (May 21,1910), p. 3.

by George D. Brewer

Fort Smith, Arkansas, May 7, 1910

Arkansas more than made good at the Debs meetings in Fort Smith and Texarkana on Saturday and Monday nights, May 7th and 9th [1910]. At Fort Smith there were 2,000 paid admissions to the park auditorium in spite of cold and rain. For two hours and ten minutes Debs kept the big audience warm with his unerring logic and irresistible appeals….


George D. Brewer as he appeared in 1903.

The only thing to mar the perfect joy of this meeting was the appearance of a park policeman who compelled an old colored comrade, Sam Pruett, from McCurtain, Oklahoma, to leave the auditorium before he had time to fairly get seated in the extreme rear. The policeman was simply enforcing one of the disfranchising laws which prevails in the Democratic South, prohibiting negroes from entering places of this kind.

Comrade Pruett had traveled 50 miles in a wagon to hear Debs, but, understanding that the Socialists were not responsible, he wended his weary journey home a better socialist than when he came. In this instance the effort of capitalism to keep the working negro in ignorance will react and make an otherwise lukewarm comrade into a militant agitator.

Texarkana, Arkansas-Texas, May 9, 1910

In many ways this was one of the most remarkable meetings ever held. Hundreds of people from a radius of 500 miles gathered to hear the message of socialism from the lips of the great-hearted Gene. One comrade came from West Texas, over 500 miles away; another comrade paid $30 car fare for himself and wife; one walked 16 miles to catch a train and then rode 90 miles, while another was three days making the journey in a wagon with his family. Not one but went home feeling fully repaid for all trouble and expense.

It seemed that ever conceivable obstacle arose to thwart the success of the meeting, but in spite of them all the comrades, after taking hold of the proposition would not let go, and by grim tenacity of purpose made out of what looked to be an inevitable failure a splendid success.

When the local was considering holding a Debs meeting a big “religious” revival was going on at what was known as the Torrey Tabernacle, and, knowing that this meeting was to close on Sunday night, May 8th, they interviewed the committee in charge of the tabernacle and promised its use. Highly elated over their success they immediately ordered advertising to that effect. No sooner, however, did they get things well under way than they were informed that just as soon as Rev. Torrey finished is services the destruction of the building would begin and that Debs would not be permitted to speak there.

Becoming uneasy the Socialists went to the members of the tabernacle committee to have verified the permission that had previously been given them. They were unable to get any satisfaction one way or the other. A very short time after, the committee emphatically denied having ever promised it to the Socialists and one man declared that he would spend $500 in necessary to keep Debs and the Socialists out of that hallowed place. So, after having been promised the tabernacle and advertising extensively throughout the country that the meeting would be held there, they suddenly found that the committee had reconsidered and would not under any consideration permit Debs its use. Fifty dollars, the price agreed upon, was no inducement, and on Monday [May 9], the date of the Debs meeting, the tearing down of the structure began.

The only meeting place at the late day available was the opera house and it was not until after a vaudeville show was over. It was 9:45 when Debs got on the platform, but he had a full house and all remained until he concluded at almost 11:30.

In the interval from 7:30 to 9:30 a splendid street meeting was held at which Comrades [Carl D.] Thompson, Corrigan, and I spoke. The Socialists of Texarkana came out all right, financially and in every other way, in spite of every handicap.

• • • • •

Update on the Debs Publication Project

As you are no doubt aware, I shut down the Debs blog for a couple months this summer. It was getting in the way of what I was doing; I do the blog when it helps the writing process and hit the brakes when it gets in the way. I’m now transitioning back into daily work on Volume 4: Red Union, Red Paper, Red Train (1905-1910), however, and it’s time to reactivate as a means of spurring my energy — probably for the rest of the year.

Here’s a quick rundown of where the volumes sit.

Volume 2: The Rise and Fall of the American Railway Union (1892-1896) is now headed for indexing. We had one enormous problem when all the footnotes went “missing” from the InDesign layout, then another problem when some footnotes were introduced improperly at the bottom of pages while others were correctly at the end of each year. So, that’s two big layout messes which needed to be cleaned up — now done satisfactorily, we all hope.


Cover art has changed from the first draft and cover content has likewise been updated nice and pretty. I dig it.

I’m not certain how long the indexing will take. After the final manuscript with the index rolls in, I will take one final quick glance and then we’re off to production.

This volume is scheduled for Dec. 3 release on the Haymarket site but I have a hunch this thing may not be out before Christmas. We’ll see. The wheels turn slowly in publishing and this project in particular is a marathon, not a sprint. Anyway, I will take the “over” on the December 3 projection, but I would love to be wrong…

volume3-coverVolume 3: The Path to a Socialist Party (1897-1904) is past the copyreader’s edit and in my hands for final revision. I’ve been moving slowly on this, well aware that Job 1 is getting the ARU volume through the works and Job 2 is making sure that the manuscript for the Red Union volume gets to the church on time. There is a chance that this one could appear fairly rapidly behind the ARU volume, but I wouldn’t plan on that.

To the right is a mockup of the cover, which uses the same (1904) photo of Debs that had originally been slated for the cover art for volume 2. We’re all so used to seeing pictures of Debs as an old man that it’s easy to forget that much of his activity was done when he was young and vital.

Haymarket has this one listed on their website with a February 4, 2020 projected release date. I would bet the farm that it will actually appear several months later than that. I should probably talk to the publisher about setting a more realistic date for May or June or something, some date midway between volumes 2 and 4.

Volume 4: Red Union, Red Paper, Red Train (1905-1910) is the volume I have been working on throughout 2019. I’ve got everything in the hopper through 1909 and am now picking my way through 1910, which seems to have been a pretty busy year for EVD. I’ve still got about 70 articles to sort through, of which I might type up 20 or 25. I probably do need to take another look at 1909 as well, it was pretty much a lost year for Debs with no speeches on the radar between the November 1908 election and August of 1909.

I know that he had problems with his throat during this interval. I wonder if he also had a nervous breakdown or something like that. It is really weird the way he shut things down, and its not like he was contributing a vast amount of thorough journalism either. I’ve only got 7 items up for 1909, with only 3 or 4 remaining to run down and the rest of the 65 or so pieces dismissed from inclusion.

I suppose I should do a full blog on that.

Beginning in October 1909 EVD is back in the saddle as a touring lecturer with the Appeal to Reason acting as booking agent and he was again working like a dog.

This volume might reasonably be expected in November or December 2020, just guessing.

By then I will be deeply into work on Vol. 5: Radical Leader at Zenith (1911-1916) or whatever it will be called. I still don’t 100% like that name, but it’s not totally terrible either.

The final installment will definitely be called Vol. 6: The Perils of Pacifism (1917-1926). The dividing line between those two volumes might shift one year depending on the amount of content.

These will release one per year.



The revised deadline for Eugene V. Debs Selected Works: Volume 4 is December 31, 2019. Here are some of the latest files typed up into editable form.

  • “A Workingman Has No Chance in Federal Court: Speech in Chicago” (Jan. 13, 1910) — 3,709 words
  • “On Ben Hanford’s Death: Telegram to the New York Call” (Jan. 26, 1910) — 347 words
  • “The More I Think of It, The Hotter My Blood Becomes: Letter to Fred D. Warren in Girard, Kansas” (Feb. 5, 1910) — 550 words
  • “First Speaking Tour of 1910” (March 5, 1910) — 893 words
  • “Prostitution of Religion” (April 23, 1910) — 510 words

Current word count, including the above = 273,640 words total, of which 254,924 words are tagged for possible inclusion in Volume 4. The book has a limit for publication of approximately 260,000 words, which means we are already into the cut zone. I’ve got about two or three more weeks of work on 1910 and then I will double back to 1908 and work through Newspapers.com to see if there are any speeches which were extensively reported in the mainstream press that Constantine and Malgreen missed.

David Walters will be running all of this material up on Marxists Internet Archive in coming days.

To find it, please visit the Eugene V. Debs Internet Archive.



There has been a fairly vast amount of material digitized since the last installment of this blog. See:

Appeal to Reason (through 1910)

Chicago Daily Socialist (through April 1910)

New York Call (through 1910)

I’m currently working my way through the rest of 1910 for the Chicago Daily Socialist

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Across Iowa in Debs’s Red Special (19-17)


Well, I promised that weekly blog posts would be things of the past last week, and wouldn’t you know it, a perfect bit fell into my hands — a clipping from the Debs scrapbooks that won’t make the cut as an appendix piece for Debs Volume 4 but which deserves to be preserved for posterity.

So, without further ado…


Across Iowa in Debs’s Red Special

[September 2, 1908]

by Faith McAllister

Published in the Des Moines News, Sept. 7, 1908

“The Snowball Special — that’s what I call it. Gathering speed and growing bigger every second. And I say to myself when I see it: ‘Bah Jove! You know, somebody’s going to get smashed!”

His honest British face alight with enthusiasm, his [red] necktie, symbol of socialism, flaring defiantly, Charles Lapworth, English “journalist” on board Debs’s Red Special thus describes the flying flag-draped train and the party it represents.


Journalist Faith McAllister of the Des Moines News

Lapworth can’t always see a joke, and he calls newspaper men “journalists.” But he is heart, soul, and body a socialist. It is whispered aboard the Special that the young Britisher left the girl of his heart across the water and postponed his wedding in order to travel on the “Red Special” and spread the socialistic propaganda through British and continental papers. Every day he sends out his little bundle of “stuff” to the foreign press.

And Lapworth is but a sample of the spirit of the “Red Special.” The whole train is bubbling over with enthusiasm, good cheer, and socialism. A ride with Debs across Iowa is a revelation. I looked in vain for the long-whiskered, wild-eyed individuals. Neither could I discover any bombs under the seats. But they all wear the little red flags — the sign of the revolution.

There is Stephen Reynolds, lifelong friend of Debs and the life of the Special. Reynolds even wears a little red flag on his nightshirt.

“Why?” says Reynolds, “Because something might happen in the night and they would find me dead or unconscious. How would they know I wasn’t a Republican?”

It was a typical remark. One can’t be on the train an hour without realizing that underneath the velvet glove of gay badinage and chatter there is the iron hand of stern purpose.

But such a gay, carefree lot as they are — this party whizzing across the country on a mission. I boarded the train in the cold, gray dawn. I wore my plainest clothes that I might not offend by even a suspicion of any unpleasant display of wealth. Soon the socialists began crawling out of their lairs. The unkempt, whiskered visions vanished. They were as well groomed a set of men as one could desire. And immediately the fun began. Everybody was in good spirits. They juggled with jokes continually and verbal skyrockets and pinwheels kept the air snapping.

Debs a Wit

Debs is the biggest wit of the lot, with his friend, Reynolds, a close second. Reynolds is a lawyer and writer of Terre Haute, Indiana, Mr. Debs’s home, and he probably knows and understands Mr. Debs better than any other person.


Theodore and Gene Debs aboard the Red Special in 1908. Theodore was one of EVD’s closest political associates and served as his personal secretary throughout his life. He could also type whereas Gene could not.

At the breakfast table Mr. Reynolds was describing how he and Theodore Debs had folded “Gene” up in the upper berth after they had retired in the lower.

“Oh, well,” said Mr. Debs pleasantly, “ they were only doing what all the rest of the socialists are — trying to get the best of the upper class.”

Mr. Debs declares that he and his brother, Theodore, are really long-haired. “We have three long hairs between us,” he asserts.

Mr. Reynolds and Brother Theodore keep a close watch on the presidential candidate. They won’t let him get loose of a mob for fear he’ll shake his hand off. The won’t even allow him to change his collar without their permission. I asked Mr. Debs what had been the most delightful experience of the trip so far.

“Careful, careful!” warned his two guardians, fixing him with an eagle eye.

“Oh, associating with this brace of despots, I suppose,” said Debs, resignedly, indicating the two across the table. < punch line illegible. >

But though it is a train of laughter and good cheer, back of it all is the Cause. And the flying, flag-draped train is sowing the seed of revolution. “You may jeer at us now,” says Debs to the crowd on the platform, “but your grandchildren will bless us.” And at every station where the train stops it leaves behind it at least a few men with toil-hardened hands and faces grown suddenly grim, who look after the fading plume of smoke and say: “By God, he’s right!”

“Did you take one of those things?” said a woman at Corning, laughing derisively at a man in overalls who stood clasping a book of socialistic doctrine.

The man nodded, a little shame-faced, but defiant.

On the Special they tell of an incident at a town along the line where a tattered fellow hauled out his little ARU card and said with tears streaming down his cheeks: “I’d rather have that than a king’s ransom!”

“And Gene put his hand on the man’s shoulder and the tears were running down his cheeks, too,” said a member of the party.


The Red Special started it’s second day of travel in the Mississippi River city of Davenport, Iowa, and proceeded with speaking stops in Muscatine, Iowa City, Grinnell, and Newton, before ending with an evening meeting in Des Moines. On the third day it departed south through Creston, Corning, and Clarinda, en route to Kansas City, Missouri. (Path shown approximate, not exact path of railway lines).

Railroad Men With Him

While the Special was in the yards at Des Moines, Debs walked down the track a little way by himself. He was followed by two grizzled engineers. They followed him silently for a while and when he turned around to come back they put out two big, scarred hands.

“You don’t know us, but we know you, and we want to tell you we’re with you,” they said.

Women, too, are watching the course of the “Red Special.”


Union depot, Grinnell, Iowa

“He’s the real Christ man; don’t I just love him? I’m one of the women that lives in those huts he tells about,” said a woman whose face was seamed with care and toil, at one of the stops along the way.

Debs is a keen speaker. Here is a typical scene along the path of the Red Special: With band playing and the colors flying the train comes to a stop. Most of the crowd is there from curiosity. And he begins to speak.

“You’ve heard of these monkey dinners the swell sets give. You help furnish the money for those dinners. And those people wouldn’t even give you an introduction to one of the monkeys. When society gets in such a state that it cares more for the rich woman’s poodle dog than it does for the poor man’s child, it’s time some of you were taking a tumble.”

Sounds a little like anarchy? Maybe, but the seed has been sown and men out of the group follow the fast fading special with thoughtful eyes after Debs has waved them a hearty farewell.


Burlington depot, Creston, Iowa

On board the Special, Debs is “Gene” or “Debs” or “Comrade” to everybody. There’s no airs or red tape about Comrade Gene. He comes in among them in his shirt sleeves. Hands reach out on all sides to clasp his. It’s “Hello, Comrade,” here, and “How are you, Bill?” there. Then he sits down on the arm of the nearest seat and talks about the country, asks how they passed the night, and inevitably the talk veers round to the “Cause.” And whenever Debs talks on this, no matter how often they’ve heard him talk before, everyone grows quiet and leans forward, listening. For Debs always has something to say. Or at least he can clothe the same arguments in ever fascinating, changing modes of speech.

Speak the name of Jack London on board the Special and a look almost of reverence comes into their eyes. They can’t say enough of him. He is their comrade.

This is how I got my first interview with Debs. It was before breakfast. Debs sat on the arm of the car seat, in his shirt sleeves, minus a collar.

“Yes, the trip has been a grand success. The enthusiasm is growing all the time,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed the ride across Iowa. I think there’s no prettier country in the world than that between Cedar Rapids and Omaha.”

“And what about socialism, Mr. Debs?”

It was like the bugle call to the cavalry horse, which leaned forward. His words came out crisp and clear. And around us the others stopped laughing and chatting. They, too, leaned forward, eagerly listening. There is no mistaking the sincerity of the man. His kindliness and gentle charm of manner get a hold on you after half an hour in his company. People aboard the Special say Eugene V. Debs hasn’t a personal enemy in the world. Sometimes he is biting and fiery in his arguments. But most always he is gentle, seeking to convince more by logic than by ranting.

“Socialism means just more kindness, more humanity to each other,” he said, his face alight. “Kindness is what all the world is hungering for. Under the present system people are forced to develop tigerish instincts.”

Gives Capital a Decade

Screen Shot 2019-06-30 at 7.30.29 AM

Headline from the Des Moines Daily Tribune covering EVD’s speech to 2,000 people in that city the night of Sept. 1. Not sure what “Refers Hungrey (sic.) Workers to Heaven for Bread” is supposed to mean.

When asked how soon he believed the Socialists would be in power, Mr. Debs said: “In ten years they will at least be crowding the capitalists.”

The train carries 26 people, including the band. They have their own sleeper, dining car, and colored cook servants.† A baggage car, chair car, and engine make up the rest of the “Red Special.” Among those on board the trip across Iowa were: Cecil K. Eastman, of the Kansas City Star, who boarded the train at Des Moines [6 am, Sept. 2] and went with them to Kansas City [3:30 pm]; A.M. Simons, editor of the Chicago Socialist; Otto McFeeley, press representative; Charles Lapworth, the English writer; A.H. Floaten, who was run out of Telluride, Colorado in 1905 for giving credit to the striking miners; J.C. Chase, first socialist mayor of America at Haverhill, Mass., and others.

Making one-night stops at the principal cities, the “Red Special” will make its way to the coast, stopping at Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other points, then up the coast to Portland, Seattle, Spokane, and back to Chicago by way of Montana, South Dakota, and Minnesota. The tour will end in Chicago, September 25.



† – The sleeper and the dining car — dirty little secret for those of you who know the Debs-ARU story — were leased from the Pullman company; the “colored servants” were Pullman employees. I am not 100% sure they used the same configuration for the eastern leg of the tour, they did not roll out the same night of the evening speeches the way they did in the West and it remains at least theoretically possible that they disembarked and stayed in hotels. I’ve also somewhere heard that the “Red Special” cars were coupled to ordinary trains for part of the route. So take this description as being accurate for the first half of the Red Special’s run but not necessarily the eastern leg. —t.d.

•     •     •     •     •

A very productive week this week, now wrapping up 1908, but given the pace of work and the amount remaining to be done for Volume 4 (the full years 1909 and 1910), it’s safe to say that I’ll be done with the transcription phase more like the first of September than the first of August. So it goes…

Deadline for the manuscript remains October 15, so I do have the time I need without needing to beg an extension. There should be right around 300,000 words to cut down to the 260,000 word hole when the smoke clears…



The official deadline for Eugene V. Debs Selected Works: Volume 4 is October 15, 2019. I’m setting a soft deadline of August 4 to finish the document compilation phase of the project. This means there are now 5 more Sundays after today to get the core content section of the book assembled, with a limit for publication of approximately 260,000 words.

  • “Independence and Liberty” (July 3, 1908) — 1,288 words
  • “Women Needed in the Campaign” (August 1908) — 359 words
  • “Organized Labor’s New Turn to Politics” (August 9, 1908) — 970 words
  • “Railroad Employees and Socialism” (October 1908) — 3,135 words
  • “The Socialist Party’s Appeal for 1908” (Oct. 15, 1908) — 2,785 words
  • “Throwing Away Their Votes” (Oct. 26, 1908) — 2,073 words

Word count: 228,630 in the can + 10,610 this week +/- amendments = 239,518 words total.

David Walters will be running all of this material up on Marxists Internet Archive in coming days.

To find it, please visit the Eugene V. Debs Internet Archive



Here’s the microfilm that I’ve scanned this week, available for free download. Bear in mind that there is generally a short delay between completion of the scanning and its appearance on MIA. Thanks are due to David Walters for getting this material into an accessible format.

The National Rip-Saw — 1908, 1909.

The New York Call — 1909 (March-June)

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Red Special Across America (19-16)


The Socialist Party’s 1908 campaign train, the so-called “Red Special,” departed from Chicago on the morning of August 31. The rail effort would run continuously until its final termination in Debs’s hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana on November 2 — a total of 64 days in which speeches would be given across the northern tier of the United States and the Pacific coast, from New Hampshire to Southern California.

The concept for the party campaign train has been credited to National Secretary Mahlon Barnes (1866-1934), a former cigarmaker from Philadelphia who cut his teeth in the Socialist Labor Party before leaving as an active local leader of the anti-DeLeon split of 1899. The catchy name for the project — the “Red Special” — has been attributed to Algie Simons (1870-1950), editor of the Chicago Daily Socialist.


Debs and the Red Special Band, Pittsburgh, October 18.

The route of the Red Special was to be a two phase enterprise with its center in the Socialist Party’s headquarters city of Chicago. The party launched the train on August 31, committed to a tour of its western hotbed with a scheduled return date of September 25. Should sufficient funds be raised, a second run of the eastern states was also envisioned. The success of the tour led to frenetic fundraising to support this extension of the Red Special’s run, ensuring that Debs and his carefully selected set of stump orators and support staff would continue on an uninterrupted run that finally ended on the eve of election day.

The traveling party included Gene Debs; his closest adviser and personal secretary, brother Theodore Debs; press agent Otto McFeeley; Algie M. Simons, editor of the Chicago Daily Socialist; John C. Chase, the former Socialist mayor of Haverhill, Massachusetts; Colorado activist A.H. Floaten, in charge of literature distribution; Philadelphia cigarmakers’ union member Harry C. Parker, manager of the Philadelphia labor temple, the manager of the train; Charles Lapworth of London, present as a representative of the European press; and bandleader Christian Sorenson and a 15 piece Socialist Party band. (fn. “Debs Opened His Campaign Here,” Davenport Democrat and Leader, Sept. 1, 1908, p. 7). Also present was Debs’s friend from Terre Haute, attorney Stephen H. Reynolds, who worked as an alternative speaker, and W.W. Buchanan of Texas, a former abolitionist. (fn. “500 Hear Debs Flay Gompers,” Muscatine News-Tribune, Sept. 2, 1908, p. 4).

This cast of regular characters for the western leg of the tour would be regularly supplemented with additional temporary participants. Frequently, the Socialist candidate for governor of particular states would come along for the ride, joining Debs on the podium, such as candidates James H. Brower during the train’s Illinois stops and George Boomer in Washington. Other socialist worthies would ride along for sections of the route.

•          •          •          •          •

The Red Special would make short campaign speeches from the train at each of its scheduled stops, with a full mass meeting conducted every night in the various cities along the route. The full plan called for a thousand speeches to be delivered over a route stretching some 30,000 miles. (fn. “Debs Makes a Talk,” Wenatchee [WA] Daily World, Sept. 16, 1908.)

Simons-a-1902Prominent party editor A.M. Simons seems to have been selected for the mission for his oratorical prowess, serving as a warm-up speaker. Here is how one observer described him the day after his first speech, in a meeting held at the Grand Opera House in Davenport, Iowa (an industrial town along the Mississippi River on the western side of the Iowa-Illinois border):

Mr. Simons is one of the live wires that shows the argumentative speakers where they get off at. He is a spellbinder par excellence, and he rode around on cirrus clouds of eloquence, and enthused his audience over the way they had laid down their lives on a hundred thousand battlefields, without ever drawing down a paycheck for it. Mr. Simons aroused much applause by his denunciation of government by injunction. “The man who drew that weapon from its scabbard, and whetted it for the throat of the workingman,” declared Simons, “was William H. Taft. That gatling gun on paper, as it has been called, mows down the rights of labor, and laboring men will not forget it when they have a chance to shoot back with their ballots next November.” (fn. “Debs Opened His Campaign Here,” p. 7.)

This was part of a set speech to a big crowd in an auditorium setting; the Red Special tour also made extensive use of short whistle stops with bursts of energy and oration. The flavor of one such depot stop was captured by an Iowa newspaper reporter:

Eugene V. Debs, socialist candidate for the presidency of the United States, visited Iowa City in his special train yesterday and spoke to a small crowd at the depot yesterday [Sept. 1] at noon. Debs is accompanied by a band, which marched up town and back and furnished some excellent music, and by a complete corps of agents, both men and women, who canvassed the crowd with socialistic literature and “souvenir” pictures of Debs which they offered for sale to pay the expenses of the “Special.” * * *

Mr. Debs was introduced by editor A.M. Simons of the [Chicago Daily Socialist]… Simons is a small man with a thin face covered with a thick growth of dark whiskers…. Simons, as did the main speaker also, stood beside the baggage car upon a stool and delivered his speech above a large bust portrait in colors of Mr. Debs.

Mr. Debs started his talk, his voice was very husky and he could be heard with difficulty… * * *

Debs is a large man with a very bald head. He was dressed in laboring clothes, wearing a blue shirt. He speaks earnestly and that the man has at least some effectiveness is shown by his leadership. (fn. “Debs Visits the City,” Iowa City Citizen, vol. 18, no. 94 (Sept. 2, 1908), p. 8.)

Although the Red Special has attained legendary status as part of the history of the American left, this blog marks the first time that the entire schedule has been committed to machine-searchable type on the internet.

•          •          •          •          •


Aug. 31, 1908 (M) — DAVENPORT, IA evening at Grand Opera House

Chicago: Leave 9:15 am
Joliet, IL: In 10:15 am, out 10:45 am (spoke)
Ottawa, IL: In 11:45 am, out 12:30 pm (spoke)
Spring Valley, IL: In 1:00 pm, out 1:30 pm (spoke)
Davenport, IA: Arrive 3:30

Sept. 1 (U) — DES MOINES, IA evening at the Auditorium, crowd of 2,000

Davenport: Leave 8:00 am
Muscatine, IA: In 8:45 am, out 9:15 am (spoke to about 100)
Iowa City, IA: In 11:45, out 12:15 pm (spoke at the depot at noon, band marched)
Grinnell, IA: In 2:00 pm, out 2:30 pm
Newton, IA: In 3:05 pm, out 3:35 pm
Des Moines, IA: Arrive 4:35 pm

Sept. 2 (W) — KANSAS CITY, MO evening at Convention Hall, crowd 2,500 to 3,000

Des Moines: Leave 6:00 am
Creston, IA: In 9:40 am, out 10:10 am (spoke)
Corning, IA: In 10:50 am, out 11:20 am (spoke)
Clarinda, IA: In 12:20 pm, out 1:00 pm (spoke)
Burlington Junction, MO: In 1:45 pm, out 2:15 pm (spoke)

Also made unscheduled speaking stops at Valisca, Hepburn, Skidmore, Mound City, Bigelow, and Amazonia

Kansas City, MO: Arrive 3:30 pm

Photo of the Socialist Party's Red Special, St. Joseph, MO (Euge

The Red Special at the St. Joseph, MO whistle-stop, Sept. 3, 1908

Sept. 3 (H) — OMAHA, NE to 3,000 people. With A.M. Simons and J.W. Walker of Hastings, SP candidate for governor

Kansas City: Leave 9:00 am
Leavenworth, KS: In 10:00 am, out 11:00 am
St. Joseph, MO: In 1:30 pm, out 2:00 pm (spoke, crowd of 800)
Omaha, NE: Arrive 6:40 pm

Sept. 4 (F) — DENVER, CO evening meeting scheduled

Omaha: Leave 2:00 am
North Platte, NE: In 10:10 am, out 10:45 am
Denver, CO: Arrive 6:30 pm

Sept. 5 (Sa) — LEADVILLE, CO evening meeting scheduled

Denver: Leave 7:00 am
Salida, CO: in 3:15 pm, out 3:45 pm
Leadville, CO: Arrive 6:20 pm — leave after meeting, 8:00 pm


Debs with a young admirer, Glenwood Springs, CO, September 6.

Sept. 6 (Su) — GRAND JUNCTION, CO evening meeting scheduled

Glenwood Springs, CO: In 11:15 am, out 11:45 am
Grand Junction, CO: Arrive 2:45 pm — leave after meeting, 12:05 am

Sept. 7 (M) — SALT LAKE CITY, UT labor day meeting scheduled

Ogden, UT: In noon, out 2:00 pm
Salt Lake City, UT: Arrive 3:00 pm — leave after meeting, 10:00 pm

Sept. 8 (U) — SAN BERNARDINO, CA evening meeting scheduled

Las Vegas, NV: In 10:00 am, out 10:30 am
San Bernardino, CA: Arrive 7:30 pm

Sept. 9 (W) — SAN DIEGO, CA evening meeting scheduled

San Bernardino: Leave 8:00 am
Riverside CA: In 9:35 am, out 10:05 am
San Diego, CA: Arrive 4:05 pm

Sept. 10 (H) — LOS ANGELES, CA evening meeting

San Diego: Leave 10:00 am
Oceanside, CA: In 11:40 am, out 12:10 pm
Orange, CA: In 2:10 pm, out 2:30 pm
Pasadena, CA; In 4:15 pm, out 5:15 pm
Los Angeles, CA: Arrive 6:00 pm — leave after meeting, 1:00 am

Sept. 11 (F) — SAN FRANCISCO, CA evening meeting scheduled

San Luis Obispo, CA: In 8:25 am, out 9:00 am
San Jose, CA: In 3:30 pm, out 4:00 pm
San Francisco, CA: Arrive 6:00 pm

Sept. 12 (Sa) — SACRAMENTO, CA evening meeting scheduled

San Francisco: Leave 11:00 am
Oakland, CA: In 11:35 am, out 1:00 pm
Stockton, CA: In 4:00 pm, out 4:30 pm
Sacramento, CA: Arrive 6:30 pm — leave after meeting, 10:00 pm

Sept. 13 (Su) — GRANTS PASS, OR evening meeting scheduled

Ashland, OR: In 1:00 pm, out 1:30 pm
Medford, OR: In 3:00 pm, out 3:30 pm
Grants Pass, OR: In 4:30 pm — leave after meeting, 2:00 am

Sept. 14 (M) — PORTLAND, OR evening meeting at Exposition Building

Roseburg, OR: In 7:00 am, out 7:30 am
Eugene, OR: In 10:30 am, out 11:00 am
Albany, OR: In 12:35 am, out 1:05 pm
Salem, OR: In 2:05 pm, out 2:35 pm
Woodburn, OR: In 3:23 pm, out 3:55 pm
Oregon City, OR: In 4:35 pm, out 5:05 pm
Portland, OR: Arrive 6:00 pm (Debs got to the evening meeting at 9:00 pm)

Sept. 15 (U) — SEATTLE evening meeting, EVERETT night meeting scheduled

Portland: Leave 8:00 am
Centralia, WA: In 11:45 am, out 12:15 pm
Tacoma, WA: In 2:40 pm, out 3:40 pm
Seattle, WA: Arrive 4:50 pm — leave after meeting, 10:45 pm
Everett, WA: Arrive 11:55 pm — leave after meeting, 2:00 am

Sept. 16 (W) — SPOKANE, WA evening meeting scheduled

Harrington, WA: In 1:00 pm, out 1:30 pm
Spokane, WA: Arrive 3:30 pm — leave after meeting, 3:00 am

Sept. 17 (H) — BUTTE, MT evening meeting scheduled

Wardner, ID: In 7:00 am, out 7:30 am
Wallace, ID: In 8:35 am, out 9:05 am
Mullan, ID: In 9:35 am, no departure time listed
Missoula, MT: In 3:20 pm, out 3:45 pm
Butte, MT: Arrive 7:40 pm — leave after meeting, 11:30 pm

Sept. 18 (F) — ***travel day, no evening meeting scheduled***

Billings, MT: In 9:00 am, out 9:30 am
Sheridan, WY: In 2:45 pm, out 3:45 pm

Sept. 19 (Sa) — PIERRE, SD evening meeting scheduled

Deadwood, SD: In 4:30 am, out 12:10 pm
Rapid City, SD: In 2:10, out 2:30
Pierre, SD: Arrive 9:00 pm — leave after meeting, 11:00 pm

Sept. 20 (Su) — ST. PAUL, MN evening meeting scheduled

New Ulm, MN: In 11:00 am, out 11:30 am
Mankato, MN: In 12:35 pm, out 1:05 pm
St. Paul, MN: Arrive 4:25

Sept. 21 (M) — DULUTH, MN evening meeting scheduled

St. Paul: Leave 8:00 am
Duluth: Arrive 2:00 pm

Sept. 22 (U) — HANCOCK, MI (UP) evening meeting scheduled

Duluth: Leave 4:00 am
Hancock, MI: Arrive 7:00 pm

Sept. 23 (W) — GREEN BAY, WI evening meeting scheduled

Hancock: Leave 3:00 am
Escanaba, MI (UP): In 10:00 am, out 10:20 am
Green Bay, WI: Arrive 2:20 pm

Sept. 24 (H) — MANITOWOC, WI evening meeting scheduled

Green Bay: Leave 9:00 am
Appleton, WI: In 10 am, out 10:30 am
Manitowoc, WI: Arrive 1:00 pm — leave after meeting, no time listed

•          •          •          •          •


Sept. 25, 1908 (F) — INDIANAPOLIS evening meeting scheduled

Chicago: In 6:00 am, out 10:00 am
Kankakee, IL: In 11:30 am, out noon
Lafayette, IN: In 3:00 pm, out 3:30 pm
Indianapolis, IN: Arrive 5:30

Sept. 26 (Sa) — VANDALIA, IN evening meeting scheduled

Indianapolis: Leave 8:00 am
Kokomo, IN: In 9:40 am, out 10:10 am
Logansport, IN: In 11:10 am, out 11:40 am
South Bend, IN: Arrive 2:45 pm

Sept. 27 (Su) — DETROIT, MI evening meeting scheduled

South Bend: Leave 9:00 am
Marcellus, MI: In 10:00 am, out 10:30 am
Battle Creek, MI: In 11:45 am, out 12:45 am
Albion, MI: In 1:25 pm, out 1:55 pm
Jackson, MI: In 2:35, out 3:05
Detroit: Arrive 5:00 pm

Sept. 28 (M) — TOLEDO, OH at Memorial Hall

Detroit: Leave 9:30 am
Wyandotte, MI: in 9:55 am, out 10:15 am
Trenton, MI: In 10:55 am, out 11:25 am
Monroe, MI: In noon, out 12:30 pm
Toledo, OH: Arrive 4:45 pm.

Sept. 29 (U) — CLEVELAND, OH evening meeting scheduled

Toledo: Leave 8:00 am
Bowling Green, OH: In 8:40 am, out 9:40 am
Findlay, OH: In 10:30 am, out 11:00 am
Fostoria, OH: In 11:30 am, out noon
Fremont, OH: In 12:30 pm, out 1:00 pm
Sandusky, OH: In 1:40 pm, out 2:10 pm
Elyria, OH: In 3:00 pm, leave by trolley
Lorain, OH: In 3:45 pm, out 4:45 pm
Elyria, OH: In 5:10 pm, out 5:30 pm
Cleveland: Arrive 6:45 pm

Sept. 30 (W) — ERIE, PA evening meeting scheduled

Cleveland: Leave 9:45 am
Painesville, OH: In 10:00 am, out 10:20 am
Geneva, OH: In 10:50, out 11:30 am
Ashtabula, OH: In 11:45 am, out 12:50 pm
Conneaut, OH: In 1:10 pm, out 1:40 pm
Girard, OH: In 1:55 pm, out 2:45 pm
Erie, PA: Arrive 3:05 pm

Oct. 1 (H) — BUFFALO, NY

Erie: Leave 9:00 am
Westfield, PA: In 9:40 am, out 10:30 am
Dunkirk, PA: In 10:50 am, out 1:30 pm
Silver Creek, PA: In 1:45 pm, out 2:20 pm
Buffalo, NY: Arrive 4:20 pm

Oct. 2 (F) — ROCHESTER, NY evening meeting scheduled

Buffalo: Leave 9:30 am
Lockport, NY: In 10:35 am, out 11:00 am
Medina, NY: In 11:30 am, out 11:50 am
Albion, NY: In 12:10 pm, out 12:40 pm
Rochester, NY: Arrive 4:40 pm

Oct. 3 (Sa) — SYRACUSE, NY evening meeting scheduled

Rochester: Leave 8:00 am
Geneva, NY: In 9:45 am, out 10:30 am
Waterloo, NY: In 10:45, out 11:15 am
Auburn, NY: In Noon, out 1:30 pm
Syracuse, NY: Arrive 2:20 pm

Oct. 4 (Su) — NEW YORK CITY afternoon meeting at the Hippodrome (with Morris Hillquit); second afternoon meeting at the American Theater.

Syracuse, NY: Leave 5:00 am
Schenectady, NY: In 8:00 am, out 8:30 am
Poughkeepsie, NY: In 11:45, out noon
New York City: Arrive 2:00 pm

Oct. 5 (M) — BOSTON, MA evening meeting scheduled

New York City: Leave 6:00 am
Danbury, CT: In 8:00 am, out 8:30 am
Waterbury, CT: In 9:30 am, out 10:00 am
Westfield, CT: In 11:40 am, out 12:10 pm
Springfield, MA: In 12:30 pm, out 2:40 pm (arrived 90 minutes late)
Worcester, MA: In 3:50 pm, out 4:20 pm
Natick, MA: In 5:05 pm, out 5:40 pm
Boston: Arrive 6:20

Oct. 6 (U) — CONCORD, NH evening meeting scheduled

Boston: Leave 9:05 am
Lowell, MA: In 9:45 am, out 10:25 am
Nashua, NH: In 10:50 am, out 11:25 am
Manchester, NH: In 11:55 am, out 1:55 pm
Concord: Arrive 2:25 pm

Oct. 7 (W) — PROVIDENCE, RI evening meeting scheduled

Concord: Leave 9:00 am
Lawrence, MA: In 10:20 am, out 11:02 am
Haverhill, MA: In 11:45 am, out 1:15 pm
Lowell, MA: In 1:50 pm, out 1:55 pm
Walpole, MA: In 2:55 pm, out 3:25 pm
Franklin, MA: In 3:35 pm,out 4:05 pm
Providence: Arrive 5:05 pm

Oct. 8 (H) — NEW HAVEN, CT evening meeting scheduled

Providence: Leave 8:55 am
Plainfield, CT: In 9:45 am, out 10:10 am
Willimantic, CT: In 10:40 am, out 11:40 am
Manchester, NH: in 11:55 am, out 12:30 pm
Hartford, CT: In 1:00 pm, out 2:30 pm
New Britain, CT: In 2:48 pm, out 3:20 pm
Meriden, CT: In 3:38 pm, out 4:08 pm
New Haven, CT: Arrive 4:35 pm

Oct. 9 (F) — BRIDGEPORT, CT evening meeting scheduled

New Haven: Leave 11:45 am
Woodmont, CT: In noon, out 12:30 pm
Milford, CT: In 12:40 pm, out 1:10 pm
Stratford, CT: In 1:20 pm, out 1:50 pm
Bridgeport, CT: Arrive 2:00 pm

Oct. 10 (Sa) — TRENTON, NJ evening meeting scheduled

Bridgeport: Leave 8:00 am
Stamford, CT: In 8:35 am, out 9:10 am
Port Chester, NY: In 9:25 am, out 9:55 am
New Rochelle, NY: In 10:10, out 10:40 am
New York City: In 11:15 am, out 11:20 am
Jersey City, NJ (by ferry): In 4:20 pm, out 4:25 pm
Trenton, NJ: Arrive 6:15 pm

Oct. 11 (Su) — CAMDEN, NJ evening meeting scheduled

Trenton: Leave 10:00 am
Philadelphia, PA: In noon, no departure time specified
Camden, NJ (close proximity to Philadelphia): No arrival time specified

Oct. 12 (M) — NEWARK, NJ evening meeting scheduled

Philadelphia: Leave 8:00 am
Jenkintown, PA: In 8:30 am, out 9:00 am
Hopewell, NJ: In 9:45 am, out 10:15 am
Bound Brook, NJ: In 10:40, out 11:20 am
Plainfield, NJ: In 11:35 am, out 12:30 pm
Elizabeth, NJ: In 12:55 pm, out 1:45 pm
Newark, NJ: Arrive 2:25 pm

Oct. 13 (U) — BROOKLYN, NY evening meeting (short excerpt as To The People of the East Side leaflet)

Newark: Leave 1:00 pm
Jersey City, NJ: In 1:30, no departure time specified
Brooklyn, NY (close proximity to Jersey City): No arrival time specified

Oct. 14 (W) — JERSEY CITY, NJ evening meeting scheduled

******* NO TRAVEL ON THIS DATE ******

Oct. 15 (H) — READING, PA evening meeting scheduled

Jersey City: Leave 5:50 am
Bethlehem, PA: In 8:00 am, out 8:30 am
Catasauqua, PA: in 8:50 am, out 9:20 am
Mauch Chunk, PA: In 10:10 am, out 10:50 am
Lansford, PA: In 11:15 am, out 11:45 am
Tamaqua, PA: In noon, out 12:30 pm
Schuylkill, PA: In 1:05 pm, out 2:25 pm
Hamburg, PA: In 2:50 pm, out 3:20 pm
Reading, PA: Arrive 3:50

Oct. 16 (F) — BALTIMORE, MD evening meeting scheduled

Reading: Leave 8:00 am
Birdsboro, PA: In 8:20 am, out 8:55 am
Coatesville, PA: In 10:15 am, out 10:45 pm
Lenape, DE: In 11:35 am, out 12:10 pm
Wilmington, DE: In 1:25 pm, out 2:30 pm
Newark, NJ: In 2:55 pm, out 3;25 pm
Baltimore, MD: Arrive 5:00 pm

Oct. 17 (Sa) — McKEESPORT, PA evening meeting scheduled

Baltimore: Leave 6:00 am
Cumberland, MD: In 11:15 am, out 11:45 am
Connellsville, PA: In 2:45 pm, out 3:15 pm
McKeesport: Arrive 4:25

Oct. 18 (Su) — PITTSBURGH, PA Two massive meetings at the Bijou Theatre, afternoon and night. An overflow meeting attempted to be held at the waterfront was broken up by police.

McKeesport: Leave 11:50 am
Braddock, PA: In noon, out 1:00 pm
Glenwood, PA: in 1:40 pm, out 2:40 pm
Pittsburgh: Arrive 2:25

Oct. 19 (M) — COLUMBUS, OH evening meeting scheduled

Pittsburgh PA: Leave 7:00 am
Finleyville, PA: In 7:45 am, out 8:15 am
Washington, PA: In 8: 45 am, out 9:15 am
Claysville, PA: In 9:35 am, out 10:05 am
Wheeling, OH: In 10:30 am, out 11:30
Lore City, OH: In 1:30 pm, out 2:00 pm
Cambridge, OH: In 2:15 pm, out 2:45 pm
Zanesville, OH: In 3:45 pm, out 4:15 pm
Newark, OH: In 5:40 pm, out 6:00 pm
Columbus: Arrive 7:00 pm

Oct. 20 (U) — CINCINNATI, OH evening meeting scheduled

Columbus: Leave 9:00 am
Springfield, OH: In 10:25 am, out 11:55 am
Dayton, OH: In 12:35 pm, out 2:35 pm
Middletown, OH: In 3:05 pm, out 3:35 pm
Cincinnati, OH: Arrive 4:55 pm

Oct. 21 (W) — LOUISVILLE, KY evening meeting scheduled

Cincinnati: Leave 9:00 am
Lawrenceburg, IN: In 9:35 am, out 10:05 am
Aurora, IN: In 10:15 am, out 10:45 am
Osgood, IN: In 11:45 am, out 12:15 pm
North Vernon, IN: In 1:00 pm, out 1:30 pm
Nabb, IN: In 2:15 pm, out 2:45 pm
Charlestown, IN: In 3:10 pm, out 3:40 pm
New Albany, IN: In 4:10 pm, out 4:40 pm
Louisville, KY: Arrive 4:55 pm

Oct. 22 (H) — EVANSVILLE, IN evening meeting scheduled

Louisville: Leave 6:00 am
Seymour, IN: In 8:15 am, out 8:45
Medora, IN: In 9:15 am, out 9:45 am
Mitchell, IN: In 10:25 am, out 10:55 am
Loogootee, IN: In noon, out 12:30 pm
Washington, IN: In 1:00 pm, out 1:30 pm
Petersburg, IN: In 2:15 pm, out 2:45 pm
Glezen (Hosmer): In 3:00 pm, out 3:30 pm
Oakland City, IN: in 3:45 pm, out 4:15 pm
Evansville: Arrive 5:30 pm

Oct. 23 (F) — ST. LOUIS, MO evening meeting scheduled

Evansville: Leave 7:00 am
Fort Branch: In 7:30 am, out 8:00 am
Princeton: In 8:20 am, out 8:50 am
Vincennes, IN: In 9:40 am, out 10:10 am
Olney, IL: In 10:50 am, out 11:05 am
Noble, IL: In 11:15 am, out 11:30 am
Flora, IL: In 11:55 am, out 12:10 pm
Salem, IL: In 1:00 pm, out 1:15 pm
Sandoval, IL: In 1:35 pm, out 1:50 pm
Carlyle, IL: In 2:20 pm, out 2:35 pm
Breese, IL: In 2:55 pm, out 3:10 pm
Lebanon, IL: In 3:50 pm, out 4:05 pm
O’Fallon, IL: In 4:15, out 4:30 pm
Caseyville, IL: In 4:45 pm, out 5:00 pm
East St. Louis, IL: In 5:20 pm, out 5:35 pm
St. Louis: Arrive 5:55

Oct. 24 (Sa) —DECATUR, IL evening meeting scheduled

St. Louis: Leave 9:00 am
Granite City, IL: In 9:30 am, out 10:00 am
Stauton, IL: In 10:40 am, out 11:10 am
Mt. Olive, IL: In 11:20 am, out 11:50 am
Litchfield, IL: In noon, out 1:00 pm
Raymond, IL: In 1:20 pm, out 1:50 pm
Morrisonville, IL: In 2:10 pm, out 2:40 pm
Taylorville, IL: In 3:00 pm, out 3:30 pm
Blue Mound, IL: In 3:55 pm, out 4:25 pm
Decatur, IL: Arrive 4:55 pm

Oct. 25 (Su) — SPRINGFIELD afternoon, JACKSONVILLE, IL evening meetings scheduled

Decatur: Leave 10:00 am
Illiopolis, IL: In 10:25 am, out 10:55 am
Dawson, IL: In 11:15 am, out 11:45 am
Riverton, IL: In 11:55 am, out 12:25 pm
Springfield, IL: Arrive 12:45 pm — leave after meeting, 5:00 pm
Berlin, IL: In 5:40 pm, out 6:10 pm
Jacksonville, IL: Arrive 6:30 pm

Oct. 26 (M) — HANNIBAL, MO evening meeting scheduled

Jacksonville: Leave 10:00 am
Chapin, IL: In 10:15 am, out 10:45 am
Bluffs, IL: In 11:05 am, out 11:55 am
Griggsville, IL: in 12:05 pm, out 1:05 pm
Baylis, IL: In 1:30 pm, out 2:00 pm
Barry, IL: In 2:20 pm, out 2:50 pm
Hull, IL: In 3:10 pm, out 3:40 pm
Hannibal, MO: Arrive 4:05 pm

Oct. 27 (U) — GALESBURG, IL evening meeting scheduled

Hannibal: Leave 7:00 am
Paris, IL: In 8:15 am, out 8:45 am
Moberly: In 9:45 am, out 10:15 am
Macon, IL: In 11:00 am, out 11:30 am
LaPlata, IL: In 12:15 pm, out 12:50 pm
Fort Madison, IA: In 3:15 pm, out 3:45 pm
Dallas City, IL: In 4:00 pm, out 4:38 pm
Stronghurst, IL: In 4:05 pm, out 5:25 pm
Galesburg, IL: Arrive 6:20 pm

Oct. 28 (W) — STREATOR, IL evening meeting scheduled

Galesburg: Leave 9:35 am
Williamsfield, IL: In 10:05, out 10:35 am
Princeville, IL: In 10:55 am, out 11:25 am
Chillicothe, IL: In noon, out 1:00 pm
Toluca, IL: In 1:40 pm, out 2:10 pm
Ancona, IL: In 2:50 pm, out 3:00 pm
Streator, IL: Arrive 3:15 pm

Oct. 29 (H) — JOLIET, IL evening meeting scheduled

Streator: Leave 9:00 am
Kernan, IL: In 9:10 am, out 9:40 am
Ransom, IL: In 9:50 am, out 10:20 am
Kinsman, IL: In 10:30 am, out 11:00 am
Verona, IL: In 11:10 am, out 11:40 am
Mazon, IL: In 11:50 am, out 12:30 pm
Coal City, IL: In 1:10 pm, out 2:10 pm
Lorenzo, IL: In 2:20 pm, out 2:50 pm
Drummond, IL: In 3:05 pm, out 3:35 pm
Plaines, IL: In 3:50 pm, out 4:20 pm
Joliet, IL: Arrive 4:30 pm — leave after meeting for Chicago
Chicago: Arrive 11:45 pm

Oct. 30 (F) — MILWAUKEE, WI three evening meetings scheduled — Pabst Theater, West Side Turn Hall, Freie Gemeinde Hall

Chicago: Leave 8:00 am
Woodstock, IL: In 9:00 am, out 9:30 am
Harvard, WI: In 9:50 am, out 10:10 am

Beloit, WI speaking stop mentioned in Social Democratic Herald of Oct. 31, 1908

Janesville, WI: In 11:00 am, out 12:10 pm
Madison, WI: Arrive 1:10 pm — afternoon speech at Gymnasium building — out 4:00 pm
Waukesha, WI: In 5:50 pm, out 6:20 pm
Milwaukee, WI: Arrive 7:00 pm

Oct. 31 (Sa) — RACINE, WII evening meeting scheduled

Sheboygan: Side trip on regular train
Milwaukee: Leave 5:00 pm
Racine: Arrive 5:35 pm

Nov. 1 (Su) — CHICAGO afternoon meeting scheduled

Racine: Leave 9:30 am
Kenosha, WI: In 9:45 am, out 10:15 am
Waukegan, IL: In 10:40 am, out 11:00 am
Chicago: Arrive noon.

Nov. 2 (M) — ***final day: no evening meeting***

Chicago: Leave 9:00 am
Chicago Heights, IL: In 9:55 am, out 10:25 am
Momence, IL: In 11:00 am, out 11:30 am
Watseka, IL: In 12:10 pm, out 12:40 pm
Hoopeston, IL: In 1:10 pm, out 1:40 pm
Danville, IL: In 2:15 pm, out 2:45 pm
Cayuga, IN: In 3:10 pm, out 3:25 pm
Clinton, IN: In 4:00 pm, out 4:30 pm
Terre Haute, IN: Arrive 4:55 pm


[Note: This page will be periodically updated as additional information becomes available. Last update: June 23, 2019.]


†- A participant’s memoir of the Red Special’s journey was written by Charles Lapworth and published in the December 1908 issue of the International Socialist Review, available here as a downloadable file.



The official deadline for Eugene V. Debs Selected Works: Volume 4 is October 15, 2019. I’m setting a soft deadline of August 4 to finish the document compilation phase of the project. This means there are now 6 more Sundays after today to get the core content section of the book assembled, with a limit for publication of approximately 260,000 words.

  • “I Shall Soon Be Off for Idaho: Letter to Stephen M. Reynolds in Terre Haute” (April 27, 1908) — 297 words
  • “The Demonstration Was a Great One: Letter to Morris Hillquit” (May 21, 1908) — 477 words
  • “Progress by Prohibition” [excerpt] (March 1, 1908) — 609 words
  • “An Evening in Girard: An Informal Speech Among Friends Following the 1908 Socialist Convention” (May 21, 1908) — 2,210 words
  • “We Will Have 5,000 Open Air Speakers: Statement to the Press” (June 1, 1908) — 795 words
  • “Vigorous War on the Socialist Press Forthcoming” (June 6, 1908) — 805 words
  • “No Negro Question Outside the Class Question: An Open Letter to J. Milton Waldron, President of the National Negro American Political League” (June 30, 1908) — 2,448 words
  • “What the Matter Is In America and What to Do About It: An Interview by Lincoln Steffens” (July 12, 1908) — 9,478 words
  • “Unity and Victory: Speech to the Kansas State Convention of the American Federation of Labor, Pittsburg, Kansas” (Aug. 12, 1908) — 7,144 words
  • “Samuel Gompers a Cowardly Falsifier: Statement to the Press” (Sept. 4, 1908) — 692 words
  • “‘Equality of Reward’: Theodore Roosevelt and the Socialist Movement” (Sept. 5, 1908) — 3,941 words
  • “The More I Think, The Hotter My Blood Becomes: Letter to Fred D. Warren in Girard, Kansas” (Feb. 5, 1910) — 550 words

Word count: 198,967 in the can + 29,444 this week +/- amendments = 228,630 words total.

David Walters will be running all of this material up on Marxists Internet Archive in coming days.

To find it, please visit the Eugene V. Debs Internet Archive



Here’s the microfilm that I’ve scanned this fortnight, available for free download. Bear in mind that there is generally a short delay between completion of the scanning and its appearance on MIA. Thanks are due to David Walters for getting this material into an accessible format.

The Weekly People — 1907, 1908, 1909 (Jan.-June)

Seattle Socialist — 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910 (publication terminates)

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The SLP – SP Unity Drive of 1908 (19-15)


Throughout his life, Debs had little proclivity to participate in the day-to-day affairs of party politics. While his beloved brother and closest political associate, Theodore, had done a stint as chief executive of the Social Democratic Party based in Chicago, Debs played no similar role in any organization. When decisive factional conflict erupted, he would invariably get sick and dodge. Occupying a place above mundane politics, Debs at the same time abrogated responsibility and surrendered what might have been a powerful voice in the decision-making process.


Debs as he was depicted in a syndicated clip in the mainstream press. (From the Appleton [WI] Evening Crescent, Aug. 18, 1907.)

Although effectively living in Girard, Kansas at the time, Debs was elected a delegate by the Socialist Party of Indiana to the 1908 national convention of the SPA — one of just four delegates allotted to that state. Yet when the time came for credentials to be presented and the delegates seated for the opening of the conclave on May 10, Debs was (rather predictably) nowhere to be seen. Instead, an alternate was seated. (fn. John M. Work (ed.), National Convention of the Socialist Party Held at Chicago, Illinois, May 10 to 17, 1908. Chicago: Socialist Party, n.d. [1908]); May 10, afternoon session, p. 17.)

This self-inflicted absence left Debs unable to intervene on the question of proposed unity with the rival Socialist Labor Party.

On January 9 he had written to National Secretary Frank Bohn expressing his positive sentiments towards a proposal by the National Executive Committee of the SLP naming a 7 member negotiating committee to meet with a similar body from the Socialist Party to examine a basis for unity.

Debs wrote:

No matter what differences there may be they are not of sufficient account to prevent joint nominations and political unity all along the line in the national, state, and local campaigns this fall.

I shall do all I can to have the Socialist Party accept the resolutions of the Socialist Labor Party in the spirit in which they are offered. I am writing National Secretary Barnes and sending an article to the Appeal to Reason, urging favorable action. (fn. Debs to Bohn, Jan. 9, 1908, Weekly People,  vol. 17, no. 45 (Feb. 1, 1908), p. 6.)

•          •          •          •          •

Debs’s Personal Unity Initiative

For all his flaws as a party politician, Debs did do his best on this matter. On Jan. 22, 1908 he arrived in New York City ahead of a meeting scheduled the next day to explore a basis for unity between the two American socialist political parties. Representatives of both parties were in attendance, as was Big Bill Haywood — Debs’s choice to head the ticket as candidate for president in the election of 1908.

It seems that the model used in the 1900 campaign was favored by the SP negotiators — a joint presidential campaign effort featuring two independent but essentially like-minded organizations behind a single ticket, to be headed by Haywood. Present for the Socialist Party in addition to Debs were Morris Hillquit — in whose office the meeting was held — and veteran party journalist Alexander Jonas of the German-language daily, the New Yorker Volkszeitung. (fn. “Debs Toga for Haywood,” New York Sun, vol. 75, no. 145 (Jan. 23, 1908), p. 2.)

The meeting at 320 Broadway was unsuccessful, probably due to differing conceptions of unification and inability of the Socialist Party negotiators to speak with authority in the name of the party. Debs sought unification in terms of a joint effort of the two independent parties in the 1908 campaign behind a common ticket headed by William D. Haywood — who as a key founder of the Industrial Workers of the World was a candidate which the SLP could swallow. However, Debs, Hillquit, and Jonas had no power to name a party ticket and could only speculatively offer the name of one potential nominee. The two small negotiating teams seem to have agreed that negotiated amalgamation needed to proceed such a ticket and no further meetings were scheduled pending official decision by the Socialist Party.

Afterwards, Debs announced to one reporter that he would be returning home to Girard by way of Charleston and Harper’s Ferry so that he could better write the story of John Brown from a socialist perspective. (fn. “Socialist Amalgamation Postponed,” New York Tribune, Jan. 24, 1908, p. 4.)

•          •          •          •          •


Abraham Cahan (1860-1951) was one of the major power players in the Socialist Party during the Debsian era. His Yiddish-language daily newspaper, Forverts (commonly known as the Jewish Daily Forward), had a large circulation and was both ideologically influential and financially successful.

Was the SLP earnest in its 1908 unity appeal? This seems doubtful. The Yiddish-language socialist daily Forverts, edited by Abe Cahan, probably got close to the internal thinking of the SLP with this January 16 editorial:

It is noteworthy that the “statesmen” of the SLP have for years without let-up shouted that the SP is a party of fakirs, cockroach businessmen, etc., and only last week the said “statesmen” discovered that the comrades of both parties differ only in their opinion of certain practical questions. Did they really make this wonderful discovery only last week or did it happily serve their purposes last week to make the discovery? In the first case they may label themselves “Idiotic Fanatics;” in the second we label them “Shameless Hypocrites.”

. . . 

First of all the leaders of the SLP do not believe that Unity will be realized. They know the ones higher up in the SP. They know that these will use all their power for different results from their [unity] resolutions. They probably hope that their resolutions will bring about a demoralization in the ranks of the SP; that this demoralization will later cause a split; and, as a consequence of this split, the left wing of the younger party will attach itself to the elder. And then will the SLP be the larger and stronger party, and will be able to whistle at the other. (fn. Forverts [New York], Jan. 16, 1908; quoted in The People, vol. 17, no. 45 (Feb. 1, 1908), p. 5.)

Once the one-day long independent negotiating effort of Debs, Hillquit, and Jonas had failed, there proved to be little hope for the SLP’s unity proposal through regular party channels. The unity resolution of the NEC of the SLP in New York City was transmitted to the Chicago office SPA National Secretary Mahlon Barnes, who dutifully sent a copy of the communique to the 64-member National Committee which governed the party’s operations.

Barnes quickly received back a motion for action from anti-DeLeon hardliner Victor Berger of Milwaukee. After making a sarcastic editorial comment about the SLP’s proposition (remarks not thus far located and perhaps no longer extant), Berger happily invited members of the SLP to “join our party individually or in sections, and make their applications to our respective locals,” upon the pledge “to accept our platform and our tactics.”

This was, of course, a clear deal-breaker — a call for the SLP to liquidate itself and for its members to beg for admittance to the victorious SPA. Berger’s proposal did, however, clearly reflect majority sentiment on the National Committee, and the resolution easily passed by a tally of 36-20 (with 8 abstentions). The SLP’s 1908 bid for unity was thus squelched by the first days of February. (fn. “Motion No. 11,” Socialist Party Official Bulletin, vol. 4, no. 6 (Feb. 1908), p. 3.)

•          •          •          •          •

Daniel DeLeon Responds with the “Unity” Speech

Although defeated for the moment by the National Committee of the SPA, the unity question would continue to percolate through the first half of 1908.

Although not himself a member of the SLP’s National Executive Committee, party editor Daniel DeLeon nevertheless remained the leading luminary and chief decision-maker of that party’s small pantheon. The time had come for one of his relatively infrequent statements from the mount.


Daniel DeLeon responded to the National Committee of the Socialist Party rejecting the SLP’s January 1908 unity initiative with a public speech on Feb. 21 that was professionally reported word-for-word and published as a pamphlet. DDL emphasized the differences between the “Marxist” SLP (“the Mountain”) and the politically oriented SPA (“the Vale”).

A speech was hastily booked for New Pythagoras Hall in New York City and a stenographic reporter arranged for what would be a major policy statement. DeLeon’s February 21, 1908 address, entitled “Unity,” would appear in the party press and be rapidly released in pamphlet form, becoming a major brick in the Socialist Labor Party’s ideological firmament.

DeLeon began:

Almost immediately upon the issuing of the Unity Resolution by the National Executive Committee of the Socialist Labor Party, a number of acquaintances, and many who were no acquaintances, approached me with the request for a public expression of opinion in The People, from me, on the move. I declined. My reasons were that, in my editorial capacity, I had no right to comment on an act of the National Executive Committee; and that in my individual capacity I had no right to space in The People until the matter should come before the party membership on referendum. I yielded, however…to express, from this independent platform, the views I have on the subject. (fn. Daniel DeLeon, Unity. [1908] Second Edition. New York: National Executive Committee of the Socialist Labor Party, 1914; p. 4.)

DeLeon emphasized that he was speaking as an individual and not as a SLP official or even as a common member of the party in the party’s name — a humble status belied by the fact of the stenographic recording of DeLeon’s prepared remarks for posterity and their publication in an official pamphlet of the SLP.

DeLeon stated that he would approach the question of why there were two rival parties “both calling themselves socialist, both having the word ‘Socialist’ in their names, and both heralding the ‘Socialist Republic’” yet running opposing slates of candidates, parallel circuits of stump speakers, and each claiming exclusivity in the field.

Being versed in history and in the philosophy of history, the traveler from Mars will be aware that different sets of people will frequently believe their goal to be identical, and will give it the same name, and yet, unconscious to most… the goals are, in fact, not quit identical, the difference in goals being fatedly manifested by the differences in methods. For instance the traveler from Mars will realize that the concept of a “Socialist Republic,” whose central, or directing authority, that is, its government, is to consist of the representatives of the several industries and branches of occupations, must needs be a goal somewhat different from the goal presented by that concept of a “Socialist Republic,” the government of which is to consist of a majority, or even a totality, of Socialist, instead of Democratic and Republican congressmen, members of legislatures, or aldermen. (fn. DDL, Unity, pp. 4-5.)

DeLeon indicated that the Martian traveler “would see in the opposing tactics the reflex of the different goals; and he would consider, not absurd, but perfectly legitimate, and true to history, the existence of the two warring political bodies.” (fn. DDL, Unity, p. 5.)

DeLeon proudly borrowed a page from Jacobins of the French Revolution, declaring his Socialist Labor Party to be the “Mountain,” which

has gather in its camp a class-developed revolutionary element. That renders its membership homogeneous; their homogeneity quickens their sense of sacrifice; their sense of sacrifice focalizes their effort — with the consequence that they have been able to set up and uphold a press owned by themselves — not only a weekly, but a daily English Socialist paper — a magnificent monument of what organized well-developed class-consciousness can achieve. (fn. DDL, Unity, p. 16.)

The Socialist Party, on the other hand, lacked the necessary homogeneity needed to sacrifice and work to maintain a party-owned press, and therefore was forced to choose between silence and reliance upon a privately-owned press.

Seeing that the material possibilities of its composition disable it from producing its own party-owned press, the Socialist Party singes the praises of a privately-owned press. …[T]he less-developed class-consciousness of its composition is the reason why it believes that party-ownership spells “tyranny.” (fn. DDL, Unity, p. 16.)

In this DeLeon was at a minimum tone-deaf to the real SP criticism of dictatorial policy logically following from (his) absolute control of centralized party information sources. Be that as it may, DeLeon contended that the press issue offered no insurmountable barrier to “establishment of a modus vivendi, always, of course proceeding from familyship” in which the two organizations would be left to their own devices with regards to the press, “mutual criticism would continue,” and eventually over time the centralized, party-owned model would triumph and a truly unified party would emerge.

And as time passes and class-conscious clearness increases, such increasing clearness would lead in its train the qualities that will cast off the private-ownership and set up the party-ownership principle. At present when such development takes place, friction is the consequence, or rupture. In the united party the transitions would be accompanied by no such disagreeable consequences. …[U]nity can be effected without sacrifice of principle by either side. (fn. DDL, Unity, p. 17.)

While the press issue was first and foremost in DeLeon’s mind, two other major departures between the Socialist Labor Party and the Socialist Party were enumerated — the questions of State Autonomy and the Trade Unions.

The Socialist Party was founded upon the principle of federation of largely autonomous state political organizations, free to control the propaganda and activity within their own territories subject to the constraints contained in the national constitution. DeLeon ascribed this to the different class compositions of the two parties:

For the identical reason that an organization of “Mountain” elements will necessarily move in focalized shape, and, accordingly, exhibit the aspect of “centralization,” an organization of “Vale” elements is bound to move divergently, and exhibit the aspect of “autonomy.” … The one acts “centrally,” the other “autonomously,” as a result of their different compositions. …[F]or the same reason that private-ownership of the press is a necessary transitional period with a “Vale” element, and party-ownership the necessary condition for the successful…“home-stretch,” “autonomy” has its transitory, “centralization” its permanent function. (fn. DDL, Unity, pp. 18-19.)

Again, DeLeon contended that the direction of the International for parties to unite within each country was not insurmountable, that “the two American members of that family, if they are really of one family, should find no difficulty, on this subject also, to find a modus vivendi, to the advantage of both, seeing that an agreement would result advantageous to the Movement.” (fn. DDL, Unity, p. 20.)

It was the trade union question that DeLeon saw as the most difficult, with the Socialist Party looking upon unions as “a transitory affair; as an organization that capitalist development tends to wipe out; as a sort of Kindergarten in which to train Socialist voters,” while the SLP saw the union as a permanent institution that capitalist development did not tend to wipe out, but which marshals the workers into “industrial battalions.” (fn. DDL, Unity, pp. 20-21.)

DeLeon was critical of the Stuttgart Congress’s resolution of unionism, which conceived of the political and economic aspects of the workers’ movement as two wings, with a primacy accorded the political wing. DeLeon complains of the parliamentary procedure followed by the congress in passing the resolution, which forced the SLP into opposition to the resolution rather than putting their own “Industrial Workers of the World” amendment to a test vote.

Fundamental difference between the SPA and the SLP is glossed over, the matter is declared resolvable, and DeLeon concludes to great applause.

•          •          •          •          •

The Unity Question at the 1908 SPA Convention

The matter of unity between the two rival socialist political parties would arise anew at the 1908 SPA convention. There the convention’s resolutions committee would consider the matter of unification before issuing a majority report signed by six of its nine members stating simply

Resolved: That no steps looking toward the unity of the Socialist Party and the Socialist Labor Party be taken at this time, other than to invite all members of the Socialist Labor Party who so desire to become members of the Socialist Party.

Although leaving no room for interpretation, this perspective was by no means a unanimous sentiment; not one but two pro-unity minority resolutions were offered as alternatives. The first minority report, authored by M. Kaplan of Minnesota and co-signed by Chicago publisher Charles H. Kerr, called for a message to the SLP expressing a favorable position towards unity of the two organizations, postponing a negotiating conference for the duration of the 1908 campaign, and stating if the SLP did not nominate a national ticket for president and vice-president, that joint action between the two organizations at the state and local level would be expressly permitted. (fn. 1908 Convention, May 14, afternoon session, pp. 123-124.)


Alfred Wagenknecht (1881-1956), an adherent of pursuing unity after the 1908 campaign was finished, would later play a pivotal role in the 1919 split of the Socialist Party, emerging as Executive Secretary of the Communist Labor Party.

The Public Ownership Party of Minnesota (the name the Socialist Party was forced to adopt due to state ballot name restrictions) had already been exercising its state autonomy and practicing unity from below, joining forces of SP and SLP activists in joint work in Minnesota. Kaplan sought to push this model forward at a national level.

A second minority report, written by Alfred Wagenknecht of Washington and signed by him alone, pointedly omitted reference to joint activity at the state and local level as a distraction in the 1908, which accepting the call for unity implicit in the first minority report.

Wagenknecht noted that the SPA and SLP were already working in harmony in Michigan and Minnesota, but declared “we know they do not work in harmony in the rest of the states. The fact that they do not work in harmony in the rest of the states means that if this question is brought into the states…then these states’ contentions will be distributed throughout the national campaign,” thereby weakening the effort. (fn. 1908 Convention, May 14, afternoon session, p. 125.)

After a break for dinner, debate on the question began, with Ben Hanford of New York unleashing a bitter onslaught:

I want to say, first, that the reason I am opposed to the minority report of the comrade from Washington [Wagenknecht] is that I do not recognized that the so-called Socialist Labor Party is a socialist party. I do not recognize that it is a labor party, and I do not recognize that it is a political party. The so-called Socialist Labor Party is a scab labor party. The Socialist Labor Party is a labor union faking party.


Ben Hanford (1861-1910), a New York printer who wrote extensively for the socialist press, was an outspoken opponent of unity with the SLP at the 1908 Socialist Party convention. Hanford was again nominated for vice-president of the United States by the convention, running alongside Debs. He would die of cancer two years later.

Hanford detailed the role of the SLP’s Socialist Trade & Labor Alliance (ST&LA) in scabbing a 1900 strike of cigarmakers in the Davis factory in New York City, replacing strikers who were out fighting a reduction of wages. Hanford continued:

I want to say that any man who calls himself a socialist and proposes to take the place of any man that is on strike on a question of wages…does not deserve the name socialist. I say further, that we want to communication with these men. I say that I honestly believe that the only purpose of the resolution passed [in January] by the Executive Committee of the SLP was to get a wedge into the Socialist Party for the sake of splitting the party. The tactics of the Socialist Labor Party have not changed, and such being the case, if leaders were honest they could not and would not ask for unity with the Socialist Party. I am fully justified in believing that they do not look for unity with us in good faith and for any good purpose.

Hanford enumerated the SLP’s factional transgressions, including prompting a split of the SLP itself in 1899 with formation of the ST&LA, its role in splitting the IWW in 1906, and its ongoing efforts to follow around Socialist Party speakers to heckle them:

They did their best to destroy our party. Now, shall we take the serpent to our bosom and warm hm so that he can disrupt this party has he has tried to do with everything else? I say no, and no, and no. (fn. 1908 Convention, May 14, evening session, pp. 126-127.)


Although a primary leader of the 1899 split of the SLP and an arch-nemesis of Daniel DeLeon, Morris Hillquit (1869-1933) was an advocate of unification with the Socialist Labor Party in 1908.

Adding his voice to the pro-unity side of the debate was, perhaps surprisingly, Morris Hillquit of New York — one of the leaders of the anti-DeLeon split of the Socialist Labor Party back in 1899. While acknowledging that the Socialist Labor Party’s unity drive was a last ditch effort of a dwindling party facing annihilation, Hillquit nevertheless pronounced unification as both salutatory and a “matter of correct socialist tactics and expediency.”

Advancing an argument best expressed by the old maxim of “keeping one’s friends close and one’s enemies closer,” Hillquit argued that “ridiculous resolutions” of the SLP were wrongly charged against the Socialist Party’s account by largely uninformed members of the organized labor movement. Moreover, large contingents of German, Polish, and Latvian socialists in America stayed aloof of both parties owing to the organizational dualism “because they cannot decide between the two parties intelligently.”

With the sole exception of DeLeon himself, Hillquit intimated, “the rank and file of the SLP is as devoted as our party membership” and would be a positive addition to the SPA’s ranks. (fn. 1908 Convention, May 14, evening session, pp. 132-133.)  Hillquit’s appeal — broader than the conception of Debs — was for true organic unity between the two rival socialist political organizations.

Hillquit’s argument did not sway the mass of delegates, who quickly disposed of the Wagenknecht alternative by simple voice vote before dumping the main pro-unity minority resolution by a vote of 131 to 48. The body then moved to the question of the majority resolution, which was quickly approved through a simple voice vote. (fn. 1908 Convention, May 14, evening session, p. 135.)

The 1908 socialist unity campaign was thus ended.



• See Also: The IWW Speeches of 1905 and the New Jersey Unity Conference




The official deadline for Eugene V. Debs Selected Works: Volume 4 is October 15, 2019. I’m setting a soft deadline of August 1 to finish the document compilation phase of the project. This means there are now 9 more Sundays after today to get the core content section of the book assembled, with a limit for publication of approximately 260,000 words.

  • “‘Bat’ Masterson a Fiction Writer: Letter to the Editor of the New York Telegraph” (circa May 10, 1907) — 858 words
  • Monstrous Falsification: Letter to the Editor of the New York Times(May 16, 1907) — 1,224 words
  • “Letter to the Walt Whitman Fellowship” (May 31, 1907) — 191 words
  • “The Drift of Our Times: Lecture to the Fox River Chautauqua, Appleton, Wisconsin” [excerpt] (July 7, 1907)— 1,469 words
  • “Statement to the Press on the Haywood Verdict” (July 28, 1907) — 349 words
  • “Statement to the Appeal to Reason on the Haywood Verdict” (July 29, 1907) — 890 words
  • “For Joint Action in 1908: Letter to Frank Bohn, National Secretary, Socialist Labor Party of America” (Jan. 9, 1908) — 518 words
  • “Samuel Gompers in Politics” (Jan. 18, 1908) — 1,779 words
  • “Shall Warren Be Railroaded?” (March 28, 1908) — 3,062 words
  • “The Federal Court and Union Labor: The Buck’s Stove and Range Case” (April 11, 1908) — 1,139 words
  • “Labor’s Fight for Freedom” (April 11, 1908) — 1,486 words
  • “I Had Hoped That My Name Would Not Be Mentioned: Telegram to Seymour Stedman” (May 14, 1908) — 329 words
  • “Telegram Accepting the 1908 Nomination for President of the United States” (May 15, 1908) — 622 words
  • “The Issue: Speech at Courthouse Park, Girard, Kansas” (May 16, 1908) — 7,747 words
  • “Socialist Ideals” (November 1908) — 1,620 words

Word count: 175,705 in the can + 23,264 this fortnight +/- amendments = 198,967 words total.

David Walters will be running all of this material up on Marxists Internet Archive in coming days.

To find it, please visit the Eugene V. Debs Internet Archive



Here’s the microfilm that I’ve scanned this week, available for free download. Bear in mind that there is generally a short delay between completion of the scanning and its appearance on MIA. Thanks are due to David Walters for getting this material into an accessible format.

• Chicago Daily Socialist — 1908 (July – Dec.)

Social Democratic Herald — 1907, 1908, 1909 (Jan. – Oct.)

• Studies in Socialism — 1907-1909 (all five available issues)




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The Haywood Trial of 1907, part 1 (19-14)


As we have seen, Gene Debs was very close to those who organized the Industrial Workers of the World but took a rather casual approach to the new industrial union, delivering a speech at the founding convention before departing to deliver paid lectures, then speaking under its auspices about eight times during the fall of 1905. (See: Debs Blog 19-03: “Near It But Not In It”)

He did not attend the second IWW convention, held in 1906, at which the organization blew apart in a factional squabble, and scarcely mentioned the group again, nor did he write for either of the competing factions during the latter part of 1906 and all of 1907. (See: Debs Blog 19-09: “The IWW Split of 1906) Without making public acknowledgment of such, he had sadly washed his hands of it and was done; just as his political nemesis on the left, Daniel DeLeon, by way of contrast, dug in and scrapped for the empty husk of an organization which remained.

Instead, Debs became preoccupied — some might say “fixated,” but preoccupied is a better term — with the attempt of western mine owners and the political establishment of the mining states of Colorado and Idaho to decapitate and destroy the militant socialist Western Federation of Miners by implicating their president, Charles Moyer, and secretary-treasurer, Big Bill Haywood, in the Dec. 30, 1905 assassination by bombing of former Idaho Governor Frank Steuneberg outside his home in Caldwell, Idaho. (See: Debs Blog 19-08: “Debs and the Haywood-Moyer Affair of 1906”)

Moyer and Haywood, along with a former member of the WFM board, George Pettibone, had been secretly arrested in Denver and hustled out of state aboard a special train under the cover of darkness on a weekend, a brazen attempt to skirt extradition law so that they might be tried in Idaho for conspiracy to commit murder — a capital offense.

Debs transformed himself from touring professional lecturer to well-paid journalist on the staff of the blossoming Appeal to Reason, leaving his wife in Terre Haute and taking up residence near the publication’s offices in small town of Girard, Kansas. (See: Debs Blog 19-11: “From Long Speeches to Long Articles”) He wrote copiously and in the most impassioned terms in defense of the Western Federation of Miners leaders, attracting helpful public attention to the case but drawing fire from conservative commentators, up to and including the president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, who made public a letter in which he referred to Debs, Moyer and Haywood as “undesirable citizens.” (See: Debs Blog 19-12, “Undesirable Citizens”)

We come now to the sensational trial of Big Bill Haywood.

•          •          •          •          •

The Venue


Proximity of Caldwell (site of the Steunenberg murder) and Boise (site of the Haywood trial) in Southwestern Idaho. The vicinity is flat and agricultural, not mining country.

The three WFM defendants were to be tried separately rather than collectively. A change of venue was granted to the defense, moving the trial from the small, insular town of Caldwell, located in rural Canyon County, to Idaho’s capital city, Boise, located about 25 miles away in more populous Ada County. The significant costs of the investigation and trial were ultimately absorbed by the state through decision of the state legislature.

A legal team had rapidly been assembled to defend the arrested union leaders, with Western Federation of Miners attorney E.F. Richardson arriving in Boise from Denver on February 20, 1906, immediately after the special train, where he initiated habeas corpus proceedings, in which he charged that the procedure used to move Moyer, Haywood, and Pettibone had been illegal and the warrants under which they were arrested defective.

The matter was argued in court early in March, with the state successfully moving to strike all references to the manner of extradition and allusions to conspiracy of state officials against the WFM leaders from the case, a decision rendered by the Idaho Supreme Court on March 12. (fn. David H. Grover, Debaters and Dynamiters: The Story of the Haywood Trial. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press, 1964; pp. 71-72.)

Richardson prepared a bill of exceptions, signed by the Idaho Supreme Court, which effectively moved jurisdiction of the appeal from state to federal court. On March 15 he filed new writs of habeas corpus with the US Circuit Court of Boise, with Judge James H. Beatty on the bench. The matter was argued in court for four days with a similar result, Beatty ruling that the court lacked the power to investigate the means of extradition once the prisoners were in legal custody of the state of Idaho. (fn. Grover, Debaters and Dynamiters, p. 72.)

From there another appeal was made, this time to the United States Supreme Court based on a writ of error, with a test case, Pettibone v. Nichols, accepted by the court for its October 1906 docket. (fn. Grover, Debaters and Dynamiters, p. 72.)

•          •          •          •          •

The Prosecution and Defense Teams


James H. Hawley (1847-1929) was a prominent attorney and major political figure in Idaho, brought aboard to lead the prosecution in the Haywood conspiracy-to-commit-murder case.

In the meantime, defense funds were raised and legal teams built, including James H. Hawley, a former mayor of Boise and future governor of Idaho, and soon-to-be US Senator William E. Borah for the prosecution, and nationally renowned attorney Clarence Darrow, a silver-tongued advocate for the downtrodden, joining Richardson for the defense. These would be the four main attorneys in the contest, meeting in court for the first time on October 10 before the US Supreme Court to argue the Pettibone habeas corpus case appeal.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state, 7-1 (there was one vacancy), with Justice John M. Harlan writing the opinion for the majority. Harlan wrote that the Governor of Colorado was responsible for determining whether Pettibone (and the other defendants) was actually a fugitive from justice, but that he was not under obligation to demand proof of the same in connection with the requisition order, and that this deficiency was not an infringement of Pettibone’s rights under the US Constitution.  He also held that, critically:

Even were it conceded, for the purposes of this case, that the governor of Idaho wrongfully issued his requisition, and that the governor of Colorado erred in honoring it and issuing his warrant of arrest, the vital fact remains that Pettibone is held by Idaho in actual custody for trial under an indictment charging him with crime against its laws, and he seeks the aid of the circuit court to relieve him from custody, so that he may leave the state and thereby defeat the prosecution against him without trial. (fn. Quoted in Grover, Debaters and Dynamiters, p. 72.)

Thus, possession of the defendants was 9/10ths of the law, so to speak. The method of arrest, detainment, and transfer across state lines was not a matter which would be allowed to determine the defendants’ fate in the matter at hand.

•          •          •          •          •

Big Bill Haywood

William Haywood, Jr. was a child of the American West, born in February 1869 in Salt Lake City to a young, non-Mormon couple. His father, a miner, died of pneumonia in 1872, leaving young Bill’s 18-year old mother to raise him alone for the next several years, before she remarried, again to a miner. The family moved to the mining camp at Orphir, located in the Oquirrh Mountains, where Bill spent several of his boyhood years. He took his first job in Orphir, probably working as a breaker boy, when he was just 9 years old. (fn. Joseph R. Conlin, Big Bill Haywood and the Radical Union Movement. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1969; pp. 2-3.)

The family eventually returned to Salt Lake City, where Bill was hired out as a general laborer for a local farmer, earning a dollar a month. He also worked variously as a wood-chopper, hotel porter, and messenger boy. His stepfather eventually became the manager of a mine and milling company in Humboldt County, Utah, and when Bill was 15 he moved away from home to take a job there. (fn. Conlin, Big Bill Haywood, op cit., p. 5.)

Haywood would remain in his stepfather’s employ for three years, even staying to work as a property guard when the mine ceased operations for financial reasons in 1887.

In the words of one of his biographers, the historian Joseph R. Conlin:

The fact is that Bill Haywood got along quite well in Salt Lake City and Orphir, and remembered his childhood fondly and in some detail; this revolutionary’s alienation did not begin in Zion. *  *  *

He was intelligent, full of curiosity, and ambitious. His formal education was negligible; he had only a few years of schooling in Orphir and at a Roman Catholic school in Salt Lake City. But Haywood had exploited Salt Lake City’s relatively broad cultural offerings and became ‘an ardent reader of Shakespeare’ as well as a passably competent chess player… Haywood’s stepfather was a lover of poetry and introduced young Bill to Voltaire, Byron, Burns, and Milton. Haywood showed a keen interest in learning about virtually anything new with which he came into contact…. He was intrigued by everything from prehistoric mastodon tracks to Indian dances, and remained open-minded and curious throughout his life. (fn. Conlin, Big Bill Haywood, op cit., pp. 5-7.)

Bill_haywood_headshot_sideIn 1887 Haywood took another mining job, working this time as a fireman and engineer on the small train which carried ore and waste rock to the surface of the Brooklyn Mine, located near Salt Lake City. He married in 1889 and determined to leave underground employment, attempting to make a living briefly and unsuccessfully as a metal assayer and a gold prospector. He would leave the mining business altogether in 1890, when he took a job as a hand for a cattle rancher before eventually returning to the mines. (fn. Conlin, Big Bill Haywood, op cit., pp. 7-8.)

Haywood briefly homesteaded at Fort McDermitt, a brief interlude at domesticity which was ultimately defeated by his wife’s chronic ill health and the lack of gainful employment in close proximity to his home. (fn. Conlin, Big Bill Haywood, op cit., pp. 8-9.)

In the depression year of 1894, Haywood left his ailing wife and daughter with his in-laws and made his way to Silver City, Idaho to attempt to find a mining job there. The job situation was grim, with Haywood forced to start as a car man, shoveling rock at the Blaine Mine. He was eventually able to find a more remunerative position as a miner in the same mine and sent for his wife and daughter to join him — with a second daughter added to the family shortly after the pair arrived.(fn. Conlin, Big Bill Haywood, op cit., p. 20.)

In June 1896, Haywood suffered a serious hand injury while riding a car back to the surface of the Blaine Mine. He was unable to work while recovering. Towards the middle of August, President Ed Boyce of the Western Federation of Miners visited the Blaine Mine attempting to organize it. Haywood was inspired and joined the union, soon becoming treasurer of the new local. He attended meetings regularly and gained a reputation for keeping honest and accurate accounts. (fn. Conlin, Big Bill Haywood, op cit., pp. 20-21.)

Haywood was tapped by the Silver City local as its delegate to the 1898 annual convention of the WFM, held in Salt Lake City. There he was named to the executive board of the Western Labor Union, the WFM’s federative body which attempted to bring non-mining workers into organized cooperation with the WFM. From that date he also began to make a national name for himself as a contributor of articles to Miners’ Magazine, the official organ of the WFM. Boyce returned to Silver City after the 1898 convention and embarked on a short organizing trip to the neighboring town of Delmar with Haywood in tow. (fn. Conlin, Big Bill Haywood, op cit., p. 21.)

Haywood was returned as a delegate to the 1899 convention of the WFM, where as a Boyce protege he was elected to the executive board of the organization. Haywood attended board meetings at Butte and became involved as a liaison between the central union and its militant Coeur d’Alene affiliate. The job as a union functionary was only part time, however, and it was not until the following year that Haywood was made a permanent employee of the union. (fn. Conlin, Big Bill Haywood, op cit., pp. 21-22.)


•          •          •          •          •

The Jury

As this was a high-profile, costly, high-stakes capital trial, both the prosecution and the defense made earnest efforts to skew the jury for their own benefit. For weeks before the trial both teams made door-to-door canvasses throughout Ada County attempting to determine the specific inclinations and biases of prospective jurors. In yet another example of dirty tricksterism, the  prosecution managed to infiltrate a Pinkerton agent, code-named “Operative 21,” into the defense’s canvas team. This agent supplied long lists of those interviewed by the defense along with their ratings — “OK for defense” or “NG for defense.” (fn. Grover, Debaters and Dynamiters, p. 72.)

At least half of the dozen men ultimately seated on the jury had been interviewed and rated by the defense, with information funneled by the Pinkerton spy to the prosecution. However jury analysis was clearly an inexact science; four of these six had been rated as “No Good for defense,” were seated, but ultimately voted for acquittal; while two seated after being rated “OK” ultimately voted to convict, leading one historian to voice the highly unlikely proposition that perhaps the prosecution’s infiltrator had been played by a cognizant defense. (fn. Grover, Debaters and Dynamiters, p. 72.)


Jury selection was finally completed on June 3, 1907. The jury included nine farmers and ranchers (one now retired), a real estate agent, an unemployed former carpenter and farmer, and an ex-farmer now employed as a fence-builder for a local railway. Only one had ever been a member of a trade union, and that had been a number of years before. The jurors were almost exclusively middle-aged and older. Politically, these were eight Republicans, three Democrats, and a Prohibitionist — seemingly a fine set of material for the prosecution. (fn. Grover, Debaters and Dynamiters, pp. 101-104.)

A seven-week trial followed, with the eyes of the nation focused upon the proceedings. The correspondents of an estimated 50 magazines and newspapers converged upon Boise, then a town of about 15,000 residents, to deliver blow-by-blow accounts to readers around the nation. (fn. Grover, Debaters and Dynamiters, pp. 105, 107.)

•          •          •          •          •

Harry Orchard’s Story


Albert E. Horsley (aka Harry Orchard, 1866-1954), confessed terrorist and assassin, who eventually lived out his life in the Idaho State Penitentiary after his death sentence was commuted.

The state began its case against Bill Haywood on the morning of June 4, 1907, with James H. Hawley making a 90-minute opening statement for the prosecution. Hawley emphasized the power of the Executive Committee of the WFM in determining the day-to-day affairs of the union, and argued that the policies advocated by the union leadership had led to the death of former Governor Steunenberg and others. Clarence Darrow, for the defense, crossed swords with Hawley a number of times with procedural objections during the opening statement, the start of what would be a bitter and antagonistic relationship. (fn. Grover, Debaters and Dynamiters, pp. 114-116.)

The state quickly established that Harry Orchard and member of the WFM board Jack Simpkins had been in Caldwell several times during the fall of 1905, rooming together under the pseudonyms Hogan and Simmons, with photographs of the pair identified by witnesses. (fn. Grover, Debaters and Dynamiters, p. 117.)

With that background established, the prosecution called Harry Orchard to the stand, where he acknowledged that his real name was Albert E. Horsley, born in Ontario, Canada 41 years previously. Horsley-Orchard briefly described his early work career, culminating in his arrival at Cripple Creek, Colorado, in 1902, and his connection with the explosion at the Vindicator Mine. (fn. Grover, Debaters and Dynamiters, p. 119.)

Horsley-Orchard stated that he had gone to Denver after the Vindicator bombing and met WFM officials Charles Moyer and Bill Haywood for the first time, where he asserts he was told to continue with other acts of violence which “couldn’t go any too fierce to suit them.” Horsley-Orchard states he was paid $300 by the WFM leaders and then returned to Cripple Creek, where he built a bomb which was later placed in the coal bunker of the Vindicator Mine. (fn. Grover, Debaters and Dynamiters, p. 119.)

Horsley-Orchard then said he worked as a bodyguard for Moyer until his arrest at Telluride, after which he returned to Denver and was instructed by Haywood and George Pettibone of the WFM to kill Governor Peabody of Colorado for his actions taken against the striking miners, with Steve Adams recommended to help Horsley-Orchard carry out the assassination. The pair attempted to shadow Peabody but were unable to get close enough to carry out the killing, Horsley-Orchard asserted. (fn. Grover, Debaters and Dynamiters, p. 119.)

Horsley-Orchard says he next carried out the assassination of detective Lyte Gregory in Denver in the spring of 1904, with Pettibone placing the hit on behalf of the WFM executive. Horsley-Orchard and Adams were each paid $100 for their part in the late-night shooting, he claimed. (fn. Grover, Debaters and Dynamiters, p. 119.)

The June 6, 1904, bombing of the depot at Independence, Colorado was the next act of violence claimed by Horsley-Orchard, in which he claimed that he and Steve Adams had placed a dynamite bomb under a train station platform and detonated it with a 200-foot wire as strikebreaking miners congregated to board a train home after a day’s work. Thirteen were killed and six wounded in the blast. Horsley-Orchard indicated that he had hid out in Wyoming after the bombing, collecting money from Haywood for services rendered. (fn. Grover, Debaters and Dynamiters, p. 120.)

Next, Horsley-Orchard had traveled to California to assassinate Fred Bradley of the Mine Owners’ Association, failing in an attempt to poison him before wounding him with a bomb. Another plot to kill Peabody was made, this time with a bomb, was alleged to have been made, but the effort was said to have been halted at the last minute due to the unexpected appearance of potential witnesses. A tale of various other assassination plots was recounted with Colorado Supreme Court justices Gabbert and Goddard and Colorado Adjutant-General Sherman Bell said to be among the potential victims who escaped a violent end. (fn. Grover, Debaters and Dynamiters, p. 120.)

It was then that Horsley-Orchard says he was dispatched to Caldwell, Idaho to kill Frank Steunenberg, meeting his accomplice Jack Simpkins before proceeding to Idaho. A first attempt to kill the governor with a bomb had failed, Horsley-Orchard declared, and Simpkins had left town before the second effort to kill Steunenberg with an explosive device had yielded results. (fn. Grover, Debaters and Dynamiters, p. 121.)

A 26-hour cross-examination followed, with attorney Edmund F. Richardson attempting to impeach Horsley-Orchard’s story without much apparent success.

[… to be continued …]



The official deadline for Eugene V. Debs Selected Works: Volume 4 is October 15, 2019. I’m setting a soft deadline of August 1 to finish the document compilation phase of the project. This means there are now 11 more Sundays after today to get the core content section of the book assembled, with a limit for publication of approximately 260,000 words.

  • “Growth of the Injunction” (May 6, 1905) — 1,986 words
  • “For the First Time Our Comrades Are Safe: Letter to James Kirwan, Acting Secretary-Treasurer of the Western Federation of Miners” (March 2, 1907) — 338 words
  • “Looking Backward: Thirty Years of Struggle for Labor Emancipation” (Nov. 11 1907) — 1,877 words
  • “John Brown, History’s Greatest Hero” (Nov. 23, 1907) — 873 words
  • “Thomas McGrady: Eulogy to an Honest Man” (Dec. 14, 1907) — 2,124 words
  • “Childhood” (Dec. 21, 1907) — 359 words
  • “Panic Philosophy” (Dec. 28, 1908) — 376 words

Word count: 168,087 in the can + 7,933 this week +/- amendments = 175,705 words total.

David Walters will be running all of this material up on Marxists Internet Archive in coming days.

To find it, please visit the Eugene V. Debs Internet Archive



Here’s the microfilm that I’ve scanned this week, available for free download. Bear in mind that there is generally a short delay between completion of the scanning and its appearance on MIA. Thanks are due to David Walters for getting this material into an accessible format.

Several hundred issues of two of the Socialist Party’s three English-language daily newspapers have been completed.

New York Call — 1908 (Nov.-Dec.), 1909 (Jan.-Feb.)

Chicago Daily Socialist — 1908 (Jan.-June)

I also worked a reel of the Debs papers film for the second half of 1908, which netted a copy of the October 5, 1908 issue of the New York Call, effectively lost through incompetent microfilming, that I groused about in last week’s blog as well as a number of other rare socialist newspapers.



Haymarket Books is moving down the back stretch with Volume 2: The Rise and Fall of the American Railway Union, as David and I were officially invited to submit indexing suggestions to a proofread copy.

The book is slated for release in August 2019.


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A Few Notes at Halftime (19-13)


The last week of April and the first week of May is a regular and predictable time when my work on Debs slows to a crawl. Real life intervenes in the form of a ten-straight day work schedule; free time dwindles and energy dissipates.

I own a small retail business. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do to pay the bills.

Anyway, there has been no time to research and write for the blog, there has been very little time to scan newspapers. The two long articles that I did manage to type up this week still have massive holes where the footnotes belong. There is more work to be done.

Moreover, a software idiosyncrasy of the program Dropbox resulted in the contralogical result of me losing two weeks of work on my all-important Debs Article Database instead of successfully backing it up — a glitch which necessitated me spending another 90 minutes or so of my limited stock of “Debs time” to make up the “vanished” data.

See, I can whine with the best of them…

A real blog post is clearly not in the cards this week. I thought that I’d instead accept that the tide is way out and that my sailboat is temporarily sideways on the beach and ramble for a few minutes about how Debs Volume IV is going.

There are 13 weeks down and 13 weeks to go with the document assembly process.

Let’s call it halftime.

•          •          •          •          •

Debs-etching-1904-smVolume 4: Red Union, Red Paper, Red Train, 1905-1910 is progressing swimmingly. There are nearly 170,000 words in the can, which probably projects to something like 310,000 when the smoke clears. David and I will need to cut down to 260,000. That’s just about a perfect situation when we go into the work of diamond cutting.

We’re almost unquestionably going to chop two of the four long and duplicative stenographically reported “IWW Speeches” that have been a feature of every Debs Works project from 1908 onward. There will be plenty on the “red union” remaining. I don’t think anybody will miss the cut pieces, I certainly know I won’t, and it will definitely make for a book that reads better. Anyone seriously interested in finding that cut material will have zero problem doing that. Those particular speeches are ubiquitous.

Reducing the material dealing with the kidnapping of Moyer, Haywood, and Pettibone and the resulting Haywood Trial of 1907 to fit will prove to be more difficult. Debs was absolutely relentless banging the drum to alert organized labor, political activists, and the media about this affair. It’s not a matter of picking the two most important of four speeches made on nearly consecutive nights and calling it good — there is a story to be told running the course of months and there are tens of thousands of words in play in the first years of Debs’s professional association with the “red paper” — the Appeal to Reason.

It will be interesting to see how that resolves itself. I suspect that we will wield a scalpel rather than a cleaver on the trial material.

•          •          •          •          •


This is probably a good time for me to express my contempt for “librarians” and “archivists” who think that taking an illegible photograph gives them license to destroy irreplaceable newspapers. Book dealers and private collectors for the win; archival bureaucrats — there is an unpleasant place waiting for you in the afterlife.

Although I’m not quite done with 1907 (I’ve got another week or so before that is totally finished up) I am already looking towards 1908. That’s the year of the legendary “red train” — the Socialist Red Special of the 1908 presidential campaign — and there will emerge dozens of short snippets of the two hundred or so speeches made during the course of EVD’s 1908 whistle-stop campaign.

Almost all of those will not make the cut for the final book.

One that did promise to make the grade was a much touted evening speech to a massive crowd at the Hippodrome in New York City.

I was positively frantic this week when I discovered that New York Public Library absolutely butchered the microfilming of the New York Evening Call for 1908 — with approximately 25% of the material rendered illegibly blurred and the irreplaceable source material likely to have been destroyed after filming!

Included in this catastrophe of bureaucratic incompetence was about 2/3 of the awaited Debs speech in New York City — obviously stenographically reported — which had promised to be one of the two most important preserved examples of his speeches of the 1908 presidential campaign.

It was absolutely gut-wrenching.

Fortunately I had already scanned the weekly edition of the Call — formerly known as The Worker, name changed to the New York Socialist. So it was a quick thing to check the content for early October. Bless their hearts, having moved to a 12-page format they had space and it turns out they reprinted the entire 6,000 word Debs speech in that alternate publication. What a break!

Scanning the Call has been dispiriting — very much like raking through the rubble to find personal effects after a tornado has struck and obliterated one’s home. Thank god it appears they finally got the technical problem figured out as they were filming the papers for late October 1908.

Unfortunately, the earlier papers from 1908 are probably lost to history, including one page featuring a very important letter to the editor by Morris Hillquit — who is probably going to be the focus of my next book project.

The four-letter words flow like a torrent…

•          •          •          •          •

So far I have been pretty fortunate in finding all known Debs writings for 1905, 1906, and 1907. There are still a few of them out there to be tracked down, but most of the key material is accounted for and I am learning quite a bit as I go.

Well, that’s probably enough for now.

See ya next week with a proper blog post.





The official deadline for Eugene V. Debs Selected Works: Volume 4 is October 15, 2019. I’m setting a soft deadline of August 1 to finish the document compilation phase of the project. This means there are now 13 more Saturdays after today to get the core content section of the book assembled, with a limit for publication of approximately 260,000 words.

  • “The New Emancipation: Campaign Speech at the Hippodrome, New York City” (Oct. 4, 1908) — 6,038 words
  • “Diaz’s Plot to Murder Our Mexican Comrades Must Be Foiled” (Oct. 10, 1908) — 2,056 words

Word count: 159,993 in the can + 8,094 this week +/- amendments = 168,087 words total.

David Walters will be running all of this material up on Marxists Internet Archive in coming days.

To find it, please visit the Eugene V. Debs Internet Archive



Here’s the microfilm that I’ve scanned this week, available for free download. Bear in mind that there is generally a short delay between completion of the scanning and its appearance on MIA. Thanks are due to David Walters for getting this material into an accessible format.

New York Call — 1908 (daily: September-October)


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“Undesirable Citizens” (19-12)


One of the great memes of the first decade of the twentieth century, if you will excuse my use of that anachronistic phrase, surrounds the term “undesirable citizens,” famously used by President Theodore Roosevelt in reference to labor radicals.

That term was quickly appropriated as a badge of honor by socialist and trade union militants, and has been more or less absorbed into the mythology of the American labor movement. Its context has faded and those remembering the term’s actual use have departed from the scene, but a vague sense of ancient insult and reclaimed honor remains.

What of this phrase? Was it a creation from whole cloth by President Theodore Roosevelt? Is it true, as Gene Debs intimated several times in 1907, that Roosevelt used the phrase “undesirable citizen” specifically about him?

I decided to take a short look at this small footnote of history — largely so that I could write an accurate footnote to my history…

•          •          •          •          •

Meaning 1: Ne’erdowells of the Lumpenproletariat

riffraffThe term “undesirable citizen” did not originate with Theodore Roosevelt. In fact, the exact phrase begins to pop up in American newspapers in the years immediately after the American Civil War. In its first iteration, “undesirable citizen” was a Gilded Age term mockingly employed by  defenders of polite society from the aggressions and transgressions of the most brazen ne’erdowells of the lumpenproletariat.

Publisher John H. Oberly of the Cairo, Illinois, Evening Bulletin provides one particularly colorful example of this early use:

John Stricker, alias John Jones, alias “Louisville” is now in the calaboose, ruminating, it is hoped, on the wickedness of his ways and the pleasanter paths of uprightness and virtue. And who deplores his absence from the public walks of life? No one, as far as is heard from. On the contrary, his incarceration is spoken of, on all sides, as a mere taste of that punishment his bad life and long continued misconduct deserved.

For many years he has been a loafer, the frequenter of the vilest dens of the city, the blackmailer of bawds, and the companion of thieves, gamblers, and counterfeiters. A foul-mouthed, brazen-faced blatherskite, he appears here, there, and everywhere, and has done more than any ten loafers in the city to create the impression among strangers that Cairo is the general rendezvous of blackguards and villains.

On the streets, in saloons, in low dance houses and brothels, among the wicked and debased, he has spent ten years of his life in Cairo, and, all that time, he has been permitted to offend with impunity! … There is scarcely a citizen of Cairo who has not been approached by him with the impudent demand “give me half a dollar;” and there is scarcely a bawd in the city who has not paid him blackmail, extorted from her under the threat of prosecution in the event of her refusal.

He is, in short, generally and especially, a very undesirable citizen(fn. “A Privileged Character Brought to Grief,” Cairo Evening Bulletin, April 2, 1869, p. 3. Emphasis added.)

In a similarly entertaining vein, here is the New York Herald celebrating the violent demise of one Irish tough in the fall of 1875:

Another of those gentlemen of muscular development who live on their reputation as bruisers has passed away from the earth, figuratively speaking, with his boots on and with a couple of ounces of lead in his inside. O’Baldwin, the Irish giant, whose “arm was as big as another man’s thigh,” and whose brawny fist could fell an ox as easily as it could be done with a poleaxe, died yesterday morning from the effect of pistol shot wounds, inflicted by the hand of one of his own breed….

In the good old days of Tammany’s ascendancy men like O’Baldwin could hold high their bullet heads and their broken noses and lord it in the first political circles of the city. Everybody remembers how they might be seen any bright, sunny afternoon, lounging on the Broadway corners opposite the City Hall Park or hanging about the steps of the public buildings, receiving kindly recognition from the “bosses”…

Since the old leaders passed away to the seclusion of prison cells, or sought recreation in foreign lands, the crop-haired heroes have been driven to seek a living in other ways than from the city payrolls. Some of them naturally took to the liquor business, and O’Baldwin was one of these…

It is probably a good thing for the public that these characters so frequently and so effectually dispose of each other…. Judging by his past career we may fairly congratulate ourselves that the city is thus speedily rid of him, although in the interests of justice the manner of his end may be deplored. Now and then the bullet finds a useful mark, and if the gallows can do its part and put O’Baldwin’s murderer out of the way we shall be happily relieved of two undesirable citizens by one event. (fn. “O’Baldwin’s End,” New York Herald, whole no. 14,283 (Sept. 30, 1875), p. 6. Emphasis added.)

•          •          •          •          •

Meaning 2: Potentially Disruptive (Non-White) Immigrants

antichinese-graphic.jpgWith the marked expansion of immigration to the United States in last two decades of the nineteenth century, we find use of the phrase “undesirable citizen” shifting from erudite editorialists bemoaning criminal thugs to the customs and immigration bureaucracy and non-governmental opponents of foreign immigration. The term was now used to describe potential naturalization candidates destined to fail the winnowing process — particularly those not “white” enough.

Here’s one typical application, an Associated Press report from 1890, damning Asian immigration:

Seattle, Wash., Nov. 28 [1890].— The Congressional Committee on Immigration held hearings here today examining leading citizens and officers of labor organizations in regard to the Chinese question and Scott exclusion act.

Among the witnesses was C.M. Bradshaw, Collector of Port Townsend. The opinion was generally expressed that the Chinese were undesirable citizens. Mr. Bradshaw told how Chinese are smuggled across the border, giving it as his opinion that 50 or 60 came in each month…. (fn. “Undesireable Citizens: The Immigration Committee Investigating the Chinese Question,” Los Angeles Times, vol. 9 (Nov. 29, 1890), p. 4. Emphasis added.)

This immigration-related application of the phrase “undesirable citizen” seems to have been much more common than its earlier use in conjunction with drunks and thugs. The term was not limited exclusively to Asiatic peoples, it is worth remarking — as this 1891 snippet datelined New Orleans detailing the report of a select “citizens’ committee” makes clear:

The only radical remedy which suggests itself to us is the entire prohibition of immigration from Sicily and lower Italy. It was found necessary to prohibit Chinese immigrants and Congress passed the necessary law. The danger to California from Chinese was no greater than the danger to [Louisiana] from the Sicilian and Southern Italians. We have had a long experience with these people and that experience has been a sad one. They are undesirable citizens and there is no reason why they should be allowed to participate in the blessings of freedom and civilization, which they are not only unable to appreciate but which they refuse to understand or to accept. (fn. “In the Crescent City,” Los Angeles Times, May 15, 1891, p. 1. Emphasis added.)

The specter of increased financial burden upon taxpayers associated with certain immigrants accentuated their undesirability, as this 1904 piece entitled “Undesirable Citizens” from the Deseret Evening News of Salt Lake City emphasizes:

Inspector Webber of the Chinese Immigration inspection department including this state, is looking over the Utah penal and charitable institutions to ascertain whether any of the inmates come within the deporting regulations.

He found a young Italian, aged 26 at Castle Gate, who had been paralyzed from the hips down by a mine accident, and who will be a charge of the county for the remainder of his life. The man had been in the United States just long enough to escape from deportation rules when his accident came.

Another charge was found in Utah County in the case of a young Englishman who has been in jail five times in the short period of his stay in the United States, and it may be found possible to ship him back to the old country. (fn. “Undesirable Citizens: Inspector Webber Here Looking for Aliens Eligible for Deportation,” Deseret Evening News, vol. 54 (April 1, 1904), p. 10.)

In short, by the 1890s the phrase had emerged as a mainstream term of derogation towards those immigrants judged to be insufficiently dedicated to the rule of law, the maintenance of wage scales, or the cultural norms of American Anglo-Saxon society — especially those who would add to the tax burden of established society.

The racist undertones of such a construction were unmistakable. Here’s a December 1890 editorial rant entitled “Undesirable Immigrants” from the Nashville Tennessean in which the writer’s bigoted nativism is allowed to shine through:

There can be no doubt that some effective law restricting immigration should be passed by Congress. This country is, and for many years will be, a home for the oppressed of every country, but it should no longer be safe refuge for vagabonds, paupers, criminals, and all the various undesirable elements of society, which the countries of the Old World are glad to furnish us without extra charge….

The United States should no longer be a dumping ground for the human refuse of all Europe. The emigrant ships which daily pour out their foul contents upon our shores are so many ocean garbage carts employed in cleaning the population of other countries. Good men from every country, no matter what may be their race or religion, if they…embrace American ideas and assimilate with our population, are welcome. But let us draw the line on thieves, paupers, anarchists, and their like. Our poorhouses, our jails, our penal, charitable, and reformatory institutions of every kind are kept up largely to care for Old World paupers and punish Old World malefactors.

We thus kindly rid our friends across the water of undesirable citizens as well as the trouble and expense of looking after them….  (fn. “Undesirable Immigrants,” Nashville Tennessean, vol. 16, whole no. 5197 (Dec. 7, 1890), p. 4. Emphasis added.)

It all sounds perfectly Trumpian.

•          •          •          •          •

Meaning 3. Labor Movement Activists

bisbee.jpgApplicability of the term “undesirable citizen” was further extended to cover strikers and strike leaders during the days of the so-called Citizens’ Alliances around the turn of the 20th Century. The former association of the term with a need to stop a stream of alien outsiders from entering and disrupting the fabric of the nation was supplanted by a new emphasis on those disrupting the divine right of profits of American “captains of industry,” thereby undermining the national economy.

This precise phrase was still not commonly being used for strikers during the last years of the 19th Century. This June 1899 article from Southeastern Kansas during a coal miners’ strike clearly uses the phrase in its earlier ne’erdowell and racist context against those brought in to break a strike.

Judge A.H. Skedmore has granted the injunction prayed for against the Kansas and Texas Coal Company, enjoining that corporation from bringing in for the operation of its mines from which the strikers withdrew, of any convict labor, undesirable citizens, or people with malignant or contagious diseases. This was caused by the threat of the company to import Negro labor, and it is remembered that during the strike of 1893 this company imported from Alabama a lot of Negroes who have been the worst citizens ever brought from the district. The people in general hope no more such will ever be brought into this district. (fn. Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital [Topeka], June 2, 1899, p. 5. Emphasis added.)

Within a few short years the phrase would be exclusively used against strikers themselves, however. Here’s a piece entitled “Banishing Undesirable Citizens” from the New York Times of August 2, 1903:

The action of the people of Idaho Springs in rounding up fourteen men suspected of complicity in or guilty knowledge of the blowing up of the buildings of the Sun and Moon Mine, marching them to the town border, and bidding them depart, never to return, on penalty of “hearing something to their disadvantage,” is at least a good deal better than a lynching. The explosion is popularly believed to have been a trades union outrage, planned and executed to discourage further resistance to a strike now in progress in that district… The evidence probably was not sufficient to give assurance of a conviction, although the men in question had been arrested and were in jail at the time. In some communities the intensity of local feeling would have suggested lynching the suspects on general principles. The Idaho Springs method was preferable. (fn. “Banishing Undesirable Citizens,” New York Times, Aug. 2, 1904, p. 6.)

For another example of troublesome strikers given the new appellation “undesirable citizens,”  see this dispatch bearing the subhead “Undesirable Citizens Sent Out by Colorado Officials” published during the period of Governor Peabody’s martial law:

Telluride, Colo, Jan. 5 [1904].— Twenty-six men arrested here by the military authorities, including former Attorney General Eugene Engley, counsel fo the Telluride Miners’ Union, Guy E. Miller, president of the union, and J.S. Williams, vice-president of the Western Federation of Miners, were placed on board a north-bound train yesterday and taken beyond the boundaries of San Miguel County under military guard. They will not be allowed to return to this district while martial law is in effect. (fn. Wire report, “Were Transported: Undesirable Citizens Sent Out by Colorado Officials,” Ottawa [KS] Evening Herald, vol. 8, no. 40 (Jan. 5, 1904), p. 1.)

And the most “undesirable” of all would be those trade union functionaries who led such strikes, would they not?

•          •          •          •          •

And Then Teddy Takes Over…

tr-kingSo we see that when he made use of the term “undesirable citizens” in 1906 and 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt was merely echoing a popular phrase which had evolved and become part of the vocabulary of contemporary conservatism — a phrase used directly in the context of labor disruption.

But this was not the first time that TR had made use of the construct of “undesirable citizens” — he had already latched on to the phrase even before he became president. In Roosevelt’s 1899 biography of Thomas H. Benton, written more than a decade earlier, TR wields the epithet “undesirable” against New England religious pacifists, of all people, adding insufficient militarism to the official list of fundamental character flaws:

But, after all, this [Southern] ruffianism was really not a whit worse in its effects on the natural character than was he case with certain of the “universal peace” and “non-resistance” developments in the Northeastern states; in fact, it was more healthy. A class of professional non-combatants is as hurtful to the real, healthy growth of a nation as is a class of fire-eaters; …and, in the long run, a Quaker may be quite as undesirable a citizen as is a duelist. No man who is not willing to bear arms and fight for his rights can give a good reason why he should be entitled to the privilege of living in a free community. (fn. Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas H. Benton [1886]. Boston: Houghton Mifflin & Co., 1899; pp. 33-34. Emphasis added)

•          •          •          •          •

Use of the term “undesirable citizens” positively exploded in 1907 and President Roosevelt was the direct cause. In the spring of that year a campaign finance controversy around the president erupted, with millionaire railroad executive E.H. Harriman asserting that TR had asked him to raise $250,000 for the 1904 presidential campaign, in exchange for moving New York Senator Chauncey Depew out of Washington as the next ambassador to France — thereby opening up the Senate seat for former governor Benjamin Odell, Jr., a friend of Harriman’s.

As the Washington Post put it, “aggressive and impulsive, President Roosevelt came back at Harriman in true Rooseveltian fashion,” calling Harriman a liar and publishing an entire chain of correspondence with Rep. James S. Sherman of New York (future vice-president under William Howard Taft), chair of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee as a means of documentary refutation of the charge. (fn. “Harriman Lies, Says President,” Washington Post, April 3, 1907, p. 1.)

One of these pieces of correspondence published for the first time in the spring of 1907 was a lengthy letter from Roosevelt to Sherman written on October 8 of the previous year, in which Roosevelt remarked:

Far more important are the additional remarks he [Harriman] made to you [Sherman], as you inform me, when you asked him if he thought it was well to see Hearstism and the like triumphant over the Republican Party.

You inform me that he told you that he did not care in the least, because those people were crooks and he [Harriman] could buy them; that whenever he wanted legislation from a state legislature he could buy it; that he “could buy Congress,” and that if necessary he “could buy the judiciary.”

This was doubtless said partly in boastful cynicism and partly in a mere burst of bad temper, because of the interstate commerce law and to my actions as president. But it shows a cynicism and deep-seated corruption, which make the man uttering such sentiments, and boasting, no matter how falsely, of this power to perform such crimes, at least as undesirable a citizen as Debs, or Moyer, or Haywood. (fn. “Harriman Lies, Says President”, p. 2. Emphasis added.)

Bear in mind that this was written in October 1906, when the public controversy and tsk-tsking of Debs for his ostensibly insurrectionary writing on the Moyer-Haywood-Pettibone kidnapping from the previous spring was fresh in the public consciousness.

As the trial finally approached, matters were getting even more serious. Defenders of the jailed leaders of the Western Federation of Miners, facing trial for their lives, were positively aghast at Roosevelt’s characterization of the defendants. One of the numerous letters of protest received by Roosevelt was from Honoré Jackson of Chicago, chair of the Cook County Moyer-Haywood Conference. In his April 19 communication Jackson had queried Roosevelt about his characterization of Moyer and Haywood as “undesirable citizens” and declared that “death cannot, will not, and shall not claim our brothers.”

This provoked the hot-blooded Roosevelt, who responded on April 22 that Jackson’s language “shows you are not demanding a fair trial or working for a fair trial, but are announcing in advance that the verdict shall be one way and that you will not tolerate any other verdict.” This, Roosevelt contended, was “flagrant in its impropriety and I join heartily in condemning it.” Roosevelt railed:

…It is a simple absurdity to suppose that because any man is on trial for a given offense he is therefore to be freed from all criticisms upon his general conduct and manner of life. In my letter to which you object I referred to a certain prominent financier, Mr. Harriman, on the one hand, and to Messrs. Moyer, Haywood, and Debs, on the other, as being equally undesirable citizens…. I neither expressed nor indicated any opinion as to whether Messrs. Moyer and Haywood were guilty of the murder of Gov. Steunenberg. If they are guilty, they certainly ought to be punished. If they are not guilty, they certainly ought not to be punished.

But no possible outcome…can affect my judgment as the the undesirability of the type of citizenship of those whom I mentioned. Messrs. Moyer, Haywood, and Debs stand as representatives of those men who have done as much to discredit the labor movement as the worst speculative financiers or most unscrupulous employers of labor and debauchers of legislatures have done to discredit honest capitalists and fair-dealing businessmen.

They stand as the representatives of these men who by their public utterances and manifestos, by the utterances of the papers they control or inspire, and by the words and deeds of those associated with or subordinated to them habitually appear as guilty of incitement to or apology for bloodshed and violence.

If this does not constitute undesirable citizenship, then there can never be any undesirable citizens. The men whom I denounce represent the men who have abandoned that legitimate movement for the uplifting of labor with which I have the most hearty sympathy; they have adopted practices which cut them off from those who lead this legitimate movement. In every way I shall support the law-abiding and upright representatives of labor, and in no way can I better support them than by drawing the sharpest possible line between them on the one hand and on the other hand those preachers of violence who are themselves the worst foes of the honest laboring men. (fn. “President Scorns Enmity of Labor,” Chicago Tribune, vol. 66, no. 98 (April 24, 1907), p. 1. Emphasis added.)

And so was a meme born as the left rallied to the slur by appropriating it as a self-description in defiance.


I’ll close with one quick example of the way the left rapidly turned the insult into a badge of honor — of which there are many, including several from the pen of Debs.

This is by Phil Hafner, publisher and editor of the Scott County Kicker of Benton, Missouri:

About “Undesirable Citizens” — Washington and Lincoln Were Classed as Such in Their Day

These “undesirable citizens” are a great source of annoyance to the ruling class. The men on top are satisfied to let “well enough alone.” The same platitudes and “arguments” used in defense of existing conditions have been used for ages by the exploiters of the people. “Obey the law,” is their cry…

But the “undesirable citizen” is always with us. And the preachers, teachers, editors, lawyers, and officials of the time are hot on his trail. An “anarchist” they call him because he rebels against the injustices of the day….

Christ drove the money-changers (we call them capitalists) from the temple. They had polluted the house of worship into a “den of thieves,” he said. Of course the Savior was a very “undesirable citizen” and you need not be told what the ruling powers did to him. *  *  *

The Tories, who owned the colonies under British rule, wanted no change. They were satisfied. Living on the fat of the lad by absorbing, in arrogant idleness, what others produced in toil and self-denial, the Tory element was in clover and, of course, wanted to remain there. Its organs violently denounced as traitors those who ventured to suggest a change of program. These miscreants included Paine, Franklin, Adams, Hancock, Washington, Jefferson, and a number of other “undesirable citizens,” who have since become quite respectable. The Tory has gone the way of flesh and is remembered only as an abomination. *  *  *

Men who write as Debs writes, and talk as Debs talks, are, and always have been, “undesirable citizens” in the eyes of the ruling class. Debs has never violated any law, neither has it been shown that either Moyer, Haywood, or Pettibone have, yet the president of the United States publicly declares them to be “undesirable citizens.” *  *  *

When past history is taken into account, it is not surprising that the revolutionists of today take great pride in wearing badges on which is inscribed, “We Are Undesirable Citizens.” (fn. Phil A. Hafner, “About ‘Undesirable Citizens’ — Washington and Lincoln Were Classed as Such in Their Day,” Scott County Kicker, May 18, 1907, p. 1.)



The official deadline for Eugene V. Debs Selected Works: Volume 4 is October 15, 2019. I’m setting a soft deadline of August 1 to finish the document compilation phase of the project. This means there are now 14 more Saturdays after today to get the core content section of the book assembled, with a limit for publication of approximately 260,000 words.

  • “The Coming Climax” (May 18, 1907) — 3,790 words
  • “Roosevelt’s Labor Letters” (May 18, 1907) — 2,368 words
  • “The Trial and Its Meaning” (June 8, 1907) — 2,085 words
  • “Sweep of the Social Revolution” (Nov. 9, 1907) — 2,227 words

Word count: 149,523 in the can + 10,470 this week +/- amendments = 159,993 words total.

David Walters will be running all of this material up on Marxists Internet Archive in coming days.

To find it, please visit the Eugene V. Debs Internet Archive



Here’s the microfilm that I’ve scanned this week, available for free download. Bear in mind that there is generally a short delay between completion of the scanning and its appearance on MIA. Thanks are due to David Walters for getting this material into an accessible format.

Lincoln [NE] Socialist-Labor — 1896 (Jan. – July) [end of run]

New York Call — 1908 (May-August)

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