Road Warrior: Debs in 1910 (19-19)


I was going to spend this week’s blog on The Mystery of 1909. Something really changed in that year for Gene Debs, a “blank space” between the gut punch 1908 election result — in which the Socialist Party’s nearly perfect campaign, during which hundreds of fervently-applauded Debs campaign speeches were delivered, only to be rewarded (?!?) with a paltry 20,000 votes bump up from the previous race — and a documentable 1910 touring frenzy.

While I’ve certainly got my theories about the 9-1/2 month void of public speeches and weak journalistic output, it’s not time yet to explore that in depth. I have instead spent the entire week working on an entirely different year — the road mania of 1910.

•          •          •          •          •

In review…


Touring lecturer Robert Ingersoll, whom Debs met as a young man when he helped organize a speech  in Terre Haute and who remained an inspiration and role model throughout his life.

In 1907 Debs stopped working as an entrepreneurial touring lecturer in the vein of his idol, Col. Robert Ingersoll, and instead took his place as an apparently well-compensated employee of the Appeal to Reason — the largest socialist newspaper in the country. Recovering from throat surgery, Debs stopped public speaking and jumped into journalism, becoming intimately involved in the Haywood-Moyer-Pettibone affair and writing copiously on that topic. He moved to Girard and worked from a desk in the Appeal to Reason office, occasionally reporting from the road and making a few short trips home to his more or less abandoned wife in Terre Haute.

This period of intensive journalism continued through the end of August 1908. I already have a total of 57 articles typed up and “in the can” for this interval, with dozens of others failing to make the cut. It was a strong period for written journalism. On the other hand, I count only about 20 speeches he made during this same interval — an average of fewer than one per month. I may have missed a few, but not many. Writer? Yes. Speaker? Barely. A big change for the touring lecturer Debs…

Then from August 30 through November 2, 1908, was the period of the Red Special, when he made literally hundreds of election campaign speeches: a handful of ten or fifteen minute whistle-stop appeals at scheduled railroad stations each day, followed by large lecture hall speeches in the evening. This was election fare, and Debs went at it hard.

Then came the actual vote and the bad result.

Something went haywire in 1909. Depression? Perhaps. Alcoholism? Not out of the question. There are few tea leaves, but there is a big hole in the Debs body of work, both written and spoken. Outside of one “guest edited” issue of the Appeal to Reason, March 6, 1909, there are fewer than 40 total pieces attributed to Debs for the year, many of which are reprints of previously published material — epigrams and excerpts. His count of speeches for 1909? Zero through August 21. Then a short tour, perhaps 20 dates to the end of the year in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York.

There is, in short, a big activity hole between November 1908 and August 1909.

Then in 1910, came a return to full-fledged touring frenzy, this time under the auspices of the Appeal to Reason.

Here is how the deal went:

Debs and Warren Meetings

by George D. Brewer


Chicago is planning a gigantic Debs-Warren meeting for October 5th, at which both of these noted working class champions will participate. Debs, with his wonderful eloquence and thorough knowledge of the labor movement, and Warren, with his splendid and unsurpassed logic and conclusive arguments on the rights of free press, speech, and assemblage, will give the winding city a shaking up that will be felt from center to circumference. It is planned to make this the biggest meeting of this kind ever pulled off on American soil.

From Chicago…Debs will pursue a western course. On October 6th, Debs will speak in Milwaukee, thence through Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon for from two to four dates each and wind up the last two weeks before election in a whirlwind campaign through California.

Locals in the states named above desiring a Debs-Appeal meeting should make application at once to their state secretary. There are still a few dates open and if you act act promptly you may be able to secure one.

There isn’t a city in the United States with a population of ten or more thousand, with a good working local, that cannot make of one of these meetings a huge success.

Listen! Eugene V. Debs is the greatest living socialist orator.

The Appeal to Reason is the most powerful socialist paper in the world.

You get them both for less than the price of one.

Guarantee a thousand subscribers to the Appeal and get a Debs lecture free.

Any local can accomplish more for socialism in three or four weeks working up one of these meetings, than in a whole year of ordinary propaganda effort.

We have now held over 100 of these meetings and not a single local has ever in the slightest degree complained or expressed regret after everything was over and settlement made, but have universally congratulated themselves on taking advantage of the opportunity to secure Debs and add a thousand or more new readers to the Appeal in their locality on terms so entirely satisfactory.

Kansas City, Missouri, cleared over $400 on their meeting for the local; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Akron, Dayton, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, in Ohio; Pittsburgh and Reading, Pennsylvania; Detroit, Michigan and several others approximately $200, while more than half of all the meetings held had a surplus of from $25 to $150 after the smoke had cleared away and settlement for all expense had been made. In many of the cities where the largest and most successful meetings were held the locals paid as high as $300 for the hall.

Locals in line with the itinerary now being arranged that secure one of these meetings will be enabled to strike the most effective blow for socialism it has ever been able to deliver.

We recommend that you write to your state secretary or direct to the Appeal office for definite terms.  (Appeal to Reason, whole no. 766 (Aug. 6, 1910), p. 4)

•          •          •          •          •


I just spotted a circa 1910 image of touring companions George Brewer and Gene Debs on the cover of Haymarket’s 2005 paperback reprint of Ira Kipnis’s seminal book on the early SPA. Buy a copy HERE.

J.E. Snyder handled the booking through the Appeal office in Girard, with Brewer traveling with Debs and delivering warm-up speeches and introducing Debs as necessary. Any Socialist Party local promising to purchase 1,000 forty-week Appeal subscriptions at approximately 20 cents per subscription ($200) would receive not just the newspapers but an appearance by Debs. Sale of tickets at 25 cents a seat (or more) and sale of literature at the event would cover these costs.

The Appeal paid Debs, the paper gained subscribers, and the Socialist locals almost invariably seemed to have covered their costs, frequently netting surpluses of from $100 to $400 for their trouble.

Win – win.

And so, without further ado, have a look at the itinerary of Debs’s rather murderous 1910 Appeal to Reason tours. Those listed “scheduled” were publicly announced but not 100% confirmed to have been filled.

•          •          •          •          •


• Jan. 13, 1910 (H) — CHICAGO at Orchestra Hall (168 Michigan Ave., between Adams St. and Jackson Blvd), 8pm.
• Jan. 16 (Su) — SPRINGFIELD, MO scheduled at Landers Theater, 2 pm.
• Jan. 17 (M) — JOPLIN, MO scheduled at Auditorium, 8 pm.
• Jan. 20 (H) — OMAHA, NE scheduled at Washington Hall (18th & Harney St.), 8 pm.
• Jan. 22, 1910. (Sa) — INDIANAPOLIS, IN. Speech to the national convention of the United Mine Workers of America.
• Jan. 24. (M) — SIOUX CITY, IA scheduled at Auditorium, 8 pm.
• Jan. 25. (U) — OTTUMWA, IA scheduled at Armorg Hall, 8 pm.
• Jan. 26. (W) — DES MOINES, IA scheduled at YMCA Auditorium, 8 pm
• Jan. 27 (H) presumed — ASHLAND, OH at the opera house. Hometown of Grosscup, a cold start for the first 20 minutes. Then he unleashed on Grosscup and was warmly received. Brought the house down with the line “You know his record here as a citizen and I know his record in Chicago as a judge.” (Grosscup was the perpetrator of a sexual impropriety scandal with a married woman.)
• Jan. 28. (F) — JACKSON, MI scheduled at Masonic Temple, 8 pm
• Jan. 30. (Su) — AKRON, OH at Grand Opera House, 3 pm. Packed to the rafters, with 500 turned away. Debs spoke for two hours.
• Feb. 2. (W) — FINDLAY, OH scheduled at Gillette Opera House, 8 pm
• Feb. 3. (H) — SPRINGFIELD, OH scheduled Springfield City Hall, 8 pm
• Feb. 4 (F) — CAMBRIDGE, OH scheduled at City Hall, 8 pm
• Feb. 5. (Sa) — HAMILTON, OH scheduled at Coliseum, 8 pm
• Feb. 6 (Su) — DAYTON, OH at National Theater, 2:30 pm to a full house. With a socialist band.
• Feb. 7 (M) — COLUMBUS, OH at Memorial Hall, 8 pm
• Feb. 8 (U) — CANTON, OH at Auditorium, 8 pm. Venue said to be the “finest and largest in the State of Ohio” (Appeal 100219p2).
• Feb. 9 (W) — MANSFIELD, OH scheduled at Memorial Hall, 8 pm
• Feb. 10 (H) — CINCINNATI, OH at Music Hall, 8 pm
• Feb. 11 (F) — PORTSMOUTH, OH scheduled Kendall Hall, 8 pm. Big snow storm though.
• Feb. 12 (Sa) — CLEVELAND, OH spoke at Gray’s Armory, 8 pm
• Feb. 13 (Su) — EAST LIVERPOOL, OH scheduled at Ceramic Theater, 2:30 pm


Debs’s appearance in Philadelphia during a bitter strike of transportation workers was highly controversial, with the mainstream press sowing hysteria as best they were able.

• Feb. 13 (Su) — STEUBENVILLE, OH scheduled Grand Opera House, 8 pm
• Feb. 14 (M) — YOUNGSTOWN, OH, Auditorium, 8pm
• Feb. 15. (U) — NEW CASTLE, PA, Emmanuel Baptist Church
• Feb. 16 (W) — ROCHESTER, PA scheduled at Grand Opera House, 8 pm
• Feb. 17 (H) — UNIONTOWN, PA to packed house despite bad weather at Grand Opera House, 8 pm
• Feb. 18 (F) — GREENSBURG, PA scheduled at St. Clair Theater, 8 pm
• Feb. 19 (Sa) — PITTSBURGH, PA at Carnegie Music Hall, 8 pm
• Feb. 20 (Su) — DU BOIS, PA spoke at at Avenue Theater, 2:30 pm; admission 25 cents
• Feb. 21 (M) — READING, PA scheduled at Auditorium, 8 pm
• Feb. 22 (U) — POTTSVILLE, PA scheduled at Union Hall, 8:15 pm
• Feb. 23 (W) — PHILADELPHIA, PA spoke to 2,000 at Labor Lyceum Hall (headquarters of the German building trades union), 8 pm. Streetcar strike was on. Plainclothes detectives in audience.

•          •          •          •          •


• March 13 (Su) — WHEELING, WV to more than 1,000 at Victoria Theater, 2:30 pm. SPOKE A SECOND TIME IN THE EVENING, also to a packed house. National Organizer George Goebel was able to route in and served as chairman of the meetings. Collection took in about $80.
• March 14 (M) — CUMBERLAND, MD scheduled BUT CANCELLED, Academy of Music, 8 pm. Hall was burned to the ground a few hours before the meeting, cause unknown. As the hall was on the second floor it would have been a massive catastrophe if it had occurred a few hours later. See: Appeal, 100326p2.
• March 15 (U) — HAGERSTOWN, MD, First Hose Hall, 8 pm. Big rainstorm did not deter turnout, which exceeded capacity of the hall.
• March 16 (W) — WASHINGTON, DC, National Rifles Armory, 8 pm. Professor Coleman, a former abolitionist now active in the local socialist movement, presided.
• March 17 (H) — BALTIMORE, MD scheduled, Albaugh’s Theater (Charles and Preston Sts.), 8 pm.
• March 19 (Sa) — Afternoon: PHILADELPHIA, PA at Labor Lyceum Hall. An estimated 10,000 could not gain admission to the hall. A riot against the police outside.
Night: CAMDEN, NJ at Fraternal Order of Eagles Hall, 8 pm
• March 20 (Su) — ELIZABETH, NJ, Proctor’s Theater, 2:30 pm. Introduced by Rev. Alexander Irvine of NYC.
• March 22 (U) — NEWARK, NJ spoke at Wever’s Coliseum, 8 pm.
• March 23 (W) — JERSEY CITY to 2,000 people at the Grand View Casino (Ogden & Franklin Sts.). Went on late, after 9 pm, and was greeted by an ovation lasting 5 minutes. Speaks for more than 90 minutes. Coverage in NY Call, 3/24/10.
March 24 (H) — BROOKLYN, NY, Lecture at Brooklyn Labor Lyceum, 949 Willoughby. Tickets sold for 25 cents general, 50 cents reserved, with every ticket entitling the holder to a 40 week subscription to the Appeal to Reason. Introduced by Dr. Furman. Walked on to an ovation lasting over five minutes. Debs had a slight cold. Crowd rushed the platform afterwards “eager to press his hand, or even touch his garments. It was with extreme difficulty that they managed to get him away from the enthusiastic crowd.”
• March 25 (F) — CUMBERLAND, MD MAKE UP DATE for the event cancelled by fire, scheduled for the Maryland Opera House. First ever speech in that city by Debs.
• March 27 (Su) — JOHNSTOWN, NY spoke at Grand Opera House, 8 pm. First ever speech in that city by Debs. Crowd seeking admission exceeded capacity.
• March 29 (U) — SYRACUSE, NY at Turn Hall, 8 pm. Venue was “totally inadequate” for the crowd seeking admission. (Appeal 100409p2)
• March 30 (W) — WATERTOWN, NY spoke at State Armory, 8 pm. Every available seat filled. First ever speech in that city by Debs.
• April 1 (F) — AUBURN, NY spoke at Burtis Auditorium, 8 pm.
• April 3 (Su) — ROCHESTER, NY spoke at Cook’s Opera House.
• April 4 (M) — BUFFALO, NY spoke at Walker’s Dancing Academy, 8 pm.
• April 5 (U) — JAMESTOWN, NY spoke at City Hall, 8 pm
• April 6 (W) — UTICA, NY spoke at Manchester Hall, 8 pm
• April 7 (H) — Afternoon? NEW YORK CITY closing meeting at Columbia College, Horace Mann Auditorium. Debs spoke for 90 minutes to a non-socialist student crowd.
Night: NEW YORK CITY at Cooper Union on “The Warren Case Before the Courts.” Tickets 25 cents, platform 50 cents. Tickets good for 40 week subscription to Appeal. Introductory remarks by Lucien Sanial. Charles Edward Russell served as chairman of the meeting, with Debs coming on at 8:40 after a 10 minute introduction. Full and enthusiastic meeting. About 200 copies of the Appeal’s Writings of Debs sold.

•          •          •          •          •


• April 27 (W) — BRAINARD, MN at Gardner’s Hall, 8 pm. Met at the train station by mayor O. Osdahl and three members of the city council, all Socialists.
• April 28 (H) — DULUTH, MN at Lyceum Theater, 8 pm.
• April 29 (F) — HIBBING, MN at Workers’ Hall, a building constructed by the Finnish Socialist Federation, 8 pm.
• April 30 (Sa) — SUPERIOR, WI to a full house at the Grand Opera House, 8 pm
• MAY DAY (Su)— Afternoon: MINNEAPOLIS, MN to a full house at the Auditorium, 3 pm. Introduced by C.F. Dight. Audience estimated at 4,000.
• Night: ST. PAUL, MN scheduled for St. Paul Auditorium, 8 pm.
• May 3 (U) — KANSAS CITY, MO scheduled Convention Hall, 8 pm.
• May 7 (Sa) — FORT SMITH, AR spoke to 2,000 paid admission Electric Park Auditorium, 7:30 pm
• May 9 (M) — TEXARKANA, AR at Grand Opera House, 9:45-11:30 pm [originally scheduled for a temporary structure erected for a revival meeting but cancelled at last minute.] Preceded by a spontaneous street meeting from 7:30 to 9:30.

•          •          •          •          •


• May 21 (Sa) — LOUISVILLE, KY at Masonic Theater, 8 pm.
• May 22 (Su) — EVANSVILLE, IN to a full house at Evans Hall, 8 pm.
• May 23 (M) — PADUCAH, KY scheduled Auditorium Skating Rink, 8 pm
• May 24 (U) — MEMPHIS, TN to full house at Bijou Theater, 8 pm
• May 25 (W) — NASHVILLE, TN at Ryman Auditorium, 8 pm
• May 26 (H) — ELWOOD, IN at Wigwam Hill, 8 pm Had to travel nearly all night and all day to reach the town, which was home to a number of striking steel workers.
• May 27 (F) — MUNCIE, IN scheduled Wysor Grand Opera House, 7:30 pm
• May 28 (Sa) — CAMBRIDGE, OH scheduled Colonial Theater, 8 pm
• May 30 (M) — Afternoon: HARRISBURG, PA scheduled Furtang Park, 4 pm
Evening: HARRISBURG scheduled Board of Trade Auditorium, 8 pm
• May 31 (U) — SCRANTON, PA scheduled Columbia Theater, 8 pm
• June 2 (H) — WATERBURY, CT scheduled Buckingham Hall, 8 pm
• June 3 (F) — HARTFORD, CT scheduled Foot Guard Hall, 8 pm
• June 4 (Sa) — PASSAIC, NJ scheduled Passaic Theater, 8 pm.
• June 5 (Su) — BRIDGEPORT, CT scheduled Fells Theater, 3 pm
• June 6 (M) — BROCKTON, MA scheduled Carter Hall, 7:30 pm
• June 7 (U) — FITCHBURG, MA scheduled Fitchburg City Hall, 8 pm
• June 10 (F) — DETROIT, MI scheduled Light Guard Armory, 8 pm
• June 11 (Sa) — PORT HURON, MI scheduled Auditorium, 8 pm
• June 12 (Su) — KALAMAZOO, MI scheduled Majestic Theater, 3 pm
• June 13 (M) — GRAND RAPIDS, MI scheduled Powell’s Opera House, 8 pm
• June14 (U) — SAGINAW, MI scheduled Auditorium 8 pm
• June 15 (W) — GREEN BAY, WI scheduled Green Bay Theater, 8 pm

•          •          •          •          •


• June 25, 1910 — SCHENECTADY, NY spoke to a full house at the Opera House. Spoke until 10 pm. There is a June 26 letter in Constantine, v. 1, pp. 364-365 documenting this but the date is provided by Constantine; not sure myself. Debs does mention going to the Mayo brothers at Rochester for surgery.

Debs had surgery of some sort at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, during the last week of July 1910. In his Debs biography Ray Ginger indicates (with zero documentary evidence presented) that it was a second throat surgery. My best guess is that it was actually back surgery, based on evidence he suffered from sciatica and a letter of his wife saying that EVD was in pain and unable to get comfortable to sleep after surgery.

•          •          •          •          •


• Sept. 1, 1910 (H) — FORT WAYNE, IN spoke at Temple Theater, 8 pm
• Sept. 2 (F) — ST. MARYS, OH spoke at Grand Opera House, 8 pm
• Sept. 3 (Sa) — MEADVILLE, PA spoke at EXPOSITION PARK, 3pm, 11 miles outside of town. The auditorium was inadequate to hold the crowd that assembled, so the event was held outdoors at the Race Track Grandstand. In addition to the 1,000 subs delivered to the Appeal, the local made $100 on the appearance.
• Sept. 4 (Su) — WILKES BARRE, PA was initially scheduled but seems to have been cancelled[???]
• Sept. 5 (M) — LABOR DAY MERIDEN, CT spoke at Town Hall, 8 pm. The day began with a picnic at an adjacent park sponsored by the city’s labor unions.
• Sept. 6 (U) — MANCHESTER, NH spoke at Park Theater, 8 pm. Rain reduced attendance, but the local nevertheless came out in the black after paying for their 1,000 Appeal subscriptions. Event was coordinated by a Comrade Henning. Meeting was addressed by Warren Drew, Socialist candidate for governor of NH.
• Sept. 7 (W) — CONCORD, NH spoke at Phoenix Hall, 8 pm. Meeting was addressed by Warren Drew, Socialist candidate for governor of NH.
• Sept. 8 (H) — BARRE, VT spoke at Howland Hall, 8pm. Attended by a considerable number of foreign-born workers.
• Sept. 9 (F) — FRANKLIN, NH spoke at Opera House, 8 pm. Event was coordinated by C.D.J.P. Burke, state organizer of NH.
• Sept. 10 (Sa) — LACONIA, NH spoke at Armory, 8 pm. First Debs appearance in this town. E.B. Young was the event coordinator. Armory “almost filled to capacity.”
• Sept. 12 (M) — SALEM, MA spoke at North Street Skating Rink, 8 pm. W.R. Eldridge was chairman of the meeting.
• Sept. 13 (U) — LYNN, MA spoke at Odd Fellows’ Hall, 8 pm. Harrie Deorsy and Comrade Henry were singled out as the leading Socialists in town. Sixty dollars worth of literature sold.
• Sept. 14 (W) — GLOUCHESTER, MA spoke at City Hall, 8 pm. The local there had less than 10 members, headed by Com. Asharpe and Com. Peabody.
• Sept. 15 (H) — PROVIDENCE, RI [might have been F 16th], spoke to 3,000, tickets were 25 and 35 cents. Debs received a standing ovation lasting several minutes at the start. Fred Hurst, state secretary, was the organizer of the meeting.
• Sept. 17 (Sa) — PIQUA, OH spoke at Opera House, 8 pm. Said to be one of the largest in the history of the town. Several hundred people traveled in from Dayton and other neighboring towns. Com. Robert Johnson was chief organizer. Meeting was preceded by a parade winding through the downtown to the meeting place. Comrade Lentz was chairman of the meeting.
• Sept. 18 (Su) — CHICAGO, IL at Riverfront Park, attended by an estimated 12,000. Red bunting in abundance. Meeting opened by Seymour Stedman, who made a 15 minute speech before introducing George Brewer. Then Winfield Gaylord spoke for 30 minutes on Milwaukee affairs. The appearance of Debs brought a mighty roar. Debs spoke for almost two hours, then left for home aboard a C&EI train.

•          •          •          •          •


• Oct. 1, 1910 (Sa) — BELLEVILLE, IL spoke at Lyric Theater, 8 pm. Meeting was preceded by a 20-piece marching band leading a “monster parade” through the center of town. Adolph Germer opened the meeting at 8, delivering a brief and eloquent speech introducing James H. Brower, who spoke for 15 minutes. Active organizers were Com. John Wachter and Andrew Wilson.
• Oct. 3 (M) — MOLINE, IL spoke at at Barrymore Theater, 8 pm. Organizer was Com. Moxell.
• Oct. 4 (U) — BLOOMINGTON, IL spoke at Coliseum, 8 pm. Weaker attendance than previous two Illinois dates. New secretary Gu Edberg was organizer. Chairman was Eugene Brais, secretary of the Journeymen Tailor’s Union of America.
• Oct. 5 (W) — ROCKFORD, IL spoke at Armory Hall, 8pm, to a packed house, with more than 1600 paid admissions.Chairman Oscar Agren was a Socialist member of the city council. Congressional candidate Thomas Streator delivered the preliminary speech. A dozen girls and young women in red sashes acted as ushers. Arvid Gustafson was organizer of the event.
• Oct. 6 (H) — MILWAUKEE, WI scheduled at Grand Avenue Congregational Church, 8 pm
• Oct. 8 (Sa) — FARGO, ND scheduled at Opera House, 8 pm.
• Oct. 9 (Su) — GRAND FORKS, ND scheduled at Auditorium, 3 pm
• Oct. 10 (M) — DEVIL’S LAKE, ND spoke to large crowd at Grand Opera House, 8:30 pm. The local reported a surplus of $400 from the appearance.
• Oct. 11 (U) — MINOT, ND scheduled at Spring Lake Park Auditorium, 8 pm
• Oct. 13 (H) — GREAT FALLS, MT spoke at Grand Opera House to a full house.
• Oct. 14 (F) — HELENA, MT spoke. Organized at last second by the local there due to open date on the itinerary. Com. Dr. Willet the moving force. Small meeting.
• Oct. 15 (Sa) — BUTTE, MT spoke at Broadway Theater, 8 pm. State Sec. L.J. Duncan was chief organizer and served as chairman.
• Oct. 17 (M) — MOSCOW, ID spoke at Eggan’s Hall, 8 pm. Packed house, said to be the largest political gathering in the history of the city. Com. Henry McGregor chair. A train came in from Colfax, WA with 200 people.
• Oct. 18 (U) — LEWISTON, ID spoke at Temple Theater, 8 pm. Ernest Untermann, then living in Clearwater, ID, gave a “spicy ten-minute speech” to open.
• Oct. 19 (W) — SPOKANE, WA spoke at State Armory, 2nd and McClellan St., 8 pm. Crowd of 3,000 in attendance, with Com. Dave Coates in the chair. Local reported a surplus of about $300.
• Oct. 20 (H) — EVERETT, WA to 2,000 people at Big Coliseum Auditorium. Arrived late at 8:30, said to be a usual occurrence for that leg of the trip. Debs spoke for 1:45.
• Oct. 21 (F) — SEATTLE, WA spoke at Dreamland Rink, 8 pm. Crowd was between 3,000 and 4,000. Hulet M. Wells, recently fired by the post office for political activity, was in the chair and delivered a 15 minute speech to open. The meeting was said to clear a net of $400 for the local.
• Oct. 22 (Sa) — PORTLAND, OR spoke at Armory, 8pm to a crowd of 3,500. Tom Lewis’ daughter Mildred Lewis sang “The Red Flag” in the preliminaries. Tom Lewis was cin he chair and delivered the introductory speech. Local reported a surplus of about $300.
• Oct. 23 (Su) — MEDFORD, OR spoke at Natatorium Hall, 3:30 pm Com. Sherman and Miller organized the Medford and Salem events.
• Oct 24 (M) — SALEM, OR spoke at Methodist Episcopal Church Tabernacle, 2 pm and a second meeting hastily organized for the evening to accommodate demand.
• Oct. 25 (U) — TACOMA, WA spoke Germania Hall, 8:15 pm to 2,000. Leslie Aller, SPA candidate for Congress, was in the chair, with P.A. Johnson of the Swedish local coordinating ticket sales and handling finances.
• Oct. 26 (W) — ABERDEEN, WA scheduled Grand Theater, 8:15 pm
• Oct. 27 (H) — BELLINGHAM, WA spoke at Fairyland Rink, 8 pm to a full house. Com. Charles S. Wallace in the hair.
• Oct. 28 (F) — SEDRO-WOOLLEY, WA spoke at Grand Opera House, 8 pm
• Oct. 30 (Su) —BAKER CITY, OR scheduled Baker Opera House, 2 pm
• Oct. 31 (M) — NAMPA, ID spoke at Opera House, 8:30 pm. Com. Frank Steward, leader of the Red Special Band, was a chief organizer, together with Coms. Mr. & Mrs. Cory of the successful meeting.
• Nov. 1 (U) — BOISE spoke to an overflow crowd of about 2,500 at the Pinney Theater, 8 pm
• Nov. 2 (W) — POCATELLO, ID scheduled at Auditorium, 8 pm
• Nov. 3 (H) — SALT LAKE CITY, UT spoke to a full house at the Salt Lake Theater, 8 pm. Com. Lawrence in the chair. Hundreds of others were outside, unable to gain admission. Com. Sorenson handled the financials.
• Nov. 4 (F) — PROVO, UT spoke at Mozart Hall, 8 pm, traveling by auto round trip from SLC. William Thurston Brown made the preliminary speech.
• Nov. 5 (Sa) — ROCK SPRINGS, WY spoke at Finn Hall, 8 pm at meeting organized by State Secretary Paul J. Paulson of that town.
• Nov. 6 (Su) — RAWLINS, WY spoke at Masonic Hall, 8 pm. The town had a 3,000 population; the largest hall seated 500. Nevertheless, the amount for 1,000 Appeal subscriptions was raised, with Com. Charles Seith handling organizing task. A coal camp at Hanna, located 40 miles away, provided $100 of the necessary amount. House was SRO. This was the only meeting on the tour where expenses exceeded revenue.
• Nov. 7 (M) — DENVER, CO spoke at First Baptist Church, 8 pm on the night before the election. Largest church in the city filled and several hundred turned away. All preliminaries were waived so that Debs could speak as long as possible before leaving to catch the 9:45 Burlington train for Chicago.

So it ended. Debs was not to speak again until January 1911.

The final Western tour alone is said to have raised $4,000 for 30 locals and generated 38,000 new subscriptions for the Appeal to Reason.

My total count for the year is 136 speaking dates, for extemporaneous speeches that typically lasted for two hours.

Busy, busy, busy 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.

  • “The Democratic Injunction Plank” (Aug. 8, 1908) — 708 words
  • “Industrial Unionism and the Philadelphia Streetcar Strike” (circa May 1, 1910) — 1,265 words
  • “Open Letter on the Immigration Question” (circa May 19, 1910) — 865 words
  • “Building the Industrial Union: Open Letter to Tom Mann” (circa June 1910) — 1,148 words
  • “Roosevelt and Prizefighting” (July 30, 1910) — 616 words
  • “The Los Angeles Times Bombing — Who Committed That Crime?” (Oct. 15, 1910) — 2,278 words

Word count: 257,910 tagged for possible inclusion, 18,716 tagged for exclusion, for a total of 276,626 words converted to editable text in association with this volume. (The limit for publication in Volume 4 is approximately 260,000 words.)

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.



Newspapers digitized for free download via Marxists Internet Archive this week:

Chicago Daily Socialist (May – Sept. 1910)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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 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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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)




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment