Articles from the July 1917 issue of International Socialist Review.
International Socialist Review (July 1917)
Antiwar efforts and repression in 1917 U.S.
A news roundup of anti-World War I activities in the United States during the first half of 1917.
Side by side with the sweep of our incomparable patriotism across the country, comes the news of Socialist and I. W. W. anti-war demonstrations in many cities.
We feel sure all REVIEW readers, not only in this country but in South Africa, Australia and the prison camps of Europe, will be interested in what is happening in America today.
The members of Local Cleveland determined at the beginning of the war that so far as it lay within their power they would continue their activities just as if there had been no declaration of war. They determined that in reference to the war and attempts to abridge the rights of the workers, there would be no faltering, no hesitancy, no yielding of rights previously exercised, but open, bold and unafraid opposition.
The first step was to organize a May day parade which would be a demonstration of internationalism and against war. This parade, which was the biggest ever held on May Day in Cleveland, was referred to by the capitalist papers as "a streak of revolutionary red across the heart of the city." Scores of signs were carried in the parade denouncing the war,' conscription and the capitalist class— carried thru the downtown streets at the hour when tens of thousands of workers were leaving their work for their homes.
Since the May Day demonstration five great peace demonstrations have been held on the Public Square and Market Square. These have been attended by from three to six thousand people. Three distributions of fifty thousand leaflets each have been made. Among these has been the party war. manifesto and an anti-conscription leaflet. Street meetings attended by audiences ranging from 'five hundred to a thousand people are being held nightly.
Altho the police are always in evidence at the meetings, as shown by the accompanying picture, and a court stenographer takes down the speeches for the federal authorities, the only trouble thus far has been the arrest of Alfred Wagenknecht, state secretary of the party, at a meeting held May 27th, and of Charles Baker, state organizer of Ohio, at one of the street meetings. Both comrades are charged with disorderly conduct. Comrade Wagenknecht was in the midst of an anti-conscription argument when stopped and Comrade Baker was arrested on the trumped up charge of a war patriot who tried to break up his meeting, that he had made disrespectful remarks about the flag. The "Socialist News," local weekly of the party, has been withheld from the mails for two weeks, but hundreds of Reviews have been sold.
The result of the campaign which the party is making, has been three hundred new members added to the party in six weeks' time. Collections ranging from $125 to $350 have been taken up at the big mass meetings and a thousand new readers have been added to the mailing list of the "Socialist News," and interest and enthusiasm among party members such as has never been developed locally before.-—By C. E. Ruthenberg.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Almost all active members of the Socialist Party have been arrested and indicted by a Federal Grand Jury. Principal charge is that the accused, by the circulation of literature and "thru demonstrations, mass petitions and by other means," conspired to "prevent, hinder and delay" the execution of the conscription law. There were six counts in the indictment.
National Secretary Adolph Germer, of the Socialist Party, was also indicted by the same jury and charged with conspiracy. On learning the "news," Comrade Germer went to Grand Rapids, submitted to arrest, plead "not guilty" and was liberated on bonds. If necessary, these cases will be carried to the highest courts.
Grand Rapids has a population around 130,000—mostly wage slaves. Scab labor runs its factories. It is a typical American Billy Sunday burg. Therefore all the fury of the pulpit and the press was directed against the socialists.
Among the indicted comrades are Ben A. Falkner, financial secretary of the Local. For years he has been employed in the city water works department. He has been fired and blacklisted by the political patriots. Comrade G. G. Fleser, corresponding secretary of the Local, who had worked eight years for the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad as a stenographer, was discharged by the patriotic rail-plutes. Viva L. Flaherty, social worker and writer; Charles G. Taylor, member of Board of Education; James W. Clement, manufacturer; Charles J. Callaghan, postal clerk (discharged); Dr. Martin E. Elzinga; G. H. Pangborn; Vernon Kilpatrick; Rev. Klaas Osterhuis, and our wellknown, active old-time Comrade, Ben Blumenberg.
In spite of the fact that the minutes of socialist meetings were confiscated by the city sleuths, t h e comrades are holding well attended local meetings and are now busy looking for new headquarters . —L. H. M.
Rock Island, Illinois
Anti-military propaganda has been carried on here by the comrades of Rock Island and Moline for the past two years, and during the past three months we have held many overflow anti-conscription meetings.
Last Saturday night we packed the Turner Hall and sold all our literature, including the last 149 copies of the REVIEW. At the open air street meeting we had to compete with a recruiting outfit of five auto trucks, two of which had cannon on them, the others carrying the drum and fife corps, We had the largest crowd as the workers are with us.—Edgar Owens.
Two comrades, Arthur Tiala and C. Mattson, Treasurer Hennepin County Central Committee, have been jailed and held under $5,000 bail for failing to register.
Over in St. Paul, Comrades C. and H. Holm have been bound over to the October court charged with distributing seditious literature. Otto Wangerin, Walter Wangerin, Alfred Grahl, Joe Arver, all Socialist Party members, are out on bail after having refused to register. A defense committee is on the job and doing effective work. It is practically admitted that 9,000 failed to register in St. Paul and more than that number in Minneapolis.
As a result of newspaper statements, we are holding big meetings in different parts of the state. At one point we organized a Socialist Local of sixty out of a crowd of five hundred and sold $40.00 worth of literature. This is being duplicated in other places.—A. L. Sugarman:
Kansas City, Mo.—The following printed in the Kansas City Star gives a historic example of how the organization of the working class are illegally attacked, beaten and their headquarters destroyed and then the organizers thrown into jail on a charge of "breaking the peace":
"Under the law, the powers of military forces in the United States do not extend to the civilian population unless a city is under martial rule. Consequently, all three of the raids on I. W. W. headquarters have been made in defiance of both military and civil law, and without the sanction of those higher in command. "In the first two raids only slight disturbances occurred, but the one yesterday came near to bloodshed.
"Since the last previous raid, I. W. W. headquarters had been abandoned most of the time. Yesterday afternoon, however, word reached the Battery B recruiting station at 901 Main street, that the headquarters had again been opened, and that a dozen men were talking pacifism inside.
"Accordingly a squad under Sergt. H. C. Davis promptly descended upon 722 Main, threw its occupants, outside and wrecked the place.
"Among the men who were thrown out was W. Francik, an ardent I. W. W. from Wisconsin. Francik went to his rooms, got a large revolver, filled his pockets with cartridges and returned.
"J. M. Blankenship of Merriam, Kas., and Sergeant Davis followed Francik up the stairs. Near the top the man drew his revolver and ordered Blankenship to halt. That was Sergeant Davis' signal to get into his action, which he did with such abruptness that the revolver was lying on the floor and Francik half way down the stairs before any damage could be done.
"At the bottom Francik was beaten by other men in army uniforms—a fate which bystanders said was also shared by a boy who tried to interfere. The police finally came up, stopped the riot, and rescued Francik by taking him to police headquarters, where he was held on a charge of disturbing the peace. None of the militiamen who had started the disturbance was taken."
And yet some people have the nerve to call the members of the I. W. W. rowdies and law-breaking destroyers of property ! This is "the place to laugh; But don't say we did not warn you that the story in the Star expresses exactly what the working class may expect of militarism. Militarism means no law save brute force against the workers.—R. T.
Four active socialists are facing long terms of imprisonment and heavy fines for their "crime," which consisted in the alleged drawing up and circulation of a leaflet similar in contents to that issued by the Conscientious Objectors of Great Britain. Among the "seditious" utterances in the suppressed leaflet were quotations from the Constitution of the United States and from Daniel Webster.
Hulet M. Wells is one of the best known members of the Socialist and Labor movement in the Northwest. He has been twice candidate.for Mayor of Seattle in the interests of the Socialist Party; he was president of the Seattle Central Labor Council during a most successful term; and he has for long been an active member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Comrade Sam Sadler has been for years identified with the activities of the Socialist Party of Washington and is esteemed one of the most trustworthy and vigorous 'revolutionary propagandists on the Pacific Coast. He was for some time President of the Seattle Local of the International Longshoremen's Association and served on the Central Labor Council as delegate. Aaron Fislerman is secretary of the King County Socialist Party and is also known as a capable writer on Marxian economics. R. E. Rice, the fourth and last defendant, is a member of the Laundry Drivers' Union, an obscure but earnest soldier of the Social Revolution.
The cases are to come up for trial shortly. The four comrades who are under charges are all workers. They have not the means to put up a strong legal fight and the best talent must be secured. The International Workers' Defense League of Seattle, an organisation to which are affiliated some fifty bodies, including the American Federation of Labor unions, the I. W. W. and the Socialist Party, has taken charge of the defense. Send all funds to Paul S. Parker, secretary- treasurer, International Workers' Defense League, Box 86.
As we go to press a telegram comes in from Seattle, stating that a crowd of sailors and soldiers attempted to raid the I. W. W. hall. One sailor was shot and the rest were thrown out of the hall. A later attack was made but by that time the hall had been barricaded and the police arrested six sailors and forty members of the I. W. W. All of the latter have been released with the exception of fourteen, who are being held for nonregistration.
Detroit, Mich.—To understand the present situation here we must refer back to Monday, May 21st, when Local Detroit passed a resolution calling upon the workers to oppose conscription.
The Michigan Socialist of May 26th, contained the resolution as well as articles strongly condemning the draft law. Together with the paper, circulars headed "Kill the Draft" were distributed thruout the city. On Sunday morning, May 27th, the first arrests in this connection were made. Six of the comrades were arrested and held by the Federal authorities, bail being fixed at $5,000.
The following day Comrade Paul Michelson of New York, who was acting as speaker and organizer for Local Detroit was arrested and is still being held. Later the editor of the Michigan Socialist Nathan Welch, and the members of the board of management of the paper, Maurice Sugar, Samuel Diamond and Ludwig Boltz were placed under arrest, the charge against them is conspiracy to defeat the draft. Bail in all cases being fixed at .$5,000 each. Most of the comrades are still in jail.
On Tuesday the 12th, they were brought into the Federal Court for a hearing when the case was postponed till Thursday, the 14th. Several others have been arrested on the charge of distributing the anti-draft literature and failing to register. On Monday, the llth, six more arrests were made, five of the bunch were released on registering. Milton V. Breitmeyer, a member of the Socialist Party, refused to register and is held for the grand jury.
A mass meeting which was to be held here on Sunday, June 3rd, at Arcadia (the largest hall in the city) had to be abandoned on account of the federal authorities ordering the hall closed against the Socialists. Crowds gathered at the hall but were driven away by the police. No arrests were made there. In spite of the pressure brought against the movement by the police, the plute-press and the pulpit pounders, the increase of members is the greatest the Local has ever experienced.
At Jackson four have been arrested. Two, Harvey A. Hedden and Wm. Kidwell, for the circulation of literature.
At Ann Arbor two university students, members of the Socialist Local there, Ellwood Moore and Max Frocht, were arrested for failing to register. The other places in this state where arrests have been made are Grand Rapids, Negaunee and Marquette.—John Keracher,
Rockford, 111.—On June 6th .one hundred and thirty-eight socialists and I. W. W. marched to the sheriff's office and demanded to be arrested, as they refused to register. The proceedings passed off peacefully until the officers attempted to divide the men. A rough and tumble battle then ensued and several of the men were badly beaten up. The prisoners were divided into three groups, one remaining in Rockford and the other two groups being railroaded to nearby towns.
At this writing ten are held for conspiracy under $10,000 bonds, eight of whom are members of the I. W. W.
A defense committee was immediately organized, composed of three members each of the I. W. W., the Swedish Socialist Party, the American Socialist Party and the Knights of Good Templar.
Attorney Hall of Rockford and Seymour Stedrnan of Chicago have been retained.
The socialists have five city councilmen, and at the last branch meetings the English local took in twelve new members and the Swedish branch took in sixty-five new members. Peace meetings are being held every Sunday with an average attendance of from three to five thousand.
Cincinnati, Ohio—We have re.ceived no word direct from comrades, but according to the Cincinnati Post, eleven Socialists have been "accused of the crime of giving aid and comfort to their country's enemies. Bail has been fixed at $1,500." It seems they are charged with "circulating handbills against the military registration." Attorney Nicholas Klein will defend the accused. The trials will take place during July, and we will arrange to give to our readers a concise account of what takes place.
Chicago, 111.—Five members of the Young People's Socialist League were arrested and held several days in police stations, where they were thre_atened with deportation and otherwise intimidated. The record books and minutes of the League were taken. The League has one thousand members and fourteen branches.
New York City—Many successful protest meetings have been held. At the last central committee meeting of Local Bronx, it was decided to issue 25-cent assessment stamps, provided to form a defense fund for the protection of those arrested duing the campaign.
It was further decided that delegates to the state committee be instructed to move that the state committee instruct Meyer London to introduce a bill for the repeal of the conscription law, failing of which should result in preferring charges against him, with expulsion from the party.- This motion was carried.
Originally appeared with the title 'Propaganda News' in the International Socialist Review (July 1917)
Excerpts from 'A German deserter's war experience'
The following are extracts from A German Deserter's War Experience, published by B. W. Huebsch, Hew York, at $1.00 net. The author is a socialist internationalist. His book is non-partisan so far as the warring nations are concerned. He hates German war as he hates all war. He spent fourteen months in every kind of fighting before he was able to escape. A wonderful book which ought to be read by every workingman in America. For sale at this office.
A subdued signal of alarm fetched us out of our "beds" at 3 o'clock in the morning. The company assembled, and the captain explained to us the war situation. He informed us that we had to keep ready to march, that he himself was not yet informed about the direction. Scarcely half an hour later fifty large traction motors -arrived and stopped in the road before our quarters. But the drivers of these wagons, too, knew no particulars and had to wait for orders. The debate about our nearest goal was resumed. The orderlies, who had snapped up many remarks of the officers, ventured the opinion that we would march into Belgium the very same day; others contradicted them. None of us could know anything for certain. But the order to march did not arrive, and* in the evening all of us could lie down again on our straw. But it was a short rest. At 1 o'clock in the morning an alarm aroused us again, and the captain honored us with an address. He told us we were at war with Belgium, that we should acquit ourselves as brave soldiers, earn iron crosses, and do honor to our German name. Then he continued somewhat as follows: "We are making war only against the armed forces; that is, the Belgium army. The lives and property of civilians are under the protection of international treaties, international law, but you soldiers must not forget that ii is your duty to defend your lives as long as possible for the protection of your Fatherland, and to sell them as dearly as possible. We want to prevent useless shedding of blood as far as the civilians are concerned, but I want to remind you that a too great considerateness borders on .cowardice, and cowardice in face of the enemy is punished very severely."
After that "humane" speech by our captain we were "laden" into the automobiles, and crossed the Belgian frontier on the morning of August 5th. In order to giv special solemnity to that "historical" moment we had to give three cheers.
At no other moments the fruits of military education have presented themselves more clearly before my mind. The soldier is told, "The Belgian is your enemy," and he has to believe it. The soldier, the workman in uniform, had not known till then who was his enemy. If they had told us, "The Hollander is your enemy," we would have believed that, too; we would have been compelled to believe it, and would have shot him by order. We, the "German citizens in uniform," must not have an opinion of our own, must have no thoughts of our own, for they give us our enemy and our friend according to requirements, according to the requirements of their own interests. The Frenchman, the Belgian, the Italian, is your enemy.1 Never mind, shoot as we order, and do not bother your head about it. You have duties to perform, perform them, and for the rest—cut it out!
Those were .the thoughts that tormented my brain when crossing the Belgian frontier. And to console myself, and so as to justify before my own conscience the murderous trade that had been thrust upon me, I tried to persuade myself that tho I had no Fatherland to defend, I had to defend a home and protect it from devastation. But it was a weak consolation, and did not even outlast the first few days.
* * * * * *
We now advanced quickly, but our participation was no longer necessary, for the whole line of the enemy retired and then faced us again, a mile and a quarter southwest of Sommepy. Sommepy itself was burning for the greater part, and its streets were practically covered with the dead. The enemy's artillery was still bombarding the place, and shells were falling all around us. Several hundred prisoners were gathered in the market-place. A few shells fell at the same time among the prisoners, but they had to stay where they were. An officer of my company, Lieutenant of the Reserve Neesen, observed humanely that that could not do any harm, for thus the French got a taste of their own shells. He was rewarded with some cries of shame. A Socialist comrade, a reservist, had the pluck to cry aloud, "Do you hear that, comrades? Dhat's the noble sentiment of an exploiter; that fellow is the son of an Elberfeld capitalist and his father is a sweating- den keeper of the worst sort. When you get home again do not forget what this capitalist massacre has taught you. Those prisoners are proletarians, are our brethren, and what we are doing here in the interest of that gang of capitalist crooks is a crime against our own body; it is murdering our own brothers!" He was going to continue talking, but the sleuths were soon upon him and he was arrested. He threw down his gun with great force; then he quietly suffered himself to be led away.
All of us, were electrified. Not one spoke a word. One suddenly beheld quite a different world. We had a vision which kept our imagination prisoner. Was it true, what we had heard—that those prisoners were not our enemies at all, that they were our brothers? That which formerly—O how long ago might that have been!—in times of peace, had appeared to us as a matter of course had been forgotten; in war we had regarded our enemies as our friends and our friends as our enemies. Those words of the Elberfeld comrade had lifted the fog from our brains and from before our eyes. We had again a clear view; we could recognize things again.
One looked at the other and nodded without speaking; each one felt that the brave words of our friend had been a boon to us, and none could refrain from inwardly thanking and appreciating the bold man. The man in front of me, who had been a patriot all along, as far as I knew, but' who was aware of my views, pressed my hand, saying: "Those few words have opened my eyes; I was blind; we are friends. Those words came at the proper time." Others again I heard remark: "You can't surpass Schotes; such a thing requires more courage than all of us together possess. For he knew exactly the consequences that follow when one tells the truth. Did you see the last look he gave us? That meant as much as, 'Don't be concerned about me; I shall fight my way through to the end. Be faithful workers; remain faithful to your class!'"
* * * * * *
On that day I was commanded to mount guard and was stationed with the camp guard. At that place arrested soldiers had to call to submit to the punishment inflicted on them. Among them were seven soldiers who had been sentenced to severe confinement which consisted in being tied up for two hours.
The officer on guard ordered us to tie the "criminals" to trees in the neighborhood. Every arrested soldier had to furnish for that purpose the rope with which he cleaned his rifle. The victim I had to attend to was sapper Lohmer, a good Socialist. I was to tie his hands behind his back, wind the loose end of the rope round his chest, and tie him with his back towards the tree. In that position my comrade was to stand for two hours, exposed to the mockery of officers and sergeants. But Comrade Lohmer had been marching with the rest of us in a broiling sun for a whole day, had all night fought and murdered for the dear Fatherland which was now giving him thanks by tying him up with a rope.
I went up to him and told him that I would not tie him to the tree. "Do it, man," he tried to persuade me; "if you don't do it another one will. I shan't be cross with you, you know."—"Let others do it; I won't fetter you."
The officer, our old friend Lieutenant Spahn, who was getting impatient, came up to us. "Can't you see that all the others have been seen to? How long do you expect me to wait ?" I gave him a sharp look, but did not answer. Again he bellowed out the command to tie my comrade to the tree. I looked at him for a long time and did not deign him worthy of an answer. He then turned to the "criminal," who told him that I could not get myself to do the job as we were old comrades and friends. Besides, I did not want to fetter a man who was exhausted and dead tired. "So you won't do it?" he thundered at me, and when again he received no reply—for I was resolved not to speak another word to the fellow—he hissed, "That b is a Red to the marrow!" I shall never in my life forget the look of thankfulness that Lohmer gave me; it rewarded me for the unpleasantness I had in consequence of my refusal. Of course others did what I refused to do; I got two weeks' confinement. Naturally I was proud at having been a man for once at least. As a comrade I had remained faithful to my mate. Yet I had gained a point. They never ordered me again to perform such duty, and I was excluded from the guard that day. I could move about freely and be again a free man for a few hours.
The evening I got off I employed to undertake a reconnoitering expedition thru the surrounding country in the company of several soldiers. We spoke about the various incidents of the day and the night, and, to the surprise, I daresay, of every one of us, we discovered that very little was left of the overflowing enthusiasm and patriotism that had seized so many during the first days of the war. Most of the soldiers made no attempt to conceal the feeling that we poor devils had absolutely nothing to gain in this war, that we had only to lose our lives or, which was still worse, that we should sit at some street corner as crippled "war veterans," trying to arouse the pity of passers-by by means of some squeaking organ.
International Socialist Review (September 1917)
Articles from the September 1917 issue of the International Socialist Review.
The man that was hung
A 1917 article from the International Socialist Review about the murder of Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) organizer, Frank Little. We do not approve of the offensive reference to Native Americans but reproduce this text in its entirety for historical accuracy.
Well, they got Frank Little. No wireless message ever sped faster than these five words thru the .world of labor. For on the first morning of this month an agitator was hung in Butte, Montana.
A social war has been going on in that hell hole of labor since the 12th of June. On the one side are the few mine owning capitalists represented by their henchmen and an army of 600 Standard Oil gunmen. On the other side are 17,000 unarmed striking copper miners with their Metal Mine Workers' Union.
Came Frank Little, a fellow unionist, with a message of good cheer and solidarity from the miners of the southwest. He told them that their real enemy was the industrial kings and copper barons of America.
He repeated his words to Ex-Governor Hunt of Arizona: "Governor, I don't care what you are fighting for, but we, the Industrial Workers of the World, are fighting for Industrial Democracy." And the miners of Butte cheered his words.
The copper barons replied by sending six of their gunmen to "get" the damn agitator, who championed the cause of hated labor; who made war upon capitalism and the wage system, who advocated industrial democracy. The story of the assassination and what followed is told in the Montana Socialist.
"Driven to desperation by the peaceful, non-resisting strike of the Metal Mine Workers, the company has played its last trump—murder.
"In the gray of the morning of August 1, Frank Little, an I. W. W. organizer, was taken from his room in the Steel block by six masked men, hurried into an automobile, with no covering but his underclothes, driven swiftly to the Milwaukee railroad trestle near the Centennial brewery and hanged to the trestle. It was one of the most brutal, cruel, cowardly murders that ever disgraced an American city. Six armed men take this cripple, without a chance to defend himself, and after beating his head to a pulp, tied a rope around his neck and threw him off a railroad trestle. It was an act too fiendish and cowardly to credit even to a band of Sioux Indians. It is doubtful if Little ever knew that he was hung, for the blows on the head no doubt rendered him unconscious or made the hanging unnecessary except to gratify the murder-lust of the perpetrators.
"Following the murder all three of the Butte daily papers came out with venomous editorials against the victim that might well encourage a repetition of this outrage and lay the blame on the federal authorities. It ill becomes the daily press of this city to excuse the murders by throwing the blame on the federal authorities because they did not take action against Little on account of remarks he made about this country and its government. This government does not need the help of midnight assassins to carry out the enforcement of the law. The federal authorities are no doubt as competent as the daily papers and the interests they represent to interpret what constitutes a violation of the law. Those who commit and condone midnight assassination are not safe guardians of the law.
"And the daily press itself had made veiled threats of violence before Frank Little came to Butte. In the editorial quoted above the Standard hints that somebody has a card up their sleeve that they are going to play when the proper time comes. In the leading editorial on the Home Guards, in the same issue (July 1), it says:
" 'There may be nothing for the Home Guards to do, and again there may be. The city and county authorities are faithful and reliable and they are determined to maintain order, but they may need help at any time, and when they need it they should have it. The Guards should soon be able to render very effective assistance.'
"In this issue of July 16, the Standard says editorially, 'the agitators should take a lesson from what has happened in other sections of the country.'
"First, we see trouble prepared for— then we see trouble predicted—then we see trouble started. There may be no connection, but it looks suspicious to any one familiar with the methods of the Standard Oil Company.
% % ifc -fc
"To those outside of Butte, who are not acquainted with conditions here, let it be said that while Butte is within the confines of the United States, it is a principality of the Standard Oil Company. While the working people are peaceful and law abiding, the rulers care no more for a law that stands in the way of the accomplishment of their ends than a cow does for a cobweb. Anyone who knows the history of the Standard Oil Company knows that it will trample under foot any law that stands in the way of the creation of profits.
"The fact that all thru this strike, since the 12th of June, there has been no violation of the law except on the part of officials and gunmen, proves that the working people of this community are exceptionally slow to resort to violence. Under the most aggravating and exasperating circumstances they have kept their heads and refrained from any overstepping of their legal rights which might be taken as an excuse for the company to inaugurate a campaign of murder and terrorism, such as occurred at Ludlow.
"The papers for several days have been telling us that more and more men were going to work and that soon the mines would be running about normal. If this were true then what was the need of resorting to murder to try to break the ranks of the striking miners? If the company has plenty of men to run the mines, why should it care how long the Metal Mine Workers remain on strike?
"The truth of the matter is that all this "talk about the increased output of the mines was a big bluff. The mines are not turning out the dividends that have been promised the stockholders. The heart of the Standard Oil Company is profits and to cut out the profits is the same thing as cutting out its heart.
"And again they have failed. Again the workingmen refused to fall for their game, but are still sitting with folded arms. With all their army of spotters and eaves-droppers they have only been able to report one threat made in the heat of passion, which is said to have been made by one man in front of Finlander hall. And who knows but that this is a reporter's lie.
"The thing that stands out most prominent in this strike is the peaceful manner in which it has been conducted. We do not know of a strike of such magnitude ever having been carried on for such a length of time with so little disturbance. Only a couple of days ago a policeman, on what is considered one of the toughest beats in Butte, said that the town was the quietest he ever saw it. 'Why,' said he, 'a year ago I used to make over a dozen arrests a week, and now I have not seen a fight in six weeks. Finest time I ever saw for a policeman.'
"But in all this turmoil the student of economics and history sees the age-long class struggle. The crime of Frank Little was that he was on the side of the working class. And in his death he has aided the class he represents more than he could do by talking a hundred years.
"The papers endeavored to magnify every utterance of this man to the proportions of treason; yet, most of the things he said are, and for many months have been, heard wherever men congregate and discuss current events.
"Be that as it may, the grewsome fact remains that Frank Little was foully murdered— and his murderers are still at large.
"But, the working people of this district are aroused—and every one in Butte now realizes it.
"Nearly seven thousand people—to be exact, 6,800—followed Frank Little's body to,its last resting place.
"Electrical Workers, Street Carmen, Blacksmiths, Machinists, Boilermakers, and a number of other unions marched as a body, the Pearce-Connolly Club, wearing their colors, marched near the head of the procession, which was led by hundreds of women and children, mothers with babes in their arms or push carts. Thousands of miners were in line.
"What induced these thousands of working people to march?
"Simply their determination to call a halt on such murderous tyranny.
"If you want to help the Butte miners win send a contribution to Tom Shannon, Butte, Montana, 318 N. Wyoming street."
International Socialist Review (October 1917)
Articles from the October 1917 issue of International Socialist Review.
1917 Raids on the Socialist Party and the IWW
An article in the International Socialist Review from October 1917 about the federal raids on the Socialist Party and the Industrial Workers of the World the month before.
The IWW and the Socialist Party
[events of Sept. 5, 1917]
Published in International Socialist Review, vol. 17, no. 4 (Oct. 1917), pp. 205-209.
Simultaneously on September 5th , representatives of the US Government raided the national offices of the Socialist Party and of the IWW, Chicago, and of some 20 branch offices of the IWW in different states.1 US Marshals armed with search warrants have taken files, records, pamphlets, leaflets, and in many places the entire offices were cleaned out.
Such a wholesale and simultaneous invasion upon the offices of a labor and Socialist organization have never taken place before in the history of this country. The charge has been made that the IWW is a
seditious organization and that the IWW and the Socialist Party headquarters are guilty of violating the Espionage Act.
From the National Office [Socialist Party].
September 5th a force of federal agents took possession of the National Office. A thorough search of the office was made and later copies of books, leaflets, records, and lists were taken.
This material is to be placed before the grand jury. The charge made against the National Office is that some of the comrades have violated the Espionage Act.
It may have been the intention to conceal the real purpose of this search, but the inference was left that there was no disposition to interfere with the routine work of the party. If the information given us is corret, we will be permitted to continue our regular activities except so far as we interfere with the war program.
We appeal to the members of the party to lay special stress on organization at this time. Every member should enlist as a recruiting officer in order to build up a party machinery so that we can win a sweeping victory in the Congressional elections of 1918.
[Adolph Germer, Executive Secretary.]2
Statement from the IWW.
At 2:00pm, September 5th, the General Office and Publishing Bureau were raided by the United States authorities.
Government officials have taken for investigation all the correspondence files, books, and ledgers wherein the financial transactions of the General Office are recorded, and the duplicate membership record of the GRU [Grand Recruiting Union] and many of the Industrial unions, that were kept on file in the General Office. Also there was taken samples of all literature published by the organization, and samples of the dues stamps and various assessment stamps, membership books, report blanks, credentials, and all other supplies pertaining to the work of the organization.
In the Publishing Bureau, none of the machinery was disturbed, but the federal officials requested that proofs be printed of all the papers, cuts, and literature published by the bureau.
From the editorial rooms was taken all the contents of the safe belonging to Solidarity, all the books, records, and mailing list of Solidarity, and also the mailing list of all the language papers, all bound and unbound files and all the papers.
From this voluminous mass of papers, literature, and records the government will endeavor to sift whatever evidence (if any) they can find to substantiate their charges against the organization, and will present same to the Federal Grand Jury now sitting in Chicago.
We who have nothing to hide, and never have had, have nothing to fear from a fair and square investigation. In fact the General Office, only a few weeks ago, sent an invitation to Justice [J. Harry] Covington, who had been appointed by President Wilson to investigate the IWW, to visit the General Office in Chicago and go over all our records himself, and we assured him of our hearty cooperation in the event he accepted our invitation.
However, while this indiscriminate seizure of the records, files, and property, etc., of the organization, and the fact that the General Office and the Publishing Bureau have been in the possession of federal authorities has handicapped the work of the organization considerably, we are now able to inform the membership that the General Office is open for business, and will fill all orders for supplies and literature promptly and efficiently.
In regard to the publication of our papers, we do not know when we shall be allowed to publish them again, but we think that in the course of a few more days we shall be able to resume the publication of Solidarity and the foreign language papers.
In the meantime until the publication of our papers is resumed, we shall endeavor to keep the membership informed through bulletins and letters of whatever events may yet transpire.
We also ask the forbearance of the membership if answers to their correspondence is somewhat delayed, as the main of the General Office, the Publishing Bureau, and of all the papers is tied up in the post office. We expect to secure the release of all our mail in a day or so, and we will lose no time then in replying to the correspondence of one and all.
Until things become normal again, we ask the membership to redouble their efforts to build up the organization to the end that the lot of the workers may be bettered, and their toil-worn existence brightened.
Yours for the OBU [One Big Union],
WIlliam D. Haywood,
A copy of the Industrial Worker, published at Seattle, reached our desk this morning. It reports that everything movable was removed from the IWW headquarters at that point, but that since there had been no withdrawal of the second class mailing privileges of that paper, the boy proceeding to publish an edition as usual, under great difficulties. Say the Industrial Worker:
A raid on the offices of the Seattle district of the Lumber Workers IU [Industrial Union] No. 500 and the IWW hall in Seattle was carried out as completely as that on the Industrial Worker. Everything that could be used in the work of the organization was taken.
Word from Spokane is to the effect that everything belonging to the organization was taken and that some records in private houses were seized. The supplies were taken there as at most mother place, and those in charge of the offices report that they are about out of supplies to carry on the work.
The raid was carried on very thoroughly at general headquarters in Chicago. Even the private homes of several members of the IWW were entered and searched. The day after the raid of the Minneapolis office of the Agricultural Workers that office issued the following statement:
"According to information, September 5 was the date set for a nationwide search of the files of the Industrial Workers of the World by federal authorities. The purpose of this raid, as near as we are able to learn, was to find out whether the IWW, as an organization, is carrying out propaganda of sedition and anti-militarism.
"There will be no evidence obtained from the IWW that will connect the organization with any such propaganda.
"The federal authorities, acting under instructions from the Department of Justice at Washington, came into headquarters of the AWIU No. 400 in Minneapolis with assistants and US deputy marshals. They made a complete investigation of the files and everything else in the office. The investigation was carried on quietly and with order. they were told when they commenced their investigation they would find no such evidence as they were looking form nor would they find any evidence that the organization was being financed by 'German Gold.'
"When they finished their work, they were pretty well satisfied that they business carried on is legitimate business. There was nothing destroyed or taken from the main office of No. 400 that would in any way interfere with the business of the union.
"Business is going on just the same as it did before the investigation.
"Instead of this investigation hurting the organization, it is my firm opinion that it will result in a great boost. Every delegate should get busy and take advantage of the excitement caused by this investigation. Those who are not carrying credentials and who are eligible to do so, should write in and get them at once. We are herewith producing some telegrams received from various branches:
"Tulsa, Okla.: Federal agents under instructions of US Attorney General's office seized literature, letters, and day book today. No arrests. Hall open for business as usual.
"Omaha, Neb.: Hall raided and everything confiscated by federal officers.
"Great Falls, Mont.: Hall raided and closed by police.
"Spokane, Wash.: All records and papers taken by US Marshals. No arrests.
"[Minneapolis:] The entire effects of the IWW have been gone over in the hopes that something or other would be found that would prove their allegiance to kaiserism. It was undoubtedly hoped that large consignments of gold and other evidences of Germany's control would be discovered.
"The cause of the raid is attributed to the labor troubles of the West. The labor trouble is attributed to German influence. We have a faint suspicion that the Attorney General was searching the wrong house for the attributed cause of the latter.
"We also suspect that he was misinformed as the the ability of the members of the IWW to conduct their business without the aid of leaders.
"Akron, Ohio: Reports all supplies confiscated."
The Socialist National Headquarters.
At the time of the raids made upon IWW headquarters, the federal authorities took charge of the offices of the Socialist national headquarters. The office force was sent home; copies of pamphlets, books, papers, records, files letter copy books, etc., etc., were taken for use in the investigation which has been going on for ten days.
The American Socialist has been permanently denied mailing privileges. We understand that every assistance was given the federal officers both at the IWW and Socialist headquarters. The comrades at the National Office of the party are sending out rallying cries to the Socialists all over the country to get together, to become organizers, and to elect as many Socialists as possible at the coming elections. The Chicago Tribune, printing a "tentative slate" between the factions in each party preceding the nominations, and a partisan campaign following, which might end, the leaders on both sides say, in a clean slate of Socialist candidates slipping through in November.
Governor [Joseph] Burnquist of Minnesota has issued orders to every sheriff, with the possible exception, we are informed, of those counties in which Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth are located, to prevent all Socialist meetings. The three cities mentioned are the only ones where it is now possible to hold Socialist meetings.
State Secretary of Minnesota A.L. Sugarman went to Deer Wood to fulfill a speaking engagement. At the depot he was met by half a dozen deputies and the sheriff informed him that he had orders from the Governor to permit no Socialist meetings in that county. The sheriff saw to it that Sugarman got on a train bound for Minneapolis.
A few days later Andrew Hansen went to Greeley to fill a lecture date for the Socialist Party. The sheriff and county attorney declared the meeting could not be held. They offered to pay all of the Socialist expenses and even asked Hanson what "his price" was. The sheriff put Hansen on a train bound for Minneapolis and there was no Socialist meeting.
At Staples the authorities assured the Socialists that a mob had organized to put their Socialist speaker out of business and that they would have to prevent meetings in order to avoid riots.
At Dale where 10,000 people had planned holding a Socialist picnic, a bunch of deputies, sheriffs, rowdies, etc., etc., took possession of the hall and picnic grounds before the Socialists began to arrive.
All persecution and misrepresentation is going to cause the Socialist movement and industrial unionism organization to grow as never before.
1 This estimate is an undercount. A far from exhaustive glance at the contemporary journalism sees mention of raids in at least 26 locales outside of Chicago: Everett, Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Missoula, Butte, and Great Falls, Montana; Fresno, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, California; Miami, Arizona; Denver Colorado; Salt Lake City, Utah; Minneapolis and Duluth, Minnesota; Omaha, Nebraska; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Milwaukee and Superior, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Cleveland and Akron, Ohio; Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and New York City. Multiple raids were conducted in many of these cities and at least one news story intimates that there were parallel raids in smaller towns.
2 This same statement was published in the New York Call over Germer's signature.
Edited with footnotes by Tim Davenport
1000 Flowers Publishing, Corvallis, OR - October 2013 - Non-commercial reproduction permitted.
Extracted from the Marxists Internet Archive, 2014-03-28: http://www.marxists.org/history/usa/unions/iww/1917/0905-isr-iwwandspa.pdf