International Working Men’s Association

The Minute Book of the General Council
March 1865

Meeting of the Central Council
March 7, 1865

The first three lines of the minutes are in Cremer’s hand; further, on pp. 34-35 of the Minute Book, they are in an unknown hand.

Vice-President Eccarius in the chair.

The minutes of the former meeting were read and confirmed.

Citizen Fox then read to the Council the report of the Committee and the resolutions recommended by it in reference to the imbroglio in Paris.

It was agreed to consider the resolutions seriatim.

The reporter read the following first resolution proposed by the Committee:

I. Whereas Citizen Tolain has several times tendered his resignation and the Central Council has as often refused to accept it, the said Council now leaves it to Citizen Tolain and the Paris Administration to reconsider whether or not under present circumstances this resignation be opportune. The Central Council confirms beforehand whatever resolution the Administration may come to on this point.

Citizen Le Lubez proposed and Citizen Morgan seconded an amendment accepting the resignation of M. Tolain without further words.

Citizens Jung, Dupont, Whitlock and Marx spoke in support of the resolution.

Citizens Denoual, Le Lubez and Bordage spoke in support of the amendment.

On a division the resolution was carried (dissentients — 4).

The reporter then brought forward the second resolution, viz.

II. In deference to the wishes of a meeting of 32 members of the Working Men’s International Association held in Paris [from here the minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 35-37 of the Minute Book] February 24,[57] and in obedience to the principles of popular sovereignty and self-government, the Central Council cancels its resolution relating to the appointment of an official vindicator for the French press. At the same time the Council seizes this opportunity of expressing its high esteem for Citizen Lefort, in particular as one of the initiators of the International Working Men’s Association and in general for his approved public character,[58] and further it protests that it does not sanction the principle that none but an ouvrier [worker] is admissible as an official in our Society.[59]

Citizen Wolff proposed that that part of the resolution which cancelled the nomination of Citizen Lefort be omitted.

This proposition was decided by the President to be equivalent to a rejection of the entire resolution.

Citizen Wheeler read a letter on the subject from A. Campbell now residing in Paris.

The resolution was supported by the following citizens: Fox, Jung, Dupont, Marx, Kaub and Carter.

Citizens Whitlock, Le Lubez and Wheeler spoke against it.

On a division 11 voted tor the resolution and 9 against. The resolution was therefore carried by 2 majority. Citizen Holtorp neutral.

Resolution III was then brought forward and discussed.

III. Resolution: The Council resolves that Citizens Fribourg, Limousin and Tolain be confirmed in their anterior positions and that the addition to the Administration of Citizen Vinšard is acknowledged.[60]

Citizen Carter proposed the above resolution be amended as follows:

The Central Council resolves that the present Administration with the addition of Citizen Vinšard be confirmed.

Citizen Whitlock seconded the amendment which was accepted and unanimously adopted.

The fourth resolution was then discussed and is as follows:

The Central Council earnestly requests the Administration at Paris to come to an understanding with Citizens Lefort and Beluze so as to admit them and the group of ouvriers they represent to be represented in the Administration by three members, but the Central Council while expressing such a wish has no power nor desire to dictate to the Administration at Paris.

Citizen Le Lubez opposed this resolution and Citizens Howell, Jung, Wheeler, Marx and Carter approved it.

The resolution was carried without a division.

In consequence of Citizen Le Lubez’s arguments a conversation ensued as to the powers of a branch society in France, its relations towards the Administration in Paris and the Central Council in London.

Citizen Whitlock proposed, Citizen Wheeler seconded: That in case no compromise be arrived at, the Central Council declare that the group Lefort after having taken out their cards of membership, have the power under our Statutes to form a branch society.

Citizen Howell proposed, Citizen Dell seconded the following amendment:

That instead of passing a formal resolution the Central Council instruct its French Secretary [Le Lubez] to make the above declaration, by letter, to M. Lefort and the Administration,

Citizen Lubez declared his preference for the resolution.

The amendment was carried with 2 dissentients.

The 5th resolution was then discussed and is as follows:

The Administration in Paris having expressed its readiness to acknowledge a direct delegation from the Central Council, the Central Council accordingly appoints Citizen Schily to be its delegate to the said Administration.[61]

The resolution was carried unanimously.

The Council then adjourned to March 14th.

J. G. ECCARIUS, Vice-President
W. CREMER, Honorary General Secretary

Meeting of the Central Council
March 14, 1865

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 37-38 of the Minute Book.

The President [Odger] in the chair.

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.

A letter was read from Citizen Wolff stating that he believed the Central Council had at their last sitting, by cancelling the appointment of Citizen Lefort, departed from the spirit of fraternity, he therefore as a member of the Central Council tendered his resignation.

The letter was discussed and Citizen Cremer proposed, Citizen Fox seconded, that Citizen Wolff’s resignation be accepted.

As an amendment Citizen Weston proposed and Citizen Whitlock seconded, that the question be deferred to some future time.

For amendment — 14, for resolution — 6. The amendment was declared by the President to be carried.

Citizen Le Lubez read a letter from Citizen Lefort. He also stated it was a mistake to suppose he had been or was now in any way prejudiced in favour of Lefort or Tolain. He also read a letter signed by Citizens Bocquet, Denoual, and himself, protesting against the former decision of the Central Council in turning out Citizen Lefort, and another letter signed by Citizens Bordage, Leroux, Denoual, Bocquet, and himself, protesting against the appointment by the Central Council of anyone not a Frenchman as the delegate to the Administration in Paris.

Citizen Marx stated the protest was unnecessary as he, Citizen Marx, was certain that Citizen Schily would not accept the appointment if there was the slightest opposition to him: it was against Citizen Schily’s wish that he had been elected.[62]

The President suggested the re-opening of the whole question. This was opposed by Citizens Howell, Kaub and Cremer.

The following resolution was then proposed by Citizen Weston, seconded by Citizen Morgan and carried unanimously:

That the Central Council having the fullest confidence in Citizen Lefort, earnestly requests him to retain the card of membership he has in his possession and hopes that he will use his great influence to form a branch in France.

Citizen Lubez read a letter from Citizen Fontaine asking for his official appointment.

Citizen Jung read a letter from Switzerland.

Citizen Lubez read a letter from Lyons, the answer to which was left to Citizen Lubez’s discretion.

Citizen Howell gave a report of the meeting at Radleys Hotel on the 11th inst. between representatives of working men, representatives of the middle classes, and some few M.P.s. The meeting had been convened to discuss the necessity of an agitation for manhood suffrage and to effect a union between the M.P.s., the middle and working classes, which endeavour he thought had failed.[63]

After some discussion of the question Citizen Cremer proposed, Citizen Hartwell seconded, that the further discussion of the question be adjourned.

Citizen Cremer stated his intention of proposing at the next sitting: That the Central Council should appoint delegates to the forthcoming Reform Conference at Manchester. He also nominated Citizen Coulson as a member of the Central Council.

Citizen Dupont nominated Citizen Devaster as a member of the Central Council.

Citizen Howell proposed, Citizen Jung seconded:

That the whole of the resolutions passed at the sittings of March the 7th and 14th [the words “that the whole of the resolutions passed at the sittings of March the 7th and 14th” were inserted when the minutes were confirmed at the Council’s next meeting] bearing on the differences between Citizen Lefort, Citizen Fribourg, and Citizen Tolain be transmitted by the French Corresponding Secretary [Le Lubez] to the above-named citizens. Carried unanimously.

Citizen Weston gave notice of the following propositions for discussion at the earliest opportunity:

1st. Would not an advance of wages of any particular section of industry be secured at the cost of the other sections.

2nd. Would not the supposed advantages of a general rise in wages be negatived by the corresponding advance in prices.

The Council then adjourned till March 21st.

J. G. ECCARIUS, President
W. CREMER, Honorary General Secretary

Meeting of the Central Council
March 21, 1865

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 39-40 of the Minute Book.

Vice-President Eccarius in the chair.

The minutes of the previous meeting after some slight alterations suggested by Citizen Lubez were confirmed.

The following were then elected members of the Central Council:

Citizen Devaster proposed by Citizen Fox, seconded by Citizen Jung;

Citizen Coulson proposed by Citizen Cremer, seconded by Citizen Whitlock;

Citizen Lessner then nominated Citizen H. Klimosch as a member of the Central Council.

Citizen Cremer proposed, Citizen Kaub seconded the following resolution:

That a deputation be sent to Manchester to the forthcoming Reform Conference, such deputation to urge on that conference the necessity of adopting manhood suffrage as the basis of their agitation and that the members of the International Working Men’s Association are not prepared to agitate or work for anything less than manhood suffrage.

Some discussion ensued as to remarks which some members of the Central Council were said to have given utterance to, viz., that while they asked for manhood suffrage they were quite prepared to take anything less. The impropriety of such statements was unanimously condemned and a hope generally expressed that no member of the Central Council would again give utterance to such sentiments.[64] The resolution was carried unanimously.

Citizen Cremer proposed that Citizens Howell and Fox be sent as the deputation to Manchester.

Citizen Fox declined and proposed that Citizens Howell and Cremer be elected as the deputation.

Citizen Whitlock seconded the resolution which was carried unanimously.[65]

Citizen Jung read a letter from Geneva. The letter contained an account of an international banquet which had been held there on the 24th of February, the anniversary of the French Revolution of 1848. The letter also stated that the subject of the International Working Men’s Association had been discussed at the banquet and was highly approved, also that five societies in Geneva had joined the Association and several others were considering the propriety of doing so. Citizen Jung also read a letter from Citizen Fribourg and it was agreed, as Citizen Lubez was not present, to adjourn any discussion on it till the next sitting.[66]

The following resolution was then proposed by Citizen Cremer, seconded by Citizen Wheeler:

That our French Corresponding Secretary [Le Lubez] write to Citizen Lefort asking him if he is willing to avail himself of the powers contained in the Statutes and referred to in the resolution passed at the sitting of the 14th inst.[67] Also that he write to Citizen Fribourg informing him that the resolution of the 14th inst. was the practical application of the Statutes and also was carrying out the resolution passed at the sitting of the 7th inst.

The resolution was carried unanimously.

Citizen Fox then proposed, Citizen Wheeler seconded, the following resolution:

That the Central Council of the International Working Men’s Association hereby acknowledges the high value of the services rendered to it on a recent difficult occasion by Citizen Schily and thanks him for the painstaking zeal and ripe judgement which he brought to bear in discharge of the commission entrusted to him by the Central Council.

Citizen Fox in bringing forward this resolution said that it had been proposed at a former sitting to thank Citizen Schily but as he, Citizen Schily, had been appointed by the Central Council as its special delegate in Paris, it was thought by several members of the Central Council that his appointment was a recognition of the services he had rendered and a proof of the confidence the Central Council had in him; but now that Citizen Schily no longer held the position as special delegate from the Central Council, the objections to thanking him had lost their force.

The resolution was carried unanimously.

The Council then adjourned till March 28th.

J. G. ECCARIUS, Vice-President
W. CREMER, Honorary General Secretary

Meeting of the Central Council
March 28, 1865

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 40-42 of the Minute Book.

Vice-President Eccarius in the chair.

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.

The Secretary [Cremer] read a letter from Mr. A. Walton announcing that he felt great pleasure in presenting to the Association his book on landed tenures.

The offer of Mr. Walton was accepted with thanks.[68]

The Secretary also read a letter from Citizen Le Lubez in answer to one from the General Secretary requesting him to communicate certain resolutions to Citizens Lefort and Fribourg. Citizen Le Lubez in his answer stated he had twice written to Citizen Fribourg but had received no reply and that he could no longer (consistent with his self-respect) correspond with Citizen Fribourg and the Paris Administration but that he would communicate to Citizen Lefort the request of the Council.

The letter was discussed by Citizens Fox and Jung, both of them stating they could not see how Citizen Le Lubez could act otherwise.

At the termination of the discussion Citizen Fox proposed, Citizen Le Lubez seconded:

That Citizen Dupont be deputed to correspond with the Administration in Paris. Carried unanimously.

Citizen Lubez said he had received a second application from Lyons from citizens who stated they were well-known and who wished to form an administration there.[69]

Powers to issue cards of membership, and if he was satisfied with the guarantees they gave to form an administration there, were given to Citizen Le Lubez.

Citizen Cremer gave the report of the deputation to the shoemakers’ conference. The deputation severally addressed the conference and were listened to with attention. Some questions were asked by [the delegates] and being satisfactorily answered, the delegate from Birmingham proposed and the delegate from Hull seconded the following resolution which was carried unanimously:

That we cordially agree with the principles of the International Association as represented so eloquently by the deputation from that body and pledge ourselves to join them for the furtherance of those principles and endeavour to spread their liberal and glorious ideas among our constituents.[70]

Some discussion took place as to the advisability of organised bodies being necessitated to pay something, but the discussion being out of order it was discontinued.

Citizen Whitlock gave a short report from the reform movement[71] after which Citizen Lessner proposed, Citizen Eccarius seconded, that Citizen Klimosch be elected on the Central Council. Carried unanimously.

Citizen Bolleter and Citizen Lubez nominated Citizen Jafery as a member of the Central Council.

Citizen Fox read a letter from Citizen Beluze to Citizen Fribourg giving him reasons for not acting on the Paris Administration.

Citizen Cremer proposed, Citizen Whitlock seconded, that Citizen Fox be the official reporter of the Central Council for the press. Carried unanimously.

The meeting then adjourned to April 4th.

J. G. ECCARIUS, Vice-President
W. CREMER, Honorary General Secretary
DELL, Chairman [Dell was in the chair at the meeting of April 4, 1865, at which the said minutes were confirmed]