James P. Cannon

ILD Will Grow Quickly

Written: July 15, 1925
Source: James P. Cannon and the Early Years of American Communism. Selected Writings and Speeches, 1920-1928 © Spartacist Publishing Company, 1992. ISBN 0-9633828-1-0; Published by Spartacist Publishing Company, Box 1377 G.P.O. New York, NY 10116. Introductory material and notes by the Prometheus Research Library.
Transcription\HTML Markup: Prometheus Research Library
Copyright: Permission for on-line publication provided by Spartacist Publishing Company for use by the James P. Cannon Internet Archive in 2005.

Cannon addressed the following letter, written on the stationery of the newly founded International Labor Defense, to Eugene V. Debs in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Dear Comrade Debs:

I was very much gratified indeed to receive your letter of July 10th confirming your previous endorsement of the ILD.

The launching of such a movement as this has been in my mind for many years and the response it is getting from all sections of the working class, especially from men like yourself who have been in prison or who are confined there now, gives me confidence that the movement will grow quickly and will become a real power for the defense of persecuted workers and for the support of their dependents. The need for such a movement as the ILD is even greater than we had at first anticipated. Since the holding of the National Conference on June 28th and its attendant publicity we have been receiving letters almost every day from unknown and neglected prisoners and their families, and heavy obligations are piling upon us. That only means that we must work harder and broaden the scope of our activities to arouse the labor movement to unity and action in behalf of its persecuted fighters.

The main problem as I see it is to construct the ILD on the broadest possible basis. To conduct the work in a non-partisan and non-sectarian manner and finally establish the impression by our deeds that the ILD is the defender of every worker persecuted for his activities in the class struggle, without any exceptions and without regard to his affiliations. It is my aim to direct the work along this line. The whole National Conference was animated by this spirit and I am sure it is yours too.

I appreciate the fact that your time is fully occupied for the remaining months of the year. But in spite of this I trust that you will find the way to assist us by a certain minimum of active participation in the work of the ILD.

I will keep in touch with you and inform you regularly of the developments and problems of the organization and will greatly appreciate your advice and suggestions. It would be especially valuable if you could find time to write us a short article which we could send out in our press service. And if you happen to be in Chicago in the near future I would like very much to have a talk with you about the work.

Our main energy is concentrated at present on the building of the organization. Our plan is to launch it on a big scale by holding local conferences in all the main cities of the country simultaneously on Sunday September 13th, at which time local units will be established. Mass meetings are to be held in all these cities in the evening following the conference. If we carry out this project successfully it ought to have an electrical effect upon the movement.

Copies of our press service will be sent to you regularly. Will keep you informed about the progress of our organizational campaigns as well as of the other activities which we are developing.

Best wishes to you,


Fraternally yours,

International Labor Defense

J.P. Cannon

Executive Secretary