The International Workingmen's Association, 1872

Hague documents

Documents of the Hague Congress

These documents, varying in character, contain extensive material on the work of the International and on the working- class movement in individual countries.

They include general and financial reports of the General Council, the local reports of the North American Federal Council, a number of French federations and sections, the Basle Section and the Italian Section at Porto Maurizio, the Portuguese Federal Council and others, and also messages, statements, greetings, and so on, sent to the Congress by local congresses, federations, sections and individuals.

Though intended to be read aloud to the Congress, as the minutes show, only a few of these documents so read -- due to lack of time. Instead, they were generally passed on to a special commission, which was to read them and then pass back to the Congress a summary report. (This task was never completed, however.)

The detailed report drawn up by Engels on the financial administration of the General Council since the time of tne London Conference (1871) and the general balance of its income and expenses refute the calumny levelled by the bourgeois press and by the Bakuninists against the leading members of the General Council alleging their irresponsibility in spending the funds collected by the workers. Marx observed that "whereas, as the accounts show, individual members of the General Council were emptying their pockets and purses for the organisation, it was mendaciously said that they were living on the pennies of the workers!"

French sections submitted proposals to improve the International's organisation. Proposals by the Portuguese and the North American federations wanted to strengthen the role of the General Council, demanded a stricter approach to the admission of new members and to the approval of new sections, and emphasised the importance of centralising the proletariat's forces, of strengthening its unity and its ideological cohesion based on the principles of the International.

The Paris, Narbonne and Ronen sections noted the success achieved by the working-class movement, duly recognised the merits of the General Council in respect of the working class and demanded that the Council should be given wider powers to fight against splitters within the Association and against international reaction.

The Portuguese workers, who were the victims of particularly cruel exploitation and had only recently taken the path of independent political activity, wrote in their address to the Congress that the organisation of the working class was an indispensable condition for its emancipation "and that the existence of the General Council, which has been discussed so much, is indispensable, and if there were no General Council it would have to be created."

The New Madrid Federation saw the main task of the Congress in strengthening and extending the organisation, reorganising "it so that it can better achieve its aim ... so that it... may be practically effective". Discerning a serious danger in the secret intrigues of the Bakuninist Alliance and calling for the expulsion of sectarians from the International, the Spaniards appealed to the Association's General Congress delegates for energetic action.

From Germany, Switzerland, Britain, Spain and other countries letters and telegrams arrived at the Congress containing greetings and expressions of solidarity with the delegates and calling for a courageous and persistent struggle to achieve working-class unity.

Documents Presented to the Congress

Report of the General Council (Marx), late Aug 1872

Summary of the General Council's Financial Administration in 1871/72

Report of the North American Federal Council to The Hague Congress

Modifications to the General Rules proposed by the Ferré Section, 8 Aug 1872

Narbonne Section. Message to The Hague Congress, 12 Aug 1872

Declaration of the Paris Sections to the Congress,  

The Ferré Section to the delegates of The Hague Congress, 23 Aug 1872

Paris Section of Workers' Rights to the members of The Hague Congress

Report of the Rouen Federation

Report of the Portuguese Federal Council, 15 Aug 1872

Message from the Porto Maurizio (Italy) Section, 26 Aug 1872

Report of the Basle Section, 30 Aug 1872

The Geneva Federation to the Congress at The Hague, 1 Sep 1872

Message of Greetings from Francois Ostyn

The New Madrid Federation to the Congress at The Hague, 1 Sep 1872

Invitation to Congress delegates to visit the grave of A. Barbes, 3 Sep 1872

Address of the Federal Council of Holland

Greeting from the Amsterdam members of the International, 5 Sep 1872

Statements by Rudolf Schramm, 6 Sep 1872

Greetings telegram from Cassel, member of the International, 7 Sep 1872

Note of the contents of separate messages received by the Congress