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Fourth International, Fall 1955


Foster in World War I

(Stenographic Report)


From Fourth International, Vol.16 No.4, Fall 1955, p.21.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


(The material printed below, indicating the attitude of William Z. Foster toward American imperialism in World War I, consists of extracts from the public stenographic record of the Senate investigaltion of the steel strike in 1919. The published volume is entitled: Investigation of Strike in Steel Industries. Hearings before the Committee on Education and Labor, United States Senate – Sixty-sixth Congress, first session. Pursuant to S. Res. 202 on the Resolution of the Senate to investigate the Strike in the Steel Industries. Foster today is National Chairman of the American Communist Party – Ed.)

* * *


FITZPATRICK: He (Foster) is not preaching and is absolutely confining himself to the activities and scope of the American Federation of Labor, and has done so for the years that I have known him. This is not a new thing for me. I have known Foster for probably six or seven years. (Page 75.)

THE CHAIRMAN: Have you ever discussed this book (Syndicalism) with him at all?

FITZPATRICK: Oh, he joked about the views he had in his younger diays, when he associated with men who were actuated with radical thoughts, and he was imbued by it, but when he got both his feet on the ground and knew how to weigh matters with better discretion and more conscience, he had forgot all of those things that he learned when he was a boy, and is now doing a man’s thinking in the situation. (Page 76.)

GOMPERS: About a year after that meeting at Zurich – no, about two years after the Zurich meeting (where Foster had appeared as an International delegate of the IWW – Ed.), and about a year after that pamphlet (Syndicalism) had been printed, I was at a meettsng of the Chicago Federation of Labor, conducted under the presidency of Mr. John Fitzpaltrick. I was called upon to make and did make an address. One of the delegates arose after I had concluded and expressed himself that it would be wise for the men in the labor movement of Chicago and of the entire counltory to follow the thought and philosophy and so forth which President Gompers had enunciated in his address. I did not know who was the delegate. He was a new personality to me. I might say that I was rather flattered and pleased at the fact that there was general comment of approval of not only my utterances but of the delegate who had first spoken after I had concluded.

Much to my amazement, after the meeting was over I was informed that the delegate was W.Z. Foster, the man who had appeared in Zurich and the man who had written that pamphlet. I think I addressed a letter to him expressing my appreciation of his change of attitude, his change of mind, and pointing out to him that pursuing a constructive policy he could be of real service to the cause of labor. He was a man of ability, a man of good presence, gentle in expression, a commander of good English, and I encouraged him. I was willing to help build a golden bridge for mine enemy to pass over. I was willing to welcome an erring brother into the ranks of constructive labor. (Pages 111-112.)

FOSTER: I am one who changes his mind once in a while. I might say that other people do. I shook hands with Gustave Hervé in La Santé Prison. At that time he was in there for anti-militarism and for preaching sabotage, and today I think Gustave Hervé (Hervé had turned Socialist Patriot. – Ed.) is one of the biggest men in France. (Page 396.)

THE CHAIRMAN (to Foster): But all that time, when you were advocating the doctrines of the IWW through the country and abroad, you were running counter to the policies of the American Federation of Labor?

FOSTER: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN: Mr. Gompers, however, has not changed his views concerning the IWW, but your views have changed?

FOSTER: I don’t think Mr. Gompers views have changed – only to become more pronounced possibly.

CHAIRMAN: And you say now to the Committee that your views have so changed that you are in harmony with the views of Mr. Gompers?

FOSTER: Yes, sir, I don’t know that it is 100 percent, but in the main they are. (Page 423.)


SENATOR WALSH: What was his attitude toward this country during the war, if you know?

MR. FITZPATRICK: Absolutely loyal, and he did everything in his power to assist in every way. I worked with him. I worked with him during the whole of the war, and I know the service that he rendered to the country. I think that he rendered as great a service, not only to the United States Government, but to the Allies, as any man. (Page 76-76.)

SENATOR WALSH (to Foster): What was your attitude toward this country during the war?

FOSTER: My attitude toward the war was that it must be won at all costs.

SENATOR WALSH: Some reference was made by Mr. Fitapatrick about your purchasing bonds or your subscribing to some campaign fund. Do you mind telling the committee what you did personally in that direction?

FOSTER: I bought my share, what I figured I was able to afford, and in our union we did our best to help make the loans a success.

WALSH: Did you make speeches?

FOSTER: Yes, sir.

WALSH: How many?

FOSTER: Oh, dozens of them.

WALSH: I would like to have you, for the sake of the record, tell us how many speeches you made, what time you devoted, and what money you expended for bonds, for the Red Cross or for any other purposes.

FOSTER: Wel1, I think I bought either $450 or $500 worth of bonds during the war. I cannot say exactly.

WALSH: You made speeches for the sale of bonds?

FOSTER: We carried on a regular campaign in our organization in the stockyards.

WALSH: And your attitude was the same as the attitude of all the other members of your organization?

FOSTER: Absolutely. (Pages 398-399.)

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