International Working Men’s Association

The Minute Book of the General Council
November 1865

Tuesday, November 14

No heading. The minutes, written in Fox’s hand on two leaves of paper, are pasted onto pp. 79-80 of the Minute Book. The first part is a clipping from The Workman’s Advocate, No. 141, November 18, 1865, with additions and amendments in handwriting.

The Central Council met at 18, Greek Street, Soho. Vice-President Eccarius in the chair.


The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed without alteration.


On the motion of Citizen Fox, Citizens Coulson and Lessner were appointed to audit the accounts of the St. Martin’s Hall soirée.

France and Spain

The Secretary for France [Dupont] stated that the report of the proceedings of the conference drawn up by the Parisian delegates had been inserted in all the Republican and Liberal journals of Paris[137]; and that in the Siecle M. Henri Martin had written a preface (see below) which he desired to read, and did read to the Council. M. Martin. had joined our Association, and a sudden demand had sprung up for cards, 1,000 of which the Paris delegates demanded the immediate transmission. He also stated that the Parisian centre was in correspondence with Spanish democrats, concerning which they would communicate at length to the Council at a future date.

He concluded by laying the aforesaid report on the table.

Polish Celebration

Citizen Bobczynski stated as the British League for the Independence of Poland would join the International in celebrating the anniversary of the late insurrection of January 23rd, 1863, but would not join to celebrate that of November 29th, 1830, the Polish members had abandoned the idea of asking the International to observe the 29th instant. Nevertheless, the Poles in London intended to celebrate the same among themselves in a quiet manner, and they would be pleased to have the company of their friends. When the arrangements were completed, notice would be given of time, place, etc., in the columns of the Workman’s Advocate. [The newspaper clipping ends here] [138]

Place of Meeting

The lessee of the premises demands £12 per ann. for the front and £10 per ann. for the back room, a month’s rent in advance and a monthly notice on either side.

As the Council desired [here a clipping of several lines from the same number of The Workman’s Advocate, heavily edited by hand, is pasted into the Minute Book.] to have as large an attendance of members to consider this question of location as possible, they resolved to let the matter stand over till next Tuesday. [The newspaper clipping ends here. The sentence “they resolved .. . next Tuesday” is crossed out in the Minute Book.]

This question was accordingly made the order of the day for the next meeting.

A conversation ensued about the expediency of resuming our weekly meetings, and a resolution to do so was carried nem. con.

The Council then adjourned till Tuesday next.

The following document was ordered to be inserted in the minutes:

Henri Martin’s Preface to the French Delegates’ Report [here a clipping from The Workman’s Advocate, No. 141, November 18, 1865, is pasted into the Minute Book]

We have read the narrative of what lately took place at London with profound emotion. We have a presentiment that something great has just been begun, and that St. Martin’s Hall will be famous in history.

The elevation of the sentiments and the language of this report, the breadth of view and the high moral, political, and economical conceptions which have decided the choice of questions composing the programme for the International Congress of Working Men, which is to assemble next year, will strike with a common sympathy every friend of progress, justice and liberty in Europe.

Leaving to our friends and coadjutors the task of studying it in its details, and of following in its course, this new-born effort of European fraternity, we will only draw attention from among such profound social questions as “The labour of women and children in factories from the moral and sanitary point of view,” “The reduction of the hours of labour; object and moral consequences of the same,” “Religious ideas, their influence on the social, political, and intellectual movement,” we will only, I say, draw attention to the ninth question laid down for the consideration of the future congress:

“The necessity of annihilating Muscovite influence in Europe, by the application of the principle of the right of nations to dispose of themselves, and the reconstruction of Poland upon a democratic and socialist basis.” We will take the liberty of remarking that the expression “democratic and socialist basis,” is a very simple one as regards Poland, where the social framework needs reconstruction quite as much as the political framework, and where this basis has been laid down by the decrees of the anonymous government of 1863, and accepted by all classes of the nation.

This then is the reply of true socialism, of social progress in harmony with justice and liberty, to the advances of the communist despotism of Muscovy.

This “secret of the people of Paris,” which our friend Corbon has revealed in his noble book, is becoming, then, the common secret of the peoples of Europe.

We were well persuaded that this cold, as of death, which is spread over the surface of our modern society, had not reached to the bottom, had not frozen the soul of the people, and that the springs of life were not exhausted.

It was in England that the rich and powerful gave but yesterday the most melancholy examples of international egotism and of indifference to the lofty duties, to the grand interests of European society.

It is, indeed, in Britain that, for the honour of the British people, these noble reprisals of young Europe ought to commence; it is thither these clasped hands must go and plant the flag of the fraternity of peoples.

“Let those who have faith march forward, and soon the sceptics will run after them.” (Quoted from the concluding sentence of the delegates’ report.)

Our ears had grown unused to such words; they thrill us to the depths of our heart.

Henri Martin [the newspaper clipping ends here. The minutes are unsigned]

Tuesday, November 21

The minutes, written in Fox’s hand on five leaves of paper, are pasted onto pp. 81-85 of the Minute Book.

Citizen Shaw in the chair.

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed without alteration.

A letter dated November 7 was read from the Secretary of the Council of the Cordwainers’ Association asking for some [copies of the] Rules and Address to be forwarded to branch societies at Birmingham.

It was ordered that Citizen Fox should forward 24 copies to Thos. Hallam of No. 3, Second Court, Latimer St., Birmingham, for distribution among the four branch societies in that town; also that this remittance should be accompanied by a letter explaining the cause of the delay which had arisen in responding to the appeal.

The Secretary for Germany [Marx] stated that, in view of the sudden demand for cards that had arisen at Paris, he and the Secretary for Switzerland [Jung] had guaranteed the printer for the cost of preparing 2,000 cards, of which number 1,000 should be sent to Paris, 500 reserved for the French province and 100 reserved for Germany. He desired the sanction of the Council to this arrangement.

It was moved by Citizen Morgan and seconded by Wheeler and carried nem. con.: “That we sanction the arrangement made by Citizens Marx and Jung with the printer of the cards and that the allotment of them be as proposed by Citizen Marx.”

General Report

Citizen Marx stated that on his proposition it had been resolved at the conference that a report should be drawn up of the transactions of the Association for the first year of its existence. He now advised that the resolution for preparing such report be rescinded on two grounds: (1) because the French delegates had already published a report, (2) that its publication at the present moment was not opportune and should be delayed until May.[139] He had, however, communicated copies of the resolution and programme to our correspondents in Belgium and to Citizen Jung.

The resolution for drawing up a report was accordingly rescinded.

Propaganda in Germany

The Secretary for Germany said he was glad to be able to report that our Association was at length making headway in Germany, where it had obstacles to overcome greater than those which existed in France. Steps were being taken to form branches in Berlin, Mayence and Leipsic by men for whom the speaker could vouch. These societies would probably be represented at the Geneva Congress.[140]

New Correspondents

Citizen Marx proposed that Dr. Coullery of [La] Chaux-de-Fonds in the Canton of Neuchâtel be nominated correspondent of this Association and receive a letter of credence. This proposition was carried nem. con.

The Secretary for France proposed that Léon Toutain of Condé-sur-Noireau, in the Department of Calvados, be appointed correspondent. Resolved accordingly.

Letter from Lyons

The Secretary for France read a letter from our correspondent at Lyons [Schettel] stating that he held 200 francs at our disposal and would shortly transmit same, also desiring to know if the report of the Paris delegates was accurate in every respect or “cooked” so as not to offend the government, also thanking the Council for the transmission of the Courrier International and desiring the largest possible amount of information concerning the doings of the Central Council.


The Council agreed with Mr. Corbett to take the back room at 18, Greek St., Soho, for Tuesday nights at 4s. a week payable in advance, with a month’s notice on either side.

Celebration of the 29th November

On the motion of Citizens Fox and Wheeler it was resolved that should the Poles in London carry out their project of celebrating this event by a dinner, those members of the Council who should attend the same be authorised to do so as a deputation from the Central Council.

The Council then adjourned.


Tuesday, November 28

The minutes, written in Fox’s hand on three leaves of paper, are pasted onto pp. 86-88 of the Minute Book.

President Odger in the chair.

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed without alteration.

The Treasurership

Citizen Dell stated that he and Citizen Wheeler had spoken together about the treasurership which the latter was willing to resume and the former desirous of resigning in consequence of the distance of his abode from town. He stated that Wheeler’s office was in a central place near the Strand and recommended the transference of the office.

It was moved by Howell and seconded by Dell that Wheeler resume the office of treasurer of the Association. Carried nem. con.


In the regretted absence of the Secretary for Switzerland, [Jung] Citizen Marx stated that Citizen J. Ph. Becker had issued a proclamation to the German Swiss, concerning the Association, portions of which he thought should be translated and published in our report.[141] In it it was announced that the branch societies in Switzerland were about to issue a paper in German and French which would be the organ of the Association in that country.[142]

The Tulle Question

The Secretary for France [Dupont] stated that it would have a good effect on the Lyonnese if any member of the Council could procure the desired information concerning the wages earned by English operatives in this branch of manufacture.

Preparations for Congress

Citizen Fox gave notice that he intended to prepare, for the forthcoming congress, a paper on the 9th question of the programme, relating to Poland, which would address itself to the merits of the question and to the necessity of its retention as one of the aims of the Association. He intended to get it translated into French and hoped to lay it in English before the Central Council by the first Tuesday in April.

The Council then adjourned.