International Working Men’s Association

The Minute Book of the General Council
July 1866

Central Council Meeting
July 3, 1866

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on p. 143 of the Minute Book.

Vice-President Eccarius in the chair.

Election of Councilmen

Here a clipping from The Commonwealth, No. 175, July 14, 1866, is pasted into the Minute Book.

Cit. Ayers of No. 1 Lodge of the Operative Bricklayers, and Cit. F. Yarrow of the Alliance Cabinet-Makers’ Association, were elected members of the Central Council, after having been nominated by their respective corporations.[225]

The declaration of adhesion of the Nottingham section of the Amalgamated Cordwainers’ Society, representing 140 men, was read.

Cit. Maurice brought before the attention of the Council the following advertisement which appeared in the Times of the 6th ult.:

To the Master Tailors of Great Britain and Ireland

“Your attention is called to the present relations between the masters and journeymen tailors of the United Kingdom, and it is suggested that, in the interest of the trade generally, a conference be held in London, or elsewhere, in August, in which masters from every town in the kingdom may take part, and the present and future prospects of the labour question be thoroughly discussed, a more satisfactory arrangement among themselves arrived at, and a system adopted by which work may be efficiently carried on in case of strikes.”

A letter from Mr. G. E. Harris was read, giving his adhesion to the response to the Paris students. [The newspaper clipping ends here]

The Adjourned Debate on the German War

Here three small clippings from the same issue of the paper are pasted into the Minute Book.

An article was translated from the last number of the Rive Gauche as containing the sentiments of Cit. Lafargue, a member of the Council, on the attack of the King of Italy ‘Upon Venetia, and its reaction upon French politics.[226]

Cit. Fox gave notice of the following resolution:

“That the Prussian Government is responsible for the miseries caused by the present war on the Continent.”

The debate was continued by. [the words “the debate was continued by” are in Cremer’s hand]

Cits. Bobczynski, Cremer, Fox, Hales, and Eccarius spoke and the debate was adjourned until Tuesday next. [The newspaper clipping ends here. Then come two strips of paper pasted into the Minute Book on which the continuation of the minutes is written in Fox’s hand]

The Financial Secretary [Wheeler] was instructed to pay to the Commonwealth the first quarter’s rent due for our present meeting-place.

Cit. Lessner proposed W. Massman as a member of the Council. [the insert ends here. The closing sentence is in Cremer’s hand]

The Council then adjourned to July 10th.


Central Council Meeting
July 10, 1866

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 144-45 of the Minute Book.

Vice-President Eccarius in the chair.

Election of Councilmen

Citizen Massman proposed by Lessner and Marx.


Jung read for Dupont correspondence from Fleurieux-sur-Saône near Lyons announcing the opening of a new branch there, also thanking the Central Council for the high mission they had undertaken.[227]

He also read a letter from Rouen expressing their regret at the delay which had taken place on their part. They were now making amends for the past and were working for the future.[228]

Letter from Lyons hoping the Council would not again postpone the Congress, also asking if the travelling expenses of the delegates who went around Lyons making propaganda could be taken out of their funds derived from the sale of members’ cards.

The answer was provided by a former resolution of the Central Council.


Question of Congress

Citizen Cremer introduced the question asking the Central Council if they would take active steps to ensure the success of the Congress.

Citizens Carter and Fox proposed: That not less than 4 delegates be sent to Geneva from the Central Council. Carried unanimously.[229]

It was further agreed to retain the services of one man during the day-time to make active propaganda. Citizen Cremer was elected for that purpose.

Citizens Lawrence and Burry proposed: That the members of the Central Council belonging to the various trades hold themselves in readiness to assist the General Secretary. [Cremer] Carried.

Representation in the Press

Citizen Marx asked Citizen Fox how it was that no report of the Council’s doings had appeared in the last number of the Commonwealth.

Citizen Fox entered into a long explanation, and a discussion took place taken part in by Citizens Dell, Weston, Cremer and others. Eventually Citizens Bobczynski ‘and Yarrow proposed that for the future we do not confine our reports to any journal but send them wherever they are likely to be inserted. Carried unanimously.[230]

The Sheffield Conference

Cremer proposed that Citizen Odger and in the event of the tailors sending a delegate to the conference that they be appointed to represent the Association at the conference. Carried unanimously.[231]

The Council then adjourned to July 17th.

JOHN WESTON, President pro tem.

Meeting of Central Council
July 17, 1866

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 146-47 of the Minute Book.

Citizen Weston in the chair.

The minutes of the last meeting were read and confirmed.

Citizen Howell complained of that part of the previous minutes which he said reflected on him.

The reflection having been denied, Citizen Cremer said it was he that had made the statements which Citizen Howell complained of and what he had said he was prepared to stand by.

The Chairman having ruled that the discussion was out of order, the affair [was] dropped.

The Secretary for Belgium

Citizen Lafargue reported that Citizen Longuet having gone to Paris, had unfortunately been arrested and committed for eight months.[232]

Citizen Le Lubez also announced[233] that Citizen Vésinier had been arrested in Belgium. [here a clipping from The Commonwealth, No. 176, July 21, 1866, is pasted into the Minute Book]

Reports of Deputations

Cits. Cremer and Jung reported the result of their visit to the Hand-in-Hand Society of Coopers, the members of which had convened a special meeting to receive them. After listening for some time with a deep interest to the deputation many of the members spoke warmly in support of the principles of the Association, and as an earnest of their deep convictions they agreed to join in a body and levied each member one shilling towards defraying the expenses of the Geneva Congress. The General Secretary [Cremer] also reported that the West End Cabinet-Makers had sent in their adhesion to the Association, and asked to be admitted as an affiliated branch. A resolution for their admission was unanimously agreed to.


Cit. Dupont, French secretary, read a letter from Neuville-sur-Saône near Lyons, asking permission to open a branch there. The Secretary thanked the Council for the high mission they had undertaken. The request was agreed to, and Cits. Louis Baudrand, E. Boniere [E. Boniere’s name is inserted in Cremer’s hand] and T. M. Colomb, were appointed correspondents of the Association for that locality.[234] A letter was also read from Lyons asking for information in regard to malleable castings. The Secretary was instructed to make some enquiries.

The Treatment of the Irish State Prisoners at Portland

Cit. Fox stated that before the expiration of the six months’ term the Irish state prisoners lately confined in Pentonville prison were removed to Portland jail, where alone their friends were allowed to visit them. He then read the following extract from a letter received from the wife of one of the said prisoners. This lady states the conditions under which these prisoners may be seen by their female relatives and the crushing treatment to which they are subjected — treatment to which one of their number has already fallen a victim.

‘Mrs. Luley [a misprint. Here and elsewhere should read: Luby] and O'Leary’s sisters have been to Portland. They were much disappointed in having to see the prisoners through wire screens. It seems to me that the English Government must have an exalted opinion of the ingenuity and cleverness of Irishwomen, when even with all the safekeeping that bars and bolts and jailors can insure, it will not trust a prisoner’s wife to touch that prisoner’s hand or even see his face unscreened; or is such precaution used as a refinement of cruelty, which it certainly is, whether intended to be or not. Here are a few facts as to their treatment given by Luley and O'Leary. At labour from five a.m. to eight p.m., breakfast of cocoa and heavy unpalatable bread, supper of thin gruel half enough at each meal. Dinner, two days five ounces meat, five potatoes and bread; two next days, a pint of something called soup, and bread; two days again, they dine on suet pudding and on Sunday they have bread and cheese. They have no chaplain. Their labour is quarrying, washing the convicts’ clothes, and scrubbing; by turns. It is easy to understand that many of these men will sink under such treatment combined with all the petty tyranny practised on them by the more brutal of their jailors, and without the consolation of either letters or visits from their friends. Luley and O'Leary wished this put before the public. I have not seen my husband, I will go to see him in a few weeks, and I know he too will wish this course the government takes with state prisoners to be published.

“Mrs. J. O'Donovan Rossa.”

The Central Council by a unanimous vote ordered that the extract should be as widely published as possible. [The newspaper clipping ends here. The sentence that follows is written in Cremer’s hand]

The European War

Citizen Fox translated from the Courrier Français a letter signed by Fribourg[235] in relation to the war and the social question.

Here a clipping from The Commonwealth, No. 176, July 21, 1866, is pasted into the Minute Book.

The Discussion on the War

was then resumed. Cits. Dutton, Bobczynski and Marx were the principal speakers. Cits. Cremer and Fox withdrew their respective amendments, and the wording of the Bobczynski-Carter resolution was amended and ultimately passed, nem. con., in the following form:

“That the Central Council of the International Working Men’s Association consider the present conflict on the Continent to be one between Governments and advise working men to be neutral, and to associate themselves with a view to acquire strength by unity and to use the strength so acquired in working out their social and political emancipation. “[236]

The Congress Programme

It was then agreed that [the words “It was then agreed that” are inserted in Cremer’s hand] at the next and subsequent meetings of the Council the questions to be submitted to the Geneva Congress should [the word “should” is also in Cremer’s hand] be discussed and elaborated.

The questions to be discussed on Tuesday next are as follows: Organisation of the Association; Combination of effort by means of the Association in the different national struggles between capital and labour.

The newspaper clipping ends here. The closing sentence is in Cremer’s hand.

The Council then adjourned to July 24th.


Meeting of Central Council
July 24, 1866

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 147-49 of the Minute Book.

Citizen Burry in the chair.

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.

Nominations for Councilmen

Citizen W. Stockey. Nominated by Yarrow and Jung.

Citizen W. Colonieu. Nominated by Dupont and Combault.

Citizen Le Maitre. Nominated by Lafargue and Marx.

Reports of Deputations

Citizen Burry reported that the coachmakers had not met; they would meet next month August 8.

Citizen Jung reported the result of visit to packingcase makers; they wished for a deputation at their delegate meeting.


Citizen Jung read correspondence respecting the manufacture of tulle by which it was ascertained that the English operatives received higher wages than the Lyons operatives.

Citizen Dupont read a letter from [Neuville]-sur-Saône thanking the Council for cards of membership and asking for credentials for the correspondents. Ordered to be sent.

Jung read a letter from Geneva which stated they had elected a committee to make arrangements for the reception of the delegates who would attend the Congress. They also wished to know in what manner the questions were to be proposed and discussed at the Congress. They thought the Central Council ought to appoint a member to bring forward questions and formally propose them. Also that reports of proceedings should be taken and printed in three languages and distributed amongst all the sections of the Association. They also hoped the Central Council would communicate to all the branches the assembling of Congress and the questions to be submitted,[237]

Ordered that the recommendation should be submitted and discussed by the Standing Committee for report to the Central Council.

Question of Italian Representation

Cremer and Marx proposed:

That the Secretary and any member of the Central Council take whatever steps they may deem advisable to get Italian societies represented at the Congress. Carried unanimously.

Also ordered that Citizen Jung write to the Geneva Administration urging them to exert themselves to the same effect.[238]

Citizen Lubez gave reasons why the Italians in London abstained from returning to the Council.

The Order of the Day

was then discussed, led off by Cremer who proposed as recommendation to Congress that the Central Council should sit in London. Seconded by Marx. Carried unanimously.[239]

The next question discussed was ways and means.

Cremer proposed for discussion:

“That corporate bodies joining the Association should contribute one halfpenny for member for year to the Central Council for the purposes of propaganda and administration expenses.”

A long discussion ensued on the question, taken part in by Citizens Marx, Jung, Lafargue, Dutton, Yarrow, and others, and ultimately it was decided to adjourn the question till the next meeting.

Several deputations were then appointed to wait on societies and the Council then adjourned to July 31st.

J. GEORGE ECCARIUS, Vice-President

Meeting of Central Council
July 31, 1866

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 149-52 of the Minute Book.

Vice-President Eccarius in the chair.

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.

Election of Councilmen

Citizen Stockey proposed by Yarrow and Jung.

Reports of Deputations

[Here a strip of paper with a new text in Cremer’s hand is pasted over part of the original minutes] Citizen Lawrence gave Citizen Burry’s report of his visit to silver spoonmakers. They agreed to the terms of ½ d. per member and promised to recommend the whole of the trade to join. Citizen Lawrence stated the Tailors’ Executive would recommend to their members whatever was agreed on by the Central Council or the Congress.

The Secretary [Cremer] reported that the Engineers’ Council had received a deputation and after listening to the [insert ends here] deputation and discussing their views had promised to communicate the result of their deliberations.

The compositors had also received the deputation and appeared heartily to endorse their views.

Citizen Le Lubez reported that the carpenters’ meeting at the Silver Cup had well received the deputation and voted one pound towards the expenses of the Congress promising to consider the propriety of joining the Association.[240]

Citizen Eccarius reported that the Tailors’ Committee had issued an appeal to the journeymen urging them to elect a delegate to the Geneva Congress.

The Atlantic Cable

Citizen Fox referring to the laying of the above, said it was an event too important for the International Working Men’s Association to pass silently by. He would therefore propose the following..

That the Central Council hails the successful laying of the telegraph cable between Ireland and Newfoundland as a grand triumph of science and perseverance over formidable physical difficulties and as adding facilities to the intercourse between the cisatlantic and transatlantic members of the European family and this Council further hopes that the present cable is only the precursor of many others.[241]

Citizen Dell in seconding the resolution said the peoples had nothing to gain by isolation and secrecy but everything to hope for from increased communication with each other.

The resolution was carried unanimously.

Report of Standing Committee

Citizen Marx brought up the report of the Committee on the questions to be submitted to Congress:

1. They recommend the order as published in the French programme with the single amendment that the last question be amalgamated with the first.

Fox and Carter proposed that the report on this point be adopted. Carried unanimously,[242]

2. That the Secretary be instructed to make out a report of the number of members and a general statement of income and expenditure. Carried unanimously.

3. They recommend the Congress to make an enquiry into the condition of the working classes according to the following schedule of enquiries:

1) Occupation, name of.
2) Age and sex of the employed.
3) Number of the employed.
4) Hiring and wages. A. Apprentices. B. Wages, day or piece work. Whether paid by middlemen, etc. Weekly, yearly average earnings.
5) Hours of labour. In factories. Hours of small employers and home work if the business carried on in those modes. Nightwork, daywork.
6) Meal times and treatment.
7) State of place and work, overcrowding, defective ventilation, want of sunlight, use of gaslight, etc., cleanliness, etc.
8) Nature of the occupation.
9) Effect of employment upon the physical condition.
10) Moral condition. Education.
11) State of trade, whether season trade or more or less uniformly distributed over year, whether greatly fluctuating, whether exposed to foreign competition, whether destined principally for home or foreign consumption, etc.

The recommendation was unanimously agreed to.[243]


Citizen Marx then reported that a yearly contribution of ½ [d.] per member be paid by societies joining, cost price of cards or livrets to be charged extra. The Secretary to have power to negotiate with poor societies on easier terms. The recommendation carried unanimously.

The Committee recommend that the Council advise members to found benefit societies and to organise an international exchange between benefit societies.

A debate arose on this point. The recommendation was amended so as to require that the Swiss members take the initiative at the Congress on this question.

The resolution in its amended form was carried unanimously.

That the local committees keep reports of the state of

trade in their districts and act as intelligence officers for working men.

The Council then adjourned.

J. GEORGE ECCARIUS, Vice-President