International Working Men’s Association

The Minute Book of the General Council
November 1866

November 6th

No heading; the Minutes are in an unknown hand (with corrections made by Fox) on pp. 26-28 of the Minute Book.

Citizen Jung was voted into the chair.

The Minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.

Citizen Zabicki Presented a letter from the Chairman and Secretary of the Central London Section of the United Polish Exiles requesting that Citizen Anthony Zabicki be accepted as the Secretary for Poland instead of Citizen Konstantin Bobczynski who had left London for Birmingham.

On [the] motion of Dupont this nomination was ratified by the General Council.

A letter from the Secretary of the Elastic Web-Weavers’ Society was read announcing their readiness to receive a deputation.

Weston, Jung, and Dupont were appointed a deputation to wait on that body.[57]

The Secretary [Fox] read a letter from Mr. Patterson of Guildford in reference to the Council’s Universal Exhibition of 1867 scheme which was handed over to the special committee.[58]

A representative of the Freundschaft-Gesellschaft [German Friendship Society] was informed that the price of cards for individual members was Is. and not 3d., as he had been led to believe.

The Secretary stated that a lady had undertaken to translate the report of the Congress of Geneva given in the Vorbote.[59]

The Secretary announced that he had received a copy of the Parisian Mémoire read at the Geneva Congress and described its contents.[60]

Dupont laid on the table the Tribune du Peuple containing the appeal to the garcons coiffeurs made by their London brethren.[61]

He announced that he had nominated Citizen Besson as Secretary for Belgium and that this nomination had been approved by the Standing Committee.

The nomination was then confirmed by the General Council.

He then brought up the report of the Standing Committee in reference to the Lyons subscription.

The Committee thought any action taken by the Association at the present time would only reveal their pecuniary weakness and destroy their prestige.

He then read [an excerpt] from the Cooperation[62] [about] the progress of the co-operative principle at Fleurieux-sur-Saône and Neuville among members of the Association.

Citizen Carter thought that the fact that the agricultural population of France were beginning to practise the principle of co-operation ought to receive publicity. He requested the Secretary to translate it for insertion in the Commonwealth next week.

The Secretary promised to do so.

The National Reform League

The Secretary brought up the report of the Standing Committee. They recommended [that] the N.R.L. be admitted on the same terms as those offered to [the] trades societies.

Shaw and Odger supported the report of the Committee.

Hales moved that it was inexpedient to adopt the report of the Standing Committee, but after explanation of some of the members thereof, Hales withdrew his opposition, and the report of the Committee was unanimously adopted.

The Secretary then brought up the following recommendation of the Standing Committee:

“That no member at the Central Council meetings be allowed to speak more than five minutes.”

Odger objected to this, and on [the] motion of Hales it was unanimously rejected.

The Secretary then brought up the following resolution. from the Standing Committee:

1. “That any member of the Central Council who shall be absent for more than four sittings from Council meetings without giving satisfactory reasons therefor, shall be liable to have his name erased from the list of the Council.

2. “This resolution to be immediately communicated to every member of the Council.”

A lively discussion sprang up on this resolution, Carter, Lessner, Hales, and Jung being in favour of it and Eccarius, Fox, and Weston against it.

Weston thought that at least so important a resolution should not be carried in so thin a meeting and until notice had been given in the Commonwealth. He moved that the debate be adjourned until next week; Lessner seconded this, and the adjournment was carried unanimously.[63]

The Council then adjourned.


November 13

No heading; the Minutes are in an unknown hand on pp. 29-31 of the Minute Book.

President Odger in the chair.

The Minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.

The General Secretary [Fox] read a letter from Citizen Le Lubez in reference to the action he contemplated taking in vindication of himself against the stigma put upon him by the Congress of Geneva.

In the course of the discussion that ensued the Chairman stated that he held up his hand against the resolution ostracising Le Lubez.

On Jung denying this fact, Odger again vouched for it and added that he was sneered at for his singularity.

Cremer, Carter, Jung, Hales, Fox, and Weston took part in the discussion, and eventually the motion of Hales was carried unanimously: That the General Secretary answer Le Lubez’s letter in the sense that the General Council can do nothing inconsistent with the resolution of the Congress at whose hands it holds its own appointment.

Jung made a communication in reference [to] what was doing at Chaux-de-Fonds.[64]

Citizen Brighting, the delegate of the Basket-Makers’ Society, stated that 12 Belgian basket-makers had been brought over by the agent of the Masters’ Joint Stock Company, that six of these were at work at the Company’s shops at the railway arches in Blue Anchor Lane, Bermondsey. The trade in London consisted of about .400 men, taking Society and non-Society men together. The masters decided to break down the Basket-Makers’ Society by importing Continentals to take the place of the Society men. The six Belgians could not be got; as he believed, they slept on the premises. He requested the aid of the Council in communicating with these men.

(At this stage of the proceedings, Odger left the chair and the room to attend another engagement, and Shaw was voted into the chair.)

Dupont stated that Citizen Derkinderen was a Fleming and would be at the service of the basket-makers.

Shaw and Cremer advised that no time be lost, and Cremer suggested a ruse.

It was finally determined that Fox and Derkinderen should meet Citizen Brighting at the Bell Inn, Old Bailey, at 1:15 p.m. on the following day and these concert a plan for enlightenment of the deluded and the enfranchisement of the imprisoned Belgians.

Lessner laid on the table a copy of the New-Yorker Democrat, a New York daily paper in the German language, containing an account of the Geneva Congress by its own special correspondent at Geneva.

See p. 55 of the present volume.

Report of Deputation

Jung gave an account of his visit to the elastic webweavers on Monday last. He was alone. He was well received, and he believed that the brother societies of this trade at Leicester, Derby, _and Manchester would follow the London society in joining.

Citizen Hales, on behalf of the elastic web-weavers of London, numbering only 50 men, put down 10s. and received a large card.[65]

On [the] motion of Fox, David Dry was accepted as the is web-weavers’ delegate to this Council.

Citizen Collet implored the Council to lend a hand to the bakers.

Lessner moved and Hales Seconded:

That Citizen Massman, who was about to take ship for Germany, be authorised to act for this Association in Germany. Carried unanimously.

Cremer stated that he was going on his lecturing tour and asked leave to take 30.Ci copies of the Association’s Address[66] with him.

Leave granted unanimously.

Citizen Hales gave notice [a] motion as to the desirability of establishing branches of the Association on the same plan as the Reform League.[67]

Shaw interpellated Cremer about the balance-sheet and received permission to obtain it from Mrs. Cremer.

Report From Excursion Committee

Carter stated that the committee had met and had appointed Fox as its secretary The committee desired Fox to write to the several railway companies and to Mr. Cook and the Universal Tourist Company[68] to ascertain the fares that would be charged for return tickets for a week and a fortnight, first and second class.

Fox undertook the office.

The other matters on the order of the day were then adjourned till next week, and the meeting then adjourned.


November 20th, 1866

No heading; the Minutes are in an unknown hand on pp. 32-35 of the Minute Book.

Vice-President Eccarius took the chair and read a letter from Secretary Fox which stated that he would not be present.

The Minutes of the last meeting were read, when Citizen Jung said that it was very important that the statement made by Citizen Cremer at the last meeting should be entered in the Minutes, viz., that he, Cremer, never saw Odger hold up his hand against the motion that barred Le Lubez from sitting on the Council.

‘it was agreed that the statement should be entered. The Minutes were then confirmed.

Citizen Dry took his seat as delegate from the elastic web-weavers.


Citizen Jung said: The Belgians wished to know how the trades societies were admitted, whether members pay an individual subscription or a certain amount for the whole of the society, and what rights had the members of trades societies when their societies had joined. He also informed the Council that Brismee could not give an estimate for printing the general report of the Congress until he knew the size of the pages and the kind of type.


Citizen Derkinderen stated that he, in conjunction with Fox and a member of the Basket-Makers’ Society, went to Blue Anchor Lane last Wednesday for the purpose of drawing the Belgian basket-makers out of the shops, after providing themselves with a French and a Flemish letter. Fox and Derkinderen went to the shops, they saw the master, and Fox asked him if he could employ Derkinderen’s brother who was represented to be a basket-maker and was at present in Belgium. The master said he would employ the brother. He invited Fox and Derkinderen into the workshops, and whilst Fox was entertaining the master in conversation, Derkinderen was pointing out to the Belgians the injury they were inflicting on the English basket makers and he succeeded in getting two of them to come out of the shops to have a glass of drink, although the master objected very much. The two Belgians, at their interview with the English basket-makers, were so impressed of the wrong that they were doing to the English, that they resolved to go back to the shops, pack up their tools, and persuade the other four men to come out.

They did not succeed in bringing the four men out that day. They went to the Basket-Makers’ Society house at the Bell, Old Bailey. They were well received — and provided with a bed and everything they could require by the basket-makers.

On the next day they went back to the shops and induced the other four men to come out.

The basket-makers paid the passage money for the six men to Belgium and supplied them with money as well. They saw them on board ship bound for home, and just as the vessel was starting the master basket-makers made their appearance and tried to induce the men to return, but they failed, and the men sailed away determined to prevent any more Belgians coming over here under the same circumstances.

The basket-makers had heard that some more Belgians were coming. They were on the look-out. They saw a vessel arrive with two Belgians aboard, each had a pattern basket. Derkinderen spoke to them and explained the state of affairs, took them to a Flemish hotel where they were kept until Sunday and then sent home by the Basket-Makers’ Society.

Derkinderen also said that seven Dutchmen arrived on Friday last; the masters met them at Gravesend and brought them to Bermondsey by rail.

A letter was sent into the shops to the Dutchmen, but none of them could read, so the master had the letter given to him to read; consequently its object was frustrated.

Derkinderen went to the shops on the Saturday afternoon, saw the master bring the Dutchmen out and take them to several coffee-houses to obtain lodgings. Derkinderen tried to persuade the Dutchmen to leave the master, but did not succeed. The master took the men to his private house to sleep, and the basket-makers consider that the Dutchmen will do the master more harm than good, so they have decided to let them stop where they are.

Derkinderen said that the basket-makers had well satisfied him for his trouble.

On the motion [of] Citizen Jung, seconded by Citizen Marx, a vote of thanks was awarded to Citizen Derkinderen for his zealous and intelligent services; carried.

On [the] motion of Citizen Marx, seconded by Citizen Jung, the Secretary was directed to write to Citizen Collet remonstrating with him on account of his neglect in printing the carnets.[69]

On the resolution from the Standing Committee being read with regard to absentees, the following amendment was carried:

That a book be provided for the members of the Council to sign their names in; the said book to be presented to [the] Congress for inspection; and, if any delegate from a society should be absent more than four nights without assigning [a] reason for so doing, the Secretary shall write to the society he represents and inform them of the neglect.

Citizen Hales’s proposition for establishing branches of the Association fell to the ground as being impracticable at the present time.

Citizen Jung reminded the Council that a deputation must wait upon the Trades Council on the 28th instant.[70]

Jung, Hales, Dupont, Shaw, Eccarius, Lessner, Whitehead, Cremer, and Marx were appointed to go. This meeting will not be held until December 12th.

It was proposed by Citizen Marx and seconded by Citizen Jung:

That the anniversary of the Polish Insurrection be celebrated on the 22nd of January. Carried unanimously.

The meeting then adjourned.


November 27

No heading; the Minutes are in Fox’s hand on pp. 36-41 of the Minute Book.

Citizen Jung was appointed chairman.

The Minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.

The General Secretary [Fox] began by stating that he observed an omission in the narrative of Derkinderen et propos of the basket-makers’ affair, as rendered by temporary Secretary Shaw. The omission was that the promise had been given by the representatives of the London basket-makers to the Flemings, to Derkinderen, and [to] himself, as representing the General Council, and that Derkinderen [and he] himself had, in their turn, passed their word to the Flemings that the General Council would see to the execution of this promise, which was, that when the dispute was over and trade was good, information of the fact should be sent over to the returned Flemings and that the Basket-Makers’ Trades Society would do its utmost to procure them work from the moment of their landing and adopt them as members of their society.

Citizen Dupont said that Derkinderen had stated as much to the General Council.

The Council thereupon resolved that record of this promise and guarantee of the same should be set down in the Minutes.

The General Secretary then laid upon the table a copy of the private prospectus issued by the master basket-makers for the purpose of starting a joint-stock company whose object it would be to break down the trades societies of the men.

He also laid upon the table a copy of the Travailleur Associe of Ghent and gave a summary of its contents.[71]

He further laid upon the table an account from the proprietors of the Commonwealth for 39 insertions of the Association’s advertisements therein down to November 24.

He also read a letter from F. Hakowski, the Secretary of the recently formed Society of Polish Working Men in London, which informed the Council of the organisation and constitution of that society and enclosed copies of their rules in the Polish language.

The Secretary was directed to respond to this letter.

The Secretary then stated that he, Marx, and Eccarius had been invited to attend the Polish celebration of the anniversary of November 29, 1830, and that he intended certainly to attend.

Marx also declared that he would attend.

He [the Secretary] then gave the reason why the lady, who had promised to translate the account of the Congress of Geneva as given in the Vorbote for the Commonwealth, had not yet completed and forwarded her work, and further stated the concessions he had made to her religious scruples in the matter of the translation.

In his capacity of American Secretary, he desired the Secretaries for Germany and France to procure a certain information for him in reference to the scale of postage on letters to the United States from France and Northern Germany respectively.

Resignation of Secretaryship

Fox then stated, with regret, that circumstances compelled him to tender his resignation of the office of General Secretary to the Association. He was about to engage actively in a commercial pursuit which would specially occupy his evenings and nights during the winter season, and to give up an evening would, therefore, be to give up a day. He desired that his resignation should take effect as from and after December 1. He would then have served the Association as interim and regular General Secretary for the space of three calendar months.

Jung and Marx thought the notice given by Fox was not long enough, and Fox agreed to hold on to the office until Tuesday, the 4th [of] December, but could not undertake to be present at the Council’s sitting on that evening.

Jung stated that he had received a remittance from Citizen Dupleix amounting to £4, as a first instalment towards the publication, as ordered by the Congress, of its transactions. Dupleix’s letter stated that an appeal had been made to the Swiss sections and that, when the fruits of this appeal had matured, he would send more money. He, Dupleix, was surprised that money could not be procured in England to suffice for this purpose. He implored the Council to hasten the printing of the transactions of the Congress, as they were being called for on all sides. The delay was operating very prejudicially to the Association.

Jung further stated that three packages of newspapers had been sent from Geneva addressed severally to himself, Marx, and Lessner, and neither packet had come to hand. They had been sent through Prussia in order to avoid the clutches of Bonaparte. The precaution had been futile, for the Hohenzollern was at least as inquisitorial as the Bonaparte. In a word, their communication with Geneva by means of newspapers was intercepted, as both the German and French routes were blocked up.

Jung further mentioned the case of a manufacturer of St. Imier who had absconded when largely in debt to his work-people. The ouvriers of St. Imier requested that a universal, cosmopolitan hue and cry should be raised against the scoundrel, so that on this wide earth there should be no foot of ground that would not parch the soles of his feet.

The Council were of opinion that they could not take action in this melancholy affair.

Jung added to his first statement that Becker had sent the August number of the Vorbote three times, twice through France and once through Prussia, addressed to him (Jung), and all three times it had been intercepted.

Citizen Zabicki suggested that the fault lay in not paying sufficient postage, the route through Germany being more expensive than that through France. In this case, the newspapers would be lying at the Genevese or some other Continental post-office.

Jung also reported the formation of another branch in the vicinity of Chaux-de-Fonds.

Fox asked Dupont if he had received any letters from France lately.

Dupont replied that all his lines of communication had been suddenly cut. He had not received a single letter.

Fox then proceeded to say that the French Government had, since the close of the Geneva Congress, departed from its policy of neutrality towards them and was levying war upon them. The French Government had allowed us two years’ growth and we were now able to defy the Continental blockade which the French and the Prussian governments had declared against us. We could no longer trust the French and Prussian post-offices; we must seek indirect and secret means of communication with our Continental friends.

Marx said that we must force Bonaparte to declare himself, in order that any credit he may have gained for his liberality in letting us flourish unmolested might be lost to him.

Carter suggested that we had better await the result of the Secretary’s application to Lord Stanley in reference to the papers seized on Jules Gottraux before bringing the matter before the public, and the good sense of this immediately commended itself to all, and the policy of “wait-a-little-longer” received unanimous adhesion.

The Hatters’ Society

Fox regretted the delay that had taken place in reference to our deputation to this important body. Odger had told him that the hatters met at the Marquess of Granby public house in the Borough, but he (Fox) had forgotten the name of the street. He begged the Council to get the address and push the matter forward. The Council then adjourned.