International Working Men’s Association
The Minutes are in Shaw’s hand on pp. 1-5 of the Minute Book.
Citizen Odger in the chair.
Citizen Whitehead was elected as the delegate from the French Polishers’ Society, which meets at the Black Horse in Rathbone Place, Oxford Street, W.
Citizen Fox read a letter from Mr. Lee, the Secretary of the Excavators’ Society, and in consequence of its contents, Citizens Whitehead, Lafargue, and Dutton were appointed to form a deputation to wait upon the Excavators’ Society on the following Friday.
Citizen Marx stated that the notice of the Manchester tailors’ strike had been inserted in the democratic journals in the North, South, and Centre of Germany; he gave a list of those journals.
Citizen Lawrence stated that the struggle had closed in Manchester, that, in fact, the London Committee had decided that the Manchester men were in the wrong — they had been too exacting.
Citizen Hraybe, who is about to leave London for Hungary, was authorised to act on behalf of the Association in that country.
Citizen Hansen gave an account of what he had been able to do for the Association during his recent visit to
Copenhagen. He stated that he had found there a trustworthy agent for the Association.
A letter from Mr. Miall, the landlord, was then read, demanding that the Central Council should become his immediate tenant for the room in 18, Bouverie Street, and pay him directly the quarter’s rent which was due last midsummer.
The consideration of the question adjourned.
As it appeared that only Citizens Odger, Lawrence, Eccarius, and Carter had returned, it was thought best to defer the reception of the official report until after the return [of] Citizens Cremer, Jung, and Dupont; but the delegates were invited to give an unofficial extempore narrative of what took place.
Citizen Odger gave a glowing account of the welcome given by the Genevese to the delegates, and declared that the general results of the Congress had far exceeded his anticipations. He declared that Citizen Jung’s conduct as president had given general satisfaction.
After the British delegates had left Geneva they repaired to Berne to have an interview with the Federal Government of Switzerland on the subject of cheap international postage. The delegates saw the Foreign Secretary and the Postmaster-General. They were first of all very courteously shown over the Federal Palace and the Picture Gallery, and Museum. Their interview with the Postmaster-General of the Helvetic Confederation lasted about half-an-hour. He entirely coincided with the views of the delegates on this subject, and said that the Swiss Government was of the same opinion as the International Working Men’s Association.
Citizens Cremer and Jung remained behind at Neuchâtel to help Dr. Coullery in propagandist work on behalf of the Association. It had been the intention of the delegates to have stayed for a time in Paris to observe the progress of the co-operative companies of production there, and Citizen Lawrence had desired to see some of his trade (the tailors) there, but the arrest on the frontier of a Parisian delegate returning from the Congress for having in his possession a “seditious” anti-Napoleonic pamphlet persuaded the British delegates [to abandon] this portion of their plan. He [Odger] further stated that although the Parisian delegates had at first been disposed to offer a factious opposition yet towards the end they had acted in a most satisfactory manner towards the British delegates and had asked their opinions on several of the questions involved.
Citizen Carter then made his statement. He said that the Genevese tailors had been addressed by Citizen Lawrence, he, Carter, interpreting, the carpenters by Cremer, Carter interpreting; and the shoemakers by Odger, Eccarius interpreting., The two former meetings had been most enthusiastic and crowded.
Citizen Eccarius gave a more detailed account of their interview with the Postmaster-General at Berne. The Swiss Government was ready to enter into an agreement with any government [provided] that each country should retain its own general postage rate and that the intermediate transit should be charged at half baggage rates. The French Government was the great obstacle to all postal reform. They would not allow letters to be charged for in bulk but insisted upon charging and inspecting the address on every letter. The Postmaster-General was of opinion that the letter rate between Great Britain and Switzerland might advantageously be reduced from 6d. to 2 ½d. per letter. He had been lately trying to get the ordinary French letter rate raised from ¼ oz to ½ oz but without avail. He was also in favour of a reform of the regulations governing book and pattern posts. Eccarius had in his valise copies of the “seditious” pamphlet for the possession of which the Parisian delegate had been arrested, but the French authorities took no notice of him, presumably he was looked upon as a Briton. He added that eight working men had appeared (from Paris) at the Congress as opponents of the administrative party. [the Paris Committee] The Congress had refused to hear them as they were not accredited by any organised body recognised by the Association. It would be a suggestion for the Central Council to consider whether, considering the non-existence of the right of meeting in France, this Council might not be able to do for these desiderants what they could not do for themselves.
Citizen Carter added that the number of essays on the several questions in the programme contributed by members of the Association was very large and came from all parts of Europe. The Congress had resolved that every individual member should pay 3d. per head this year towards the expenses of the Central Council.
Citizen Lawrence stated some incidents of recent struggles at Lausanne between the employers and the employed in the shoemaking trade, and how the International Association had played a leading part therein. He also spoke of their progress in the career of co-operative production. He noted generally that on the Continent the working classes were in advance of the British in this respect. In Paris there were 54 co-operative manufacturing associations, and 200 credit societies. In the business of co-operative banking the Continentals were also ahead of us. It had been the intention of the Parisian members of the International Working Men’s Association to have given a dinner to the returning British delegates, but the aforesaid arrest threw a damper over this project. He confirmed what the other delegates had already stated concerning the reign of terror and suspicion now prevalent in the French capital.
Citizen Fox complained that the British delegates had not sent from Geneva to the Acting Secretary any information concerning the Congress or the visit to Berne; and the consequence was that he had not been able to advertise its transactions in the London press as he otherwise could have done; also, that several of the weeklies had copied reports from the French press so that in some respects they were better informed than the Commonwealth of the preceding week.
Citizen Eccarius explained that he had sent an account of the visit to Berne to the Times, but that paper had refused to insert it.
Odger and Carter explained that they had not received the journals sent from London in time to inform them of the publicity given to the transactions of the Congress in the London press.
Citizen Marx moved, and Dell seconded, a vote of thanks to the delegates for the able manner in which they had represented the Central Council at Geneva. Carried amid applause.
The Council then adjourned until next Tuesday.
The Minutes are in Shaw’s hand on pp. 5-9 of the Minute Book.
Citizen Eccarius in the chair.
The Secretary [Cremer] read the Minutes of the previous meeting which were confirmed with the alteration suggested by Lawrence.
Citizen Marx said he had received £5, the annual contribution, from Mr. Samuel Moore, a manufacturer of Manchester.
Cremer stated that the model pattern makers, who meet at 119, Fenchurch Street, had asked for a deputation from the Council to wait upon them on Saturday night.
Weston, Lessner, and Whitehead were appointed to respond to this appeal.
Whitehead gave an account of the visit of the deputation (of which he formed a part) to the excavators, who meet in Bermondsey. He had sold several copies of the Rules. The delegates assembled were so satisfied that they undertook to report on the subject to the different lodges and they had little doubt that those lodges would join the ranks of our associated bodies.
Jung laid on the table a copy of the Voix de l'Avenir, the organ of the Association in Chaux-de-Fonds, and stated that the editor desired an authorisation from the Central Council before affixing the words “Organ of the International Association” on the title. He also laid on the table a copy of L'Ouvrier of Lausanne.
Cremer proposed that the authorisation be given, and spoke enthusiastically of Dr. Coullery, the editor.
Carter seconded the proposition: Coullery had been the ruling spirit of the Congress.
The Chairman endorsed what the two previous speakers had said. Without Coullery’s aid the London programme could not have been carried.
The motion to grant the authorisation was carried unanimously.
As the delegates from London to the Geneva Congress had [not] yet prepared their report, Lawrence moved and Fox seconded:
That after hearing a viva voce account from Jung and Cremer of the result of their tour after they had separated from the other delegates, the Council should proceed to the election of office-holders.
Jung then made his report. On Monday, September 10th, he went with Lawrence to Lausanne and attended a meeting. On Tuesday he went ,o Berne with the other delegates. Afterwards he went to Neuchâtel, thence with Cremer to Chaux-de-Fonds and St. Imier; addressed a meeting at the latter place, went back again to Neuchâtel, and had a meeting there. Cremer spoke at these meetings (Jung interpreting). He had also spoken to a leading member of the Grütli-Verein in reference to joining the Association.
Cremer then stated what he Congress had [done] with reference to the Central Council. [The] Congress had renewed the appointment of every actual member of the Council with the exception of Le Lubez who was excluded on the motion [of] Citizens Fribourg and Tolain because he had continued to stigmatise them as intriguers and Bonapartists.
Le Lubez denied having called them Bonapartists.
Carter stated that the delegates from London did their very best to retain Le Lubez. and that in consequence of their opposition to the Tolain and Fribourg demand those two citizens left the hall, Fribourg in a theatrical manner. The event was decided by a delegate from Lyons who stated that he had received a letter from Le Lubez in which Fribourg and Tolain were abime. The Lyonnese stated that Le Lubez’s representation had done much harm to the progress of the Association in Lyons and that it had only lately recovered from the ill-effects of the same. The whole meeting voted with the Parisian party except the London delegation. Only then did Tolain and Fribourg return to the hall.
After a short discussion Le Lubez rose and observed that there were two nationalities absent from the Congress whose representatives would have sided with him, namely, Italy and Belgium; Fribourg and Tolain did not venture to attack him in London [in] the epoch of the Conference. He advised the Central Council to obey the vote of the Congress. He should not ask for readmission to the Central Council until the vote of another congress had reversed the verdict of that at Geneva. He thought the Council ought to pass a vote of confidence in him. Had the Parisians paid to the Council the debt they owed, or any portion of the £40 promised at the London Conference[?] He understood they had not. Le Lubez then left the room.
Lawrence moved that Marx be President for the ensuing twelve months; Carter seconded that nomination.14 Marx proposed Odger: he, Marx, thought himself incapacitated because he was a head worker and not a hand worker. Weston seconded Odger. A ballot was taken and Odger was carried by 15 v. 3.
Eccarius was alone nominated and carried nem. con.
Fox and Cremer proposed; ballot taken. Fox elected by 13 to 4.
Dell alone nominated and carried nem. con.
The Secretaries for France [Dupont], Germany [Marx], Switzerland [Jung], America [Fox], and Spain [Breitschwert] were reappointed. Hansen was appointed Secretary for Denmark.
Lawrence moved that the appointment of the other secretaries be adjourned until next week. Carried by common consent.
Marx moved that a testimonial be presented to Cremer for his almost entirely gratuitous services as secretary for nearly two years.
Seconded by Carter and by several members and carried unanimously.
Marx proposed to constitute this Committee provisionally only, for the present. The Committee to consist of the office-holders and secretaries already appointed. Agreed to by common consent.
Citizen Mollard of Barcelona made a statement of what he hoped to be able to do for the Association in Catalonia and in the United States whither he proposed to proceed. He gave an account of his movements for the past twelve months.
The Council then adjourned.