International Working Men’s Association

The Minute Book of the General Council January 1867

January 1, 1867

[No heading; the Minutes are in Fox’s hand on pp. 48-51 of the Minute Book]

Vice-President Eccarius in the chair.

Fox stated that he had received a communication from the British Foreign Office, dated December 21/66, and a packet of books, pamphlets, newspapers, and letters. The letter informed him that the package contained the papers seized upon Jules Gottraux in September last and for which application [had] been made to the French Minister of the Interior and to Lord Stanley. Fox then detailed the contents of the package, which included a bundle of copies of the Tribune du Peuple, which had not been seized on Gottraux.

The General Council then, on the motion of Fox, passed the following resolution:

That the General Council of the International Working Men’s Association tenders its thanks to Lord Stanley for his just and efficacious intervention with the French Government with a view to obtain for the said General Council the papers and letters belonging, to it, which were seized upon the person of Jules Gottraux, a British subject, on September 30, 1866.

Fox was directed and undertook to communicate this resolution to Lord Stanley.

In reference to publishing an account of this transaction, Fox argued against a too large ventilation thereof, but recommended that its publication be confined either to the Commonwealth alone or to the said paper and Reynolds’s.[84]

After some discussion it was unanimously resolved that it should be published in the Commonwealth and in Reynolds’s.

The Lyons Silk Weavers

Fox asked for and received the authorisation of the Council to correspond with the American protectionist journals and statesmen in reference to the Lyons silk-weavers who desire to emigrate to the United States.

Correspondence From France

Dupont said he was happy to announce that he had received several communications from the French provinces after the interruption put to his correspondence during the last three months. He read:

(1) A summary of a letter from Lefebvre of Neufchâteau (Vosges) which called for the compte rendu of the Geneva Congress.

(2) From Fleurieux-sur-Saône which lamented the seizure of the carnets sent from London, but announced that they had 107 members and that their co-operative coal store was succeeding beyond their expectations.

(3) From Bordeaux, calling for the compte rendu.

(4) From Rouen, saying that the delay of the General Council in publishing the compte rendu of the Congress was ruining the Association in Normandy. The letter sent the contributions of 20 members towards this object (in French postage stamps).

(5) A letter from Cheval, a French member in Belgium, announcing the sale of some cards.

Dupont handed in an article on our Association published in the Echo [de la] Gironde and also the last number of the Courrier Français, containing an announcement from the Paris Managing Committee that the Mémoire presented by them to the Geneva Congress and which had been printed in Belgium,[85] because no French printer would publish it, had been seized at the Belgium frontier; .also remarks by the editor of the Courrier Français.

Dupont also asked for permission to cut from 12 copies of the report of the Geneva Congress in the French language[86] about 50 copies of which were among the papers received from the British Foreign Office — the pages containing the Reglements of the Association, in order that he might send them by letter to his correspondents in the provinces of France. Leave granted.

Jung read some information in reference to the progress of the Association in Switzerland. and also read some extracts from the Espiegle, containing another fulminating letter from Vésinier.

At this moment a letter was received from Citizen Cremer. The letter contained the balance-sheet of the funds of the Association[87] and announced his resignation of membership in the Council, the reason being that the Council had concerted with a trio of well-known ancient enemies of his to damage his reputation and had threatened to make public the fact that he had neglected to return the balance-sheet to the General Secretary.

No action was taken hereupon,

Polish Celebration

Fox then stated the arrangements which had been made by the Standing Committee at its meeting on Saturday and read the contents of the card of admission.

Shaw laid on the table the cards of admission to the soiree and meeting.

Inasmuch as Citizen Odger had sent no letter saying whether his engagements would permit him to take the

chair on the 22nd, and inasmuch as the printing of the bills was thereby hindered,[88] it was resolved that the announcement in the bills should be:

‘The chair will be taken by a member of the General Council of the International W. A.”

.A member of the French branch announced that that branch would take part in the meeting and move a resolution.

The Council then adjourned.


Council Meeting
January 8th, 1867

The Minutes are in Shaw’s hand on pp. 51-53 of the Minute Book.

Citizen Jung was appointed to take the chair.

A deputation from the pattern-drawers an d block-cutters, Middleton Arms, Mansfield Street, Kingsland Road, attended for the purpose of joining the’ Association.[89] They also stated that they were on strike against one employer (viz., Mr. Huntington of Holloway) and that they had been led to believe that men had been engaged in France to come over to supplant them.

Eccarius then took the chair, and Citizen Jung moved and Citizen Lessner seconded:

That the block-cutters and pattern-drawers be admitted as an affiliated society. Carried nem. con.

On the motion of Citizen Jung Dupont was directed to write to Paris on the subject of the block-cutters’ dispute.


Citizen Fox read the Minutes of the last meeting which were confirmed.

Citizen Collet was elected as the delegate from the French branch of the Association[90] on the motion [of] Citizen Jung, seconded by Citizen Dupont.

Citizen Fox read a letter from Naples stating that Dassy had been unable to write in consequence of severe illness.

He also gave satisfactory reasons why he had not published the resolution of the Council to Lord Stanley in the Commonwealth.

A letter was read from Mr. Reaveley of the Coach-Makers’ Society, Green Man, Berwick Street, stating that a deputation might attend on Wednesday evening.

Citizens Jung and Combault were appointed to attend.[91]

Courrier Français

Citizen Fox read several passages from this journal relating to this Association.

Citizen Dupont said the musical instrument-makers would hold a general meeting on Monday the 14th at 8 o’clock, p.m., and would receive a deputation from this Council.

Carter, Lessner, Collet, Lafargue, and Van Rijen were appointed to attend.

On the motion of Citizen Fox, it was unanimously agreed: That the thanks of the Council be sent “to Miss Hosburgh for translating the report of the Geneva Congress from the Vorbote.[92]

Trades Council

A long discussion took place as to what plan of action should be submitted to the Trades Council, which ended by most of the members promising to attend the Council on Wednesday evening.

Citizen Lee stated that the excavators intended holding their first annual meeting on the 21st of January at the Lambeth Baths. He invited the Council to attend if convenient.[93]

A letter was read from the Reform League inviting the Council to take part in the demonstration.[94]

A letter was read from Cremer stating that the organ-builders had joined this Association.

A letter was read from Odger requesting the Council to meet the Trades Council at the Bell Inn, Old Bailey, on Wednesday evening.[95]

The Council adjourned to January 15th.


Council Meeting
January 15th, 1867

The Minutes are in Shaw’s hand on pp. 53-57 of the Minute Book.

Citizen Eccarius in the chair.

The Minutes of the previous meeting were read and after an addition suggested by Citizen Fox confirmed.

Citizen Fox then asked the Council to allow Mr. Luscombe, the author of a Reform Song, to use the Address of the Association for the purpose [of] furthering its sale; ,permission was granted unanimously.

Mr. Cohn then paid over £1 9s. as the annual subscription from the Cigar-Makers’ Society, and stated that the cigar-makers of Bremen had applied to the London cigar-makers for [a] copy of their Laws for the purpose [of] forming a society at Bremen on the same principles.

Citizen Fox reported that his article on the conduct of the French Government With regard to this Association

and the vote of thanks to Lord Stanley were published in the Commonwealth and the International Courier, and suggested that it should be placed in the Minute Book, which was agreed to accordingly.

Here a page of the printer’s proofs of Fox’s article in The Working Man No. 2, February 1, 1867, is pasted into the Minute Book.

The French Government and the International Association of Working Men

During the first two years of the existence of this Association, and until after the assembling of the Geneva Congress, the General Council had little or no complaint to make of the conduct of the French Government towards the International Working Men’s Association. The Council’s communications, with its correspondents in France, were not interrupted; the sale of tickets not seriously impeded. If, here and there, the local authorities threatened dire consequences to the Council’s agents, if they proceeded to enrol members, those threats were but brutum fulmen, and were not executed upon those who had the courage to act in defiance of them.

This much is quite consistent with the fact that the very existence of the French Empire and of the laws of public safety,[96] which it declares are necessary for Its maintenance, did greatly impede the progress of the Association. In the first place, the non-existence of the right of public meeting prevented the “members of the Association from meeting together and organising their sections ill an overt and formal manner. But the General Council neither expected nor desired that the laws of the Empire should be specially modified to suit their interests. The damage done to them in this manner had nothing in it “specially” invidious to themselves. It was an injury which was inflicted primarily on the whole French nation, and secondarily upon every advanced Liberal and Democrat in Europe, all of whom have an interest in the existence of the right of public meeting in France. Hence, they make no public complaint on this account.

In the second place, the general spirit of terrorism, upon which the French Government so much relies, could not but have deterred many Frenchmen, who agreed with the principles and design of the Association, from becoming members thereof and linking themselves to its fortunes in France. But this damage also is general and indirect. Moreover, it was known to the founders of the Association that this would be one of the obstacles to its success in France. The General Council were prepared for a certain amount of uphill work, in consequence of the prevailing terror in all that relates to independent political action in France, and therefore they do not come forward now to make a complaint on this score.

Had the French Government continued to preserve that attitude of (perhaps contemptuous) neutrality which it observed up to, and during, the Congress of Geneva, the General Council would not have been compelled to make the present statement to the members of the Association. But from and after the assembling of the Congress at Geneva the French Government saw fit to alter its attitude towards the Association! The motives for this change of policy cannot be found in any special act of antagonism committed either by the General Council or by the delegates to the Congress, French or non-French.

It would have been the height of folly on the part of the General Council,. or the delegates of the Congress, to court and invite the hostility of the French Government. Some few Parisian members of the Association who attended the Congress in their individual capacities thought otherwise, but as they were not delegates, they were not allowed to speak at the Congress.[97] The delegates went about the weighty business they had in hand, and did not diverge to the right hand or to the left, for the purpose of making an anti-Bonapartist demonstration.

One of the first signs of a change for the worse on the part of the French Government was the case of Jules Gottraux. Jules Gottraux is a native of Switzerland, and a naturalised subject of the British State. He is domiciled in London, and in September last was on a visit to his relatives in or about Geneva. The Managing Committees of the German-Swiss and French-Swiss sections at Geneva entrusted to his care some letters, and a number of pamphlets and newspapers relating to the transactions of the Association, which were all, without exception, to be delivered to the General Council in London. On proceeding from Geneva to London, on Sept. 30, the valise of Gottraux was searched by French policemen at the Franco-Swiss frontier, and these letters and printed documents taken from him.

This was an outrage which the General Council, when put in possession of the facts, resolved not quietly to endure. That the French Government, which enacts the law, may make it legal to seize printed matter and correspondence coming from abroad and directed to a French citizen, or even a mere resident in France, the Council did not deny; but for the French Government to. exercise the same right of paternal “surveillance” over the communications between Switzers and Britons, or even residents in Great Britain, was a stretch of authority that the General Council felt itself bound to oppose. The outrage was [also] not ["not” is inserted by Fox instead of “also"] aggravated by the fact that the literature seized in no way concerned the French Government, and did not belong to the category of the anti-Bonapartist philippics, because, whatever the character of the literature, the Council denies the right of the French Government, while at peace with Switzerland and Great Britain, to intercept the communications between the citizens of the two countries.

The first step taken by the Council in this matter was to write a respectful letter to the “Ministre de L’Interieur,” stating the facts, requesting an inquiry into their accuracy, and terminating with a petition for the surrender of the letters and printed matter seized upon Gottraux.

The Council waited five weeks for a reply to their memorial. None came, and this silence was a proof that the French Government assumed responsibility for the act of its subordinate agents. Only then did the Council resolve to appeal to Lord Stanley, the British Secretary for Foreign Affairs, for redress, grounding their appeal upon the facts that Gottraux was a British subject, and that the General Council was composed of subjects and denizens in Great Britain.

Lord Stanley, be it said to his credit, heard this appeal, and directed Lord Cowley, the British Ambassador at Paris, to ask for the restitution of the said letters and printed matter.

On the 21st ult., the Council received a letter from Mr. Hammond (of the Foreign Office), accompanying a parcel sealed with the seal of the British Embassy. The letter informed the Council that the parcel contained the papers which had been seized upon Gottraux.

It did contain the confiscated letters and printed mater, and also, strange to say, some newspapers not seized upon Gottraux, nor coming from Switzerland. These newspapers were two bundles of the Brussels Tribune du Peuple, a paper doubtless highly obnoxious to the French Government, and the principal organ of the Association Belgium. These papers had been addressed to some French members, and the Council, far from having demanded their restitution, were unaware of their having been seized. These two bundles had upon them the official seal of the Administration of Public Safety.

In order to conclude this case of Gottraux’s, the undersigned inserts here a resolution passed on the first instant by the General Council.

“Resolved, that the General Council of the International Working Men’s Association tenders its thanks to Lord Stanley for his just and efficacious intervention with the French Government with a view to obtain for the said General Council the papers and letters belonging to it, which were seized upon the person of Jules Gottraux, a British, subject, on Sept. 30, 1866.” At the same time the undersigned was directed to communicate a copy of the same, without delay, to Lord Stanley.

In November last, Citizen Dupont, the Council’s Secretary for France, found that letters sent by him to the Association’s agents in France were seized, and also that letters directed to him from all parts of France did not come, to hand. A fortiori, the French post-office was closed against the delivery of printed matter addressed by the Council to its agents in France and vice versa.

Of course Citizen Dupont can no longer confide in the French post-office.

The latest news under this head is that, whereas the blockade against’ Printed matter directed to French citizens and members of the Association is still stringently enforced, letters from the French provinces directed to Dupont have of late, once more, come through, although letters so directed from Paris continue to be detained!

Another fact is reported in the last number of the Courrier Français. The interesting essay contributed by the Parisian delegates to the Geneva Congress, parts of which have already been published in the Courrier Français without evil consequences, was sent to Brussels to be printed, only because no printer in Paris would undertake to execute the job. This memorial, be it said, is directed against the capitalist class, but is silent concerning the present Government of France. Nevertheless, the printed edition of this memorial has been seized by the postal authorities of France and confiscated.

Under these circumstances it is impossible to say how long the French Government will continue to allow the sale of tickets of membership in the Association, and abstain from persecuting the prominent members thereof, who live subject to its jurisdiction.

By order of the General Council,

Peter Fox

January 5, 1867

[The newspaper text ends here.]

Citizen Jung then reported his mission to the Coach-Makers’ Friendly Society held at the Green Man, Berwick Street, and concluded by moving that the coach-makers be accepted as an affiliated society.

The motion was agreed to unanimously, and Citizen Reaveley was elected as the delegate on this Council to represent that society.

Citizen Reaveley then paid 5s. as enrolment fee for his society and Is. as his contribution.

A letter was read from Citizen Odger stating that the resolution passed by the London Trades Council on the 9th instant would be found in the Times newspaper of that day.

The following is the resolution:

[Here a newspaper clipping is pasted into the Minute Book.]

The London Trades Council and The International Association. — At a meeting of the London Trades Council, held last night at the Bell Inn, Old Bailey, Mr. Danter (President of the Society of Amalgamated Engineers) in the chair, the following resolution was unanimously adopted: — “That the meeting is of opinion

that the position of the working man can never be much improved, and is in imminent danger of being seriously depreciated, whilst the people of different countries have no regular intercommunication among themselves for the purpose of regulating the hours of labour and assimilating wages. And as the International Association affords the best facilities for bringing about that object, it is hereby resolved to co-operate with that association for the furtherance of all questions affecting the interests of labour; at the same time continuing the London Trades Council as a distinct and independent body as before.”

[The newspaper clipping ends here.]

A letter was read from the Secretary of the Reform League inviting this Council to take part in the coming demonstration and requesting the appointment of delegates to attend the meeting at Newman Street on the 16th instant.

Lessner, Carter, Collet, and Shaw were appointed to attend.[98]

Block-Cutters’ Dispute

Citizen Collet stated that since the last meeting he had been trying to bring the block-cutters’ dispute to an end.

He had seen Mr. Huntington of Holloway who had written to Lancashire for the employers’ statement of the case. The employers had refused to send their statement to Citizen Collet until they knew who he was and whom he represented. Citizen Collet then asked the Council to give him authority to write to these said employers for their statement of the case.

A resolution was submitted giving Citizen Collet the required authority. But, on the motion of Shaw, seconded by Jung, the subject was adjourned until the next meeting and in the meantime a deputation should be invited to attend from [the] Block-Cutters’ Society.[99]

Shaw reported that he had waited upon the Organ-Builders’ Society on the previous evening. He had received the enrolment fee [of] 5s. and the form of application filled up.

Mr. Miall’s bill was read demanding the rent of the office. It was proposed, seconded, and carried that £2 10s. be paid to Mr. Miall.

Jung said that Dupont had received a letter [from] Vienne stating that they had 300 members and they wanted their carnets.

Jung said he had received a letter from Mr. Applegarth inviting him to meet a gentleman [Cowell Stepney] his office, who was very favourable to the objects of our Association and who owned property at Lausanne.

Polish Demonstration

Fox reported that the Standing Committee had agreed that four resolutions should be submitted to the meeting.

On the motion of Citizen Eccarius, seconded by Carter, Citizen Jung was appointed to take the chair at the Polish demonstration. [100]

A letter was read from Mr. Robert of Lea, Kent, expressing a desire to take part in the demonstration.

The letter was left with Fox to answer as he might think best.

The meeting then adjourned until Tuesday the 29th instant.


General Council Meeting
January 29th

[The Minutes are in Shaw’s hand on pp. 57-58 of the Minute Book]

Citizen Eccarius in the chair.

The Minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.

The Secretary [Fox] then read several letters which he had received since the last meeting. One was from Miss Hosburgh in reply to a vote of thanks sent to her by the Council. Another was from the Coventry Weavers’ Association with the annual subscription of £1 13s. 4d.,[101] and two were from the Lancashire, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, and Cheshire Block-Printers’ Union with the entrance fee of the society and annual subscription for 1,000 members.

It was then moved by Citizen Jung and seconded by Citizen Lessner that the L[ancashire], D[erbyshire], Y[orkshire], and C[heshire] Block-Printers’ Union be accepted as an affiliated branch of this Association.

Citizen Fox then read several letters for Citizen Dupont. One was from the editor of the Courrier Français giving reasons for declining to publish the transactions of the Geneva Congress, [the words “giving reasons ... of the Geneva Congress” are in Fox’s hand] another was from Varlin of [the] Paris bookbinders. This letter Varlin wished to be read to the London bookbinders by some members of the Council. It also announced that Varlin had sent 18 francs to the Council.

It was then proposed and seconded that a deputation wait upon the bookbinders in order to deliver the statement of the Paris bookbinders and that the Secretary write to Mr.. Bockett informing him of the same.

Jung, Dupont and Van Rijen agreed to attend.[102]

A letter was read from Liege in Belgium announcing the formation of a new branch of the Association.

A letter was read from Benière of Fleurieux-sur-Saône[103] and one from Fribourg of Paris.

A deputation from the Block-Cutters’ Society being present, the question relating to the block-cutters which was adjourned at the last meeting was then introduced by the President.

The Secretary stated his reasons for moving the adjournment of the question.

Citizen Collet said he had done nothing in the matter since the last meeting, and he thought he could do no good now as circumstances had taken place which had caused him to alter his opinion on the subject.

Mr. Shettleworth said he thought the Council might render some service by holding some communication with two men who had come from France to work for Mr. Huntington.

Jung, Dupont, and Van Rijen agreed to render their assistance, and the subject [was] then dropped.

The invitation of the Reform League to take part in the Reform demonstration was referred to the Standing Committee, and the meeting adjourned until February 5th, 1867.