International Working Men’s Association

The Minute Book of the General Council
July 1868

Council Meeting
July 7

[The Minutes are in Eccarius’s hand on pp. 142-43 of the Minute Book]

Members present: Copeland, Eccarius, Johannard, Huleck, Mrs. Huleck, Lessner, Mrs. Law, Mr. Morgan, Stepney, Marx, Maurice, Jung, Buckley, Hales, Lucraft.

Citizen Jung in the chair.

Minutes of the previous meeting read and confirmed.


Belgium. The Belgian ministry has directly interfered with the Association by telling the manufacturers of Verviers to dismiss the workmen belonging to the Association. The Espiegle declares that the International has applauded Félix Pyat. They do not believe it, but if it be the case, they will declare that they have nothing in common with the ideas of the French branch.[310]

Citizen Marx stated that this would be detrimental to our Association abroad and he left it to the Council to take some action.

Citizen Marx proposed that a declaration be made that the Association was not responsible for an incident at a public meeting, and that Felix Pyat who read the address in question was not even a member.

Seconded: Maurice.

Resolved. That the General Council of the I.W.A. repudiates all responsibility for the address delivered at the public meeting in Cleveland Hall by Felix Pyat, who is in no way connected with the Association.[311]

Paris. Our members have entered upon their imprisonment. They are going to publish the trial in pamphlet form;

the workmen of Paris have collected £80 for the purpose.[312] They intend to draw up a manifesto for the Congress. They urge the Council to publish the programme immediately for the purpose of inducing the workmen of Paris to send delegates to the Congress. They have not considered it advisable to elect a third committee.

A programme with questions for the Congress has been published by the Belgian section. There is to be a local delegate meeting to arrange the preliminaries.[313]

The address was adopted with a few verbal alterations and the Secretary instructed to revise it and get it printed.[314]

The Standing [Committee] was summoned for the following Saturday to draw up the programme for the Congress.

H. Jung, Chairman
J. George Eccarius, Secretary

Council Meeting
July 14

[The Minutes are in Eccarius’s hand on pp. 143 and 145-46 of the Minute Book]

Members present: Buckley, Dupont, Eccarius, Jung, Lessner, Johannard, Huleck (Mrs.), Marx, Mrs. Law, Shaw, Meyerson, Copeland, Cohn, Milner, Lucraft, Limburg, Stepney, Mrs. Morgan.

Citizen Shaw in the chair.

The Minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.


Marx. The Prussian Government has suppressed the Berlin branch of the General Working Men’s Union. The society is going to hold a conference at Hamburg about the middle of August.[315]

Switzerland. The Geneva Committee has issued an address to the members of the, Association about the prosecution of the Paris Committee.[316] The address was read.

[A] Lucern branch has been established.

Cigar-makers of Murten have struck because they were refused extra pay while working at bad material. They have established a co-operative factory.

Marx. The English Government has quietly, a month after the Russian decree, struck off the list of pensioners the title Polish refugees. They have not withdrawn the pensions but wiped out the reason why they were granted.

Citizen Marx proposed and Copeland seconded the following declaration:

The Council of the I.W. Association denounces the last manifestation of the subserviency to Russia of the British Government by suppressing the adjective “Polish” before the word “refugees” in the budget one month after the Russian Government had by an ukase suppressed the name of Poland.[317]

Citizen Lessner proposed that the Secretary be paid 15s. a week till the Congress. Seconded by Johannard. Carried unanimously.

Citizen Cohn proposed and Lessner seconded the following resolution:

The Council hails with delight the passing of the eight hours’ labour bill by the American Congress believing that it will lead to eight hours becoming the future normal working day of the United States.[318]

Report of the Standing Commitee[319]

First proposition — to reduce the contribution to the Council to one halfpenny.

Jung, Lessner, and Eccarius spoke in favour; Lucraft and Milner against.

Mrs. Law wanted to know whether the individual members had to pay or whether it came out of the funds.

Cohn and Hales stated it came out of the funds in their societies.

Shaw said in some instances levies were made. Huleck spoke against the proposition.

Hales against the proposition. Withdrawn.

2. Reduction of the hours of labour. Carried.

3. The influence of machinery in the hands of capitalists. Carried.

4. Property in land. Carried.

5. Education of the working class. Carried.

6. The establishment of credit institutions with the view of promoting and facilitating the social emancipation of the working class. Carried.

Citizen Hales proposed and Citizen Lucraft seconded that another proposition be added: The best means to establish co-operative production.

H. Jung, Chairman
J. George Eccarius, Secretary

Council Meeting
July 21

[The Minutes are in Eccarius’s hand on pp. 146-47 of the Minute Book]

Members present: Buckley, Eccarius, Copeland, Jung, Huleck, Mrs. Huleck, Lessner, Lucraft, Marx, Mrs. Law, Weston, Milner, Stepney, Johannard, Besson, Dupont.

The Minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.

The Secretary [Eccarius] asked permission to have 500 more of the Addresses printed. He had taken upon himself to order a thousand at 16s.; they were already disposed of.[320]

The permission was granted.


Citizen Marx. Germany. The General Working Men’s Union is, going to do in a round-about way what the Prussian law prohibits to be done directly. There is another working men’s union in the Southern and Eastern States of Germany which has some affiliations in Switzerland; they also are going to join.[321] A new paper, Le Reveil,[322] published by Ledru-Rollin’s party, makes favourable comments upon the International Association.

Citizen Jung expressed his satisfaction that that party was obliged to come to us instead, as they had supposed, we [were] going to them.

The Secretary mentioned that he had not. yet received any papers from Belgium.

The Secretary was instructed to write.

Citizen Marx proposed that the Congress questions be discussed [at the] next meeting and that the question about machinery takes precedence of all the other questions. Seconded by Jung; agreed.

Belgium. Citizen Besson read a letter which contained the following proposition: To report upon the condition of all trades in every country.

Credentials were presented by Marie Bernard as the delegate of the house painters on the Brussels Committee.

Citizen Jung proposed that the secretaries be instructed to state in their respective letters to urge their correspondents to answer the questions submitted to them.[323]

Citizen Marx thought it required caution; it would be impolitic to state publicly that nothing had been done.

Citizen Dupont thought that if we simply stated that the statistical inquiry was still open and invited the sections to send answers by their delegates to the Congress, [it] would satisfy the Belgians.

Citizen Jayet thought it was time that the delegates received positive instructions how to act. The Council ought to know what the societies do and they must know what the Council is about.

Dupont believed that the question was about the appendage proposed by the Belgian section.

Citizen Marx: I am not against the proposition but it depends upon the form in which it is published. [That those branches which have not yet answered the questions are requested to send their answers to the Co... . before the Congress ... lay the result of their inquiries]

Citizen Dupont. The French papers were seized by the police, and that the work could not be finished this year.

The following resolution was then agreed to:

“The Council reminds the different sections that the statistical inquiry is still open and that those branches whose labours are in a sufficiently advanced state shall lay them before the next Congress.”

H. Jung, Chairman
J. George Eccarius, Secretary

Council Meeting
July 28

[The Minutes are in Eccarius’s hand on pp. 148-49 of the Minute Book]

Members present: Buckley, Copeland, Cohn, Dupont, Eccarius, Jung, Lafargue, Lessner, Mrs. Law, Marx, Mrs. Morgan, Huleck, Mrs. Huleck, Stepney, Weston, Meyerson, Hales, Milner, Johannard.

Citizen Jung in the chair.

The Minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.


Germany. Citizen Marx read two letters from Leipzig, one from W. Liebknecht, the other from August Bebel, President of the Working Men’s Unions of Saxony and the Southern States of Germany. They invite a deputation from the Council to attend their conference at Nurnberg where the question of the affiliation of the whole of the 100 societies is to be decided.[324]

Citizen Marx announced also that he had received an invitation from Vienna (where the working men are going to celebrate the fraternisation of the working men of all countries) to send a representative to be present.

Citizen Lafargue proposed, Copeland seconded, that Peter Fox Andre be appointed.[325] Agreed.

Citizen Marx proposed that a delegate be sent to Nurnberg if the funds permit. Seconded by Cohn. Carried.

Citizen Jung read an address from the Social-Democratic party of New York to the workmen of Geneva.[326]

France. A letter from Marseilles stated that warning had been published to the masons of Marseilles not [to] go to Algiers. They ask for the Congress programme and declare that they will adhere steadfast to the Association. The letter announced the sad event of Vasseur’s death.

Citizen Jung read a letter from the French branch concerning the disavowal of the proceedings at Cleveland Hall.

Citizen Lafargue proposed the order of the day.[327]

Eccarius seconded the proposition.

Carried by 14 against 5.

Citizen Dupont proposed that Citizen Johannard be appointed Secretary for Italy; seconded by Lafargue; 9 for, 4 against.

Huleck moved, Mrs. Morgan seconded, the adjournment of the question for a week. Six for the amendment, 10 against.

Dupont’s proposition was carried by 9 against 4 votes.

[Here a newspaper clipping from The Bee-Hive No. 354, August 1, 1868, is pasted into the Minute Book. Corrections in the text are in Eccarius’s hand]

An address of the Social-Democratic Union to the working men of Geneva was communicated, which contains the following passage:

“Working men, — Your struggle is also ours. Throughout the socaned civilised world society divides itself, more or less, into two opposing camps of oppressed and oppressors, workers and drones, poor and rich. The struggle between these two parties is inevitable. The social question no longer recognises geographical frontiers, nor national separations. It is everywhere the same, and it is for this that we applauded the foundation and the development, and approve the action of the International Working Men’s Association.”

The discussion of the proposition, “The influence of machinery in the hands of capitalists,” was opened by Citizen Marx.[328] He said what strikes us most is that all the consequences which were expected as the inevitable result of machinery have been reversed. Instead of diminishing the hours of labour, the working day was prolonged to sixteen and eighteen hours. Formerly, the normal working day was ten hours, during the last century the hours of labour were increased by law here as well as on the Continent. The whole of the trade legislation of the last century turns upon compelling the working people by law to work longer hours.

It was not until 1833 that the hours of labour for children were limited to twelve. In consequence of overwork there was no time left whatever for mental culture. They also became physically deteriorated; contagious fevers broke out amongst them, and this induced a portion of the upper class to take the matter up. The first Sir Robert Peel was one of the foremost in calling attention to the crying evil, and Robert Owen was the first mill-owner who limited the hours of labour in his factory. The ten hours’ bill was the first law which limited the hours of labour to ten and a half per day for women and children, but it applied only to certain factories.

This was a step of progress, in so far as it afforded more leisure time to the work-people. With regard to production, the limitation has long since been overtaken. By improved machinery and increased intensity of the labour of individuals there is now more work done in the short day than formerly in the long day. People are again over worked, and it will soon become necessary to limit the working day to eight hours.

Another consequence of the use of machinery was to force women and children into the factory. The woman has thus become an active agent in our social production. Formerly female and children’s labour was carried on within the family circle. I do not say that it is wrong that women and children should participate in our social production. I think every child above the age of nine ought to be employed at productive labour a portion of its time, but the way in which they are made to work under existing circumstances is abominable.

Another consequence of the use of machinery was that it entirely changed the relations of the capital of the country. Formerly there were wealthy employers of labour, and poor labourers who worked with their own tools. They were to a certain extent free agents, who had it in their power effectually to resist their employers. For the modern factory operative, for the women and children, such freedom does not exist, they are slaves of capital.

There was a constant cry for some invention that might render the capitalist independent of the working man; the spinning machine and power-loom has rendered him independent, it has transferred the motive power of production into his hands. By this the power of the capitalist has been immensely increased. The factory lord has become a penal legislator within his own establishment, inflicting fines at will, frequently for his own aggrandisement. The feudal baron in his dealings with his serfs was bound by traditions and subject to certain definite rules; the factory lord is subject to no controlling agency of any kind.

One of the great results of machinery is organised labour which must bear fruit sooner or later. The influence of machinery upon those with whose labour it enters into competition is directly hostile. Many hand-loom weavers were positively killed by the introduction of the powerloom both here and in India.

We are frequently told that the hardships resulting from machinery are only temporary, but the development of machinery is constant, and if it attracts and gives employment to large numbers at one time it constantly throws large numbers out of employment. There is a continual surplus of displaced population, not as the Malthusian asserts a surplus population in relation to the produce of the country, but a surplus whose labour has been superseded by more productive agencies.

Employed on land machinery produces a constantly increasing surplus population whose employment is not fluctuating. This surplus flocks to the towns and exercises a constant pressure, a wage lowering pressure upon the labour market. The state of the East of London is one of the phenomena it produces.

The real consequences are best seen in those branches of labour in which the machine is not employed.

To conclude for the present, machinery leads on one hand to associated organised labour, on the other to the disintegration of all formerly existing social and family relations.

Citizen Weston said the previous speaker had only referred to machinery in the factory districts. In the carpentering trade the machine had not tended to lengthen the hours of labour. It did the most laborious part of the work, and tending the machine was not an exhausting occupation; he certainly thought he could do more in twelve hours than he could do in ten by extra exertion. If a man with a machine could do in ten hours what required ten days, if done by hand, this would not diminish the aggregate demand for labour. If it rained hats from heaven for people to wear for nothing that would not diminish the aggregate demand for labour. The surplus population resulted from the existing system of wages-labour.

[A tailor] Eccarius asked the question, if it rained clothes from heaven and the money now spent for clothes be devoted to the building of houses, the carpenters’ and the masons’ work done by machinery, how many superseded tailors would find employment in the building trade?

[Another member] Marx told Mr. Weston that he must consider the question of the hats being monopolised as the property of a capitalist.

[The newspaper clipping ends here]

Upon the motion of Citizen Milner the debate was adjourned to Tuesday, August 4.

Chairman [Unsigned]
J. George Eccarius, Secretary