MIA History Section: Portugal: Engels on Portugal

Engels on Portugal

Title: Engels on Portugal: extracts
Sources: Articles and letters by Engels
Collated by: Graham Seaman
Last updated: February 2024

1. Title: News on the Activities of the International on the Continent
Source: The International Herald, No. 41, January 11, 1873

From a letter from Portugal, it appeared that the working-class movement there, organised by the International, was growing to extraordinary dimensions. In Lisbon and neighbourhood alone, above fifteen thousand working men had been organised in Trades' Unions, and the organisation was spreading to Oporto and the North. The whole of these societies have been formed by, and continue under the direct influence of the International, which, however, is prevented by the laws of the country to organise itself with full liberty. The International paper, O Pensamento Social, is now self-supporting. We may add that in Portugal there are no secessionists. The Hague resolutions have been not only unanimously endorsed, but received with enthusiasm. The Pensamento, in its No. 25, contains an article declaring the Hague Congress to be the most important one ever held since the foundation of the International, and hailing its resolutions as establishing an immense progress in the development of the Association.

2. Title: News on the Activities of the International on the Continent
Source: The International Herald, No. 45, Februrary 8, 1873

From Portugal we hear that the Portuguese Federation, on learning that the so-called Spanish congress at Cordova had declared for secession, immediately wrote to the new federation of Madrid (International) to declare that Portugal, to a man, stood by the Association against the Secessionists; that attempts had been made to introduce into their ranks the secret "Alliance", and that Bakounine, himself, had written to one of them, persuading them to push that secret society; but that they unanimously resolved to express to Bakounine their formal disapprobation of the acts of the Alliance. This letter to the New Federation of Madrid is written and signed by the Secretary, França, by order, and in the name of the delegates of the sections, and published in the Madrid Emancipacion of the first of February. The Portuguese Federation now counts more than 15,000 members; it has, in Lisbon alone, 48 sections of trades, each forming a Trade's Union. So much for the assertion of the Secessionists, that all the organized federations are with them!

3. Title: Letter to Johann Philipp Becker, 20th November 1876 (Extract)
Source: MECW Collected Works Vol. 45 No. 123

The Portuguese, with whom I still correspond and who are very well organised, complain loudly of the lack of attention shown them by our friends. They say that the German-Swiss, Germans, Austrians, Americans, etc., have not only failed to pass on information to them, but have not even replied to their letters, whereas they have been regularly inundated with parcels, invitations to congresses, felicitations, etc., by the Jurassians, Bakuninist Spaniards, Italians and Belgians, so that the Portuguese workers have come to regard these as the only people who still have any interest left either in the International or the Portuguese movement. As you will realise, they must be stout fellows indeed who nonetheless don't let themselves be side-tracked, and that such is the case will be apparent to you from the following letter which they sent to the Bakuninist Congress in Berne:

'We have been invited by the Federation of Cadiz to send representatives to the Berne Congress and have since then read, in the Bulletin jurassienne, the circular convening that Congress and setting forth its agenda. Not having received this invitation until very late on, the Portuguese socialists are unable to send any delegates; nevertheless, their Federal Council has resolved that we assure you of our moral solidarity with socialist workers all over the world, and state that we never have called that solidarity in question, nor ever shall let it be called in question; accordingly, the express compact of solidarity which you propose to conclude seems to us a formality that could well be dispensed with.

Subscribing as we do most ardently to the unification of all proletarians, we send you our fraternal greetings. Long live the International Working Men's Association!'

Well, I shall write and tell these people about your plan and also send them one of your circulars, although it's doubtful whether they understand German. But you would be well advised to get in touch with them immediately. You can write to them in French; should they reply in Portuguese, I can translate the answer for you.

You might get the above letter published in the Tagwacht, likewise the fact that on 5 January and the following days they are going to hold a congress in Lisbon and will present a new party programme for discussion.

The address is:

E.C. Azedo Gnecco
Rua do Bemformoso 110, 2°
Lisbonne, Portugal.

That's where their paper, O Protesto is brought out; it's been going for over a year.

4. Title: The Workingmen of Europe in 1877
Source: The Labor Standard (New York), March 17 1878

In Portugal the movement remained always free from the "anarchist" taint, and proceeded upon the same rational basis as in most other countries. The Portuguese workmen had numerous International sections and Trades' Unions; they held a very successful Congress in January 1877, and had an excellent weekly: "O Protesto" (The Protest). Still, they too were hampered by adverse laws, restrictive of the press and of the right of association and public meeting. They keep struggling on for all that, and are now holding another Congress at Oporto, which will afford them an opportunity of showing to the world that the working class of Portugal takes its proper share in the great and universal struggle for the emancipation of labor.

MIA History Section | Portugal