Early American Marxism: Document Download Page by Year: 1923

Early American Marxism

Document Download Page for the Year




“Letter to Clarissa “Cris”” Ware from Jay Lovestone.”[date undetermined, 1923] This letter was extensively quoted in Ted Morgan’s biography of Jay Lovestone, a glimpse at a little soap opera inside Workers Party Headquarters. A love triangle emerged between Research Department staffers Lovestone and Cris Ware (divorced wife of party agricultural expert Harold Ware) and Executive Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg. This letter was handwritten by Lovestone to Ware and features her marginal retorts to Lovestone’s thoroughly pathetic love-smitten wailing. While not significant from a political perspective, the letter adds color and texture to our understanding of life at the party summit between two of the party’s top figures, Ruthenberg and Lovestone—elite social history, if you will. “By your work and by your work alone—through your work and through your work alone—can you and I know each other. You have absolutely severed whatever bond may have existed between us and I only ask that as a white man you will never refer to it—the past or present—to me or to any other living being," Ware demands. A second, more catty, note from Lovestone to his estranged object of desire, passing along office gossip purporting Ruthenberg (father of a grown son from a first wife) to be a score-keeping Lothario did not fare as well as this initial dollop of insecure bleating, the latter boorish note being torn in half by Ware and returned. Ware tragically died on Sept. 27, 1923, of an infection sustained during the course of an abortion, capping the melodramatic saga. Ware was later spewed upon in the tall tales of Ben Gitlow, who seems fairly clearly to have had sexual insecurity issues of his own...


“The American Foreign-Born Workers,” by Clarissa S. Ware [Early 1923] Full text of a pamphlet published early in 1923 by the Workers Party of America. The publication details the demographic composition of the American working class, measures being implemented and contemplated by the capitalist regime against foreign-born workers in America, and announcing the formation of a new mass organization called the “Council for Protection of the Foreign-Born Workers,” dedicated to organize the nearly 35% of first- or second-generation Americans and their allies in the labor, labor political, and benefit society movements against the legislative offensive against the foreign-born. A National Committee of the Council for Protection of Foreign-Born Workers containing representatives of national organizations is called for, as well as the formation of Local Councils established on the same basis. The work of this new organization was to be financed through “voluntary contributions from the affiliated organizations,” according to the pamphlet. “All the American Workers—native and foreign-born— have but one enemy—the capitalist class that exploits and oppresses them,” Ware states, noting that “the executive committee of the capitalist class, the Government” was active in evicting striking foreign-born miners, suppressing the labor movement via the injunction, and sending armed troops against striking foreign textile, mine, and steel workers. “Let there me one mighty army of labor! The United Front of the Workers against the United Front of the Capitalists! One front against the one enemy—the employinbg class that robs and oppresses all the workers!” the pamphlet concludes.


“’Militants, Notice!’: An Advertisement for the Trade Union Educational League” (circa 1923). Machine-readable facsimile of an advertisement appearing on the inside front cover of an early TUEL pamphlet by William Z, Foster—almost certainly written by Foster himself. The ad states that the Trade Union Educational League is “in no sense a dual union,” but rather is “purely an educational body of militants within existing mass unions, who are seeking through the application of modern methods to bring the policies and structure of the labor movement into harmony with present day economic conditions.” TUEL is called “a system of informal committees throughout the entire union movement, organized to infuse the mass with revolutionary understanding and spirit” and basing its work on the existing union structure rather than upon “starting rival organizations based upon ideal principles.” It is this tendency of progressive unionists to establish dual union organizations that is “one of the chief reasons why the American labor movement is not further advanced,” the ad declares.



“Minutes of the Meeting of the Central Executive Committee of the Workers Party of America: New York City—Jan. 3, 1923.” On Jan. 3, 1923, the governing Central Executive Committee of the Workers Party of America met to reorganize itself after the recently completed 2nd Annual Convention. A new body called the “Executive Council” was created to replace the former “Administrative Council” as the CEC’s executive committee, “to function between the sessions of the CEC.” Eleven were elected to sit on the body: Alex Bittelman, Jim Cannon, Bill Dunne, Marion Emerson, Louis Engdahl, Edward Lindgren, Ludwig Lore, Theo Maki, Moissaye Olgin, C.E. Ruthenberg, and Harry Wicks. Various new Federation Bureaus, elected by conventions of the Federations, were approved and other personnel matters addressed. Resolutions from locals demanding action against Jacob Salutsky for his behavior at the December conference of the Conference for Progressive Political Action were referred to Salutsky’s local so that disciplinary action might be begun.


“Why An Independent Labor Party?” by W.R. Snow [Jan. 5, 1923] Acknowledging that there had been “splits, re-splits, counter-splits, duplicate splits, and other splits in the Socialist Movement of America in the past 5 years,” State Secretary of the Socialist Party of Illinois W.R. Snow writes this article to declare that the establishment of a Labor Party was no simple solution for the SPA, but rather represented “an immediate danger ahead.” Snow notes the irony that the greatest critics of the former Left Wing Section of the Socialist Party for aping the tactics of the Russian Bolsheviks were themselves the most starry-eyed and infatuated advocates of aping the tactics of the Independent Labour Party of Great Britain. Snow notes the additional irony that both the Bolshevik-wannabes and ILP-wannabes were advocating exactly the same tactic—formation of a federative Labor Party (while seeking to exclude the other party from participation from the same). “Are the Socialist principles and fundamental philosophy unsound?” Snow asks, “If so, we have been on the wrong track all the time. If the fundamental principles of Socialism are sound, then why try to build another movement on a false foundation? If we can’t build a labor party out of the Socialist Party, we can’t build it out of anything for some generations to come.” Snow adds: “We can make a real labor party out of the Socialist Party within the next 15 or 20 years, or we can, like the children of Israel, wander in the wilderness for the next 40. Some of our eminent Socialists seem to be headed for the jungle. Shall we sidetrack the real thing for the counterfeit?”


“Red Raid Scribe in Nonunion Clan: Connections is Shown Between Michigan Cases and the Labor Movement,” by Robert M. Buck [Jan. 6, 1923] The grandfather of Right Wing ultra-politicized “history” of American radicalism was journalist R.M. Whitney, who was granted special access to documents seized at the August 1922 raid of the Communist Party’s convention at Bridgman, Michigan by the Department of Justice and then used this material as background for a sensational and sensationalized series of articles in the Boston Transcript and a 1924 book called Reds in America. In this article Robert Buck of the Farmer-Labor Party reveals the linkage between the organized anti-labor movement in America and the “red raids” of the early 1920s. Historian Whitney is revealed as the Washington, DC director of the “American Defense Society,” a nationalistic pro-business organization which sought to establish “Home Defense Committees” around America to stand ready to break the strikes of “ irresponsible agitators” and to work for the elimination of “labor reds and outlaw strikes.” The ADS also provided printed propaganda to employers for insertion into pay envelopes urging increased productivity as a means of reducing the cost of living. The American Defense Society “folds itself in the American flag and makes itself out a kind of an industrial Ku Klux Klan,” Buck asserts.


“Letter to Ella Wolfe in Mexico from Jay Lovestone in Chicago.”[Jan. 8, 1923] One of many surviving letters from Jay Lovestone to and from the beautiful wife of his factional ally, Bert Wolfe, a man who had boldly fled the anti-Communist repression of 1919-20 in New York for an assumed identity in San Francisco and thence to Mexico, all without party permission. Lovestone thanks Ella for a letter which “made me feel momentarily at least that I was free from boring Party routine and tiresome Party company.”He proceeds to pass along a brief account of the Dec. 1923 Workers Party convention held in New York: “For the second time in 2 years I have finished a Convention in the minority though coming to it as a member of the majority ruling administration. This time as at Bridgman [Aug. 1922] I was trimmed, I got trounced and trounced rather handily. I made a more vigorous [effort] than I did at Bridgman, but this was due only to the fact that the majority against my position here was much more decisive than in Michigan.”He adds: “By this time you must think that there is nothing I enjoy more than fighting losing battles or fighting for the sake of fighting. That is not so at all. In my opinion there was [a] very important point of view at stake.”Lovestone continues: “On the surface they adopted our proposals and formally voted for it in the convention. But throughout the year and even in the debates in the convention it was definitely established that some comrades were afflicted with a narrow point of view towards the class conflict. The broad political point of view of communists was narrowed in their cases by a too strong emphasis on the importance of the Party being in the good graces of certain progressive labor leaders... Practically everything our side stood for was adopted. Yet we were voted down. There was considerable enmity to Pepper. Most of the opposition to him was petty, personal, and conceived in jealousy and reared in infamy. “


“Letter to the Workers Party of America from the Communist International, January 1923.” The Second Convention of the legal Workers Party of America, held in New York in December of 1922, formally applied for admission to the Communist International. This reply of the CI informs the WPA that its party is admitted only as a “sympathizing party” rather than as a fully affiliated organization. The CI calls on the Americans to support the workers in every strike and carefully follow their daily life so as to better bring the proletariat into alliance with the party “against the capitalist offensive.” Trade union work is particularly important, the Comintern advises, stating that in the “correct application of united front tactics” it was essential to “unite the masses over the heads of the yellow leaders” of the trade union movement.


“Letter to the Workers Party of America and all its Language Federations from the Executive Committee of the Communist International, January 25, 1923.” The ECCI salutes the seeming unity of action coming from the WPA’s Dec. 1922 Second Convention and congratulates it for solving the question of Language Federations in a “satisfactory way, in that it regards the Federations merely as propaganda sections of the Party.” The 16 foreign-language sections of the WPA are unique among the world communist movement, it is noted, and represent both a beneficial way to communicate with the most hyper-exploited segment of the American working class, the foreign born workers, as well as a fetter to broad revolutionary propaganda. The immediate task facing the party is the establishment of an English-language daily organ, the letter states, contrasting the existence of ten foreign-language WPA dailies with the lack of a single daily in English. The Language Federations are directly challenged to take up this “most urgent” task and to “demonstrate whether the WP is a unit or not.” Without an English daily newspaper, the WPA would have no means to reach sufficiently broad masses of American workers with its revolutionary message; the slogan of “An English daily for the WP by November 7, 1923”— Russian Revolution Day—is proposed.



“Statement to the Members of the Society for Technical Aid to Soviet Russia,” by C.E. Ruthenberg [circa Feb. 1923] The Society for Technical Aid to Soviet Russia was established by the Communist Party as a parallel mass organization dedicated to fundraising to purchase tools and agricultural machinery for Soviet Russia. The organization served as a means for emigrés from Tsarist Russia to return to their homeland as participants in model agricultural communes established in conjunction with the technology being imported. In practice, these new communes were economic failures and did little to alleviate the difficulties of Soviet agriculture during immediate post-revolutionary period. Furthermore, economic scandal swept the organization when some of the top leadership of “the TA” were implicated in economic activity for private gain as part of the business operations of the organization. Early in 1923 the Workers Party brought the troubled “TA” under direct party control, ousting the members of the group’s governing Central Bureau and replacing them with a group including the top leadership of the WPA (Ruthenberg, Pepper, Jakira) and others regarded as disciplined members of the WPA. This news release announces the change in leadership of the “TA,” assures members of the group that it is not to be liquidated and merged into the Friends of Soviet Russia organization, announces changes of policy, and asks for the loyal support of members of the organization.


“Letter No. 6 to the Executive Committee of the Communist International in Moscow from C.E. Ruthenberg in New York, February 6, 1923.” Message from the Executive Secretary of the American Communist Party to the CI that not only would the CPA be acting on the instructions of the Comintern to amalgamate the underground CPA and the “legal” Workers Party of America, but that even prior to the CI statement “the CEC decided to take steps to convert the Party into an open Party.” Ruthenberg states that since the 1922 Bridgman Convention, the CPA has been working harmoniously, with the three former factional groupings (Goose Caucus, Liquidators, Central Caucus) actively working to advance policies that had previously been underappreciated or even regarded as anathema. The division of the American bourgeoisie over the question of repression of the Communist movement and expansion of sympathy for the Communist movement among the working class and the ability of the WPA to work more and more as an open Communist Party had changed the situation in the country, Ruthenberg notes. “We trust that we will be able to carry out the reorganization of the Party without a crisis. It is possible that a few sectarian elements will leave the Party. But we are convinced that no organized faction will fight against the policy of the CEC and the CI, and that we will be able to lead the Party into the open without a split,” Ruthenberg concludes.


“A Sheriff I Loved,” by Eugene V. Debs [Feb. 9, 1923] Socialist orator Gene Debs provides a remembrance his unusual friendship of 27 years with one of his former captors, George Eckert, sheriff of McHenry County, Illinois. In 1895, jailed for his part in the 1894 strike of the American Railway Union, Debs had been moved from Cook Co. Jail to McHenry Co. Jail due to overcrowding. Inflamed by the Right Wing press, a potential lynch mob gathered to meet Debs at the train. “The farmers were there with their threats and mutterings, and with some other sheriff than George Eckert in charge might have attempted their cowardly program. But George Eckert was a man as well as a sheriff, and he told them, in words they did not fail to understand, that I was his prisoner, and that it was his duty to protect as well as to jail me, and that he proposed to do it. The would-be lynchers knew George Eckert, and slunk away in the darkness. They knew he would protect me—if necessary with his own life.” The pair had remained in regular touch for the rest of their lives.


“Letter from Edgar Owens in Chicago and C.E. Ruthenberg to Vasil Kolarov in Moscow, Feb. 17, 1923.” This is an informative review of the status of “political” cases in the United States, in response to a request from Moscow for information in conjunction with the formation of a new international legal defense organization. Owens details the activities of the National Defense Committee for Deportees and Political Prisoners (which he headed) and the Labor Defense Council in fighting against the prosecutions initiated by federal and state authorities against the radical movement. According to Owens, as a result of recent releases on bail, only three prisoners were being held for explicitly Communist activities: Israel Blankenstein, Joseph Martinowitz, and Charles Spinack. Others were held in jail on political charges which predated establishment of the Communist movement, including J.O. Bentall and a host of IWW prisoners. Still others, including Benjamin Gitlow, Harry Winitsky, I.E. Ferguson, C.E. Ruthenberg, and 35 Philadelphia party members, were free on bail pending appeals or initial legal proceedings. Owens summarizes the results of the 1922 Bridgman prosecution as a positive for the party, which was said to have established solid new contacts with the progressive wing of the labor movement and to have exposed the nature of the spycraft of private detective agencies as a result of the trials. The new “International Relief for the Fighters of the Revolution” organization is welcomed by Owens, who promises close cooperation through the party’s legal defense organizations.


“Letter from C.E. Ruthenberg in New York to Vasil Kolarov in Moscow, Feb. 17, 1923.” The early Communist International is frequently misrepresented in the literature as a paramilitary command-and-control system, issuing binding orders arbitrarily deduced in Moscow to blindly obedient Communist Parties around the world. In reality, there was a give-and-take, with information flowing from the periphery to Moscow, which was often called upon to provide tactical advice, to mediate disputes, and to rectify factional schisms. This letter from Workers Party of America Executive Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg to General Secretary of the ECCI Vasil Kolarov is an example in which the Comintern was used by national parties as a mediator. Ruthenberg protests the establishment of a new Soviet relief organization, the Volunteer Fleet, noting three relief organizations are already in existence: the Friends of Soviet Russia, Technical Aid, and the Yidgescom. The Workers Party was attempting to centralize these relief efforts in the hands of the FSR, a task which Ruthenberg argued was being needlessly complicated by the ill-considered establishment of the Volunteer Fleet fundraising apparatus. Concrete suggestions are made to make use of the ECCI’s Ausland Committee to transmit information on future relief campaigns to the Friends of Soviet Russia, which was to coordinate such drives.


“Letter from William Z. Foster in Chicago to Grigorii Zinoviev in Moscow, February 17, 1923.” A personal letter from prominent American Communist and Trade Union Educational League founder William Z. Foster to the head of the Communist International. Presumably, Zinoviev directed a query to Foster soliciting his personal opinion about the “new policy” for the American Communist movement —that is, the termination of the primary underground Communist Party of America and the merging of that organization’s leadership with that of the “open” Workers Party of America, with “underground” work a subsidiary department of the new organization. Foster gives his ringing endorsement to the new organizational form, stating that he was “convinced that it fits American conditions and that a powerful Communist movement can be built upon it.” Interestingly, Foster gives high praise to the man who would soon become his greatest factional opponent in the American Communist movement, Josef Pogány [“John Pepper”], stating that “The underground apparatus, as outlined in the new policy, should amply take care of the work which cannot be done openly. The splendid work of Comrade Pogány has made unlikely the prospect of any very serious split in the application of this policy.” Foster calls the establishment of an American Labor Party “one of the first essentials in the development of a militant labor movement, both political and industrial, in this country.” He has harsh words for the American labor movement, deriding not only Gompers and the AF of L establishment, but also the “so-called progressive wing” as “almost as bad, its leaders lacking the foresight, honesty, and courage to declare even in favor of independent working class political action.” He similarly lambastes the syndicalists of the IWW, calling them “only a small sect” and “chronic dual unionists” who are “detached physically and intellectually from the organized masses.” The open Party and its “industrial department,” the TUEL, are in an excellent position to achieve its strategic objective of bringing militant American workers into the organization, Foster believes.


“Foster Admits Bridgman Meet Held Secretly: Radical Chieftain Declares “Power and Cash” to Decide Issue.” [Feb. 20, 1923] Unsigned contemporary news account from the daily newspaper serving St. Joseph/Benton Harbor/Bridgman, Michigan. This short article quotes a Foster speech made at Grand Rapids in which he states that “the Communist Party in January 1920 was subjected to the heaviest persecution ever experienced by the movement when 5,000 persons were thrown into jail after raids. Was it going to walk into the lion’s mouth like the Christians in the arena? It now is only for the public to assume a more tolerant attitude. Then it will come out in broad daylight with its message. You can’t kill living ideas with terrorism. If the Communist Party can’t function legally, it will function secretly.”.


“Letter No. 7 to the Executive Committee of the Communist International in Moscow from C.E. Ruthenberg in New York, February 20, 1923.” Communication from the head of the American Communist Party to the ECCI informing them that administrative amalgamation of the underground Communist Party of America and the legal political party, the Workers Party of America, had taken place as per the Comintern’s instructions. Only one member of the CEC of the CPA, L.E. Katterfeld (“Carr”) had failed to agree with the CI’s decision to dissolve the formal underground apparatus, and he had accepted the decision of the majority as a matter of party discipline. Ruthenberg also provides a short update on the Cleveland Conference for Progressive Political Action’s failure to endorse a Labor Party, noting that instead various state Labor Parties had been established, some of which included the Workers Party as participants. Also includes brief notes on the Michigan Foster case, the campaign for protection of the foreign-born, trade union work (said to key on the struggle in the United Mine Workers of America), and forthcoming literature.


“Call for the Third National Convention of the Communist Party of America, February 23, 1923.” Convention call for the 3rd and final Convention of the underground unifed CPA, signed by that organization’s Executive Secretary Abram Jakira [“J. MIller”]. The call announces that “conditions in the country have undergone changes which call for revision of the decision adopted at our last Convention on the question of an Open Party.” To wit, a letter from the Comintern “specifically instructs the CEC to proceed with transforming the LPP into an open Communist Party as soon as possible, preparing at the same time a strong apparatus to enable the Party to meet emergency situations and to carry on the necessary underground activities.” While the official organ is to be opened to discussion of this matter to the party membership, the convention call definitely implies the gathering is to provide formal ratification of a fait accompli rather than a venue for debate and decision of a controversial matter. Representation is to be on the basis of one delegate for each 250 average paid members (or major fraction thereof) for the period 11/22 to 1/23, with each district entitled to at least one delegate. The 3rd Convention was ultimately held in New York City on April 7, 1923, and was attended by 19 regular delegates and a total of 35.


“World War Veterans in Fight on Fascism: Seek to Organize Ex-Soldiers to Prevent Use Against Workers,” by Herbert A. Suman [Feb. 24, 1923] One organization which has been largely forgotten by history was the World War Veterans, a Minneapolis-based society of men who served in the American armed forces in the European War. The World War Veterans was organized to advance the special interests of ex-soldiers while standing in opposition to the rampant jingoism and quasi-fascist mob activities of the Right Wing American Legion. This article from the pages of the official organ of the Farmer-Labor Party of the United States announces a new campaign to stop the efforts of the American Legion leadership to transform that organization into a full-blown fascist paramilitary. The article quotes the Commander of the American Legion, Col. Alvin Owsley, as ominously stating: “the Legion would not hesitate to take things into its own hands—fight the reds as the Fascisti of Italy fought them. Do not forget that the Fascisti of Italy are to Italy what the American Legion is to the United States, and that Mussolini, the new premier, was commander of the Legion—the ex-servicemen of Italy.” In parallel, the “perhaps more notorious” Ku Klux Klan was gaining a strong foothold in the country. The press release of the World War Veterans declares that “There are 3 million unorganized ex-servicemen in America. Reactionary organizations, subsidized by bankers and Chambers of Commerce, are trying to inveigle them under their control. With strong financial backing they are enabled to spread their lying propaganda through numerous publications. Whoever practices free speech or questions the divine right of present industrial and political dictatorship is denounced as a ‘red,’ ‘radical,’ and ‘un-American,’ held up to an unthinking public as an immoral degenerate, and mobs of ex-servicemen are incited to believe that such a beast richly deserves tar and feathers or Judge Lynch’s noose.” Membership in the World War Veterans is depicted as a means for ex-servicemen to organize in opposition to this emerging menace to freedom and democracy.


“Letter from Robert Minor in New York to the Editorial Committee, WPA, February 24, 1923.” A lengthy letter from member of the Workers Party of America Editorial Committee Robert Minor to his colleagues bluntly critical about the failings of the party press. Keying on the English language weekly, The Worker, Minor cites failings of both form and content, arguing the the massive and bold masthead of the publication makes it nearly impossible to run “scare headlines” which catch attention. Worse yet, Minor feels that these headlines do not illicit the interest of readers that factual information is to be imparted, but rather “that we are going to panhandle him for something—service or money.” Minor likens the publication to an amateurish advertising sheet, erroneously editorializing and sermonizing and making false calls to action in place of the presentation of factual news items. Minor calls for a strict segregation of opinion to a designated section of the paper and arguing that “the propaganda effect shall be obtained as the New York Times gets its propaganda effect in news articles—by sequence and juxtaposition of fact and by analytical treatment in the news writing, without permitting one sentence or phrase of opinion to be printed in a news item.” As an aside, Minor indicates the desire to return to political cartooning and asks the Editorial Committee to moot the question of excusing him from all obligatory writing chores so that he can concentrate once again on his craft.



“Are the Communists Ready?” by Max Bedacht. [March 1923] A brief summary of the development of the Communist International by a leading American participant. “The working class has only one rallying point in its struggle against capitalism— the Communist International,” states Bedacht, noting that the opponents of working class revolution have also learned from experience “the seriousness of the claims of the proletariat to political domination.” As a result, Bedacht indicates that the capitalists “organize a complete counter revolution even before a complete revolution has occurred—as in Italy.” “The Communist parties everywhere must rise to the occasion and meet it with revolutionary strategy, which neutralizes, paralyzes and fights the forces of the bourgeoisie, and at the same time recruits all the forces of the working class for the final battle,” Bedacht states.


“An Open Challenge,” by C.E. Ruthenberg. [March 1923] At the end of February 1923, jury selection for the first trial resulting from the August 1922 Bridgman, Michigan raid was begun. The best-known public figure among the defendants (regarded by the prosecution as the most threatening public enemy), William Z. Foster, was chosen by the prosecution to first face the jury. This article by C.E. Ruthenberg, published in the March 1923 issue of The Liberator, marks the beginning of this trial. Ruthenberg charges that the Palmer Raids of 1919-20 had as their goal not prosecution for crime but rather destruction of the radical movement and that the “bugaboo of violence” alleged of the revolutionary socialist left would be belied by the evidence presented at the Michigan trials. “No Communist advocates the use of violence in the class struggle in the United States today.... No Communist has been convicted of an overt act of violence in the United States,” Ruthenberg notes.


“Report on CPA District #9 [Pacific Northwest],” by “Ex-DO Gilbert” [circa March 1923] A rare and extremely valuable glimpse of organizational disarray in the late underground period in the states of Washington and Oregon. “Gilbert,” a former member of the CEC of the CPA, was dispatched to the Pacific Northwest to serve as District Organizer for District 9 of the underground CPA. He arrived to find an organization on the brink of oblivion: “From [July 1922] until November when I arrived the CP did not function (except in Portland to a limited extent). No news was received by them. No need to argue about liquidation there, for the CP as such had already dissolved.” Party members were “bewildered,” organizational records seized, destroyed, or lost as a byproduct of the raid of the WPA’s district convention in July 1922 and the frightened aftermath. The organization was impoverished, the membership scattered and out of contact with each other and the center. Even party members had a poor understanding of the program and tactics of the party. No effort was made at recruitment, logical choices for party membership stood outside of the organization due to the low regard in which party officials were held. As a result “Many of the very best fighters who made the labor movement of Seattle famous are now doing nothing.” Concrete suggestions for “building up the CP anew” are provided —but the task promised to be daunting, expensive, and slow, as the underground organization had completely collapsed.


“Report on the 3rd Enlarged Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (Held in Moscow, June 12-23, 1923),” by Israel Amter [Aug. 1, 1923] Very lengthy official report on the proceedings of the 3rd Plenum of the Enlarged ECCI by Workers Party of America delegate Israel Amter—distributed to the party press with instructions from the CEC of the Party to translate and publish. Amter delves into the limitations of “Democratic Centralism” —stating that the Congress of the CI, not the national parties themselves, must have the power to determine the membership of ECCI and that the CI must have the power to alter the composition of national party leaderships, when necessary. With regards to religion, Amter states that the ECCI has taken the position that religious belief is a private matter between the individual and the state, but that Communist Parties exist not only to liberate workers economically and politically, but also ideologically, and that they “will not fail to conduct educational work for enlightening the workers on the nature and content of religion, and to free them from its domination.” Amter relates the ECCI’s position on the the world political situation, with special emphasis on Bulgaria, Germany, England,and France. The new slogan of “Workers’ and Farmers’ Government” was approved by the 3rd Plenum, Amter states, with credit for the slogan attributed to the Workers Party of America by Zinoviev. The importance of Anti-Fascist organization, trade union work, and the implementation of the “factory nucleus” form of party organization are noted by Amter.


“FLP in Move to Unite Forces: Fitzpatrick Proposes July Convention in Chicago; Invite Other Parties,” by Robert M. Buck [March 17, 1923] In March of 1923, member of the National Committee of the Farmer-Labor Party of the United States and head of the Chicago Federation of Labor John Fitzpatrick made a motion, later approved, to hold a special convention of the FLPUS beginning July 3, 1923 in an attempt to bring together the disparate working class political organizations of the United States in common effort under the Farmer-Labor Party’s banner. The National Secretary of the organization was specifically authorized “to invite all labor, farm, and political groups to send representatives to the said National Convention of the Farmer-Labor Party” in the effort to forge a common program of action. While negotiation with the powerful Farmer-Labor Party of Minnesota for a joint convention with the FLPUS was ongoing, according to National Secretary J.G. Brown, nevertheless the call for the July 3 gathering was issued.


“Inviting Debs to Soviet Russia: Letter from Israel Amter in Moscow to the Presidium of the Comintern, March 9, 1923. Despite his decision to stick with the Socialist Party of America which he helped to found, the American Communists continued to hold out hope that Eugene Debs would turn his back on the SPA’s increasingly conservative leadership. This letter from the CPA’s man in Moscow, Israel Amter, noted that Debs had at last been persuaded to visit Soviet Russia to see the situation first-hand and requested that an invitation be cabled to Debs by the Soviet railway union, central trade union body, or government. Amter remarks that “when Debs came from prison, he was very angry with the Communists for their failure to do anything to obtain his release. Undoubtedly he was right in his contention, but the American Party not understanding proper tactics and incensed that he did not break away” from the Socialist Party and consequently “did not feel inclined to speak in his behalf.” A sentimental disposition, Ill-health, and his “yellow Socialist” brother had prevented closer collaboration between the Communists and Debs —who instead fell victim to the “trickery” of the SPA. Nevertheless, Debs’ honesty and love for the working class combined with “repugnance at the brutal attacks of the Socialist press on Soviet Russia have made him at last desire to see Soviet Russia with his own eyes and judge for himself.”.


“Communists Throw Challenge In Face of Michigan Authorities: Ten of Participants in Bridgman Convention Walk into Courtroom at St. Joseph,” by C.E. Ruthenberg [March 10, 1923] Press release by WPA Executive Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg detailing the surrender en mass of 10 indicted participants at the 1922 Bridgman Convention of the Communist Party of America, a gathering infiltrated by a government agent-provocateur and raided by state and federal law enforcement authorities. The surrender of the ten (decided upon by the CEC of the WPA) was not being made “because they have any faith in the justice of the capitalist courts and prosecuting authorities,” Ruthenberg indicates, as the defendants “have had too many experiences with these institutions showing the willingness of judges and prosecutors to ignore their own laws and rules in order to put Communists in prison.” Rather the matter was being put into the hands of the American working class, Ruthenberg states. Those surrendering included: John Ballam, Max Bedacht, Ella Reeve Bloor, Jay Lovestone, Robert Minor, Edgar Owens, Rebecca Sacharow, A. Schulenberg,Rose Pastor Stokes, and William Weinstone. The ten were released on $1,000 bail each and freed on their own recognizance to rail the money over the weekend.


“Rose Pastor Stokes Gives Self Up: Walks Calmly into Court This Morning: Nine Others Appear in Court with Gotham Woman, Charged with Attending Communist Meeting at Bridgman.” [March 10, 1923] Unsigned news report from the local St. Joseph, Michigan daily newspaper detailing the sensational surprise surrender of 10 members of the Communist Party under blanket indictment for participation in the ill-fated August 1922 Bridgman Convention of the Communist Party. Interesting in its depiction of “settlement worker” and “protege and close associate of Jane Addams” Rose Pastor Stokes as the leading figure surrendering, despite the presence in the group of other top-level party officials, including Ballam, Bedacht, Lovestone, and Minor. The surrender is dismissed as a grandstand play designed to elicit sympathy and aid the Communists’ effort to spread their propaganda by one of the prosecuting attorneys.


“Venue Change Denied Foster: Trial Will be Started Here and Attempt Made to Get Jury.” [March 10, 1923] Unsigned news report from the local St. Joseph, Michigan daily newspaper detailing the last minute pre-trial jousting between defense attorney Frank P. Walsh and O.L. Gray for the prosecution. An attempt by Walsh to obtain a change of venue to another county in Michigan was denied by the judge in the case, who did, however, quash three of the four counts in the indictment against Foster, charging him with spreading a violent doctrine. The sole remaining count of the indictment charged that Foster met with an illegal organization, the CPA, “created for the purpose of advocating doctrines of criminal syndicalism.”.


“The 1923 Foster Trial: The Reports of the WPA Press Service.” [March 12 to April 10, 1923] The Workers Party of Society Press Service covered the nearly month-long trial of William Z. Foster in St. Joseph, Michigan exhaustively, sending out reports of each day’s events to the party press. Only a fraction of this material was ever published in the of the weekly English-language organ, The Worker, the bulk being translated and run in the non-English daily press of the WPA. This 21-page document collects all 25 of these reports for the first time and provides what now stands as the best single blow-by-blow account of the landmark Foster “Criminal Syndicalism” case. The tone is, of course, sympathetic to the Defense, emphasizing the lies, distortions, and crass machinations of the Prosecution; a few non-factual statements of the Defense are reported without being challenged. These daily reports were authored by some of the WPA’s best journalistic talent, including C.E. Ruthenberg, Robert Minor, Edgar Owens, Joe Carroll, Earl Browder, Clarissa Ware, John Hearley, and Jay Lovestone.


“Memo from C.E. Ruthenberg to All WPA District Organizers on Infiltration of the Socialist Party,” March 17, 1923. A memo from Executive Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg to all District Organizers of the Workers Party of America that a “left wing” movement seemed to be emerging in the Socialist Party and that “it is necessary for us to help crystallize that left movement.” The DOs are instructed to “select some trustworthy and capable comrades who should be instructed to make an effort to join one of their branches in their locality. This is to be done in every city of your district where they are strong. One or two comrades is sufficient for every branch. The comrades must be absolutely trustworthy.” This operation is to be secret: “The entire question is absolutely confidential and should not be made subject for discussion among the general membership for obvious reasons,” Ruthenberg notes.


“Report on the United States: Up to March 20, 1923.” [Selections] by Israel Amter Extensive excerpts taken from the lengthy digest of the news prepared for the Comintern by Israel Amter. Includes a long section of original reportage on the trial of William Z. Foster at St. Joseph, MI for his participation in the August 1922 Bridgman Convention of the CPA. Also includes information that provocateurs were being embedded by the WPA in the Socialist Party to sow dissention in the ranks; news of the affiliation of Scandinavian, Czechoslovak, and Romanian Federations with the Workers Party of America; details on the Olgin court saga in which he was hauled to court for publishing an unsigned letter making charges against the officials of the Furriers’ Union; info on the struggle in the miners’ union; and commentary about the emergence of a fascist movement in the United States, among other matters.


“Memo from C.E. Ruthenberg to All WPA District Organizers on Maintenance of Underground Apparatus, March 21, 1923.” The decision to move the “seat of party authority” from the underground to the “legal” political apparatus did not mean an end for secret operations for the American Communist movement. This communique from WPA Executive Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg to the District Organizers of the party makes clear. Ruthenberg instructs that pending the decision of the CEC on future underground operations, “you are to see to it that safe connections are being kept with the CEC and with the lower units, that safe addresses are being kept and transmitted in code, that Party names are used in written documents, etc.” In addition, Ruthenberg added, it was essential that each party functionary maintain a substitution “who shall be supplied with all necessary connections and information, so that he would be able to proceed with the work without interruption in case of emergency.”.


“Assembling With is Foster’s Crime: Steel Strike Secretary First Person Ever Tried on Such Trashy Accusation,” by Robert M. Buck [March 24, 1923] Staunch defense of William Z. Fosters and the Communists denied their constitutional freedom of assembly by state and federal authorities in the August 1922 raid of the CPA’s convention at Bridgman, Michigan. “William Z. Foster is on trial in this city on a charge that has never before been preferred against an individual in a criminal tribunal in this or any other country, so far as legal records show. He is charged with the ‘crime’ of ‘assembling with,’” Buck declares. Even the West coast workers railroaded and imprisoned for membership in the Industrial Workers of the World were at least accused of organizational membership—Foster faced prison merely for his association, Buck indicates. Adding to the unscrupulousness of the “trashy” indictment was the sordid fact that it was the vote of a government agent that tipped the CPA convention to retain the party’s “underground” status; thus government action directly perpetrated the continued organizational illegality that the government was prosecuting, a perspective emphasized by Foster’s chief counsel, prominent liberal attorney Frank P. Walsh.


“Foster’s Fate is in Balance: US Agents Keep Reporters Hootched Up and Have Free Access to Jury,” by Robert M. Buck [March 31, 1923] A new accusation is made against the behavior of the Department of Justice and its lackeys in this article from the pages of the offical organ of the Farmer-Labor Party of the United States: that reporters had been plied with booze and entertained by prosecuting authorities seeking favorable coverage in the press. “Dicks of the United States Department of Justice and others associated with the prosecution keep the newspaper reporters liberally liquored up with hootch and wine and nightly parties are held to insure that the reporters will be as enthusiastic in their thirst for the blood of the defendants as are the Department of Justice spies themselves,” Buck declares. “The attentions of the stool pigeons, showered upon reporters, show results in the sending out of stories of things that did not happen in court, and otherwise unfair to the defense,” Buck adds, singling out in particular the Chicago Tribune for its slanted coverage.


“On the Foster Trial,” by Grigorii Zinoviev [circa March 29, 1923] With Secretary of the Trade Union Educational League William Z. Foster embroiled in a trial for “criminal syndicalism” over his participation in the August 1922 Convention of the Communist Party of America at Bridgman, MI, head of the Communist International lends his support with this article in the press. “The record of the American labor movement is one of persecution and attacks by the capitalist class through the means of armed guards and detective agencies striving to destroy the labor organizations,” Zinoviev says, noting that the charge against Foster are “old tactics employed by the capitalists in every country whenever the workers organize for the purpose of improving their conditions.” Zinoviev states that “America today is under the absolute dictatorship of Wall Street.... The radical workers advocate a government of the workers and farmers operating in the interests of the workers and the exploited farmers, just as the capitalist government is operating in the interests of the capitalists.” Zinoviev calls Foster “a true friend of the interests of the American workers and farmers” and states that he “cannot understand how a thinking worker or farmer living in America under the oppression of billionaire capitalism hesitates to accept” the program of the Workers Party of America.



“The Trial of William Z. Foster,” by Robert Minor. [April 1923] Labor cartoonist and Communist Party leader Robert Minor writes here about the start of the William Z. Foster trial. Foster was charged in conjunction with the 1922 raid of the CPA’s Bridgman, Michigan Convention with “unlawful assemblage” under the state’s Criminal Syndicalism Law, for which he could have been imprisoned for up to ten years. Particular attention is paid to the seating of the jury and efforts of the government —in conjunction with the Burns Detective Agency—to sway public opinion in the case. Minor states that “the prosecution of Foster is a bald attempt of the Harding Administration to mold the American labor movement in its own image. Before the jury was completed the prosecution had definitely outlined its purpose to eliminate the Trade Union Educational League from the American Federation of Labor, the imprisonment of Foster being one of the intended means.”.


“Getting Together,” by Eugene V. Debs. [April 1923] Article by the Socialist Party of America’s 5-time Presidential candidate on the trade union situation in America, published in the monthly magazine of the Trade Union Educational League. Debs states that recent defeats of major strikes in the steel, mining, and railroad industries would have been winnable had they been conducted by unified industrial unions rather than a multitude of fragmented craft unions—a form of organization which Debs believed to be an obsolete relic of individual handicraft production, utterly unsuited to the large-scale and complex industry of the modern world. In advancing the end of amalgamation of existing craft unions into large industrial unions, Debs wholeheartedly supports the work of the TUEL: “The Trade Union Educational League, under the direction and inspiration of William Z. Foster, is in my opinion the one rightly directed movement for the industrial unification of the American workers. I thoroughly believe in its plan and its methods and I feel very confident of its steady progress and the ultimate achievement of its ends.”.


“Michigan Trial Shows Fidelity to Truest Interests of Workers, Arouses Bitter Enmity of Capitalism,” by Rose Pastor Stokes [April 7, 1923] First-hand account of the Michigan trial of William Z. Foster by Workers Party members Rose Pastor Stokes, herself a delegate to the ill-fated August 1922 Bridgman Convention of the CPA. Stokes provides bits of local flavor, including an account of the detectives gathering for lunch daily at the Lake View Hotel in St. Joseph, across the street from the Whitcomb, where the defense gathered—the better to keep an eye on the intermingling of sympathizers with the “terrible Reds.” None of the Bureau of Investigation detectives on the stand did a particularly effective job, Stokes states, saying that Chicago-based agent Jacob Spolansky was “not believed” by the jury and that “hardly a question he answered was credited.” Star prosecution witness Felix Morrow is accused of having told tall tales about handling a key document inadvertently dropped by Alfred Wagenknecht (”Duffy”) which enabled him to in a single blow identify to the court the participation of 74 individuals at the convention. Morrow is quoted as saying of the laundry list of participants, “I remember every one of them except two who weren’t there, and those two are Cook [Jim Cannon] and Raphael [Alex Bittelman].” Stokes writes of Morrow that and then he named names, “Christian names, surnames, and party names, until you are certain that the “Stool” has studied daily and nightly since the raids, and not unaided, to acquire his extraordinary knowledge. Even those who weren’t there he has named....Thus 76 men get ‘identified’ at one whack.” This testimony was nothing more than “lying,” Stokes notes.


“Foster Case in Hands of Jury: Verdict is Momentarily Expected; Only Defendant and Ruthenberg Testify,” by Robert M. Buck [April 7, 1923] On April 4, 1923, the case of William Z. Foster for alleged violation of the Michigan state criminal syndicalism law went to the jury in St. Joseph, Michigan. Buck contrasts the “childish brain” and “juvenile bunk” spouted by one of the prosecuting attorneys in his closing arguments and the far-fetched accusation by another that Foster had been fomenting armed insurrection at Bridgman with the “quiet, logical defense” made by Humphrey Gray and the “impassioned plea” of lead attorney Frank P. Walsh, which “held the crowded courtroom spellbound, interesting even the newspaper reporters.” Buck quotes a couple choice epigrams from Walsh, including, “There is more menace to you and to me in the mahogany desks in one building in Wall Street than there is in the 45 men who voted at the Bridgman convention” and “It is a very poor American indeed, one without faith in the institutions of his country or in the quality of his countrymen, who sees a menace in communism.”


“Capitalism’s Howling Jackals Are Heralds of the New Day,” by J. Louis Engdahl [April 7, 1923] New York weekly Worker editor Louis Engdahl unleashes a torrent of vituperation against the multipronged anti-Communist offensive which erupted concurrently with the Foster trial in Michigan. Engdahl hammers Sec. of State Hughes and Sec. of Commerce Hoover for their “broadside of old falsehoods” against Soviet Russia. Journalist and American Defense Society functionary R.M. Whitney, author of a series of articles in the Boston Evening Transcript based upon seized documents from the Bridgman raid, is attacked for heading an amalgam of “100 Percent Plus” organizations which were engaged in an offensive against “such friends of Soviet Russia” as Paxten Hibben, Charles Recht, and Anna Louise Strong. The Socialist Party is attacked for “trailing with the same crowd,” a reference to the SP’s ongoing effort along with others in the international Socialist movement to win release of the members of the Socialist Revolutionary Party imprisoned in Soviet Russia in 1922. Former SP publicist William Walling is singled out for his ongoing diatribes against Soviet Russia in the pages of The American Federationist. All of these disparate critics of Soviet Russia and the Workers Party of America are likened to a pack of cowardly jackals, hunting in a group and attempting with their howls to keep out of the newspapers “any small particle of Communist truth that might drift into them from the Michigan courtroom.”


“Open Letter to the Members and the CEC of the Proletarian Party of America from O.W. Kuusinen, Secretary-General of ECCI, April 7, 1923.” In the spring of 1923, the Workers Party of America put on a full court press attempting to win over the members of the Proletarian Party of America to its ranks. This letter by the Secretary-General of the Executive Committee of the Communist International makes the appeal in no uncertain terms: “The whole Proletarian Party must join the Workers Party of America. All who accept the leadership of the Communist International must be inside the ranks. The Proletarian Party as the last detached organized remnant today asserting communist principles and adhering to the ideas of the Communist International must no longer delay in becoming part of the unified revolutionary working class movement of America.” The PPA is lauded for its “valuable educational work in Marxism” through the conducting of study classes, lectures, and street meetings. At the same time, it is held that the PPA “overestimated the value of purely educational activity,” which to be effective must be applied through participation in the mass revolutionary movement. “The party organizing the workers must have as its tactic the getting of larger and larger masses into action until ultimately the big mass of workers will be prepared for the final struggle for power,” Kuusinen states. Kuusinen calls the isolation of the small Proletarian Party “tragic” and urges the members of the PPA to “join the Workers Party, to accept the program, constitution, and decisions adopted by the last convention of the party, and help to develop it into the revolutionary mass party of the American working class.”


“C.E. Ruthenberg in New York to the Executive Committee of the Communist International in Moscow on the Dissolution of the Communist Party of America, April 11, 1923.” Official notification by the Secretary of the Workers Party of America that the Third National Convention of the Communist Party of America [April 7, 1923] had adopted a decision “to dissolve the underground party, leaving the Workers Party of America as the only Party having relations with the Comintern.” Ruthenberg states while at present the name of the Workers Party and formal status of its affiliation with the Comintern as a “fraternal party” needed to remain unchanged, nevertheless the new unitary body should be accorded full rights of a member party of the Communist movement—the right of its members to transfer into membership of other member parties, including the Russian Communist Party, and full voice and vote for its delegates to Congresses and other sessions of the Communist International.


“Official Notification of Dissolution from the Communist Party of America to the Workers Party of America, April 11, 1923.” Pro forma letter by C.E. Ruthenberg to himself announcing the unanimous decision of the Communist Party of America by that organization’s Third National Convention to dissolve the organization. The letter states that henceforth, any organization calling itself “Communist” is actually “an impostor and an enemy of the Communist International” which “should be exposed as such by every Communist and every class conscious worker.” Communists are called upon to accept the discipline of the Workers Party of America as “a sacred duty” and that organization was duly authorized “when it deems it desirable, to adopt the name ‘Communist Party of America.’” The Third Convention of the CPA was a one day affair held on Saturday, April 7, 1923; this letter and a similar letter to the Communist International written in the name of the CPA on the following Wednesday may be regarded as the moment of formal termination.


“Report on the American Party Situation to the Enlarged Executive Committee of the Communist International, April 11, 1923.” This is an official report by the “Secretariat” of the Workers Party of America (C.E. Ruthenberg - Executive Secretary; Josef Pogány - Political Secretary; Abraham Jakira - Secretary for Confidential Work) to the Enlarged ECCI summarizing the American party’s work. A monthly dues-paying membership of “approximately 18,000” is claimed. The three old factions (“Liquidators,” “Goose Caucus” and the “Opposition” [Central Caucus faction] are declared eliminated. Instead, three “tendencies” are said to now exist in the party—a small “right” group opposed to underground organization, a small “left” group which considers underground operations the most important aspect of the party, and “the great majority” of party members who support the primacy of the open party. Details are provided about the Labor Defense Committee, the campaign to protect Foreign-born workers, the amalgamation campaign in the trade unions, the anti-Fascist campaign intitated by the WPA’s Itallian section, and the ongoing drive to establish an American labor party. The costs of legal defense of the Bridgman defendants are held to be oneroous: “We have been obliged to put all our energy into the work of raising money for the defense of the comrades arrested at Bridgman, for which tens of thousands of dollars have been needed. This has made it impossible for us to raise money for other party purposes and has left us in a very difficult financial situation. The needs of defense will require all the money we can raise for a considerable time to come.”.


“American Legion Has Another Brainstorm: Break Up Labor Defense Council Meeting in Kansas City Thus Preventing Another Revolution.” (Miami Valley Socialist) [report of April 13, 1923] Brief journalistic account of unconstitutional action engaged in by the ultra-nationalist ex-soldiers’ organization, the American Legion. A peaceful public meeting in Kansas City of the Communist Party’s legal defense organization, the Labor Defense Council, was raided by the unholy alliance of American Legionnaires and local police. “According to reports appearing in the Kansas City daily press the raid was made on information given by the local American Legion Secret Service,” it is noted, with this news report adding sarcastically that “it was not explained why it was necessary for any undercover sleuths to ‘discover’ the meeting, which was given all the publicity and advertising that the local Labor Defense Council could secure.” Four local trade unionists were arrested at the meeting. “Ella Reeve Bloor, who was the speaker at the meeting, was not molested. She announced as the crowd was being chased out of the hall by the dicks and Legion that a mass meeting would be held on Sunday, April 15 [1923], and the authority of the police and the power of the Legion to stop peaceful assemblages will be tested.”


“Ruthenberg Second Michigan Defendant: Prosecution Jolted When First Juror Called Voices Opposition to Criminal Syndicalism Law,” by Joe Carroll [April 27, 1923] Federated Press news account of the first day of the C.E. Ruthenberg trial for alleged violation of the Michigan Criminal Syndicalism law for participation in the August 1922 Convention of the Communist Party of America at Bridgman, MI. “The veniremen questioned seemed to be either overanxious to get on the jury, or else equally overanxious to avoid such service,” reporter Carroll notes. Interestingly, the prosecution listed the name of Louis Loeber among the potential witnesses in the trial, an individual who was believed by Carroll to be a second undercover government agent attending the Bridgman Convention as a delegate. Two veniremen had passed muster and been named to the jury after the first day of questioning; there were no women in the venire of 30 for the Ruthenberg trial.


“The Workers Party and May Day,” by C.E. Ruthenberg. [April 28, 1923] A short May Day message from “The Worker” in which the head of the Workers Party of America contrasts the current situation with the grim days of 1920, when outcast American Communists, “despised and ignored,” were “driven underground, their organization destroyed.” by way of contrast, the party was in 1923 “on the road to becoming that powerful influence in the labor movement” in providing “leadership and direction in the struggle against capitalism.” It was the successful launch of the legal WPA that was responsible for this change of fortunes, this article implies.



“On Trial in Michigan,” by William Z. Foster. [May 1923] On April 4, 1923, after 31 hours of deliberation and 36 ballots, the jury in the William Z. Foster case resulting from the Aug. 1922 Bridgman Raid was declared deadlocked 6-6 and dismissed, resulting in a mistrial. This is Foster’s interesting personal account of the trial, written in the immediate aftermath of the proceeding and published in the pages of the monthly TUEL journal, The Labor Herald. Foster noted that his case had been rightfully made into a test of Free Speech rights and that the mistrial represented a major defeat to the forces behind the case: the federal Department of Justice and the Burns Detective Agency. Foster asserts that government agent Francis Morrow was a provocateur who voted repeatedly for maintenance of the underground party at the Bridgman convention and who lied repeatedly on the stand in an effort to bolster the government’s case for conviction.


“Michigan in the Muck,” by Eugene V. Debs. [May 1923] Article on the heated legal battle in Michigan over the August 1922 raid of the Communist Party of America’s Bridgman, Michigan convention published in the pages of The Liberator. Debs, the most widely recognized member of the Socialist Party’s National Executive Committee, unleashes a barrage on the “idiotic and criminal ‘criminal syndicalist’ law enacted by political crooks to seal the lips of industrial slaves” in Michigan. Debs charges that “The communists had as good a right to hold a convention in the state of Michigan and to discuss their affairs and formulate their program, any kind of a program that stopped short of the actual commission of crime penalized under the law, as the graft-infested Republican and Democratic parties have to hold such a convention.” The Michigan prosecutions were nothing but a “foul assault upon the Constitution and upon the elemental rights of citizenship,” according to Debs.


“Monster Political Convention of the Workers of America, Chicago, July 3, 1923.” Every Local Union, Central Body, Farm Organization, State, National, and International Body and Political Group Invited. A Chance at Last for Bringing About United Action of the Workers of Hand and Brain on the Political Field. [Circa May 1923] Convention call of the Farmer-Labor Party of the United States (J.G. Brown, Secretary) to a July 3, 1923 gathering in Chicago called for the purpose of “devising means for knitting together the many organizations in this country in such a manner as will enable the workers to really function politically.” While established national organizations were already invited, “the National Committee felt the rank and file should also be represented, and it was therefore voted to send credentials to all local and central labor and farm bodies in the United States and urge that delegates be sent to this most important convention.” Local organizations had simply to elect a delegate, have the President and Secretary sign and stamp the form, and return a duplicate slip by mail to the Farmer-Labor Party of the United States in Chicago.


“For a Labor Party: Addenda to the Second Edition, May 15, 1923,” by John Pepper. There were three editions of the pamphlet For a Labor Party produced over the course of 1922-23, the second and third of which added additional commentary reflecting the developing situation. This document collects the vast majority of changed material from the original October 15, 1922, document (available as a separate file). Pepper excoriates the action of the Socialist Party delegates to the December 1922 Cleveland gathering of the Conference for Progressive Political Action, blaming them for the failure of the gathering to launch the Labor Party anxiously sought by rank and file trade unionists and poor farmers. Instead, the gathering chose to temporize, barring the Workers Party from participation, passing a virtually meaningless and watered down middle class platform, and following the AF of L’s line of non-partisan political action (“rewarding friends and punishing enemies”). The decision of the Socialist Party not to aggressively pursue an independent federated Labor Party was an act of premeditated treason against the working class, in Pepper’s view. It was left to the Farmer-Labor Party, which bolted the CPPA following it’s defeat of a proposal to form a Labor Party, to organize this new federative group and a call for a July 3, 1923, Convention to found a new party had been issued. This July 3 Convention would “represent hundreds of thousands, and will be the first real step to an organization of a mass party of the American working class,” Pepper asserts, adding that “the idea of a Labor Party is advancing, and it can no longer be stopped.”.


“Letter No. 13 to the Central Executive Committee of the Workers Party of America in New York from Israel Amter in Moscow, May 16, 1923. One of the periodic updates by American CI Rep Amter detailing events in Moscow for the Workers Party of America at home. Amter obliquely details terms of Comintern support for an English language daily newspaper (using fractions code to hide the actual numbers). He emphasizes that “the understanding, I want to repeat, is that we will get what I asked for” in terms of financial support from the CI. As for the CI’s requirement that a portion of the funds for the Daily Worker be raised by the American Party itself, “what they want is the assurance that the party will make the proper effort to help itself,” Amter observes. Amter makes note of a May 1923 war scare over sabre-rattling by Great Britain. “The threat of rupture of relations with Great Britain has produced a tremendous effect. Hundreds of thousands of workers spontaneously protested against the attitude of the British government and the danger of war. And yet, although the Russian workers want peace, there is the greatest determination in case war should result. The demonstrations were even more gigantic than the May Day demonstrations. And these demonstrations show the wonderful power of the Party—they show the enormous influence that the Party wields.”



“Ruthenberg Convicted,” by Jay Lovestone. [June 1923] The second trial springing from the August 1922 raid of the Bridgman Convention of the Communist Party of America saw Executive Secretary of the Workers Party of America C.E. Ruthenberg in the dock. This article from The Liberator by former and future CPA Executive Secretary Jay Lovestone details the course of the trial, which resulted in a conviction of Ruthenberg under the Michigan “Criminal Syndicalism” law. Lovestone attributes the success of the prosecution to a number of factors: avoidance of mistakes made in the earlier Foster trial, the greater ease of linking Ruthenberg to actual membership in the Communist Party, the Michigan law by which only registered property-owners could serve on a jury, and one-sided instructions by the judge to the jury in which it was stated that “the advocacy of Soviets and of the dictatorship of the proletariat might impliedly be taken as an advocacy of force.”.


“The Second Round at St. Joseph,” by C.E. Ruthenberg [June 1923] While the trial of William Z. Foster for participation in the convention of the underground Communist Party of America at Bridgman, Michigan, in August 1923 resulted in a hung jury, the prosecution’s second attempt to break the leadership of the Communist Party met with success, when Executive Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg was convicted of having violated Michigan’s Criminal Syndicalism statute. The unfortunate defendant, writing in the pages of the Trade Union Educational League’s monthly magazine (probably because the defense organization, the Labor Defense Council, was targeted at the American trade union movement, with TUEL the logical conduit), attributes this unfortunate result to a Right Wing jury and a prosecution which had learned from its previous mistakes. Witnesses for the prosecution were generally practiced and efficient. Instead of allowing Ruthenberg to expound on the Communist philosophy for days on end, a steady stream of objections were launched when Ruthenberg sat on the witness stand in his own defense, breaking the flow. Finally, the instruction to the jury by Judge White was decidedly less libertarian than that issued in the Foster trial, when it was allowed that the Communists “had the right to advocate the establishment of a Soviet Government in the United States.” In the second case, the judge had added that “the prosecution claimed that the advocacy of Soviets in itself included the advocacy of violence as the Soviets could not be established without a resort to force and told the jury if it found this was true they must convict.” While unofficial reports indicated that the jury had split 9-3 for two ballots, in the Ruthenberg case a conviction was rendered, thus forcing the Communist Party into a precarious legal position, with the liberty of virtually its entire leadership hanging in the balance.


“Report from Alfred Wagenknecht (DO#14) in Wilkes Barre, PA to the National Office of the WPA, June 4, 1923.” Workers Party District 14 (the second use of this number) was established in mid-1923, incorporating certain Pennsylvania mining towns formerly included in other districts. The DO of this new district was Alfred Wagenknecht, living in Wilkes Barre. This is an interesting early report from Wagenknecht to the center detailing the composition of party branches in D14 and the activities of the Workers Party in the “progressive miners” movement, including conferences for each of the United Mine Workers union’s districts within the new WPA district. Wagenknecht laments the lack of English speaking cadres, noting that “we are handicapped by not having one English speaking WP member in these three anthracite districts.” He asks for the transfer of a good speaker from Illinois. He also asks that Antonas Bimba be sent to work amongst the Lithuanian miners in the region “for some weeks.”.


“Statement in Reply to the Socialist Party’s Decision Not to Participate in the July 1923 Convention of the Farmer-Labor Party of the United States, circa June 23, 1923,” by Jay G. Brown Disappointment and pique is palpable in this response of the National Secretary of the Farmer-Labor Party of the United States to the June 19, 1923 declination of the Socialist Party of America to participate in the forthcoming July 3 convention of the FLPUS—a special gathering which was intended to attempt to unite the political activities of various working class political parties under a common banner in the 1924 elections. The 1923 SPA convention had appointed a committee to reply to the FLPUS before its adjournment on May 22, but a reply had not been received until fully a month later, and this only after the letter of declination was first published in the pages of the New York Call. “To profess a desire for unity and then refuse to discuss means of achieving it is not a very consistent attitude. To withhold sending a communication for 30 days was discourteous; to publish the letter before mailing it was to capitalize the discourtesy,” Brown declares. “The action of the Socialist Party has been a disappointment to the Farmer-Labor Party,” Brown states, adding that the Farmer-Labor Party “felt the Socialist Party would be the last group to refuse. No obligation was exacted in advance, no expense was entailed, no pledge to abide by the findings was required.” With the Socialist Party opting out, the Farmer-Labor Party was faced with the prospect of conducting a joint convention in just 10 days time with potential allies on the far Left with whom it shared less in common—the Workers Party of America and the Proletarian Party of America.


“Letter No. 16 to the Central Executive Committee of the Workers Party of America in New York from Israel Amter in Moscow, June 26, 1923.” Periodic update by the WPA’s Rep to the Comintern Israel Amter detailing events in Moscow for the party leadership at home. In this lengthy communique, Amter notes recently attending sessions of the Profintern with Charley Janson [Scott, Johnson]. At one of these Amter says “ I got into the trade union resolution the clause that : ’It is the duty of every member of the Communist International to join his union and work actively with the Communist faction, i.e. in the revolutionary opposition movement,’ etc. etc.... That will be a great aid in getting the comrades to join. In fact it was pointed out that no one should be allowed to be a member unless he joins—that it should be regarded as a matter of course that he joins a union.” This reflects once again the way that the early Comintern and Profintern were a two way street—not a narrow circle of bureaucrats blindly issuing dictatorial and universally binding instructions, but rather a centralized organization with international representation and input. In other matters, Amter notes that 3rd quarter funding for the WPA remains locked up: “The next will go forward ONLY AFTER YOU HAVE SENT A STATEMENT.” A fundraising campaign to establish an English language daily newspaper is greenlighted, the origin of the idea for the Comintern to provied a targeted grant only after the WPA makes an earnest effort to raise funds itself is reveal to have started with Amter, who writes: “ I myself proposed that what they would do for us should be done only when and if we did our share—as stated. They accepted. I knew that would spur on our members to greater efforts.” Amter asks for more WPA literature to be sent and for closer ties of American defense organizations with the MOPR. “It is necessary to centralize and coordinate all the prisoners’ relief activities so that international actions can be achieved,” Amter declares, indicating that the Labor Defense Council and National Defense Council should affiliate themselves with the Moscow-based international organization forthwith.



“The Role of the Workers Party,” by C.E. Ruthenberg. [July 1923] A somewhat mistitled article from The Liberator in which Workers Party of America Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg recounts the split of the socialist movement into right and left wings. Ruthenberg dates this split back to the 1914 start of the European War, which prompted an “inevitable sundering” in which the “reformist right wing leaders in the socialist movement the world over betrayed the workers and supported the capitalist governments in the imperialist war,” while “the left wing endeavored to rally the workers for the struggle against imperialist war and to turn this war into a struggle against the capitalist system.” Ruthenberg sidesteps the fact that in America the overwhelming majority of the Socialist Party backed the anti-militarist St. Louis Resolution of 1917, which he himself co-authored. The tasks of the Communists in America included amalgamation of the unions, education of the masses as to the necessity of replacing capitalist rule with worker rule (“the Dictatorship of the Proletariat”), and formation of a Labor Party, according to Ruthenberg.


“The Declaration of Independence of the American Working Class,” by John Pepper. [July 1923] The Hungarian revolutionary Jozsef Pogany [“John Pepper”] came to the United States in 1922 to assist with the Hungarian-language Federation of the American party and soon became one of the Workers Party’s most authoritative voices. Throughout his tenure in America, Pepper was an outspoken advocate for the formation of an American Labor Party—with Communist participation in that organization as a constituent body. In this July 1923 article from The Liberator, Pepper likens the forthcoming July 3-4 date of the Convention of the Farmer-Labor Party to the July 4, 1776, American Declaration of Independence, stating that it will mark the beginning of the formation of a “genuine Labor Party.” The Republican and Democratic Parties had virtually nothing to differentiate one from the other, Pepper stated, whereas “only an independent political party of the working class can represent the interests of the laboring masses of the factories and farms.”.


“Report of the National Secretary to the Convention of the Farmer-Labor Party of the United States: Street Car Men’s Hall, Chicago—July 3, 1923,” by Jay G. Brown Text of the keynote speech of National Secretary Jay G. Brown to the convention of the Farmer-Labor Party of the United States. Brown recounts the FLP’s disappointment with the Conference for Progressive Political Action, which it broke with in Dec. 1922 over the CPPA’s refusal to endorse independent political action of the working class (i.e. a 3rd Party). Brown indicates that the traditional policy of the AF of L of “rewarding friends and punishing enemies” has been a failure, leading to anti-labor policies and a diminution of civil liberties from Republican and Democratic administrations alike. “it is amazing that the workers of both fields and factories can be induced to support candidates of the Republican and Democrat Parties rather than massing their political strength in a party of their own,” Brown declares. A “federated” labor party is called for by Brown, in which affiliated organizations might retain their organizational identity in a broad effort under an umbrella organization. Brown posits the FLPUS as just this umbrella organization: “it is worthwhile calling attention to the structure of the Farmer-Labor Party itself. It is provided therein that political, economic, and cooperative groups may become affiliated without being required to forfeit any of their individual autonomy. If the present Farmer-Labor Party could be constituted as or converted into the central body of a federation it would have the advantage of being already established, and in quite a number of states has the standing of a recognized political party. Moreover, there are several hundred local labor organizations already affiliated with it.” An agenda for the convention is proposed, in which the convention of the FLPUS would adjourn, to be replaced by a conference of those gathered attempting to forge a program and structure for join federative action; thereafter the proposals of this non-binding conference would be referred back to the FLPUS and other affiliating organizations for consideration.


“FLP Disowns the New Party: Workers Party Takes Advantage of its Position as Guest to Start Dual Movement,” by Robert M. Buck [events of July 3-6, 1923] After adjourning as the convention of the Farmer-Labor Party of the United States, delegates in Chicago reformed as a conference to forge a non-binding umbrella organization for joint federative action of various working class political organizations and trade unions. The Workers Party of America, which had organized the election of delegates to the FLP convention and conference, prepared a program, and conducted itself as an organized caucus, found itself in a position of hegemony vis-a-vis the Farmer-Labor Party of the United States in the gathering. Rather than set up and recommend a non-binding federative umbrella, the conference set upon establishing a formal federative party organization, passing a constitution and program and electing officers. Thus was born the Federated Farmer-Labor Party. The FLPUS, intent upon its original vision of a non-binding recommendation subject to approval by each federating organization (and intent as well on retaining hegemony over the new organization) recoiled from the WPA-inspired new party, walked out of its own conference, and launched an acrimonious blast at the communists. “The Farmer-Labor Party was graciously allowed 2 representatives on a committee of 29, some members being added to the committee on the floor of the convention at the last moment,” New Majority editor Robert Buck snidely notes. Upon the reporting of a new constitution to the conference, “the Farmer-Labor Party members, reporting as a minority, said that the Farmer-Labor Party could not accept the new plan, which set up a new party dual to the Farmer-Labor Party, in that it was almost a duplication by its form of organization, and further, that the majority of the committee proposed to steal the name of the party that invited them to the conference.” The Farmer-Labor Party met again in a snap convention on July 6, 1923, Buck notes, with WPA and other non-FLPUS delegates excluded. After 4 hours of heated debate, a motion to appoint 5 members to the National Executive Committee of the new FFLP was decisively defeated and the breach between the two Farmer-Labor Parties was formalized. “The Farmer-Labor Party remained intact following this severance, except for its Washington state branch, the delegates of which bolted the convention and attached themselves to the new party,” Buck notes, additionally slinging the epithet that those delegates seeking to remain in the Federated FLP rather than sticking with the FLPUS after its break with the new organization were “bolters.”


“The FLP Convention,” by Robert M. Buck [events of July 3-6, 1923] Editor Robert Buck of The New Majority presents an editorial review of the happenings of the eventful July 3, 1923 convention that saw the formation (and subsequent disavowal) of the Federated Farmer-Labor Party (FFLP). The Farmer-Labor Party of the United States (FLPUS) was uniquely suited to serve as the umbrella organization for a British Labour Party-style federative organization, in Buck’s view; it alone of the existing working class parties accepted memberships from affiliated organizations on a per capita basis—the others being based solely upon individual memberships. This fact implied that the organization should first establish deep roots with affiliated unions rather than attempt to forge working agreements with “other groups having a definite and different philosophy than its own, until such time as it, the central organization, the Farmer-Labor Party, should have worked up substantial strength of its own,” Buck states. Still, a section of the FLPUS sought alliance with other parties of the Left to consolidate their appeal to the working class, and the July 3 convention was called to attempt to reach a working agreement with these other Left organizations, particularly with the Socialist Party of America and the Workers Party of America. The SPA was “ not ready for unity except with themselves” and declined to even send a fraternal delegate to the July 3 convention, leaving only the WPA as the target for united action. “Reports came into the party headquarters that the Workers Party was packing the conference with delegates from trade unions in which they had enough members to have their own people named as delegates,” Buck states, but the FLPUS did not burden themselves with much concern about this, since the convention was perceived as preparatory and subject to the ratification of the various constituent organizations. However, “instead of a program for a plan to be carried back by the delegates to their several constituents,” the gathering hastily moved upon a “plan for immediate organization, including the election of a new National Executive Committee, not in the future, but by that conference, then and there, which they had packed and which they controlled,” Buck declares. The “guests” had failed to “behave themselves,” and the FLPUS had moved to disassociate itself organizationally from the new FFLP. Instead of joint action between the FLPUS and the WPA, greater factional confusion had been the perverse result of the convention, with the formation of a “dual” Farmer-Labor Party in addition to the already existing organizations.



“Statement of Principles of the Federated Farmer-Labor Party: A document of the National Convention establishing the FFLP held at Chicago, July 3-5, 1923.” During the 4th of July holiday in 1923 a conference was held in Chicago, conceived in large measure by the Workers Party of America as the vehicle for its united front efforts, which established the “Federated Farmer-Labor Party.” This document is a statement of political principles of this new organization, which united elements of the old state Farmer-Labor Parties with representatives of sundry workers’, farmers’, and radical political organizations under the de facto direction of the WPA. “Today the government of the United States is a government of, for, and by Wall Street and the financial and industrial system it represents,” the document states. As a result “only one road lies open for the industrial workers and farmers to protect themselves against the exploitation and oppression of the financial and industrial lords who rule this country—to organize a political party representing the interests of the industrial workers and farmers and enter into the political arena to wrest control of the government from the hands of the financial and industrial masters who now rule in this country.”.


“Organization Rules of the Federated Farmer-Labor Party: A document of the National Convention establishing the FFLP held at Chicago, July 3-5, 1923.” Constitution of the Federated Farmer-Labor Party approved by the founding convention of the organization. The group was to be directed between conventions by a National Executive Committee based upon proportional representation of affiliated organizations with a designated set-aside of 5 for the old Farmer-Labor Party. This National Executive Committee in turn was to elect a 7 member Executive Council, the National Secretary, and National Chairman of the organization. Dues were to be either on an at large ($1 per year) or per capita affiliation (1 cent per member per month) basis.


“On Louis C. Fraina: An Excerpt from Israel Amter’s No. 17 from Moscow to the Central Executive Committee, WPA, in New York. July 5, 1923.” Excerpt from letter no. 17 from the WPA’s man in Moscow, Israel Amter. Amter responds to the news that Louis C. Fraina has returned to New York with words of warning. Having spoken with Osip Piatnitsky about Fraina, Amter says with emphasis: “THEY ARE THROUGH WITH HIM. THEY DON’T WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH HIM. I hope that this will be a guide for us. I trust that there is no fool in the US who will attempt to put him into the ranks again.... He has a weakness for drink, women and, I understand, for cards. That is enough to keep him out, regardless of his ability.... And just at this time, when so many shady characters and worse are being found in our ranks, to add him would be to undermine the party and hand it over to the D of J. Frankly, I do not trust him.”.


“The Nucleus in America: A Secret Memo on Party Organization from the Executive Committee of the Communist International to the Central Executive Committee of the WPA, July 11, 1923.” The underground Communist Party of America was formally liquidated at a convention starting April 7, 1923, in New York City. This secret memo, probably written by Grigorii Zinoviev, reminds the WPA that despite the complete move to an “open” party, “American comrades would be greatly mistaken if they cherished the illusion that hence forward they will be in a position to carry on their work unhindered exclusively in a legal organization.” The memo instructs the party to base itself on a new form of organization based upon “factory nuclei” of three or more communists in a single workplace, with isolated individuals assigned to specific nuclei by the relevant party committee. This structure would allow for a quick transition to underground work should the need arise, the memo indicates. Importantly, these nuclei are to be comprised without respect to the native language of the participants—language groups are henceforth to be territorially-based propaganda organizations with multi-national factory nuclei the basis of organization. Due to the widely scattered nature of American production and the relative unimportance of the factory in daily life, geographic organizations are also to be permitted, says the memo. The WPA is to centralize its press, make use of all available legal means of agitation for communism, to mandate union membership of its members, to coordinate its defense organization with International Red Aid, and to play closer attention to conspiratorial methods—“even to the extent of removing comrades most responsible in this respect from responsible party work, and even exclusion from the party.”.


“Report on the United States: From May 10 to July 25, 1923.” [Selections] by Israel Amter Extensive excerpts taken from the lengthy digest of the news prepared for the Comintern by Israel Amter. Includes a strong section on the July 3 Convention establishing the Federated Farmer-Labor Party including self-critical views of the tactics employed by the WPA in conjunction with the gathering. Also includes material on the June 27 convention of the Pennsylvania district of the United Mine Workers Union which preceded and influenced the FFLP conclave. Also included is the TUEL view of the Industrial Workers of the World, which is characterized of being composed of “four bona fide unions” worthy of support, with 36,000 members—lumber, agricultural, marine transport, and general construction—and 20 pseudo-unions with 1900 members which should be “absorbed into the mass organizations of the AF of L.” In addition to general economic and political reviews is included coverage on the May 1923 convention of the Socialist Party (whose claim of 12,000 members was “very doubtful”) and the June gathering of the Young Workers League (with 2,000 members claimed).



“The Farmers in the New Party,” by Hal M. Ware. [August 1923] While a great deal of analysis has been lavished upon the relationship between the Communist Party and the trade union movement during the Federated Farmer-Labor Party interlude of 1923-24, little effort has been spent on examining the relationship of the radical farmer movement to the new organization. This short article, written by the leading CP specialist in agricultural affairs of the first years of the 1920s, casts the relationship in a glowing light. Farmers were burdened by staggering debt, Ware says. He states they were ready to forge a coalition in a new political organization dedicated to addressing their specific needs, rather than continued reliance upon “farmer friends” in the legislative branch, with their “miserable patchwork legislation.”.


“The Federated Farmer-Labor Party,” by William Z. Foster. [August 1923] This long day-by-day account of the founding convention of the Federated Farmer-Labor Party (July 3-5, 1923) was written in the immediate afterrmath of the gathering by William Z. Foster. This piece, published in the pages of the monthly magazine of the Trade Union Educational League, is gushingly upbeat and positive in its characterization of the founding convention: “Marked by a tremendous outburst of militancy and enthusiasm, it was a vibrant, thrilling, overwhelming demand by the rank and file of agricultural and industrial labor for the formation of a powerful political party of the toilers. Nobody who attended its sessions will ever forget them.” While Foster would very soon come to regard the WPA’s ideologically blinkered Farmer-Labor Party policy and TUEL’s subsequent loss of contacts and influence in the labor movement as the greatest of debacles—fuel for the factional war inside the Workers Party over the next several years—at this precise moment he was positively ebullient about the organization’s prospects, it’s founding marking a new epoch in American political history: “A mass party, led by militants, embodying the vital idea of a united political organization of workers and farmers, and operating in the midst of the present industrial and agricultural discontent, it is full of dynamic possibilities,” Foster declared. Foster dismissed the “supposed [old] Farmer-Labor Party bolt” as a “lie widely spread,” and he asserted that “the fact is that the most militant elements in the FLP, carrying with them the bulk of the organization, have declared for the new party.”.


“Report on the 3rd Enlarged Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (Held in Moscow, June 12-23, 1923),” by Israel Amter [Aug. 1, 1923] Very lengthy official report on the proceedings of the 3rd Plenum of the Enlarged ECCI by Workers Party of America delegate Israel Amter—distributed to the party press with instructions from the CEC of the Party to translate and publish. Amter delves into the limitations of “Democratic Centralism” —stating that the Congress of the CI, not the national parties themselves, must have the power to determine the membership of ECCI and that the CI must have the power to alter the composition of national party leaderships, when necessary. With regards to religion, Amter states that the ECCI has taken the position that religious belief is a private matter between the individual and the state, but that Communist Parties exist not only to liberate workers economically and politically, but also ideologically, and that they “will not fail to conduct educational work for enlightening the workers on the nature and content of religion, and to free them from its domination.” Amter relates the ECCI’s position on the the world political situation, with special emphasis on Bulgaria, Germany, England,and France. The new slogan of “Workers’ and Farmers’ Government” was approved by the 3rd Plenum, Amter states, with credit for the slogan attributed to the Workers Party of America by Zinoviev. The importance of Anti-Fascist organization, trade union work, and the implementation of the “factory nucleus” form of party organization are noted by Amter.



“The Yellow Streak in Coal,” by J. Louis Engdahl. [Sept. 1923] During the first half of the 1920s the most volatile sector of the American economy was that of coal mining —a wave of strikes swept the country. This wave of militacy found reflection in the United Mine Workers Association, as insurgent leaders like Alexander Howat of Kansas came to the fore, clashing with the established leadership of the union, led by John L. Lewis. This article, published in the Communist Party press in September 1923, details the struggle between the Trade Union Education League-backed UMWA militants and the leadership of the International Union. Engdahl characterizes the militants and reflective of the desires of the rank-and-file and the established leadership as corrupt and collusionist.


Advertisement Requsting TUEL Members to Purchase Shares in the Daily Worker Publishing Co. [Sept. 1923] Machine-readable text of an advertisement in the monthly organ of the Trade Union Educational League soliciting the purchase of $5 shares of “preferred stock” in The Workers Publishing Co. A fundraising drive to raise $100,000 to fund the Daily Worker was hereby announced, with the paper to be launched by the Workers Party of America in Chicago on November 7, 1923—the 6th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. While the paper was to be published in Chicago, funds for shares of stock were to be sent to 799 Broadway in New York City.


“Let Us Build,” by Eugene V. Debs. [Sept. 1923] From the time of his imprisonment in 1919 until the end of his life, Gene Debs tirelessly argued against factionalism within the radical movement. In this article from the Socialist Party’s official organ, Debs rues the energy lost to factional infighting and calls for an end to namecalling (“reds” vs. “yellows) in the party. He colorfully remarks that “I know a good many of both, and so far as I am able to discern, they are much alike. The actual difference between them, were it fire, would hardly be enough to light a cigarette.” Debs does utter stern tones when he observes that “there is room enough” in the Socialist Party “for everyone who subscribes to its principles and upholds them in good faith; but there is no room in it for those who either openly sneer at political action or who avow it falsely to mask their treachery while they carry on their work of disruption.” Debs calls for unity of effort in a period of protracted party building and press building.


“Detroit Central Cans New Party: Refuses to Affiliate with FFLP as Not Representing Farmers or Labor,” by Robert M. Buck [Aug. 4, 1923] While the Farmer-Labor Party of the United States generally maintained an almost religious silence towards other political organizations on the Left, the perceived hijacking of the group’s July 1923 convention and establishment of a new organization bearing the FLP name was a bitter pill to swallow. A bit of factional mirth can be discerned in this New Majority news report of the new Federated Farmer-Labor Party’s difficulty in maintaining adherents. The latest defection was that of the Detroit Federation of Labor, which after a 2 week investigation had overturned the decision of its Executive Board to affiliate. In its official statement of disassociation, the Detroit Federation stated: “The statement has been made that the Federated Farmer-Labor Party was organized by the rank and file of farmers and laborers and not formed from the top down by big officials. An analysis of the representation at the convention would seem to indicate that it was organized from the outside with a view of imposing it upon the labor movement.” The claimed affiliated of membership appeared to be inflated, the Detroit Federation stated, adding: “The Detroit Federation of Labor would be very unwise if it would allow itself to be stampeded into an abortive attempt to organize a labor party, the reaction from which is apt to set back the organization of an actual farmer-labor party.”


“Attempt to Murder Foster! Gunmen Burst in on Union Meeting and Open Fire on Labor Leader as He Commenced Speaking at Protest Meeting Against Expulsion of Garments Unionists by Perlstein,” by Jack Johnstone [events of Aug. 27, 1923] One of the little-known details about the life of William Z. Foster is that he survived an attempt against his life by a gunman, as this news report from the Workers Party’s Chicago English language weekly recounts. Foster was speaking before nearly 2,000 at Carmen’s Auditorium in Chicago at a mass meeting called to protest the expulsion of a number of TUEL activists by the General Executive Board of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union. “Foster had just commenced speaking, when suddenly the door to the right of the platform was thrown open and 3 shots fired - all of them at Foster, who owes his life to the fact that the gunmen were so anxious to cover their faces that it interfered with their aim. The gunmen came up the fire escape and went out the same way,” Johnstone notes. Johnstone indicates that this attempt at Foster’s life came only after a failed attempt by ILGWU partisans to disrupt the meeting by steadily heckling each speaker. The meeting passed a resolution, included here, condemning the expulsions and urging the GEB of the ILGWU to reconsider its actions.



“The Story of the British Labour Party,” by Morris Hillquit [Sept. 1923] The stunning success of the British Labour Party in realigning the two-party system of that nation during the first two decades of the 20th Century served as a practical model for both the Socialist Party of America and the Workers (Communist) Party, each in their own way. This article by SPA leader Morris Hillquit in the party’s official organ recounted the path of success in Great Britain. It was there that “a series of intense industrial struggles in which the powers of the government werre openly and consistently arrayed on the side of the employers and against labor,” prompting the British Trades Union Congress to pass a resolution in 1899 calling for a conference of trade unions, socialist parties, cooperative societies, and other labor organizations to devise means for gaining better representation in the House of Commons. This conference evolved into the British Labour Party, which had received a full third of the vote and emerged as the primary opposition group in the 1922 national elections. “With the crying needs for political relief in this country and with the exaqmple and ready methods of England back of us we can form a powerful Labor Party in this country today; we can challenge the supremacy of the old parties in a few years,” Hillquit hopefully opined.


“Police Report that Real Bullets Were Fired at W.Z. Foster,” by Carl Haessler [Sept. 8, 1923] Whether the gunman that fired three shots at William Z. Foster at an August 27 TUEL protest meeting was actually trying to kill him was a matter of some debate in the mainstream press, with the Right Wing Chicago Tribune twice levying the charge that the entire incident was a fake planned by Foster and his associates to garner publicity and support. This article by Carl Haessler of the Federated Press quotes Detective Sergeant Crowley of the Chicago police: “From our investigation we have no reason to believe the Tribune statement that the shooting was ‘faked,’” reads Crowley’s statement, adding that “we have not caught the assailant, but are working on the case.” Haessler also cites the unnamed manager of Carmen’s Hall: “The manager of the hall declares that he had noticed a number of interrupters who were getting ready for more pronounced action and he spoke to them asking who they were. They told him, he says, that they were members of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. He advised them to abandon their tactics and for a while there was quiet. Then after Foster had begun speaking a man in the audience near the emergency exit tapped loudly on the bottom of a seat. Immediately afterwards, the door suddenly opened, a single gunman fired, masking his face with one arm, and fled.” Haessler states that “The bullet holes were plainly visible to me. They were evidently made through hasty pulling of the trigger while the gunman brought the revolver down forearm to level it at Foster. The first bullet narrowly missed a huge inverted electric light bowl, of which there were 2 in the line of shots. The second shot wavered a little to the right of the first, but 6 feet nearer the platform. The last was in direct line and 10 feet closer to Foster."



“Romance in Journalism: From The Chicago Daily Socialist to The Daily Worker,” by J. Louis Engdahl. [October 1923] Engdahl, editor of The Chicago Daily Socialist from the middle of 1910 until its demise in December 1912, recounts the story of its paper, including its origins as a byproduct of the 1906 Socialist Party election campaign, its greatest success during the Chicago newspaper strike of 1912, and its death as a result of factional fighting within the Chicago SP. The forthcoming Daily Worker is heralded as an ambitious resurrection of The Daily Socialist. The new paper is called “a new era in American working class journalism” in which “no fight will be too small to win attention” and “every battle will be interpreted in the light of its broader national and international significance.”.


“District Boundaries and Organizers of the Workers Party of America (as of October 1, 1923),” compiled by Tim Davenport. A very useful handlist detailing the geographic boundaries of the 14 districts of the Workers Party of America and listing the name and address of the District Organizers for each, as of October 1, 1923. The party did not make use of District nos. 11 and 14 at this particular time, but did have a three state “Agricultural District” including North and South Dakota and much of Montana. Includes brief notes on the history of Districts numbered 11, 14, and 15 within the WPA.


“Notes from the Road: September 13 - October 17, 1923,” by Max Bedacht Max Bedacht was one of several National Organizers which the Workers Party of America sent on the road in the fall of 1923 —traveling from WPA headquarters in Chicago all the way through to California, up the Pacific coast to Washington, before heading east across Montana en route to Minnesota. There Bedacht spent time in the Twin Cities and in Duluth-Superior. Throughout his trip Bedacht sent back informative handwritten letters about the party situation in the various locales on his trip. These letters to Ruthenberg provide an extremely important glimpse of the state of the early WPA outside of its urban eastern strongholds. The material is well written, informative, and fun to read. Includes reports about Omaha, NE; Denver, CO; San Francisco, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Oakland-Berkeley, CA; Portland, OR; Astoria, OR; Tacoma, WA; Aberdeen, WA; Spokane, WA; Butte, MT; Miles City, MT; Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN; and Superior, WI.


“Report on the United States: Up to October 20, 1923.” [Selections] by Israel Amter Extensive excerpts taken from the lengthy digest of the news prepared for the Comintern by Israel Amter. Includes a strong section on the strategy employed in the movement for the Federated Farmer-Labor Party. Amter interestingly notes that the Workers Party was prepared to join with the Socialist Party and FFLP in the “united front” candidacy of Eugene Debs for President of the United States. A great deal of commentary about the situation of the Party in the AF of L, which was launching a campaign to repress Communist influence in its member unions. This state of affairs was depicted in triumphant terms by Amter, who asserted that the expulsion of Bill Dunne from the Portland convention of the AF of L “has done the Communist cause a great deal of good, and shown the workers that the only body of men with measures that meet the situation are the Communists.” Also included in this report: decision of the CEC that William Z. Foster should not only “come out into the open not only as a member of the Party but also of the CEC; announcement of a “Hands Off Workers Germany” campaign; information on the dispatch of Jim Cannon to Mexico to organize a Pan-American labor organization in opposition to that of Gompers; news of the anthracite miners’ strike; affiliation of the Hanshack Social Democratic Federation as an Armenian Federation of the WPA; and other topics of the day.


“The Ku Klux Klan,” by Victor L. Berger [Oct. 26, 1923] One of the oft-repeated chestnuts that one hears about Socialist editor and Congressman Victor Berger of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is that the man was a confirmed racist. This article by Berger, reprinted in the pages of the Miami Valley Socialist [Dayton, OH], effectively belies such nonsense. Advised to “go easy” on the KKK, Berger responds by standing up up boldly and fearlessly to the goup, an organization which registered impressive growth in size and influence during the first half of the 1920s. Berger minces no words: “I consider the Ku Klux Klan an organization built upon race hatred and religious hatred. I know it to be anti-social and anti-American—a menace to rich and poor, to workers and capitalists alike. I believe the Klan to be an utterly venomous, cowardly, and despicable gang of marauders hiding under the cloak of secrecy and mysticism and patriotism.” If Berger can be justly accused of national chauvinism, the object of his antipathy is an unconventional target; Berger alleges the Klan to be “the only proof of a yellow streak in the American people and particularly in the Anglo-Saxon race—which is very much inbred and degenerated in certain parts of the South that had little immigration and infusion of new and healthy European blood.” Berger likens the KKK to the reign of terror of the Know-Nothings in the 1850s, a semi-secret organization of ultra-nationalist thugs who burned Catholic churches and “killed many hundred Irish people in a riot lasting several days in Louisville.” Berger declares: “I am opposed to the Klan, not only because the Ku Klux Klan has made the fight on Socialism, trade unionism, the IWW, etc., one of its principle objects... Not only because the Klan has been guilty of murders and terrible outrages against railroad men during their recent strike. Not only because they have been unspeakably cruel against Jews, Catholics, and Negroes. I am opposed because the mere existence of an organization like the Klan is a menace to the entire commonwealth. It seeks to substitute organized crime for organized government.”


“Notes from the Road: September 23 - October 30, 1923,” by Harry M. Wicks. Harry Wicks was one of several National Organizers which the Workers Party of America sent on the road in the fall of 1923—traveling throughout the Northeast speaking to public (“mass”) meetings and smaller “membership meetings” consisting of WPA members. This is the set of extant reports submitted by Wicks together with a few letters to Ruthenberg preserved in the Comintern archive in Moscow. Worthy of note is a nasty anti-Semitic comment by Wicks relating to the case of a Jamestown, NY Jewish Federationist named Drozen, who was expelled from the party in some incident related to a recent streetcar strike: “The Jewish Branch is still crying over the expulsion of that rat who scabbed on the street cars last winter. They are trying to take him back in the Party saying ‘really he is a good comrade and that it was just the doings of Wicks that he was expelled.’ Now I never saw the bastard or heard of him in all my life until I saw him last winter when charges were preferred against him.... Now the one question to be settled is whether we are going to please a bunch of half-baked kikes who want him in the Jewish branch and who are themselves scabs at heart, otherwise they would not defend his action, or whether we want to maintain the respect of the active trade unionists here.” Includes reports about Erie, PA; Jamestown, NY; Buffalo, NY; New Haven, CT; Bridgeport, CT; Revere, MA; Lynn, MA; Providence, RI; Elizabeth, NJ; Passaic, NJ; Reading, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Charleroi, PA.


“After 5 Years, Debs Completes Canton Address: Noted Socialist Comes Back to Canton With Praise for City: Says World Was Never More Unsafe For Democracy Than Now.” (Miami Valley Socialist) [event of Oct. 31, 1923] On Oct. 31, 1923, Socialist orator Gene Debs was able to finish the speech which he had begun 5 years earlier in Canton, Ohio—for which he was sent to prison for nearly 3 years by the Justice Department of the Woodrow Wilson regime. “”I was not for the war. I did not want war. But I was in it,” Debs told the audience of 1500 persons, adding, “I was conscripted. I was taken by the selective draft. And I am still waiting for my bonus. Woodrow Wilson was unanimously elected President of the United States for keeping us out of war. I was given 10 years in the Atlanta prison for trying to do the same thing.” Debs sounds an ominous warning: “”The whole world is preparing for the next war. This war will be fought in the air. Experts are working now in the many laboratories throughout the country, preparing liquid fire and powerful explosives which will be used. Even the savages spared women and children. The next war will not. Explosives will be dropped from the air, and men, women, and helpless children will be annihilated wholesale. And this is what you vote for when you vote the Democratic or Republican ticket.”


“To All Labor Unions in Chicago: A Circular Letter Dated Oct. 31, 1923,” by Joseph Manley In the aftermath of the July 3-5, 1923 convention which established the Federated Farmer-Labor Party there was a great deal of acrimony directed at the Workers Party of America for their purported splitting of the farmer-labor movement. This letter to Chicago unions, signed by Joseph Manley (son-in-law of William Z. Foster and National Secretary of the FFLP) answered these charges. The body of this letter is actually a quoted letter stating the position of the Workers Party, signed by the Executive Secretary of that organization, C.E. Ruthenberg. Ruthenberg charges that it was the (old) Farmer-Labor Party of Fitzpatrick and the Chicago Federation which “got cold feet,” violated its previous understanding with the Workers Party, refused any further effort at mediation of differences, and which ultimately was ready to “sacrifice the labor party because Gompers threatened them.” The Workers Party was not at fault, Ruthenberg stated: “If there was any split at this convention it was not a split caused by the Workers Party. If there was a betrayal, it was not a betrayal by the Workers Party. The split and betrayal were the work of Fitzpatrick and the Farmer-Labor group.”.



“Letter from C.E. Ruthenberg in Chicago to Morris Hillquit in New York, Nov. 3, 1923.” A cryptic note sent from the Executive Secretary of the Workers Party of the member to the leading light of the arch-rival Socialist Party of America. Ruthenberg notes that he will be in New York on Nov. 8, 1923, and that he seeks a conference with Hillquit to “talk with you” in regard to an invitation sent by the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party to labor political groups for a Nov. 15 conference in St. Paul. This conference was an attempt to “come to an agreement on the question of calling a national convention for the nomination of a presidential candidate and the adoption of a national platform.” Despite the hostility between the two organizations, this document affirms that there was at least informal discussion at the top level about the possibility of joint action with regards to the Farmer-Labor Party movement.


“Letter from C.E. Ruthenberg in Chicago to Osip Piatnitsky in Moscow, Nov. 19, 1923.” A lengthy and illuminating review of the Workers Party of America’s Farmer-Labor Party strategy as it rapidly evolved in the fall of 1923. Ruthenberg relates the decision of the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party to call a convention at St. Paul in May of 1924 for the purpose of joint nomination of a candidate for President of the United States and adoption of a joint program—thereby uniting the various state Farmer-Labor organizations, the Federated Farmer-Labor Party, and other labor and political groups into a single organization. Upon learning of this initiative, Ruthenberg states that the CEC immediately sent him to Minnesota, where he met for two days with Minnesota FLP officials working out the details for a November 15 pre-convention conference. Interestingly, Ruthenberg states that it was his initiative over “considerable objection” to extend an invitation to the pre-convention conference to Morris Hillquit of the Socialist Party in an effort to bring the SP and its popular cachet into the new united organization. Ruthenberg also related the decison of the CEC to declare a truce in the ranks of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, which was racked by a severe struggle between the union administration of Sidney Hillman and a TUEL-based left opposition. Hillman and the ILGWU were to be key players in the forthcoming Farmer-Labor Party movement, Ruthenberg indicated, while Hillman had the incentive to play the public role of peacemaker, thus consolidating his position in any forthcoming amalgamation of the ILGWU with the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, believed by Ruthenberg to be in the offing in the not too distant future. This document demonstrates that volition in WPA action in the Farmer-Labor Party movement came from the party itself—that it did not blindly follow “orders from Moscow” on this matter but rather acted as it saw fit under the general line of the Comintern, providing information of its specific actions after the fact.


“Our Labor Party Policy,” by James P. Cannon and William Z. Foster. [Nov. 1923] The split of the Chicago Federation of Labor from the Federated Farmer-Labor Party Conference of July 3-5, 1923, came as a stunning blow to the Communist Party’s union-oriented activists—of which Bill Foster and Jim Cannon were in the first rank. That the New York-based Central Executive Committee attempted to spin the July Conference as a great triumph rather than an unmitigated debacle came as an insult to this Chicago-centric cohort. It was this matter that triggered a bitter factional war inside the Communist movement that lasted for the rest of the decade. This internal party document by Cannon and Foster is a salvo against the New York leadership of John Pepper and his co-thinkers. To split with the centrist progressive union movement “on the grounds that they are not good revolutionary militants is to reject the idea of alliance of the Communists with other elements in the labor movement, and to repudiate entirely the principle of the united front,” Cannon and Foster charge, adding that the result of the Federated Farmer-Labor Party blunder was sectarian isolation. “We have lost the issue of the united front labor party and are fighting now for our own labor party, the Federated. As a consequence our comrades are largely isolated, and face a united front of all other elements against them.” Convention delegates who voted for the new party and returned to their unions either recanted under the onslaught or were repudiated, Cannon and Foster state, noting “we captured the delegates for three days, but we did not capture their organizations for the FFLP. The claim that the FFLP is a mass party with approximately 600,000 members has absolutely no foundation in fact.”.


“Letter from C.E. Ruthenberg in Chicago to Morris Hillquit in New York, Nov. 3, 1923.” A tantalizing and cryptic document sent from the Executive Secretary of the Workers Party of the member to the leading light of the arch-rival Socialist Party of America. Ruthenberg notes that he will be in New York on Nov. 8, 1923, and that he seeks a conference with Hillquit to “talk with you” in regard to an invitation sent by the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party to labor political groups for a Nov. 15 conference in St. Paul. This conference was an attempt to “come to an agreement on the question of calling a national convention for the nomination of a presidential candidate and the adoption of a national platform.” Even though the Communists and Socialists fought like dogs— the Communists placing secret agents within the SP with the intent of splitting its rival and the Socialists attempting to freeze the Workers’ Party completely out of the Farmer-Labor movement by denying them the right of participation—the political lines of the two organizations with regard to an American Labor Party on the British model were virtually identical. This document indicates there may have been some sort of informal discussion at the top level about the possibility of joint action with regards to the Farmer-Labor Party movement.



“Communist Party Pays for Farmer-Labor Party Convention,” by Emil Herman. [Dec. 1923] This unusual and valuable account by Socialist Party leader Emil Herman briefly details the Washington state convention of the Farmer-Labor Party, held in Everett over the weekend of Nov. 24-25, 1923. Herman states that “the Federated Farmer-Labor Party was born under the guidance and domination of the Workers Party” and that the WPA had lent the Farmer-Labor Party $500 to fund the mailing of its call for the Chicago FFLP founding convention, paid the expenses of some delegates to a pre-convention caucus meeting in St. Paul. Herman also stated that Washington FFLP Secretary John C. Kennedy had received dues payments from at-large members so infrequently that he was not even certain of the annual rate. The Washington state convention voted to “cooperate” rather than “affiliate” with the national FFLP, Herman said, adding that the FFLP was “truly an incongruous mass with aims leading in so many different directions that will end in division or dissolution —another object lesson in waste of time, energy, and money for the benefit of a few politicians...”.


“Soviet Russia and the Negro,” by Claude McKay. [Dec. 1923] Claude McKay’s account of his Nov. 1921 trip to Soviet Russia. McKay found a lack of racism that was a marked change from the attitude to blacks pervasive in America, England, and Germany. He attributed this fact in large measure to the fact that “Russia is a country where all the races of Europe and of Asia meet and mix.” McKay found himself freely accepted among equals as a poet and states that at every meeting with factory workers, military men, and students he was “received with boisterous acclaim, mobbed by friendly demonstration.”.


“Rules of Order of the 3rd National Convention of the Workers Party of America. Held in Chicago, Dec. 30, 1923 - Jan. 2, 1924.” The predetermined rules for the 3rd Convention of the WPA and agenda for that same gathering. Of note is the fact that Robert’s Rules of Orders reigned supreme when not in conflict with convention rules and the apparent fact that the convention was slated to end January 1 but actually saw its business carry over and end on January 2, 1924. The reports delivered to the convention were later published as a pamphlet, The Second Year of the Workers Party of America: Report of the Central Executive Committee to the Third National Convention: Held in Chicago, Illinois Dec. 30, 31, 1923 and Jan. 1, 2, 1924: Theses, Program, Resolutions. Reports were delivered to the gathering by Ruthenberg (keynote), Foster, Engdahl, Lovestone, Minor, Lore, Ballam, Jakira, Bedacht, Manley, Abern, and Cannon.


“Membership Series by District for the Workers Party of America. ‘Dues Actually Paid’—January to December 1923.” Official 1923 data set of the Workers Party of America, compiled from a document in the Comintern Archive. This document shows an average monthly paid membership of 15,395 for the WPA, with District 2 [New York City] accounting for just shy of 21% of the party membership. The second largest of the party's 15 districts is D2 [Boston], accounting for 13.4% of the membership, followed by D8 [Chicago] at 12.9% and D9 [Minneapolis] at 11.5%.


Series by Language Federation for the Workers Party of America. ‘Dues Actually Paid’—January to December 1923.” Official 1923 data set of the Workers Party of America, compiled from a document in the Comintern Archive. This series shows a great numerical dominance of the WPA by its Finnish Federation, accounting for a massive 42.8% of the average monthly paid membership of the organization (6,583 of 15,395). The total of the English language branches is the 2nd strongest amongst the federations (7.6%) followed by the South Slavic (7.5%), Jewish [Yiddish language] (6.9%), and Lithuanian (6.0%) Federations. In all, there were statistics kept for 18 different language groups of the WPA in 1923, including the English and the barely organized Armenian sections.


Initiation Stamps Sold by District for the Workers Party of America. January to December 1923.” Official 1923 data set of the Workers Party of America, compiled from a document in the Comintern Archive. This series shows a massive 60% uptick in the 4th Quarter of 1923 -- which was exceeded yet again by nearly 20% in Q-1 of 1924 before the rate plummeted again, indicating a high probability of some sort of connection with the January 1924 launch of the Daily Worker. Further archival work and newspaper reading needs to be done to test this hypothesis. A total of 6,532 initiation stamps were sold by the WPA in 1923.


Initiation Stamps Sold by Federation for the Workers Party of America. January to December 1923.” Official 1923 data set of the Workers Party of America, compiled from a document in the Comintern Archive. This series once again (repeating the previous published 1924 series) shows a schizophrenic pattern of stamp sales among language groups . Some federations clearly did not collect the initiation fees called for in the WPA constitution at all (Jewish, German, Latvian) while at the same time the quantities sold via the English branches are ridiculously high. Over 53% of the initiation stamps sold for the entire WPA were credited to the English branches -- nearly three times as many initiations than there were average duespayers in those English branches! Even assuming a significantly higher than average "membership churn" rate for English branches, there is clearly some other unexplained phenomenon at play in these English branch initiation stamp sale figures...


“Report of the Daily Worker Campaign Committee to the National Convention of the Workers Party of America,” by John J. Ballam [Dec. 31, 1923] This report was delivered by chairman of the Daily Worker Campaign Committee John Ballam to the 3rd National Convention of the Workers Party of America. Ballam notes the particulars of the “$100,000 Daily Worker Campaign” of the 4th Quarter of 1923, in which financial quotas were set for each of the WPA’s 16 language groups. A complete financial accounting of the activities of the Campaign Committee is provided—and these figures are used in extensive footnotes by Tim Davenport as the basis for measurement of Ballam’s various claims and allusions against the unstated reality which was faced by the WPA as it prepared to launch its English-language daily newspaper. The argument is made by Davenport that Ballam’s claim of over $73,000 raised is probably deceptive and that the WPA appears from Ballam’s figures to actually have had a net of approximately $30,000 infused into party coffers by the Daily Worker campaign.