MIA: History: USA: Publications

The Ohio Socialist Masthead

Note: The Ohio Socialist continues on in 1919 as The Toiler. The link is in the essay below.

Modest Beginnings
The Ohio Socialist was a publication launched in January 1917 through the volition of new Socialist Party of Ohio State Secretary Alfred Wagenknecht (1881-1956). Born in Germany but raised in Cleveland, Wagenknecht would spend more than a decade as a leading activist in the rowdy and revolutionary Socialist Party of Washington, rising to the rank of Assistant State Secretary of that organization and serving on the governing National Executive Committee of the Socialist Party of America in 1914. Already in his early 30s, Wagenknecht was a well-known and popular figure with revolutionary socialist political ideas and a practical nose for office organization.
Returning to Ohio, Wagenknecht immediately made his presence known in state Socialist politics, running in November 1916 for the professional paid position of State Secretary for the coming year. Elected by a margin of more than 2-to-1, Wagenknecht found the State Office he inherited to be a shambles — possessing little more than 8 chairs, two kitchen tables, an ancient bookcase, and a decent typewriter. The office desk, such as it was, was falling apart at the joints and was quickly sold for the magnificent sum of $2; the duplicating machine was long unused and non-functional. The checking account balance stood at $153.50, with more than that amount already targeted to special funds and unpaid bills.
Never short of ambition or energy, Secretary Wagenknecht addressed the situation head-on, declaring an immediate statewide campaign to raise a $1,000 fund to support the withered state organization. The Ohio Socialist was very much a part of Wagenknecht’s campaign to inject new effort into socialist organizing and to incidentally also derive new income from the state organization.
The publication was very nearly named the "Ohio Socialist Bulletin" — a title perhaps more fitting for the 4 to 8 page, 8.5 by 11 inch monthly that first rolled off the presses in January 1917. The name was determined by the Ohio State Executive Committee at one of its quarterly sessions, with Wagenknecht formally tapped as editor of the new publication. He would remain such throughout 1917, interrupted by legal difficulties in the fall and his incarceration at the Canton Work House for virtually the whole of 1918 on charges of obstructing enlistment in the draft.
The Ohio Socialist was a subscription publication from the start, not a free benefit mailed to party members, and those not paying the 10 cent yearly subscription fee did not receive it. Consequently, the paper’s press run was only 1,600 as late as April 1917, received by fewer than half of the paid membership of the Socialist Party of Ohio. Expansion of circulation, size, and scope would follow.
The Ohio Socialist began as a monthly publication. By the fall of 1917 its frequency had been increased to semi-monthly status and its circulation had grown to about 4,000 copies per issue. It would later move to weekly status starting with Issue No. 22 in July 1918.
The year year 1919, with the European war over and the Russian Revolution consolidating itself, was to be one of phenomenal growth for the Socialist Party of America as thousands joined the ranks of the party through its non-English language federations. Local Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) was one important center of federation activity, including substantial Polish, Russian, and Croatian contingents.
Nationally, a revolutionary socialist Left Wing Section emerged and organized itself beginning early in 1919 with the Socialist Party of Ohio shifting decisively into this new camp. A massive May Day march held by the Socialist Party in Cleveland ended in a riot provoked by right wing counter-demonstrators and aggressive police action, further fueling the revolutionary temper of the Ohio Party. That revolutionary temper found it’s voice in The Ohio Socialist.
The organization’s endorsement of the Left Wing Manifesto sponsored by the Left Wing Section was met in July 1919 by the group’s suspension from the Socialist Party of America by a right wing National Executive Committee intent upon overturning its defeat in party elections and in packing the forthcoming Emergency National Convention in Chicago.
In November 1919 the paper was made into the "labor organ" of the CLP and its name was changed to The Toiler, with its editorial offices to New York City around the first of 1920. There the paper was briefly edited by James P. Cannon, best remembered as the founding father of the American Trotskyist movement.

Special Note of thanks to the following individuals and institutions that made copies of The Ohio Socialist available and help scan and process them for this archive: Dr. Marty Goodman and Robin Palmer of the The Riazanov Project and David Walters from the Marxists Internet Archive and the Holt Labor Library.

NOTE: Issue Nos. 1 through 7 are presented in both black and white (designated: B&W) and grayscale (designated: GS). The GS are larger files but present far more clearly when viewing on the screen. On the other hand, the smaller B&Wversions of these issues print better than the GS. We want to thank the Ohio Historical Society making available the scans of these issues.

Official Organ of the Socialist Party of Ohio and Kentucky. Published in Cleveland.

No. 1, January 1917 B&W, GS

No. 2, February 1917 B&W, GS

No. 3, March 1917 B&W, GS

No. 4, April 1917 B&W, GS

No. 5, May 1917 B&W, GS

No. 6, June 1917 B&W, GS

No. 7, July 1917 B&W, GS

[Issues 8 through 12 are missing]

No. 13, 10 January 1918

No. 14, 25, January 1918

No. 15, 11 February 1918

No. 16, 10 March 1918

No. 17, 25 March 1918

[Issues 18 through 21 are missing]

No. 22, 11 June 1918

No. 23, 2 July 1918

No. 24, 9 July 1918

No. 25, 17 July 1918

No. 26, 24 July 1918

No. 27, 31 July 1918

No. 28, 7 August 1918

[Issue 29 is missing]

No. 30, 21 August 1918

No. 31, 28 August 1918

[Issues 32 through 42 are missing]

No. 43, 20 November 1918

No. 44, 27 November 1918

No. 45, 4 December 1918

No. 46, 11 December 1918

No. 47, 18 December 1918

No. 48, 25 December 1918

No. 49, 1 January 1919

No. 50, 8 January 1919

No. 51, 15 January 1919

No. 52, 22 January 1919

No. 53, 29 January 1919

No. 54, 5 February 1919

No. 55, 12 February 1919

No. 56, 19 February 1919

No. 57, 26 February 1919

No. 58, 5 March 1919

No. 58-supp, March 1919

No. 59, 12 March 1919

No. 60, 19 March 1919

No. 61, 26 March 1919

No. 62, 2 April 1919

No. 63, 9 April 1919

No. 63 Supp., 9 April 1919

No. 64, 16 April 1919

No. 65, 23 April 1919

No. 66, 30 April 1919

No. 67, 8 May 1919

No. 68, 14 May 1919

No. 69, 21 May 1919 [damaged]

No. 70, 28 May 1919

No. 71, 4 June 1919

No. 72, 11 June 1919

No. 73, 18 June 1919

No. 74, 25 June 1919

No. 75, 2 July 1919

No. 76, 9 July 1919

No. 77, 16 July 1919

No. 78, 23 July 1919

No. 79, 30 July 1919

No. 79, 6 August 1919 [NOTE: the newspaper repeated the same issue number from the previous issue by accident and didn't correct it]

No. 80, 18 August 1919

No. 81, 20 August 1919

No. 82, 27 August 1919

No. 83, 3 September 1919

No. 84, 10 September 1919

No. 85, 17 September 1919

No. 86, 24 September 1919

No. 87, 4 October 1919

No. 88, 8 October 1919

No. 89, 15 October 1919

No. 90, 22 October 1919

No. 91, 29 October 1919

No. 92, 5 November 1919

No. 93, 12 November 1919

No. 94, 19 November 1919