Washington's May Day

Ellen Wetherell

Published: International Socialist Review, June 1914.
HTML: for in March, 2002.

The Spirit of the Revolution is astir among the Socialists at the Nation's Capital. Solidarity in effort against the master class and for the working class is the watchword of the comrades. War between the classes, even defensive war of bullets by the workers, is being recognized as part of the inevitable processes of Social Evolution; the while the economic struggle is more and more emphasized by fraternal sympathy with the methods of organized labor evinced by the General Strike. The impending war with Mexico and the horrible stress of the Colorado miners has awakened Washington Comrades to the needs of the hour.

May-Day Festival with Charles Edward Russell in an address brought a a crowd of enthusiastic revolutionists to the front, and when the speaker broke into a passionate declaration again War with Mexico and "The Power Behind the Throne," calling on all workers on war ammunition – makers of guns, bullets and powder – to fold their arms and stop work, a loud responsive acclaim went up a went up from the audience with cries of "Good, Good!"

At the close of the address the stage curtain rolled up, revealing a large chorus of Socialist Sunday School children amidst a sea of red – bunting, flags, and flowers – dressed to represent the various nations of the world. The children sang the Marseilles with strong and clear voices. Following came the reading of resolutions, drawn up by Comrade Roscoe Jenkins, Secretary of Local Washington North East Socialist Party. These resolutions, upon War with Mexico and the Class War in Colorado, were unanimously adopted. A dance and supper was a pleasing feature of the evening; the revolutionary German Branch was marked factor in the success of the Festival.

Lack of space prevents me from giving the resolution in full. I quote in part....

Socialist Party, District of Columbia:

Whereas The administrators of the Government of the United States have involved the United States in a conflict with President Huerta, the irresponsible dictator of our sister republic, Mexico, and

Whereas, This intervention on the part of the United States has been taken because the irresponsible dictator of Mexico refused to salute the United States flag at the request of a subordinate of our navy, in reparation for the arrest of a few American soldiers by a few of the dictator's war dogs, and

Whereas, At the same time this incident occurred, the war dogs and hirelings of the capitalist of the country, under the guise of keeping the peace and in the name of the same flag that was said to be insulted by the agents of the dictator, Huerta, brutally murdered and shot to pieces miners of Colorado and their innocent wives and children, and

Whereas, The continuance of the hostilities with Mexico will only bring the workers of both countries into bloody conflict and more completely enmesh the workers of Mexico in the clutches of American capitalism, the very thing they are valiantly trying to extricate themselves from in their struggle with Huerta; and

Whereas, The real honor of the flag is involved in preserving a just peace in the world, in minding our own business, and in promoting the welfare of our own people along the lines of self-governing democracy and equalized economic opportunity, therefore be it

Resolved, That we, the Socialist Party of the District of Columbia, in mass meeting assembled this first day of May, 1914, do protest against the action of the government in precipitating the nation in a war over such a flimsy pretext as the so-called insult to our dignity and with a neighboring country already in the throes of rebellion, and be it further

Resolved, That the workers of this whole land be called upon and urged to rise up in holy wrath and indignation and stop the great wheels of industry until peace is restored in both countries and that they, the workers, are insured the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


Chairman Committee.

Proving the spirit of the Working-Class strength in these resolutions, I quote a criticism appearing editorially in the Washington Herald – a paper financed by the Association of Manufacturers and controlled by McClure's magazine:

"When 'Bill' Haywood, I. W. W. leader, advocated a nation-wide strike in the event of actual war with Mexico, the nation was shocked but not surprised. Labor Unions all over the country repudiated the seditious sentiment; yet in the Capital of the Nation Socialists met on Friday night and adopted Haywood's sentiments in the form of a resolution calling on the workers of the whole country 'To rise up in holy wrath and indignation and stop the great wheels of industry until peace is restored.'

"As for these resolutions the honest workingmen of the country will repudiate them, just as they repudiated the same sentiment when uttered by 'Bill' Haywood. The most deplorable circumstance, therefore, is the disgrace brought to the United States by the publication of the account of such a meeting under a Washington date line; and one Charles Edward Russell, lecturer and writer and Socialist candidate for Governor of New York, declared 'I will not take a single step towards Mexico to participate in the indefensible murder for all the conscript laws that can be passed; if that be sedition, make the most of it.'

"Fortunately the nation has not to rely on Russell's services and they will not be missed. ITS HIGH SCHOOL, BOYS ARE READY TO GO TO THE FRONT."