December 25, 2011

EAM New Files (11-17)

Filed under: Uncategorized — carrite @ 8:13 pm
Sunday evening.

Early American Marxism website — New Files

Update 11-17: Sunday, December 25, 2011.

Here are 7 more new files posted this week to the Early American Marxism website.
All files are freely accessible and may be used non-commercially by any interested individual.
For links to all of these files, visit
Thanks for your interest,
Tim Davenport
Early American Marxism website
Corvallis, OR

NEW PUBLICATIONS 11-17 * DEC. 25,  2011.

(1) “A Dream No Longer,” by Abraham Cahan [May 17, 1918]  
This short piece by Jewish Daily Forward patriarch Abraham Cahan, published both in Yiddish in the Forward and in English translation in the New York Call, is a remarkable testament to the universal approval with which the Bolshevik Revolution was greeted by the Socialist movement in America. Later one of the leading anti-Communist voices in the American social democracy, Cahan waxes enthusiastic for the new Soviet regime: “The First of May festival was combined in Moscow with the celebration of Karl Marx’s 100th birthday. It was the Socialist government of Russia that celebrated the two events. A national holiday was made of it. Workingmen marched through the streets, and with them the ministers and all other officials now residing in Moscow. Ah, what a joy it would have been for us comrades of New York to participate in that pageant! Truly, it reads like a story of the coming of the Messiah. How, then, can one bear the Bolsheviki a grudge? How can one experience anything like a hostile feeling against them? We have criticized them; some of their utterances often irritate us; but who can help rejoicing in their triumph? Who can help going into ecstasy over the Socialist spirit which they have enthroned in the country, which they now rule.”

(2) “The New Americanism,” by James Oneal [May 19, 1918]  
The future leader of the anti-Communist Center-Right alliance in the Socialist Party of America, James Oneal, takes to the pages of Ludwig Lore’s radical journal The Class Struggle with this aggressive piece against the conservative movement’s drive to advance the ideology of Americanism, which he relates to a similar right wing “Know Nothingism” movement of the 1850s. Oneal draws attention to what he believes is a direct correlation between a high immigrant population and political liberalism. He declares: “Anyone acquainted with the United States knows that the states with a large mixture of the foreign-born in their populations are the progressive states. They do not stand still. In invention, agriculture, education, industry, transportation, literature, and in the number of Socialist votes polled they lead the South. The pure American states of the South are known as the most backward in all these fields and there are those who claim that the old American stock is so degenerating that the Negro becomes more vigorous and the prospect of his probable future control of Southern capitalism enrages the ruling whites and fosters the lynching spirit.” Oneal identifies the Southern bourgeoisie as showing less intelligence and enterprise than its northern counterpart and proclaims the “Americanized” South to be “the leader of every phase of modern reaction and a consistent opponent of progress. It leads in illiteracy and is the last in education.”

(3) “Spargo on Marxian Socialism: A Review of John Spargo’s Social Democracy Explained,” by James Oneal [May 19, 1918]  
Book review from the weekend magazine section of the Socialist Party’s New York Call by one of the ideological leaders of the party’s dominant Center-Right faction dealing with new work by a leading figure of the dissident Social-Patriotic Right. Oneal emphasizes the “pre-war” nature of the content, stating there is “little that is new in the book, and much that is contained in other books by the same writer, yet it is interesting to Socialists because it expresses the views of one who left the Socialist Party.” Oneal emphasizes Spargo’s recent flip-flop on fundamentals between material in this new book and his recent comments in the press, such as the book’s contention that “the Marxian synthesis is on the whole sound,” while lately stating in the New York Times that “Marxism has reached the end of its rope.” Oneal accuses Spargo of having “‘readjusted’ himself to his new-found bourgeois friends.”

(4) “Where Do We Stand?” by C.E. Ruthenberg [May 25,1918]  
This article from Cleveland’s Socialist Party weekly marks the first known use of the pseudonym “David Damon” by future Communist Party Executive Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg. Writing from jail, where he was serving a one year term for conviction under the so-called Espionage Act, Ruthenberg comes to the defense of the Socialist Party’s St. Louis Resolution on War, of which he was a primary author. Ruthenberg argues that the rise of the Bolshevik government in Russia and its necessary war of defense against German territorial incursion was dubious reason for a reversal of the Socialist Party’s anti-militarist line. “The goal of the Socialist Party is Socialism, not a reformed capitalism. Its tactics must be those that will bring about Socialism. If those who are advocating reversion can show that these proposals will help to establish Socialism, and are not merely personal views and predilections in regard to the war, which have no relation to a Socialist policy, then the party should be ready to listen to them,” Ruthenberg declares. “If they can not show that then their advice deserves no consideration.”

(5) “Jury Finds Rose P. Stokes Guilty: Socialist Faces 60 Years Jail Sentence: Mrs. Stokes Convicted on Three Counts Under Espionage Act” (NY Call). [May 25, 1918] 
This news account from the Socialist Party’s New York City daily details the conviction of Rose Pastor Stokes of three counts of violation of the so-called Espionage Act. Stokes was convicted in federal court with having attempted to “cause insubordination in the United States military forces,” to cause an “obstruction of recruiting” and to have conveyed “false reports interfering with either branch of the military service” — each of these convictions bearing a possible penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. Stokes was denounced by the prosecutor as “the most subtle, vicious German propagandist in America,” who, while not necessarily paid agent of the Kaiser was “a frenzied fanatic of Socialism.”

(6) “Poverty and Brains Made a Socialist of Rose Pastor Stokes,” by Pippa [May 26, 1918] 
Conviction for three violations of the so-called Espionage Act made anti-war activist Rose Pastor Stokes, wife of pro-war millionaire Socialist Graham Phelps Stokes, a cause célèbre in the American radical movement. This short biography of her appeared in the pages of the SPA’s New York City daily, the New York Call, emphasizing Stokes’ proletarian origins as a largely self-educated cigar roller turned left wing newspaper reporter.

(7) “Mrs. Stokes Sentenced to 10-Year Term: Socialist Wife of Millionaire Ordered Imprisoned Under Sedition Act: New Trial is Denied; She is Free on Bail” (NY Call). [June 1, 1918] 
Socialist news report on the sentencing of Rose Pastor Stokes on her May 1918 conviction of three counts of having violated the so-called Espionage Act by agitating against World War I. Stokes was sentenced in federal court on June 1, 1918 to 10 years in the state penitentiary for her offense but was promptly released on $10,000 bail pending her appeal. Judge Van Valkenburgh stated his belief that Stokes’s activity was “part of a systematic program to create discontent with the war” conducted by “various irresponsible or visionary elements in this country.” Van Valkenburgh indicates his belief that “to justify the stand taken, logic, reason, and human sympathy are speciously invoked, but no standards of such are recognized, except those of the objectors themselves. Such opposition amounts to fanaticism and continues after debate has been closed by final action on the part of the constitutional authorities…. Therefore Congress enacted this law and the President approved it. It was designed to meet a war danger. Its comparative importance in the minds of Congress is made manifest by the penalty provided — nearly, if not quite, double that for any other offense defined, except murder, treason, and analogous crimes.”


Max S. Hayes (1866-1945) – Socialist newspaper editor and union activist [expanded]:
Donald K. Ross (living, no dates) – Public interest lawyer:
Eric Fisher Wood (1889-1962) – Secretary of the American Legion during its formation:
The Spanish Earth (1937 film) [expanded] –

December 24, 2011

Saturday is football day!

Filed under: Uncategorized — carrite @ 9:51 am

Saturday am.

Since the NFL bailed out of playing on Christmas Sunday in favor of a full schedule on Christmas Eve Saturday, I switched AA days at work. I ground it out yesterday and get to watch games today. I even got my Christmas shopping done, so I don’t get stuck burning my day on that. Life is good.

My best friend from college checked himself in to the ER in Tillamook, OR with chest pains. They wound up transporting him to Portland and keeping him for observation for two days. That’s not good. I’m going to give him a call towards midday, when supposedly he will be en route home. I was gonna buy him a jumbo bag of pork rinds for Christmas — a sick joke and a long story — but decided not to do it. He would have appreciated the effort though.

I got a few paragraphs on the American Legion written yesterday. It is coming slowly. I expect I’ll spend all three days next week getting that and A.J. Muste up to snuff. My observation about the Legion is that Teddy Roosevelt Jr. COULD have exerted a much more dominating influence than he did, but he decided for whatever reason to step back a little and to let the group develop its own leadership organically. If I were a historian studying a question of history, that would be the big issue so far: why exactly did he do this?

I just learned this morning that TRII died in 1944 as a Brigadier General on the beach at Normandy. His old man may have been a big-mouthed blowhard ultra-nationalist asshole, but one must tip one’s hat to TRII for putting his money where his mouth is. R.I.P.

There were two preliminary meetings prior to the founding convention of the organization in the fall of 1919, one in Paris and the other in St. Louis. The Paris session seems to have been sporadically attended, the one published vote tally I’ve seen adds up to 350 or so and emphasizes that not everyone voted, by way of apology. The official attendance was listed on the page before I started as an all-too-round 1000. My guess is that something just short of 500 is more likely, based largely on a photo of the proceedings, up now on WP.

The St. Louis session, on the other hand, is listed at 1100 in one source I’ve seen. That’s possible, but could well be an exaggeration, too. Political organizations have a tendency to pump up their numbers, I have learned.

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Books Received:

Ralph Darlington, The Political Trajectory of J.T. Murphy. Liverpool UP, 1998.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Blacks and Reds: Race and Class in Conflict, 1919-1990. Michigan State UP, 1995.

Richard Seelye Jones, A History of the American Legion. Bobbs-Merrill, 1946.

December 22, 2011

Who the hell was Eric Fisher Wood?

Filed under: Uncategorized — carrite @ 12:48 pm

Thursday midday.

Excellent question. I’ve been fired up and working on The American Legion since last night and there seems to have been a “gang of four” behind the establishment of the organization — NOT the same four mentioned in later histories, which somehow insert “Wild Bill” Donovan of the OSS and the CIA. I’ve pretty much got it pegged here:

Eric Fisher Wood, Sr. (1889-1962) — a founder of the American Legion.

[The falling morale] situation was a particular matter of concern to Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., eldest son of the 26th President. One day in January 1919 Roosevelt had a discussion at General Headquarters with a mobilized National Guard officer named George A. White, a former newspaper editor with the Portland Oregonian. After long discussion, Roosevelt suggested the establishment at once of a new servicemen’s organization including all members of the AEF, as well as those soldiers who remained stateside as members of the Army,Navy, and Marine Corps during the war without having been shipped abroad.

Roosevelt and Green advocated ceaselessly for this proposal until ultimately they found sufficient support at headquarters to move forward with the plan. Orders were issued to a group of 20 non-career officers to report at Paris on February 15, 1919. The selection of these officers seems to have been handled by Roosevelt, later acknowledged as the father of the American Legion plan.

The group of 20 was given the task by Gen. John J. Pershing of providing a set of recommendations aimed at curbing the problem of declining morale. A series of proposals resulted from the day-long session, including elimination of restrictive regulations, organization of additional athletic events and recreational opportunities, and the expansion of leave time and entertainment programs At the end of the day, the group retired to an Allied Officers Club, where Lt. Col. Roosevelt unveiled his proposal for a new veterans’ society.

Most of those present were rapidly won to Roosevelt’s plan. The group decided to declare all of their actions provisional until a duly elected convention of delegates could be convened and made no effort to predetermine a program for the still-unnamed veterans organization. Instead they sought to expand their number through the convocation of a large preliminary meeting in Paris, to consist of an equal number of elected delegates from the ranks of enlisted men and the officer corps.

A provisional executive committee of four people emerged from the February 15 “Roosevelt dinner”: Roosevelt in the first place, who was to return to the United States and obtain his military discharge when able, and then to gather assistants and promote the idea of the new veterans’ organization among demobilized troops there; George White, who was to travel France touring the camps of the AEF explaining the idea in person; as well as veteran wartime administrator Eric Fisher Wood and former Ohio Congressman Ralph D. Cole, who were to establish a central office and to maintain contact by mail and telegram with the various combat divisions and headquarters staffs, as well as to publicize activities to the press.

Anyway, the conventional histories I was working from pretty much just give the names, I had to figure out the functions — the Legion was Teddy Junior’s baby and he did organizing in America, White — an Oregonian — was the field organizer in Europe, and the central office was staffed by one guy who was a former Congressman and………….some dude that didn’t have a Wikipedia page, Eric Fisher Wood.

A quick Google search indicated that this was a fairly big fish in his own right. To make a long story short, I wound up writing his biography.

Meet Eric Fisher Wood.

December 21, 2011

Muste wins

Filed under: Uncategorized — carrite @ 12:09 pm

Wednesday midday.

Well, a second biography of A.J. Muste rolled in yesterday, so that’s where I’ve decided to turn attention. I identified and wiped out a “howler” last night, a contention long standing in the existing article (unfootnoted) that Muste gave an anti-War sermon on Sunday that inspired his congregation to hold an impromptu meeting afterwards which summarily fired him and expelled from his parsonage.

It doesn’t seem that there is anything at all to this melodramatic tale. Muste himself is quoted as saying he resigned his position in December 1917 after having taken a 2 month vacation during the summer. No doubt he was under substantial pressure due to his pacifist views, but there’s nothing at all, it would seem, on the “mob with pitchforks abruptly throwing him onto the street” scenario.

Nat Hentoff’s bio is the pioneering work, JoAnn Oooiman Robinson’s the later, more detailed and scholarly study, fully endorsed by Hentoff on the dj flap. Together they will flesh out the Wikipedia bio nicely.

Muste is an interesting character in the Great American Drama. The closest parallel is to his friend Norman Thomas. Both were clerics and pacifists who turned to movement politics. Muste left radical politics to dedicate himself to pacifism full time in 1936, Thomas remained entrenched in the declining Socialist Party of America. They’re both very close figures though, in terms of their political trajectory.

Anyway, I’ve squirreled around with AfD and internal WP drama too much already today, time to get back to work.

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Books Received:

Nat Hentoff, Peace Agitator: The Story of A.J. Muste. Macmillan, 1963.

Gary Edward Holcomb, Claude McKay, Code Name Sasha: Queer Black Marxism and the Harlem Renaissance. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2007.

Edward Kellogg, Labor and Other Capital [1849]. Kelley, 1971

William Pencak, For God and Country: The American Legion, 1919-1941. Northeastern UP, 1989.

Daniela Spenser, Stumbling Its Way Through Mexico: The Early Years of the Communist International [2009]. University of Alabama Press, 2011.

December 20, 2011

Enough nonsense

Filed under: Uncategorized — carrite @ 11:21 am

Tuesday morning.

Well, I got most of my Christmas nonsense taken care of yesterday, and thank god for that. The line at the Corvallis Post Office wasn’t bad at all, something like 10 or 15 minutes, which passed fast. The shopping experience was frustrating, but I pretty much knew what I was after going into battle, which is the hard part.

I managed to spark a Padilla Miami while I was walking the dog, so I got my cigar in on Cigar Day. Hurray. Not quite as much pop as I like in a cigar, but certainly Within Acceptable Parameters. I’ve got a shitload of Padillas in my humidor(s), it’s one of my “go-to” brands…

Last night was a football night, so there wasn’t much accomplished in the research-and-writing department. I was spinning through an old 1926 book by David Saposs called Left Wing Unionism at bedtime and found some good content for a weak bio that I had started a long time ago on Max S. Hayes and wound up working a little bit on it before I went to sleep. When I woke up I felt like continuing, so I crunched a few more sources and got it up to marginally passable status, looking like this.

There’s still a ton of work to be done before this thing is remotely close to being “finished,” such as detailed coverage of his 1920 campaign for Vice President of the United States and more background on the 1912 campaign against Gompers, but compared to the way I had left it earlier, this thing is at least passable as a document of his life.

I’m not completely sure where I’m headed next. I don’t really have enough material on the American Legion to grind that out properly. I’m not at all fired up to work on A.J. Muste or the Social Democratic Party of Wisconsin either.

Usually that means it’s time to go read microfilm and see what I can see, but I’m half way through typing up an overlong SLP diatribe. Once you sink 3000 words of typing, you don’t want to move on until the other 3000 words are done, or else you lose it all. But is the end product worth the effort? That is less clear, even for me.

Normal people would call it a massive waste of time.

Well, I’ve killed enough time, back to work.

December 19, 2011

Countdown to Christmas

Filed under: Uncategorized — carrite @ 9:46 am

Monday morning.

I dislike all holidays, but Christmas is probably the worst. It’s the most disruptive of routine. Work schedules get screwed up, mandatory shopping enters the equation (which involves coming up with ideas, searching, battling traffic and other shoppers, standing in line at the post office). Even the old standard of my life, the NFL, is messing with me this year, moving every game but one from Christmas Day to Christmas Eve Saturday.

Of course, THAT would just happen to be the one day that I’m working this week!

So even though my schedule looks like 5 off, 1 on, plus Sunday to work on my website, I got up this morning feeling like today was already definitely ruined and the whole week was in jeopardy. If I don’t get the shopping thang nailed today, the damage could spread.

No doubt about it, Christmas sucks.

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Well, I haven’t heard back from David McMullen, Ellen Dawson‘s biographer, so I’m a little unclear whether I should press onwards and finish it up or leave her to him. It’s not like I’ve got any lack of Wikipedia work: Social-Democratic Party of Wisconsin, two more books dealing with Paul Grottkau and perhaps as well with his nemesis Philip Van Patten, and the titles on A.J. Muste and the American Legion are now starting to roll in, meaning that those are sliding back into my gunsights.

I reckon I’ll let Dawson sit for another week and will move on to Grottkau and the American Legion. The latter may come as a surprise to those who know me, it being a right wing “patriotic” organization and all, but I discovered that Wikipedia’s page on the Legion was REALLY TERRIBLE and decided to dive in and get it done right.

The Legion is absolutely a big player in the story of American radicalism during my main period of interest (1916-1924) and it’s something I need to master. Fun facts of the day: four World War I officers are credited with coming up with the idea of the American Legion: Teddy Roosevelt’s son, Teddy Junior — thus their obsession with “100% Americanism” — “Wild Bill” Donovan, head of the OSS and founding father of the CIA, and an editor of the Portland Oregonian being three of them. Also the editor of their official organ, The American Legion Weekly, went on to found The New Yorker magazine.

See all the cool shit you can learn by branching out in the research topics just a little?

Well, it’s fast heading for 10 am and I have to get going on my shopping expedition at noon, so time’s a wastin’ if this day isn’t going to be a total loss.

•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •

Books Received.
Bruce C. Nelson, Beyond the Martyrs: A Social History of Chicago’s Anarchists, 1870-1900. (Rutgers UP, 1989).
Jo Ann Ooiman Robinson, Abraham Went Out: A Biography of A.J. Muste. (Temple UP, 1981).
Thomas A. Rumer, The American Legion: An Official History, 1919-1989. (M. Evans, 1990).
Stephen Velychenko, State Building in Revolutionary Ukraine: A Comparative Study of Governments and Bureaucrats, 1917-1922. (University of Toronto, 2011).

December 18, 2011

EAM New Files (11-16)

Filed under: Uncategorized — carrite @ 2:10 pm

Early American Marxism website — New Files

Update 11-16: Sunday, December 18, 2011.
Here are 7 more new files posted this week to the Early American Marxism website.
All files are freely accessible and may be used non-commercially by any interested individual.
For links to all of these files, visit
Thanks for your interest,
Tim Davenport
Early American Marxism website
Corvallis, OR


NEW PUBLICATIONS 11-16 * DEC. 18, 2011.


(1) “Report of the NEC to the  2nd National Convention of the  Socialist Labor Party of America, Allegheny City, PA,” by Philip Van Patten [Dec. 26, 1879] 
This lengthy keynote report to the 2nd National Congress of the Socialist Labor Party details the activities of that organization since its previous national gathering, held in 1877. Outstanding detail is give about the party press and the development of the various Sections of the organization, as well as electoral activities. The NEC of the SLP had based itself in Cincinnati, Ohio in March 1878, in accord with the decision of the 1st National Congress of 1877, but had seen that Section, previously one of the most vital in the entire organization, shattered by factional infighting and discouragement over plummeting vote totals. Sometime in the following 24 months Corresponding Secretary Van Patten and the NEC had made their way to Detroit, site of a more vital local movement. Van Patten details the bitter struggle between the Detroit-based NEC and Section Chicago over the latter’s willingness to allow armed units of the workers militia groups known as the Lehr und Wehr Verein (Educational and Defense Societies) to march under a red banner, bearing arms. This had been the cause of sensational coverage in the popular press, leading the electorally-oriented NEC headed by Van Patten to attempt to reign in the radicals of Section Chicago — who had only recently seen 18 strikers killed by the National Guard in an 1877 railroad strike of which Van Patten himself had been a prominent leader. The squabble had been fanned in the pages of the SLP’s official German-language weekly, Vorbote, which bitterly criticized the NEC and provoked the latter to briefly severe its connection with the paper. The rationale behind the NEC’s advisement of party members to cease participation in the Lehr und Wehr Verein is carefully explained.
(2) “The Passing of the Debs Democracy.” (The People) [June 13, 1898]  
Account of the split of the Social Democracy of America into pro-colonization and pro-political action wings, written by a member of the rival Socialist Labor Party in the vituperative lingo favored by party editor Daniel DeLeon. The editor notes that 11 of the purported 95 organizations said to be represented at the convention had been organized on the spot for the purpose of packing the convention on behalf of colonization. These are said to be people engaged in a mere business enterprise, who maintained “the worst thoughts and most backward ideas that this country ever produced.” In contrast, the political actionists were little more than “a rabble-rout of queers, most of them expelled members of the SLP, and constructively so; in short, the offal and refuse of the party.” These were “incapable of any feeling except hatred for the party that would not tolerate their monkeyshines, and of any thought except how to hurt it.” The split of these two elements at the convention is deemed to have been “inevitable,” albeit a proverbial tempest in a teapot by the anonymous Chicago observer.
(3) “That ‘Convention’: Nonsense, ‘Americanism,’ Superlativeness, Back-numberism,” by Herman Simpson [July 10, 1898]  
Another blistering attack on the Social Democracy of America from the weekly press of the rival Socialist Labor Party, this by Daniel DeLeon loyalist Herman Simpson. Simpson recounts the fights at the recently completed convention of the Social Democracy over credentials and the direction of the organization, portraying the scrum as a battle between those who favored so-called “American Socialism” by means of utopian colonization against those seeking a particularly incoherent version of “political action.” Simpson intimates the political action group of Debs and Berger have opportunistically and ahistorically attempted to “harmonize” the interests of urban workers and rural petty proprietors, all the while ignoring the interests of propertyless rural workers. All that is beneficial is ascribed to the propaganda absorbed through osmosis from the SLP and its trade union auxiliary organization, the Socialist Trade & Labor Alliance. Includes a short biography of Herman Simpson, later a journalist for the New York Call and founding editor of The New Review.
(4) “The Story of the British Labor Party,” by Morris Hillquit [undated, c. 1924] 
(PDF graphic file). Socialist Party propaganda leaflet by Morris Hillquit. Hillquit attempts to draw a parallel between British experience and American prospects, noting that in the UK voters were “handicapped by the superstitious belief in the ‘two-party’ system of government” for generations. Then in 1899 the Trades Union Congress set in motion a mechanism for the working class to secure “better representation of the interests of labor in the House of Commons.” The federative Labour Party had started modestly, electing just 2 candidates in the election of 1900. But steady growth had been show, Hillquit indicates, until at the “last general parliamentary elections…held in 1923,” the Labour Party had seen the election of 191 Members of Parliament. “This is the story of the political achievements of the British workers,” Hillquit declares: “Its lesson is inspiring, its moral is simple. It loudly cries to American labor: ‘Go thou and do likewise!'” Hillquit asserts: “With the example 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.” First published in The Socialist World [Chicago], vol. 4, no. 9 (September 1923), pp. 3–4. Parallel file uploaded to
(5) “The Workers Party Convention,” by Philip Kerr [events of Dec. 30, 1923 to Jan. 2, 1924]  
First-hand account of the third national convention of the Workers Party written by an activist in the rival Proletarian Party of America. Kerr calls the WPA a “aggregation, permeated…with many contradictions and conflicting views,” with an officialdom intent on casting their activities before the Comintern as a success in order to maintain their jobs. Executive Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg is depicted as the head cheerleader, offering a “glowing eulogy” of the organization’s activities, proclaiming the “dying Trade Union Educational League” to be a “gigantic success.” Kerr charges the WPA with “bungling tactics” in relation to the July 1923 Farmer-Labor Party convention, the chances of success of which are said to have been detroyed by the Communists’ convention-packing activities. Reported memberships of both the Federated Farmer-Labor Party and the TUEL are said to have been grossly inflated by the “common opportunists and tricksters” of the WPA, Kerr charges. Kerr characterizes the dominant Foster-Cannon faction has having “strong syndicalist tendencies,” while the Pepper-Ruthenberg faction are called “rank opportunists.” A reduction of the size of the governing Central Executive Committee from 28 members to 13 is noted.
(6) “Letter to All Branches of the Workers Party of America from C.E. Ruthenberg, Executive Secretary.” [published Jan. 14, 1924] 
“State of the Party”-type message by the newly re-elected Executive Secretary of the Workers Party of America to the party membership, published in the pages of the Daily Worker. Ruthenberg notes that Sunday, Feb. 3, 1924, is to be a coordinated day of public meetings nationwide, organized around the issue of recognitions of Soviet Russia. Ruthenberg notes other key initiatives for the WPA in the coming year, including continuation of the campaign for protection of foreign-born workers and continued efforts to establish a Federated Farmer-Labor Party. Towards the latter objective, Ruthenberg states that the weekly Chicago party paper, Voice of Labor, had been formally transferred to the FFLP and renamed Farmer-Labor Voice — a precursor to the paper’s termination for budgetary reasons. A membership drive is announced, with Ruthenberg noting that at the time of the 3rd National Convention “the figures gathered showed 25,000 members on our Party rolls, although the dues payments have not reached that amount.” A goal of 10,000 new members is declared.
(7) “Winitsky Hears of Pardon Action Two Days Later: Gets Copy of Freiheit by Accident.” (Daily Worker) [Jan. 16, 1924]  
Short news account in the official English-language daily of the Workers Party of America detailing the “strange manner” in which party leader Harry Winitsky initially learned of his pardon by New York Governor Al Smith. Rather than being directly informed in person, by telegram, or by phone, Winitsky is said to have learned of his full pardon from a published news account in the Yiddish-language Communist daily, the Freiheit. Prior to his May 1922 release from Sing Sing Penitentiary on bond, Winitsky was subject for two years to “the harshest treatment that could be concocted by the Department of Justice Torquemada,” according to this news account. “He was beaten repeatedly and brutally, threatened with confinement in an insane asylum, and framed on false charges of attempted murdermade by an embittered prison warden at the Department of Justice’s instigation,” the story indicates.


Lilian Hellman (1905-1984), playwright and political activist [expanded]
Philip Van Patten (1852-1918), Socialist Labor Party National Secretary

December 16, 2011

Memory can be funny, but I forget why

Filed under: Uncategorized — carrite @ 7:27 pm

Friday morning 10:00 am, posted in the evening.

I got an email from David McMullen last night, Ellen Dawson‘s biographer. I had COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN that we had been in communication, that he had told me he was doing a Wikipedia piece on her and hoped to finish it up after the holidays.

Great embarrassment.

It’s a very good thing indeed that I didn’t have that extra day to finish up the piece on her, otherwise I would have felt like a total jerk instead of half a jerk. Anyway, he was very nice and complimentary and I apologized profusely for having blanked out our previous communication.

It’s weird how memory can shut something like that out. I’m reminded of going back to Eureka, California for my 25th high school reunion. I had stayed up to date with names and exploits of many of my classmates through my best friend, Dave Adams, who was much like Farris Bueller in that the jocks, socials, gearheads, brains, etc. all thought he was a “righteous dude.” Dave had multiple citizenship in high school social cliques and got along with everyone.

Dave worked in a local Safeway store as a department manager, and he was seeing classmates all the time. Everybody goes to the grocery store, after all. I’d visit him once a year and he’d always get out the old high school yearbooks (that I never owned) and we’d flip though and he’d give me the rundown on this person or that, what they were doing, who was getting divorced or married again, or had kids or surgery or died.

So anyway, over the years I was kept up to speed. And when it was time I drove down for the EHS 25th… (I actually graduated from Crescent Valley HS in Corvallis, Oregon because my family moved in the middle of my Junior year, but that’s quite another story.)

At the dinner that evening there was good old Chuck Annis. We had had classes together since like 5th grade. He gave me the nickname “Mouse” — a play on “Timothy Mouse” of Disney fame, which was ironic in my case since I was tall and gangly and most un-mouselike. I had the nickname for a couple years. We played in band together all through Junior High — he played tuba, I played drums, back row of the room sort of instruments.

So anyway, I went up to Chuck to say hello.

And he did not know me.

At all.

I don’t mean to say he didn’t recognize me — he honestly didn’t know of my existence, I had been completely erased from the hard drive spinning inside his head.

That was…………. disconcerting.

What’s worse: a couple people came up to me to say hi and I did the exact same thing to them.

But forgetting ever having corresponded with a person back-and-forth twice just two weeks ago?!?

That’s really weird.

Lynch Mobbing for entertainment

Filed under: Uncategorized — carrite @ 7:24 pm

Friday morning, 9:45 am, posted in the evening.

This is being written from work since my free half hour in the morning was diverted by an emergency situation on Wikipedia. The Administrators’ Noticeboard/Incidents (ANI), well known by careful observers as the main “drama board” on WP, was in full-on Lynchmob Mode over the alleged copyright transgressions of a contributor this morning.

Copyright Investigations (CCI) had opened a case against Richard A. Norton a month ago. That the investigation happened at all was more or less the result of the initiative of his personal enemies, in my opinion, as these things usually are. Since he’s a prolific contributor with tens of thousands of edits, a few carefully selected “bad” edits in the form of close paraphrases of copyrighted sources, were parlayed into a massive investigative case.

Scores of hours of time of volunteer time was poured into taking a close look at his entire editing history, and the small violations gradually mounted into a little heap.

Norton had been banned from starting new articles for 30 days during the investigation. When that time elapsed, he immediately began starting new pages again, including the restoration of one close paraphrase/copyright violation.

And, on cue, his enemies have tried to make that one restoration — of material he didn’t originally write, no less! — into a “permanent ban” case against him at ANI. The reasonable voices advising a temporary extension of the article creation ban (the main CCI investigators) were in real danger of being drowned out by the drama hounds who enjoy pulling the wings off grasshoppers for entertainment.

Wikipedia, backstage, is a lot like Lord of the Flies sometimes.

So the blog piece I had in mind got put on hold.

December 15, 2011

Hi-ho, hi-ho and all of that shit…

Filed under: Uncategorized — carrite @ 8:37 am

Thursday morning.

I’ve been in a pissy mood about having to go back to work today. I need another day to finish Ellen Dawson, I knew beforehand that I was going to need another day on Ellen Dawson — and I just don’t have it. It’s pretty frustrating to know that with a simple stroke of the scheduling pen a week ago, I’d be here finishing that up rather than grinding out 8 more hours of existence. But today is pay day, I do have checks to write and stuff to do down there and it is what it is.

The Dawson piece, viewable in the link above, is coming along nicely, albeit slowly. There’s only about 3 and a half hours of work showing in that piece and I did another hour of typing on a way-too-long-for-what-it-is piece from the SLP newspaper The People from 1898, so yesterday has to be regarded as a poor one in terms of production. Maybe it’s good that I’m headed back to work for a few days. It will refocus my energy, which was dissipated writing the long “welcome — but there are problems with your article” thing to an AfD victim yesterday, and engaging in other forms of messing around.

The Dawson writing may not look like much. A professional historian, meaning somebody who has to publish or perish, would say that it is nothing more than a glorified book report. Even Wikipedians would call it “One Source” writing and flag it as such if that’s the condition the article remained in. But there is a real knack to that sort of writing, being able to distill the essence of 80 pages or whatever of a biography into a handful of readable paragraphs without engaging in “close paraphrase” or making other forms of copyright violation.

And if it’s so easy, how come more people don’t do it, in this age of hundreds of thousands of free pdf books on the internet?

No, indeed, it’s a hard form of writing all its own.

I just might be the best Junior High School Book Report writer of all time.

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Dawson is an interesting case. There is absolutely sufficient sourcing available to get her past Wikipedia’s “General Notability Guideline” as an encyclopedia-article-worthy topic. The fact that there is a book written ABOUT her gets her about 90% of the way home right there. She also figures as an object of significant coverage in two books by Communist historian Philip S. Foner and one monograph on the 1929 Gastonia strike, at a minimum. But outside of that, it’s slim pickings — an “incidental mention” here or there.

I honestly don’t know if her name was ever mentioned in the New York Times, for example. Her obituary is said to say nothing of her life as a textile union leader, the basic mainsteam histories of American Communism don’t mention her, nor do the basic volumes of labor leader biographies, and her time as a person of significance was short — 1926 to 1930 or so, it would seem.

Her biographer speaks of having “saved her from oblivion” or some such, echoing the sentiments I expressed myself about what I do at the start of this blog, and he sort of did. I knew OF her before I knew of his book, I had her bio listed on my “to do” list. But would I have ever been able to muster sufficient sources to flesh out a useful biography, would it have ever been written?

Not likely.

As it stands, I have McMullen’s bio to use as a main source, then I can flesh out detail with the sources dealing with that little 5 year interlude of activity and slide a couple primary sources in at the end, assuming I go back and get them. The end result will be a pretty good piece, very much an “addition to the literature” in its own way.

Another little step forward to “saving” Dawson’s memory.

Again: that’s what my Wikipedia work is all about, that’s all there is, there is no more — either you “get it” or you don’t…

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I spent another 90 minutes searching for photos last night, with nothing much found. There was a sort of interesting shot of Big Bill Haywood for $30, but it was literally a strip torn out of the middle of a larger image. Maybe worth half that, if I were feeling generous. Lots of interesting crap to look at. For example, did you know that Deep Dish Pie was invented in California in 1918 as a means of saving dough for crust as an austerity measure during World War I? They called it “Hoover Pie,” Hoover being the US government’s “Food Czar” in this period…

It’s almost worth dropping $30 on that to make a gift of it to the Hoover Institution in Palo Alto, which is a place I’ve been a few times to do historical work. Almost, but not quite.

Still, it’s really cool hunting through old newspaper photos. My one seller has over 400,000 currently listed on ebay, by the way. That’s a pile.

Well, time for me to go eat some food and to get ready for work.

I’d rather be writing.

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