Update 12-06: Sunday, February 5, 2012.

"The Paterson Strike," by Patrick L. Quinlan [March 15, 1913]  Early report on the events of the 1913 Paterson Silk Strike written by Industrial Workers of the World activist Patrick L. Quinlan, arrested by authorities at a mass meeting of strikers on February 25 -- the first day that the strike went general among the city's fabric mills. Quinlan is quite definite as to the cause of the strike: "up to [Feb. 25] the fight was limited to one factory, the Doherty mill. The cause of the dispute being Doherty’s attempt to introduce the three- and four-loom system instead of the two-loom, as was customary. The Doherty workers had been on strike for more than a month. Three weeks ago the workers themselves saw that if Doherty succeeded in installing the three- and four-loom system it would be generally introduced throughout the silk industry." Despite the arrest of IWW strike organizers Carlo Tresca, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, and Quinlan, the strike continued to gain strength throughout the rest of the month, Quinlan indicates, until at the time of this writing an estimated 25,000 mill workers were out on strike. Quinlan notes a "splendid solidarity" and "complete burial of all race and religious differences" among the strikers. He is enthusiastic that "the middle class is brought to its knees. It is terrified and helpless. The storekeepers are no longer propagandists for the bosses. They are neutral."

"Statements of Patrick L. Quinlan on the Fate of the IWW." [April and Fall 1917]  Two closely related statements on the current state of the Industrial Workers of the World by former IWW organizer Patrick L. Quinlan, printed verbatim in a 1918 book by Percy Stickney Grant. Quinlan is no longer a believer in the IWW by this juncture, and he offers a very realistic and critical perspective of the organization's status and prospects. In the first section (April 1917), Quinlan provides a summary of a recent tour of "industrial centers of the East and Middle West" and indicates with regret that he "did not observe any tangible or concrete evidence of IWW activity." The whole of IWW activity since its brief moment in the sun in 1913 had been dedicated to "the Joe Hill case, the Everett (Washington) shooting, and to free speech fights of dubious value." In the East, no more than a few thousand members remained in the organization, in Quinlan's estimation, while a healthier Agricultural Workers Organization in the West retained only nominal allegiance to the Chicago organization. In the second section (Fall 1917), Quinlan attempts to make sense of the lumpenproletarian Agricultural Workers Organization of the West, which he attributes to the extremely harsh conditions facing Western workers owing to a comparative undercapitalization of the Western bourgeoisie and the seasonal nature of agricultural work which fomented a nomadic lifestyle.

"Testimony to the Special Investigative Committee of the New York State Assembly by George R. Lunn, Jan. 28, 1920."  While the 1920 exclusion of 5 Socialist Assemblymen by the New York State Legislature was a prominent and well-remembered event of the First Red Scare in America, the rationale behind this draconian action has been little explored. This section from the voluminous published stenogram of the New York Assembly's Judiciary Committee illustrates the main pretext for exclusion of the elected assemblymen: fear of external control through the mechanism of the signed "blank resignations" which all officials elected under the Socialist Party banner were constitutionally mandated to supply. In this way, Socialists believed, elected officials would remain under party discipline and held to the promises and policy of the party platform. Those favoring Socialist exclusion believed this to be a mechanism for foreign or domestic alien control of legislative action. George R. Lunn, first elected Mayor of Schenectady, New York as a Socialist in November 1911, was one official pressured to sign a "blank resignation." Lunn took umbrage at the requirement and refused to sign in his 1913 re-election campaign, in which he was defeated, or in 1915, in which he was elected again. In 1917, Lunn was elected to Congress as a Democrat, before being re-elected Mayor of Schenectady in 1919. Called as a witness by the "prosecution" seeking exclusion of the Socialist Assemblymen, Lunn details matters of Schenectady Socialist politics and his objections to "blank resignations." Seymour Stedman handled the task of cross-examination for the Socialist "defendants," emphasizing the actual similarity in practice of the written control mechanism and pressures exerted by the Socialist Party with the informal backroom control historically exerted by the Republicans and Democrats.

"Our New Editor: Patrick L. Quinlan" (The New Age) [Sept. 29, 1921]  This front page article in the mainline (not Left Wing) Buffalo Socialist Party weekly The New Age announces the hiring of a new editor for the publication -- Patrick L. Quinlan. A short sketch of some of Quinlan's activities is included, including membership as a young man in the Independent Labour Party, membership in the Socialist Labor Party of America, charter membership in the Industrial Workers of the World, organizer and strike leader of the Hotel Workers' Union, leadership of the 1913 Paterson silk strike, and two years' prison term resulting therefrom. "Last year he visited Russian and European countries and had some interesting experiences," the article dryly notes -- a massive understatement given the fact that Quinlan was a voting delegate of the Irish Labour Party at the 2nd World Congress of the Communist International in Moscow!

Sinn Fein Prisoner Tells a Remarkable Story of Debs in Jail: Thomas Walsh of Irish Republican Army...Says ’Gene Rules the Prison and Dominates All [Nov. 24, 1921]  First-hand account of Socialist leader Eugene V. Debs' life behind bars at Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, passed on to the New York World by released Sinn Fein activist Thomas Walsh. Walsh indicates that Debs had been cut off from all published political newspapers and magazines by the justice department, but that he had made no effort to spread Socialist propaganda in any event, instead leading by way of example and serving as "the real spiritual counselor of the best and the worst of his prison-fellows." The Catholic Walsh enthusiastically calls Debs "he finest Christian I have met in or out of prison" despite Debs' aversion to attending church, lauding him as a "gentle and admirable spirit." Instances of kindness and personal generosity are cited and it is noted that Debs was universally held in high esteem by the prison population, who enforced the respectful use of the title "Mister Debs" towards him among other prisoners. Debs is characterized as a "sick man" who had refused offers for medical parole on the basis of principle, instead living a more or less regular prison existence.

"A Letter from Debs: Gene Sends Greetings to All the Comrades: Full Report of His First Speech," by Otto Branstetter [Jan. 5, 1922]  After his release by the administration of Warren G. Harding at the time of Christmas 1921, Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs returned home to Terre Haute, Indiana to find a wall of telegrams and letters. Unable to answer each personally, as was his custom, Debs enlisted Executive Secretary of the Socialist Party Otto Branstetter to make use of the SPA's press service to publicize Debs' words of acknowledgment and thanks to his supporters. This article contains three small snippets of Debsiana: a communication to his friends and correspondents, a letter of appreciation to the individuals and organizations who had supported his cause through the Amnesty movement, and full text of his brief homecoming speech made from the porch of his house to friends and neighbors in Terre Haute at the time of his return. In the wake of his release, Debs pledges his "completer consecration to the Cause, and in a higher resolve to serve it with every atom of my strength to the last hour of my life." He also declares "I am not free as long as any are in prison. I have a heart for my fellow man. I shall devote my life to the liberation of those who are imprisoned. And I shall know no rest until they are restored to their families."

"Moscow Condemned: IWW Delegate in His Official Report Bitterly Attacks Meeting of Moscow Group: Williams Recommends that IWW  Steer Clear of Moscow," by George Williams [Jan. 5, 1922]  Preliminary report on the founding of the Red International of Labor Unions (Profintern) by the delegate of the American section of the Industrial Workers of the World to its founding congress. According to Williams there were five Americans at the founding Congress of Profintern with decisive (as opposed to consultative) votes, allotted a total of 16 votes: himself (IWW, 3 votes); William Z. Foster (3 votes); Earl Browder (3 votes); Dennis Batt (3 votes); Hulet Wells (3 votes); and Ella Reeve Bloor (1 vote). Only his own and Foster's mandates were valid, Williams states, with the others either voting on the basis of dubious mandates issued by the Communist Party on the basis of political reliability (Browder, Bloor) or granted a decisive voice by the Credentials Committee on the basis of specifically "fraternal" delegate mandates. Williams charges the organizers of Profintern with a systemic misrepresentation and falsification of mandates in an effort to pack the founding congress of RILU and thereby dominate the organization. Williams declares that while "every economic organization which answered the call believed that [RILU] was to be free from any domination by a political faction," in reality through the CI's packing methods, "the radical economic organizations in joining the Red Trade Union International would place themselves as completely under the domination of the Communist International as though they were units of the Third International itself. The plan as revealed by the deliberations is to place such national labor movements, radical and otherwise, under the domination of the political faction of each country, with the Executive Committee of the Communist International as supreme dictators of the world’s proletariat." Williams concludes that "The whole truth of the matter in a few words is that the political faction did not want an economic international in fact, but in name only."


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