Socialist Party of America
White, author of Fire in the Ashes: Europe in Mid-century (1953) wrote, “Socialism is the belief and the hope that by proper use of government power, men can be rescued from their helplessness in the wild cycling cruelty of depression and boom. Progress of socialism The Socialist Party in America was born and grew dramatically between 1900 and 1912. Under the charismatic leadership of Eugene V. Debs in 1912, 160 councilmen, 145 aldermen, one congressman, and 56 mayors, including Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Berkeley, California, and Schenectady, New York, were elected as Socialists. At the time, Socialists published 300 newspapers, including the Appeal of Reason, which was a Kansas-based publication with 700,000 subscribers. Membership in the Socialist Party totaled 125,000.
Debs imprisoned Debs converted to socialism while serving Jail time for his part in the Pullman Strike n 1897, and began to edit the Appeal to Reason publication. From 1900 to 1920, he ran for president on the Socialist ticket while increasing membership to the Socialist Party tenfold. Although Debs insisted he was a Marxist, he spoke more about poverty and injustice than typical socialist concerns about the class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat (Marx). In 1912, Debs received 900,000 votes, which was six percent of the presidential votes cast that year, principally for his stand against America ‘s involvement in World War l.
Debs appealed to blue collar workers hungry for improved working conditions and higher wages, but also such intellectuals as authors Jack London and Upton Sinclair. Debs campaign poster Prominently with President Theodore Roosevelt and through the 20th century’s first years, the Progressive Movement came into view with its belief in “the perfectability of man, and in an open society where mankind was neither chained to the past nor condemned to a deterministic future; one which people were capable of changing their condition for better or worse. “
The Socialist Party was included within the Progressive Movement. The party dealt with American problems in an American manner. Unlike the Communist Party, the For example, socialists and other progressives campaigned at the local level for municipal ownership of waterworks, gas and electric plants, and made good progress in such endeavors. In 1911, there were 18 Socialist candidates for mayor, and they nearly won the Cleveland, Ohio, and Los Angeles, California, mayoral races. In 1905, Upton Sinclair founded the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, which soon had chapters in the leading universities.
Lively young men and women discussed the “New Gospel according to St. Marx. ” Universities were considered to be favorable ground for progressive thought. Following the election of 1912, Socialist Party membership began to decline as some members cast their vote for Woodrow Wilson. Others were expelled, such as the Industrial Workers of the World, of which Debs and labor organizer “Mother” Mary Harris Jones had once been members. The IWW had been organized in 1905, grew into a radical, direct-action wing of American socialism by 1910, and had up to 100,000 workers by 1915.