‘Socialistic Labor Party News, Press, and Officers’ from Bulletin of the Social Labor Movement (Detroit). Vol. 1 No. 14. December, 1880 and January, 1881.

A timeworn tabloid on today’s Newsstand, going way back to one of the original organs of the modern working class movement. For this rare look at the activity of the Socialistic Labor Party in the winter of 1881, including brief reports of work in Merridian, Connecticut, Brooklyn, New York City, Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and San Francisco; a list of party-supported journals; and a lost of the members and addresses of the National Executive Committee, resident in Detroit, of the S.L.P.

In its opening decade, the S.L.P., the first genuinely working class Socialist party in U.S founded in 1877, manifested its German-speaking origins and the prominence of its Lassallean politics, as will be clear in the paragraphs below. The product of a fusion between the more labor orientated Marxists minority, and layer of anarcho-communists, and majority parliamentary reform followers of Lassalle, it would not be until the early 1890s, and the split of the anarchists, the growth of the labor movement and the practical defeat of the Lasaslleans, that the Marxist had hegemony in the S.L.P….and Daniel De Leon.

‘Socialistic Labor Party News, Press, and Officers’ from Bulletin of the Social Labor Movement (Detroit). Vol. 1 No. 14. December, 1880 and January, 1881.

Boston. — The Section here is in a state of confusion, owing to the misleading speeches of an impracticable Anarchistic doctor, who, at his own expense, has commenced publication of a wild revolutionary magazine, filled with rules for the construction or barricades and other nonsense. This mysterious individual bas converted to his purposes a writer on Socialism, well known to the readers of the Irish World as “the man who exhausts the printers’ cases of all their cap I’s.” Mr. Morsecan congratulates himself that his individualistic arguments have conquered his former opponent. Wonders will never cease! But we don’t think our Section will suffer much.

Dutch-American Philip Van Patten was the first National Secretary and an N.E.C. member.

Meriden, Conn. — Connections have been established with Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport, for the purpose of systematic agitation. A speaker will be put on the road and will visit each place in turn. This is a move that should be imitated by all Sections in the country that are near enough together.

New York. — The arrival from Germany of large numbers of exiled Socialists, has given the Section plenty to do in the way of holding meetings and stirring up enthusiasm. The fair held in December, for the accumulation of funds with which to start a fine English paper, is reported quite successful. Comrade Jonas has departed for Europe, where he will take some much needed rest. The daily German paper is now secure and on a paying basis.

Brooklyn. — A. co-operative association in the grocery business is being planned and will be, if successful, enlarged in scope to undertake a number of other enterprises and work in connection with a sick benefit fund. The Section does not officially control the affair, but members of the Party will furnish the principal support.

Philadelphia. — The daily paper is reported in a flourishing condition and was the first in the city to raise the wages of German printers. The so-called “Social Revolutionary Club ” is making as much noise as a fly in a bottle, but as a Socialists who understand American institutions will have nothing to do with a concern that opposes legislative reform the membership of the club is confined entirely to unnaturalized foreigners and cannot amount to much.

Detroit. — Here the Socialists have busied themselves with the work of reviving the Trade Unions, and through our exertions there is now one of the finest and by all odds the liveliest Trades Councils in the country. Since November, Comrades Dolan and Van Patten have organized seven unions, and with the assistance of Comrade O’Neill (our new Section organizer), twelve unions in all have been added to the list, making twenty-four now in the Council. Bills for presentation to the Legislature have been adopted by the Council, covering the subjects of Prison Labor, Children’s Labor, Compulsory Education, and the proposed abolishment of the Conspiracy Law. Comrade Simpson, Alderman- elect from the Eleventh Ward, took his seat in the Common Council on the 11th inst., and is getting ready for action.

Comrade Simpson is, however, threatened with loss of his seat by the same sort of fraud that unseated Frank Stauber in Chicago. On the day after the election, the ballot boxes were delivered, properly sealed, to the City Clerk (who, by the way, is a Democrat) Francis Alter, the defeated Democratic opponent of Simpson, contested the election, and a recount being held, resulted in the finding of a majority of eighty for Alter, a change of ninety-nine votes! But the investigating committee found the boxes with seals altered, destroyed or totally absent, one box being tied with ribbon only; of course Comrade Simpson will not give up his seat without resistance, even to prosecution of the parties responsible for the safe-keeping of the ballot boxes.

N.E.C. member and cigar maker, Charles Erb.

Comrades Koennecke and Keitel, two exiles from Germany are with us, and addressed mass meetings which were largely attended. Our Labor Lyceum is working famously, meetings being held every Sunday afternoon for free discussion. We shall undertake to organize the whole city thoroughly before spring. Comrade Grenell is now in Ionia, Mich., the Tract Association having turned its affairs over to the Section.

Chicago. — The reorganized Section has now three good branches with prospects of two more. Comrade Herzig, of Detroit, will soon visit the city and bring our German members out of the state of confusion under which they now suffer, through the falsehoods and misleading statements of the ” Arbeiter Zeitung.” The ” Labor Union ” is intended to be a valuable help to the movement, and is just now engaged in putting radicalism into the Trade Union men. It is needless to remark that the circular recently issued in the name of the Central Committee was a base forgery put forth by the Vorbote people, with the hope of discouraging the Party.

N.E.C. member Charles Labadie.

St. Louis. — After a long siege with the “Vorbote” element, the Section has now overcome all difficulties and is holding good meetings. Comrade Max Stoehr, one of the German exiles, and a fine speaker, is drawing large audiences. Comrades Winter, McGuire and Luebkert are actively hammering away and the new paper will be issued in March. So that St. Louis may be said to be all ” O.K.” Comrade Winter is ready to undertake lecturing trips, and we hope soon to have him. on the road. The Trades Assembly has made a strenuous opposition to the reappointment of Hilkene as State Commissioner of Labor Statistics, owing to his shameful treatment of Comrade McGuire, whose efforts alone brought the Bureau of Statistics into existence, and saved the first report from being a total failure in Hilkene’s hands.

Milwaukee. — The agitation is progressing finely, but the Section is of the opinion that a speaker from some other locality could accomplish a great deal. They offer a good situation and steady work to some exile who is capable of serving as an agitator.

San Francisco. — Comrade Wilson reports that the Branches have consolidated under the old Section arrangement and dropped the “Central Committee.” In political campaigns the branches will probably be revived. Comrade Alfred Cridge’s new book is attracting attention, and as it is very instructive it should be widely circulated.


Our National Executive Committee recommends the following newspapers to the consideration and support of Workingmen and Socialists generally:

‘Bulletin of the Social Labor Movement’, (English), Monthly by the National Executive, Box 597, Detroit, Mich.

“New Yorker Volks Zeitung,” (German), Daily and Weekly. Address P. O. Box 3560, New York, N. Y.

“Philadelphia Tageblatt,” (German). Daily and Weekly. Address, 613 Callowhill Street, Philadelphia, Pa.

“Delnicke Listy,” (Bohemian), Daily and Weekly. Address, 135 E. Fourth street, New York, N. Y.

“California Frie Presse,” (German), Weekly, San Francisco.

“La Jeune learie,” (French), Monthly. Address, Corning, Iowa.

“La Revue Iccerienne,” (French), Monthly. Address, Corning, Iowa.

“Press of the Co-Operative Colonization Movement.” “The Communist” (English) Address, A. Longley, St, Louis, Mo.

“Press of the Trade Union Movement.” “Socialistic Greenback Labor Papers.” “The Irish World and American Industrial Liberator,” (Weekly). Address, No. 10 Spruce street, New York, N. Y.

“The Tablet.” 193 Clark street, Chicago, Ill.

“American Workman,” Springfield, Ill.


Wm. Arendt
Charles Erb 579 Dequindore Street.
H. Kummerfeld, Treasurer 29 Napoleon Street.
Gustav Herzig 29 Napoleon Street.
Philip Van Patten 68 Columbia St. East, Detroit.
E.W. Simpson, Bee. Secretary 90 Wilkins Street.
Jos. A. Labadie 121 Porter Street.

Bulletin of the Social Labor Movement, published in Detroit and New York City between 1879 and 1883, was one of several early attempts of the Socialist Labor Party to establish a regular English-language press by the largely German-speaking organization. Founded in the tumultuous year of 1877, the SLP emerged from the Workingmen’s Party of the United States, itself a product of a merger between trade union oriented Marxists and electorally oriented Lassalleans. Philip Van Patten, an English-speaking, US-born member was chosen the Corresponding Secretary as way to appeal outside of the world of German Socialism. The early 1880s saw a new wave of political German refugees, this time from Bismark’s Anti-Socialist Laws. The 1880s also saw the anarchist split from the SLP of Albert Parsons and those that would form the Revolutionary Socialist Labor Party, and be martyred in the Haymarket Affair. It was in this period of decline, with only around 2000 members as a high estimate, that the party’s English-language organ, Bulletin of the Social Labor Movement, appeared monthly from Detroit. After it collapsed in 1883, it was not until 1886 that the SLP had another English press, the Workingmen’s Advocate. It wasn’t until the establishment of The People in 1891 that the SLP, nearly 15 years after its founding, would have a stable, regular English-language paper.

PDF of original paper: https://archive.org/download/BullitinOfTheSocialLaborMovement/LaborMovement_Bulletin_text.pdf

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