Chapter Six: The S.L.P: De Leonism and Decline (1890-1900)

6. The S.L.P: De Leonism and Decline (1890-1900)

Daniel De Leon was not able to bring about
a working class movement in the US despite
his years of influence.  Considered the father
of anarcho-syndicalism.
During the period from the mid-eighties to the end of the century, American industrial development proceeded at an unheard-of pace. "The United States," wrote Lenin in 1913, "is unequaled in the rapidity of development (of capitalism at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the twentieth century)."1 In these years the United States leaped from fourth to first place as an industrial nation, leaving England, "the workshop of the world," far behind. Kuszynski says that the United Slates, in 1894, was turning out, in value of manufactures, over twice as much as England.2

Meanwhile, as American industry expanded it also became monopolized. In 1901, J. Moody listed a total of 440 large industrial, financial, and franchise trusts, with a total capital of over $20 billion.3 United States Steel, Standard Oil, and many other great trusts in railroad, sugar, coal, etc., date from this period. Morgan, Rockefeller, Kuhn Loeb, and others were already huge concerns by the end of the century. A great financial oligarchy, ruthlessly ruling the country, had grown up. This was a time of the fiercest competition, and particularly during the economic crises of 1885 and 1893 the big capitalist beasts devoured thousands of the smaller ones. The middle classes were being ground down, nor could the Sherman anti-trust law of 1890 save them. The workers were barbarously exploited and slaughtered in the industries.

The United States had become a powerful imperialist country. With its home market now assured, monopoly reached out for foreign conquests. The arrogant Wall Street monopolists, dominating the industries and the government, transformed the Monroe Doctrine into an instrument for the subjugation and exploitation of Latin America. By 1893, they had also virtually annexed the Hawaiian islands, on the route of conquest across the Pacific. In 1898, under the pretext of freeing Cuba, they provoked a war with Spain, with the result that the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Cuba fell into the hands of the United States. Flushed with imperialist ambition, Senator Lodge declared, "The American people and the economic forces which underlie all are carrying us forward to the economic supremacy of the world."4


The 1890's were a period of great labor struggles, exceeding in intensity and scope even those of the two previous decades. The working class, more and more employed in large enterprises, had grown very greatly in size. The arrogant capitalists, resolved to strip their wage slaves of every trade union defense and to subject them to the most intense exploitation humanly possible, met with extreme violence all resistance on the part of the workers to their imperious will. But they encountered a working class rapidly growing in numbers, understanding, and organization, and the hardest-fought strikes in our nation's history developed.

One of the most desperate of these was the great Homestead, Pennsylvania, strike of July 1892. The strike was directed against the Carnegie Steel Company by the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers, to prevent an announced wage cut. The company brought in 300 Pinkerton detective-gunmen to break the strike, but the armed workers drove them out and occupied the plants. Finally, however, the strike was broken, and a mortal blow was dealt to trade unionism throughout the trustified steel industry.

In the metal-mining country of the Rocky Mountain states, at the same time, there developed a whole series of strikes, in Colorado, Idaho, ind Montana. These reached the pitch of actual civil war, with armed encounters between strikers and troops. Many were killed on each side. These historic strikes, led by Bill Haywood, Vincent St. John, and other radicals, laid the basis for the famous Western Federation of Miners.

In this decade many important strikes also took place on the railroads, they culminated in the historic strike, beginning in May 1894, of the American Railway Union. This organization, which was industrial in form and a rival of the conservative railroad craft unions, was headed by Eugene V. Debs, who was not yet a Socialist. The strike began in the Pullman shops in Chicago against a wage reduction. It developed into a general strike on the railroads, with more than 100,000 workers out and many western roads tied up. The big strike was finally broken by the company's and government's use of scabs, troops, court injunctions, and the wholesale arrest of the strike leaders, including Debs.

Another big strike of this period was that of the coal miners, beginning in May 1893. Some 125,000 struck. The strike was broken; nevertheless the United Mine Workers virtually established itself as a solid union during this strike. Still another important workers' movement was the march of the unemployed to Washington in the hard times of 1894, led by General Jacob S. Coxey, a well-to-do businessman. In the final decade of the century the Knights of Labor faded out and the American Federation of Labor became the dominant organization, slowly increasing its membership to 548,321 in 1900.


The S.L.P. bore heavy political responsibilities of leadership in the 1890's, faced as it was by rapidly developing American monopoly capitalism and by the intensely sharpening class struggle. If the Party was to function effectively and to grow it had to serve as the vanguard of the whole labor movement. This required that it should not only educate the workers regarding the final goal of socialism, but, imperatively, that it also give them practical leadership in all their daily struggles. But this mass guidance the S.L.P., under the leadership of Daniel De Leon, proved quite unable to provide.

De Leon made strong pretensions of being a Marxist, but until the day of his death in May 1914, he never succeeded in really becoming one. De Leon formally accepted such basic Marxist concepts as historical materialism, Marxist economics, and the class struggle. He also circulated the Marxist classics, knew the importance of industrial unionism, and was an advocate of a strong, centralized party. And above all, De Leon was a relentless fighter against right opportunism, his attacks against the right-wing Social-Democrats and against the reactionary leadership of the trade unions being classics of polemics. Nevertheless, De Leon's position was fundamentally revisionist, as he rewrote Marx in many important essentials. His general outlook was a mixture of "left" sectarianism and syndicalism.   He was essentially a left   petty-bourgeois radical. De Leon, for example, had a non-Marxist, syndicalist conception of the future socialist society. Marx, in The Communist Manifesto, pointed out the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which, as we see in the Soviet Union and the People's Democracies of Eastern Europe, implies the establishment of a workers' government in the interim period of socialism, between capitalism and communism. The function of this government is to act as an organ to repress the defeated, counter-revolutionary capitalist class, to build the new society, and to defend the country from foreign imperialist attacks. But De Leon never realized these facts. Departing radically from Marxist thinking, he early developed the syndicalist theory, borrowed mainly from the earlier anarcho-syndicalists,5 that the industrial unions would be the basis of the future society. This industrial organization, according to De Leon, would not be a state, with coercive powers, but simply an administrative apparatus.

In this respect De Leon's conceptions were in basic harmony with those of the I.W.W. syndicalists from 1905 on. De Leon said, "Industrial Unionism is the Socialist Republic in the making, and the goal once reached, the Industrial Union is the Socialist Republic in operation."6 He subscribed to the I.W.W. preamble, which declared that "By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old." And he definitely declared, "Where the General Executive Board of the Industrial Workers of the World will sit there will sit the nation's capital."7

After the Russian Revolution the S.L.P. leaders claimed that De Leon, with his concept of an industrial republic, had forecast the Soviet system, and that Lenin had congratulated him for so doing. But this was nonsense. De Leon's ideas of the structure of Socialist society were rooted in anarchist and left sectarian, not Marxist, sources. Significantly, De Leon's present-day followers, who rigidly cling to his ideas, have repudiated the whole organization of the Soviets.

De Leon also diverged widely from Marxism in his conception of how the revolution was to be brought about in the United States. He saw this in the sense of the workers taking over society in the face of a virtually unresisting capitalist class. It is a fact, of course, that Marx, long before, had made an exception of England and the United States in his generalization that the resistance of the capitalists to social progress would necessarily make the Socialist revolution violent in character. In this respect he said that "if, for example the working class in, England and the United States should win a majority in Parliament, in Congress, it could legally abolish those laws and institutions which obstruct its development.'"8 Marx qualified this with an "if"—that is, if the capitalists did not resist the legal transfer of power. Lenin later showed that the advance of imperialism in these two countries, by creating a big army and state bureaucracy, had changed this. The workers, true to their democratic instincts, would seek to make a peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism, but they would have to face and defeat the capitalists' attempts to block them by violence.

De Leon, however, ignored these political changes in the United States and their consequences upon the ultimate fight for socialism. He elaborated his opportunist idea that the Party would peacefully win a majority at the polls and then, the Party's political function finished, it would at once dissolve; whereupon, the industrial unions would "take and hold" the industries, "locking out the capitalists." In the unlikely event that the latter would violently,resist, the industrial unions, although simply an administrative apparatus, would take care of them.9

De Leon had little conception of the leading role of the Party. His whole stress was upon the industrial unions before, during, and after the revolution. In his thinking they played the decisive role at all stages. Nor did he have any conception of Party democracy and discipline. He ruthlessly expelled all those who in any jot or tittle diverged from his dogmatism.

De Leon likewise deviated widely from Marxism on a whole series of vital questions of strategy and tactics. He had no conception of the farmers, middle class, and Negro people as natural allies of the working class. He rejected the labor party on principle, made no effort whatever to rally the Negro masses, withdrew from all farmer movements, and sneered at the fight of the middle classes against the trusts.

De Leon also had an almost solicitous regard for trusts as a basically progressive development. He stated, "We say, even if the Trust could be smashed, we would not smash it, because by smashing it, we would throw civilization back."10 This schematic attitude sufficed to cut the S.L.P. off from the mass struggle, healthy but not always skillfully waged, against the advance of ruthless monopoly capital. This wrong attitude toward the trusts also prevailed in the Socialist Party for many years, the latter dovetailing it with the slogan, "Let the Nation Own the Trusts."

Such sectarian trends sharply isolated the S.L.P. from all the elementary popular mass movements of the working people. To make this isolation doubly sure, De Leon also condemned on principle the fight for all immediate demands, which he characterized as "banana peels under the feet of the workers." Starting out with an acceptance of Henry George's wholly opportunistic program, De Leon wound up by rejecting partial demands altogether. Eventually he slashed the program of the S.L.P. to but one single demand, "the unconditional surrender of the capitalist class."

The trend of De Leonism was to reduce the Party to an isolated, sectarian, dogmatic body, propagating socialism in the abstract, as the S.L.P. continues to do to this very day. In 1891, when De Leon took the helm of the party, there were no Marxists able to challenge effectively his sectarian vagaries. Marx was dead, Engels was to die before De Leon got well going, the aged Sorge was no longer active, McDonnell had long since given up the work in the S.L.P., and the other Marxists, such as Sanial and Vogt, quickly fell under the spell of De Leon's brilliance. The tragedy of it all was that De Leonite thinking came to dominate the whole left wing for many years. Indeed, it was not until the advent of the stern realities of the Russian Revolution, the arrival in America of the profound Marxist writings of Lenin, and the formation of the Communist Party, a generation later, that the ideological influence of De Leon was finally broken.


By the 1890's the big capitalists of the United States had definitely launched upon a policy of hamstringing the fighting capacity of the working class by cultivating a labor aristocracy of better-paid, native-born, skilled workers. This they did at the expense of the unskilled and Negro workers. With the many advantages enjoyed by capitalism in this country, the capitalists had the financial reserves to carry out this policy of labor corruption to an extent far beyond anything ever achieved by the employers of Great Britain or any other capitalist country. The opportunist leaders of the A.F. of L. went right along with this general plan, with their bitter anti-socialism, class-collaborationism, opposition to a labor party, craft unionism, exclusion of Negroes and unskilled, and strike betrayals.

De Leon militantly attacked this official corruption, assailing the Gompers bureaucrats as "labor lieutenants of the capitalist class."11 But the general conclusion he drew from his analysis was wrong: namely, that the Socialists should withdraw from the old, conservative-led trade unions and devote themselves to building a professedly socialist labor movement. The effect of this policy was to leave the old unions in the hands of the reactionaries and to isolate the Socialists from these basic economic organizations of the working class. De Leon heaped his greatest scorn upon those who advocated the improvement of the conservative unions by "boring from within."

De Leon's dualist line went directly counter to the advice of Engels, who definitely favored working within the old unions. Already in 1887, warning against such isolating tendencies as De Leon's, Engels declared: "I think that all our practice has shown that it is possible to work alongwith the general movement of the working class at every one of its stages without giving up or hiding our own distinct position, and even organization, and I am afraid that if the German-Americans choose a different line they will commit a great mistake."12

The De Leon leadership in 1890 split with the A. F. of L. over the well-known "Sanial case." The S.L.P., with only a vague idea of the dividing line between Party and trade union, had its "American Section" affiliate with the independent Central Labor Federation of New York, which the Socialists led. Hence, when this body applied to the A.F. of L. for a charter, its delegate, Lucien Sanial, was rejected by Gompers on the grounds that the A.F. of L. did not accept the affiliation of political parties. After a bitter fight, the 1890 A.F. of L. convention in Detroit sustained Gompers' contention by a vote of 1699 to 535. Both Engels and Sorge later declared that Gompers was formally right in this issue, but De Leon seized upon the quarrel to drive a deep wedge between the S.L.P. and the A.F. of L. and to reduce greatly the socialist work done in that organization. The New York Central Labor Federation remained independent.

De Leon next turned his attention to the Knights of Labor, then definitely on the decline. He joined Mixed Assembly 1563 and had himself elected a delegate from this local to District Assembly No. 49 of New York, which the Socialists controlled. From this body De Leon was sent as a delegate to the 1893 General Assembly of the K. of L. There the Socialist delegates were chiefly responsible for defeating the reactionary Powderly and for electing J. R. Sovereign as Master Workman in his stead. Sovereign promised to make Lucien Sanial editor of the Order's Journal, but he later backed down on this agreement. Relations between Sovereign and the S.L.P. leaders therefore grew very strained; so that at the 1895 General Assembly of the K. of L. in Washington De Leon was refused a seat as a delegate.13

This experience finally sickened De Leon with work inside the old unions in general. Henceforth, he was as violently opposed to participation in the K. of L. as he was to work within the A.F. of L. Consequently, he had the Socialists, including District No. 49, also withdraw from the K. of L., as he had done from the A.F. of L. Then he proceeded to organize a new Socialist labor movement, one after his own liking, the Socialist Trades and Labor Alliance.14 Significantly, Debs, with similar sectarian reasoning, had preceded De Leon by two years by founding the industrial union, the A.R.U., in competition with all the railroad craft unions.


The S.T.L.A. was organized by De Leon without formal consultation with the party. He simply called a conference of the heads of the independent New York Central Labor Federation, the United Hebrew Trades, the Newark Central Labor Federation, and the seceded District Assembly No. 49, decided on a new organization, and launched the S.T.L.A. on December 13, 1895, at a mass meeting in Cooper Union. De Leon assured the doubting S.L.P. national executive committee that the S.T.L.A. would not be a rival to the A.F. of L., but would confine itself to organizing the unorganized. Experience quickly proved otherwise, however, and soon the new organization was in death grips with the old unions. Opposition to the S.T.L.A. began to mount also among S.L.P. trade unionists, but De Leon nevertheless managed to have the new organization endorsed at the Party's 1896 convention in New York, by a vote of 71 to 6.

In 1898 the S.T.L.A. claimed, excessively, to have 15,000 members. In reality it stagnated, incapable of growth. An auxiliary of the S.L.P., committed to support S.L.P. candidates in elections, and generally tied to De Leon's dogmas, the new general union could not attract the masses. It conducted a few minor strikes, and that was all. Ten years after its foundation, the S.T.L.A., in 1905, fused with other left-wing unions in forming the Industrial Workers of the World. At this convention De Leon claimed to represent 1,500 members in the S.T.L.A., but even this was an exaggerated figure. Meanwhile, the A.F. of L., which De Leon had long ago pronounced "deader than dead," continued to grow, expanding from 260,000 in 1895 to 1,480,000 in 1905.

One of the chief results of the S.T.L.A. was to create what turned out to be a fatal schism between the Party's trade unionists and the De Leon leadership. The dual organization, by pulling many militants out of the A.F. of L. unions, greatly weakened the Socialist forces in these bodies, and also their participation in the big strikes of the period. In the 1893 A.F. of L. convention in Chicago, the Socialist delegation, led by Thomas J. Morgan, had succeeded in getting through a twelve-point resolution including "the collective ownership by the people of all means of production and distribution." The latter plank was later defeated in a referendum. In the 1894 convention, the Socialists succeeded in defeating Gompers and electing as president for the ensuing year the conservative John McBride of the Miners Union. At this same convention the Socialists also had a resolution on the Negro question adopted, stating: "The A.F. of L. does not draw the color line, nor do its affiliates ... a union that does cannot be admitted into affiliation with this body." In these formative years of the A.F. of L. a correct Marxist policy could have changed very considerably in a progressive direction the future history of that organization. But such dual unionism as that of the S.T.L.A., which in various forms was to plague the Marxists for twenty-five years after 1895, effectively crippled the left wing in the trade unions and facilitated the consolidation of the reactionary Gompers leadership.


Traditionally, the Marxists in the United States, whatever their mistakes in applying this policy, had followed the basically correct line of participating in the many mass labor and farmer parties set up by the workers during more than two generations of class struggle. But De Leon proceeded to make ducks and drakes of this policy and to separate the Marxists from these mass political activities, even as he had largely cut them off from the mass trade unions. He declared against the labor party in principle, and condemned the farmer movement out of hand, plumping for direct support of the sectarian S.L.P. politically under all circumstances.

This narrow line was directly contrary to the one carefully promulgated over many years by Engels. Thus, in connection with the big political movements of the 1880's, the latter wrote that "A million or two of workingmen's votes next November for a bona fide workingmen's party is worth infinitely more at present than a hundred thousand votes for a doctrinally perfect platform." And again, he said, "The first great step of importance for every country newly entering into the movement is always the organization of the workers as an independent political party, no matter how, so long as it is a distinct workers' party."15

De Leon also had a narrow policy regarding the farmers. During the 1890's the farmers' grievances came to a head in the Populist movement.16 This struggle grew out of capitalist pressure against the farmers, in the shape of usurious mortgages, gouging freight rates, excessive prices for what the farmers had to buy, and minimum prices for what they had to sell. Droughts and hard times helped to fill the farmers' cup of misery to overflowing.

The farmers' movement had roots running far back through a long series of struggles of the Grangers, Greenbackers, and other agrarian organizations. The People's Party was organized in St. Louis, on February 22, 1892. Its program called for government ownership of the telegraphs and railroads, government reclamation of the land, and a number of minor labor demands. In the 1892 elections the Populist party's candidate, General Weaver, polled 1,027,329 votes. In 1894, a crisis year, the party's vote went up to 1,523,979. In 1896, however, following an ill-fated fusion with the Democratic Party behind William Jennings Bryan, the vote fell to but 200,000, and the People's Party was dead. It had been led to destruction by opportunists.

Organized labor did not fully support this big farmers' Populist movement. This was a major reason why it collapsed. In its 1892 and 1896 conventions the United Mine Workers and the declining Knights of Labor were represented, but the Gompers group, already committed to the two-party system, kept the American Federation of Labor from participating. Under De Leon's prodding, the Socialist Labor Party, at its convention in July 1893, sharply condemned the People's Party as "antagonistic to the interests and aims of the proletariat."17 In 1892 the S.L.P. nominated, for the first time, its own presidential candidates, Simon Wing, a small manufacturer, and Charles Matchett, an electrician. The ticket polled 21,534 votes in six eastern states.

The Party also put up candidates in 1896—Matchett and M. Maguire—who got 36,534 votes.

De Leon's isolationist policy toward the spontaneous political movements of the workers and farmers did infinite harm to the Party as well as to these mass movements. It remained the dominant policy not only of the Socialist Labor Party, but also of the Socialist Party, for a full thirty years, down to the 1920's.


One of the greatest weaknesses throughout the history of the Socialist Labor Party was its incorrect position on the Negro question. It is a fact that ever since the Civil War, and even before it, the Marxists fought resolutely to include the Negro workers in the trade unions and to defend their economic interests. But they did not understand the Negro question as a developing national question, and they did not work out a full program of demands for the Negro people. Nor did they realize the true significance of the broad political demands raised by the Negro people themselves. This misunderstanding was particularly a handicap to the Negro masses during the reconstruction period after the Civil War, when the urgent need for working class support was most vital in their fight for land and freedom.

De Leon did nothing to clear up the weakness and confusion of the Marxists on the Negro question. On the contrary, he intensified it. After the Civil War the newly-emancipated Negro people, under heavy economic and political pressures, began to develop toward becoming a nation. This development has continued down to our years.18 De Leon, who claimed to be the leading Marxist theoretician in this country, had no inkling whatever of this basic development, even in its most elementary aspects. In fact, he virtually ignored the burning Negro question altogether. His writings are almost bare of references to the struggles and hardships of the Negro people, although the news dispatches of the times were full of reports of barbarous lynchings of Negroes, and the Negro people were being outrageously discriminated against politically, economically, and socially all over the country. Behind such gross neglect, as in the case of many later Socialist and trade union leaders, lurked the corroding disease of white chauvinism.

White chauvinism, the bourgeois ideology of white supremacy, is based upon the false notion that Negroes are inferior beings to whites. It is systematic discrimination and persecution directed against the Negro people economically, politically, socially. Although completely disproved innumerable times scientifically and in the real life of our people, it still persists. This is because the planters and industrialists, finding that it enables them to force lower living standards upon the Negro people, assiduously cultivate it. Originally the plantation owners' ideological justification for slavery, white chauvinism still infects in varying degrees all the strata of the white population, including large sections of the working class.

What little De Leon did write on the Negro question was incorrect. He reduced it all only to a class issue. The Negro constitutes, he said, "a special division in the ranks of labor. ... In no economic respect is he different from his fellow wage slaves of other races; yet by reason of his race, which long was identified with serfdom, the rays of the Social Question reached his mind, through such broken prisms that they are refracted into all the colors of the rainbow, preventing him from appreciating the white light of the question."19

The only program that De Leon had for the bitterly persecuted Negro people was eventual socialism. He saw no need to raise immediate demands to relieve the barbarous persecution to which they were being subjected. This basically incorrect attitude, as formulated by De Leon,became for many years the settled Socialist theoretical and practical approach to the Negro question, not only by "rights," but also largely by "lefts." It was not until after the advent of the Communist Party, a generation later, that the immense importance of the struggle of the Negro people to the Socialist movement in general was fully realized, that its nature as a national question came to be understood, and that correct Marxist policies were formulated to meet it.


In 1900, after twenty-four years of existence, the S.L.P. had not more than five or six thousand members, in twenty-six states. 20 The Party's national vote had advanced to 82,204. The great preponderance of the membership was foreign-born—German, Jewish, Scandinavian, Polish, etc. The party was largely isolated from the mass organizations and struggles of the toiling masses. Obviously, this was not the picture of a prospering vanguard party of the working class.

Undoubtedly, adverse objective conditions were in large part responsible for the S.L.P.'s failure to grow—a question discussed in Chapter 37. Even with the most correct of policies, under the circumstances of the time, it would have been difficult to build a strong Marxist party in a capitalist country such as the United States. Nevertheless, there were far greater opportunities for increasing the Party's numbers and influence than the S.L.P. was able to realize. This failure was largely due to De Leon's grave sectarian political errors. His withdrawal from the conservative trade unions, his anti-labor-party, anti-Negro, and anti-farmer-movement policies, and his abandonment of all immediate demands, all of which became the Party line, had particularly disastrous consequences for the Party during the big economic and political struggles of the 1890's.

That the S.L.P. under De Leon was unable to unite and give leadership to the Marxists of the country was also graphically demonstrated by the growth, during De Leon's period, of a whole series of Socialist and near-Socialist tendencies outside the control of the official De Leon leadership. Among these were the Debs movement in the Middle West, the radical Socialist group of Haywood and others among the miners of the Rocky Mountain states, the left and radical elements in the disintegrating Populist movement, and the crystallization of an opposition group within the S.L.P. itself.

The S.L.P. under De Leon's sectarian, dogmatic leadership, was also quite incapable of learning from its mistakes. Consequently, it could not reorient itself to draw into its ranks the new Socialist forces, nor meet the new and pressing problems being thrust upon it by developing American imperialism. In short, it had exhausted its role as the Socialist party of the American proletariat. Hence it began to disintegrate and to split, in the first stage. of being overwhelmed by the new Socialist forces and of being supplanted by a new organization, the Socialist Party.


The split movement began over the question of the S.T.L.A., but it soon involved the whole sectarian, authoritarian regime of De Leon. Almost immediately after the founding of the new general union, the trade unionists in the party had begun to line up against it. De Leon tried to stifle the growing discontent with a policy of repressions and expulsions. In December 1898, however, the Volkszeitung, taking an opposition stand, made so bold as to criticize openly the party policy. This brought about a sharp factional battle between the De Leonites and the dissidents. Among the Volkszeitung movement's leaders was Morris Hillquit. Born in Riga, in 1870, Hillquit had come to America when he was fifteen years old and worked at shirtmaking and other trades. At one time he was secretary of the United Hebrew Trades. He acquired a degree in law in 1893. As a member of the S.L.P., Hillquit took an active part in the anti-De Leon struggle.

The bitter Party fight came to a climax on July 10, 1899, when Section New York, which by a decision of the convention of 1896 had the authority to elect the national executive committee and the national secretary of the S.L.P., voted to remove the officials then in office and elected a new set. Thus, Henry L. Slobodin became the national secretary, in place of Henry Kuhn. De Leon refused to recognize this action, denouncing the rebels as "Kangaroos." A physical struggle ensued for possession of the Party's buildings, newspapers, and funds. Both groups claimed to be the Socialist Labor Party and each published its own The People. Eventually the courts ruled that the De Leon faction had the legal right to use the Party name. 21

In the meantime, the seceding group, still calling itself the S.L.P., held a convention in Rochester on January 1, 1900. Present were 59 delegates, representing about half of the Party's membership. The convention promptly condemned the S.T.L.A., drafted a new platform, enacted  a  new  set  of by-laws  for  governing  the  Party, and  put  up presidential candidates for the coming elections, Job Harriman and Max Hayes. The convention also adopted a resolution proposing fusion with the Social-Democratic Party, of which Debs and Victor Berger were the leaders.

The split was irretrievably disastrous to the old S.L.P. Its membership fell off to about one-half, and its candidates in the 1900 elections, James T. Maloney and Valentine Remmel, polled only 34,191 votes, or less than half the Party's vote in 1898. De Leon, no longer facing any opposition at the 1900 convention, promptly cut out "the tapeworm of immediate demands" from the Party's platform and left it with but one plank—a demand for the revolution. The S.L.P. convention also adopted a resolution prohibiting its members, on pain of expulsion, from becoming officers in old-line trade unions. The S.L.P., having lost the leadership of the Marxist movement in the United States, was now fully on the way to becoming the tiny, dry-as-dust, backward-looking, reactionary sect that it is today. De Leonism in the S.L.P. had arrived at its logical goal. But unfortunately De Leon's sectarian influence was long to linger in left-wing circles in the United States.

1 Lenin, Capitalism and Agriculture in the U. $., p.g. 9
2 Jurgen Kuczynski, Labor Conditions in the United States, p. 71 London, 1943.
3 J. Moody, The Truth about the Trusts, p. 477, N. Y., 1904.
4 Henry Cabot Lodge, Speech, Jan. 7, 1901.
5 See the program of the anarcho-syndicalist International Working People's Association in Chapter 3.
6 Daniel De Leon, Industrial Unionism, p. 48, N. Y., 1947.
7 Daniel De Leon, Socialist Reconstruction of Society, p. 47, N. Y., 1947  (speech delivered July 10, 1905).
8 Cited by William Z. Foster, In Defense of the Communist Party and Its Leaders, p. 22, N. Y., 1949.
9 De Leon, Socialist Reconstruction of Society,
10 De Leon-Berry, Debate on Solution of the Trust Problem, N. Y., 1913.
11 Daniel De Leon, Two Pages from Roman History, N. Y., 1903.
12 Marx and Engels, Letters to Americans.
13 Anthony Bimba, History of the American Working Class, p. 200, N. Y., 1927.
14 Ella Reeve Bloor was a member o£ the General Executive Board of the S.T.L.A. See her book, We Are Many, p. 55, N. Y., 1940.
15Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, pp. 454, 450.
16 Anna Rochester, The Populist Movement in the United States, N. Y., 1943.
17 Fine, Labor and Farmer Parties in the U.S., p. 155.
18 See Harry Haywood, Negro Liberation, N. Y., 1948.
19 Cited by Eric Hass, Socialism, p. 19, N. Y., n.d.
20 Fine, Labor and Farmer Parties in the U.S., p. 180.
21 Hillquit, History of Socialism in the U.S., p. 327; Harry Kuhn, ed.,  Daniel De Leon, a Symposium, p. 22, N. Y„ 1919.

Chapter 7

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