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Guide to the Socialist Labor Party Records TAM.056.003

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
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10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630
tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Tamiment Staff

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 30, 2019
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Updated by Amy C. Vo for compliance with DACS and ACM Required Elements for Archival Description  , March 2019

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Socialist Labor Party
Title: Socialist Labor Party Records
Dates [inclusive]: 1879-1900
Abstract: The Socialist Labor Party (SLP), was founded in 1877. By the early 1890s, its moderate leadership was ousted by a militant group headed by Daniel De Leon that advocated revolutionary unionism and independent political action for an immediate revolutionary conversion to an industrial democracy, and that foreswore alliances with other groups to achieve reform measures. The decline of the SLP dates from the winter of 1900 when a group of moderates, led by Morris Hillquit, split from the party and gathered in Rochester, New York, for a special convention and adopted a more gradualist, reform-oriented program. Eventually Hillquit and his followers joined the Social Democratic Party in organizing the Socialist Party of America in 1901. The collection contains forty subject files, of which 32 pertain to SLP state chapters, 7 to the national organization, with one miscellaneous file. The files contain minutes, correspondence, circular letters, articles, lists, and financial papers. The bulk of the materials pertain to the factional conflict between the De Leon and Hillquit groupings.
Quantity: 1 Linear Feet in 1 manuscript box, 1 half manuscript box, and 2 folders.
Location: Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please request materials at least two business days prior to your research visit to coordinate access.
Language: Materials are in English.
Call Phrase: TAM.056.003

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Historical Note

The Socialist Labor Party (SLP), founded in 1877, was the first significant American socialist organization. It was also one of the most important organizations in the early socialist period because its history of internal conflicts set the pattern for the factionalist tendencies that later plagued the Socialist Party.

For the first 15 years known as the Socialistic Labor Party (more commonly known by its German title, Sozialistische Arbeiter Partei), the SLP was hampered by numerous struggles between various ideological factions. The conservative group, who were disciples of socialist theoretician Ferdinand Lassalle, were committed to a purely political program. Although they managed to retain control of the party organization until 1889 and, during this period, were even able to support several non socialist movements like the Greenback movement of 1880 and Henry George's "Single Tax" campaign in 1886, they were able to do so only within the context of bitter internal struggles.

During the 1890s, the radical element in the party purged the Lassallean wing and entered upon the most aggressive and successful period of the SLP's history. Much of the party's success at this time was due to the leadership of Daniel De Leon. Under De Leon's supervision, the SLP was transformed into a doctrinaire Marxian movement. It repudiated both its own earlier tendency to political reformism and also the type of trade union activity practiced by the American Federation of Labor (AFL). In its place, the SLP developed a revolutionary program of militant trade unionism and political action. In opposition to the AFL, De Leon and the SLP organized the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance in 1895 and participated in the formation of the Industrial Workers of the World in 1905. After 1894, the SLP also withdrew from all progressive and populist movements and dedicated itself to a program which advocated immediate revolutionary conversion to an industrial democracy.

The decline of the SLP dates from the winter of 1900 when a group of moderates, led by Morris Hillquit, split from the party and gathered in Rochester, New York, for a special convention to determine an alternative socialist program. Known as the "Kangaroos", Hillquit's faction not only resented the autocratic and dogmatic discipline imposed by De Leon, but they advocated a more conservative socialist program which consisted of support for the AFL's craft union policy and a gradualistic approach toward achieving a socialist state in America. Eventually Hillquit and his followers joined the Social Democratic Party in organizing the Socialist Party of America in 1901. Following the withdrawal of the "Kangaroos" and De Leon's death in 1914, the SLP's decline accelerated to the point in which its principal activity, for many years, was restricted to agitation of a purely educational nature.

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Scope and Contents

The Socialist Labor Party Papers, 1879-1900, consist of 40 subject files, many of which pertain to SLP state chapters. Each subject file has been assigned a frame number. A list of these subject files can be found in the complete reel list that follows this description of the arrangement of the collection. In the representative frame number III:4, the number 4 indicates that this is the 4th frame, while the numeral III indicates that the SLP Papers are the third collection within the microfilm set Socialist Collections in the Tamiment Library, 1872-1956. The researcher should also note that an error was made in the targeting for this collection. On each frame, the word "Series" appears adjacent to the frame number. This term should actually be interpreted as "Collection".

The first seven files pertain to the records of the national headquarters and the New York City local. These files include minutes, correspondence, circular letters, articles, lists, and financial papers. These files as well as the items within the files have been arranged in chronological order. Of special interest in these files are the Central Committee (III:l) and Grievance Committee (111:4) minutes of the New York City local. There are also several items from the National Board of Appeals of the SLP (111:5). This committee was established for the purpose of ruling on various grievances made by party members. This file primarily consists of correspondence from Robert Bandlow, the Board's secretary, to Henry Slobodkin, the acting national secretary of the SLP.

There are 32 files pertaining to SLP state chapters in this collection. The largest files in this part of the collection pertain to state chapters in California (III:10), Connecticut (111:12), Illinois (111:14), Massachusetts (111:21), New Jersey (111:27), and New York (111:28). Most of the other state chapters have relatively small files. The state chapter files are arranged in alphabetical order according to the name of the state. The only exception to this order are the papers of the District of Columbia local which follow the Maryland chapter papers (111:20). Items within each chapter file have been arranged in chronological order, with undated items placed at the end of the file. Each state file is cited in the complete reel list. The number enclosed in parentheses at the end of each state's entry in the complete reel list indicates the total number of items for that particular state.

The contents of the state chapter files primarily relate to the SLP conflict between the "Kangaroos" and De Leon's supporters. The material pertaining to this conflict is quite informative and offers the scholar a unique insight into how the various chapters and regions of the country reacted to this particular event. Other items within these files which reflect routine chapter business include grievance reports, financial reports, information about SLP publications, applications for new local chapters, resolutions, and general correspondence.

There are approximately 13 miscellaneous items located at the end of the collection (111:40). These items are arranged in chronological order and pertain to routine SLP operations.

Arrangement

The folders are arranged topically and chronologically.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • De Leon, Daniel, 1852-1914
  • Hillquit, Morris, 1869-1933

Document Type

  • Minutes (administrative records)

Subject Organizations

  • Socialist Party (U.S.)

Subject Topics

  • Right and left (Political science)
  • Labor unions -- United States.
  • Socialism -- United States.

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Tamiment Library has no information about copyright ownership for this collection and is not authorized to grant permission to publish or reproduce materials from it. Materials in this collection, which were created in 1879-1900, are expected to enter the public domain in 2021.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Socialist Labor Party Records; TAM 056.003; box number; folder number or item identifier; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Related Material at the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Socialist Party (U.S.) Minutes (TAM 056.006)

Socialist Minute Books (TAM 056.001)

Socialist collections in the Tamiment Library, 1872-1956 : a guide to the microfilm edition (Sanford, N.C. : Microfilming Corp. of America, c1979), 181 p.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Due to the fragile nature of the original materials, researchers must use the microfilmed version; microfilm call number is Film R-7124, Reel 4.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the Rand School Archives, 1963. The accession number associated with this material is 1962.005.

Materials found in repository in 2018; provenance is unknown. The accession number associated with this material is 2018.030.

Processing Information

Decisions regarding arrangement, description, and physical interventions for this collection prior to 2019 are unknown. In 2019, materials were rehoused in new acid-free folders and boxes in preparation for offsite storage.

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Container List

Inventory

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Central Committee Minutes, New York City

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:1

Aug 27, 1879-Nov 28, 1879
Box: 1 Folder : 2 National Executive Committee Papers

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:2

Jul 1, 1885-Jul 26, 1886 , undated
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Miller, L. "To All Comrades and the General Public" circular letter from William Leaf

General note

Socialist Collections Reel 4; Frame III:3

Jan 15, 1897
Box: 1 Folder : 4 New York Local Committee Minutes

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:4

1898
Box: 1 Folder : 5 New York Local Committee Minutes

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:4

1899
Box: 1 Folder : 6 New York Local Committee Minutes

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:4

1900
Box: 1 Folder : 7 National Board of Appeals

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:5

1900
Box: 1 Folder : 8 National

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:6

1900
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Canadian National Executive Committee

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:7

Jan 21, 1900 , undated
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Alabama

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:8

Aug 14, 1899
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Arizona

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:9

Jun 13, 1899-Oct 4, 1899
Box: 1 Folder : 12 California

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:10

Feb 2, 1897-Jun 20, 1900
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Colorado

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:11

Jul 16, 1899-Apr 13, 1900
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Connecticut

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:12

Jul 15, 1899-Jun 16, 1900 , undated
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Delaware

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:13

Feb 19, 1900-Mar 18, 1900
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Illinois

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:14

May 9, 1899-Dec 15, 1900
Box: 1 Folder : 17 Indiana

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:15

Jul 30, 1899-Dec 11, 1899
Box: 1 Folder : 18 Iowa

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:16

Dec 6, 1899
Box: 1 Folder : 19 Kansas

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:17

Aug 8, 1899-Mar 26, 1900
Box: 1 Folder : 20 Kentucky

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:18

Jul 18, 1899-Sep 4, 1899
Box: 1 Folder : 21 Maine

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:19

Oct 12, 1899-Jun 19, 1900
Box: 1 Folder : 22 Maryland/District of Columbia

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:20

Mar 5, 1899-Mar 25, 1900
Box: 1 Folder : 23 Massachusetts

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:21

Jun 16, 1899-Jul 1, 1900 , undated
Box: 1 Folder : 24 Michigan

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:22

Aug 14, 1899-Jun 7, 1900 , undated
Box: 1 Folder : 25 Minnesota

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:23

Jul 26, 1899-Apr 29, 1900
Box: 1 Folder : 26 Missouri

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:24

Aug 6, 1899-Jul 12, 1900
Box: 1 Folder : 27 Nebraska

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:25

Aug 28, 1899-Sep 26, 1899
Box: 1 Folder : 28 New Hampshire

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:26

Mar 14, 1900-Jun 10, 1900 , undated
Box: 1 Folder : 29 New Jersey

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:27

Jul 1, 1899-Jun 30, 1900 , undated
Box: 1 Folder : 30 New York

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:28

Jul 5, 1899-Aug 15, 1900 , undated
Box: 1 Folder : 31 Ohio

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:29

Jul 12, 1899-Jun 8, 1900
Box: 1 Folder : 32 Oklahoma

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:30

Dec 1899-Mar 4, 1900
Box: 1 Folder : 33 Pennsylvania

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:31

Aug 14, 1899-May 9, 1900
Box: 1 Folder : 34 Puerto Rico

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:32

Sep 27, 1899-Feb 18, 1900
Box: 1 Folder : 35 Rhode Island

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:33

Aug 28, 1899-Oct 2, 1899
Box: 1 Folder : 36 Texas

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:34

Mar 27, 1899-Jul 1, 1900
Box: 1 Folder : 37 Utah

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:35

Sep 5, 1899
Box: 1 Folder : 38 Vermont

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:36

Feb 8, 1898-Jun 10, 1900 , undated
Box: 1 Folder : 39 Virginia

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:37

Sep 25, 1899 , undated
Box: 1 Folder : 40 Washington

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:38

Jul 27, 1899-Apr 12, 1900
Box: 1 Folder : 41 Wisconsin

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:38

Jul 18, 1899-Jun 6, 1900
Box: 1 Folder : 42 Miscellaneous

General note

Film R-7124, Reel 4; Frame III:40

Jan 9, 1900-Aug 21, 1900 , undated

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Fragile Originals

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Fragile Originals from Box 1, Folder 2 through Box 1, Folder 42
Box: Shared Tamiment 007 Folder : 8 National Executive Committee charter and publication
1942
Box: Shared Tamiment 032 Panoramic photo of delegates to 16th national convention of Socialist Party
1928-03-15

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