The International Working Men's Association, 1872

Notes on the “American split”

Written: in German and French by Marx after May 28 1872.
First published: in Russian, 1965.

October 15, 1871, was published in the journal of Woodhull (a banker's woman, free-lover, and general humbug) and Claflin (her sister in the same line) an "Appeal of Section No. 12" (founded by Woodhull, and almost exclusively consisting of middle-class humbugs and worn-out Yankee swindlers in the reform business; Section 9 is founded by Miss Claflin).

"An Appeal of Section No. 12" (to the English-speaking citizens of the United States) (dated August 30, 1871, signed by W. West, secretary of Section 12).

The following excerpts are from this Appeal:

"The object of the International is simply to emancipate the laborer, male and female, by the conquest of political power." "It involves, first, the Political Equality and Social Freedom of men and women alike."

"Political Equality means the personal participation of each in the preparation, administration, and execution of the laws by which all are governed." "Social Freedom means absolute immunity from impertinent intrusion in all affairs of exclusively personal concernment, such as religious belief, the sexual relation, habits of dress, etc."

"The proposition involves, secondly, the establishment of a Universal Government.... Of course, the abolition of... even differences of language are embraced in the program."

"Section No. 12" invites the formation of "English-speaking sections" in the United States upon this program.

That the whole organization for place hunting and electoral purposes:

"If practicable, for the convenience of political action, there should be a section formed in every primary election district."

"There must ultimately be instituted in every town a municipal committee or council corresponding with the common councils; in every state, a state committee or council corresponding with the state legislature; and in the nation, a national committee or council corresponding with the United States National Congress."

"The work of the International includes nothing less than the institution, within existing forms, of another form of government, which shall supersede them all."

This Appeal -- and the formation from it of all sorts of middle-class humbug sections, free-lovers, spiritists, spiritist Shakers, etc. -- caused the split, and the demand by Section 1 (German) of the old Council that Section 12 be expelled and that no section be admitted to membership unless it consisted of at least two-thirds workers.

First, five dissidents formed a separate Council on November 19, 1871, which consisted of Yankees, Frenchmen, and Germans.

In Woodhull's, etc., journal, November 19, 1871, Section 12 protested (West as secretary) against Section 1 and declared, among other things:

"The simple truth is that Political Equality and Social Freedom for all alike, of all races, both sexes, and every condition, are necessary precursors of the more radical reforms demanded by the International."

"The extension of equal citizenship to women, the world over, must precede any general change in the subsisting relations of capital and labor." "Section 12 would also remonstrate against the vain assumption, running all through the Protest" (of Section 1) "under review, that the International Working Men's Association is an organization of the working classes...."

Prior to that, in Woodhull's Journal, October 21, 1871, Section 12 asserts:

"The independent right of each section to have, hold, and give expression to its own constructions of said proceedings of the several Congresses, and the Rules and Regulations" (!) "of said General Council, each section being alone responsible for its own action."

Woodhull's, etc., journal, November 25, 1871, Protest of Section 12 against "Address of Section 1" (the same address that you had printed in Italian, etc., papers).

"It is not true that the 'common understanding or agreement' of the workingmen of all countries, of itself, standing alone, constitutes the Association.... The statement that the emancipation of the working classes can only be conquered by themselves cannot be denied, yet it is true so far as it described the fact that the working classes cannot be emancipated against their will."

December 3, 1871. The new Federal Council for North America formally founded (Yankees, Germans, Frenchmen.)

December 4. The old Council (10 Woard Hotel) denounces the swindlers in a circular to all sections of the International in the United States. It states, among other things:

"In the Committee" (of the old Central Committee) "which was to be a defense against all reform swindles, the majority finally consisted of practically forgotten reformers and panacea-mongers....

"Thus it came about that the people who preached the evangels of free love sat fraternally beside those who wanted to bring to the whole world the blessing of a single common language -- land cooperativists, spiritualists, atheists, and deists -- each striving to ride his own hobbyhorse. Particularly Section 12, Woodhull.... The first step that has to be taken here to further the movement is to organize and at the same time arouse the revolutionary element to be found in the opposing interests of capitalists and workers....

"The delegates of Sections 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 16, 21, 23, 24, 25, and others, having seen that all efforts to control this mischief were in vain, decided, after the adjournment of the old Central Council sine die (December 3, 1871), to establish a new one, which would consist of real workers and which would exclude all those who would only confuse the question".

(New Yorker Democrat, December 9, 1871)

West elected as delegate of the new Council.

It is to be noted that the new Council quickly filled up with new delegates, mostly from the new sections founded by Section 9 (Claflin) and Section 12 (Woodhull), riffraff, mostly; moreover, insufficiently strong or numerous to elect the necessary officers.

Meanwhile, the Woodhull journal (West, etc.) lied unashamedly when it asserts that it was sure of the support of the General Council.

Both councils appealed to the General Council. Various sections, for example, the French Section No. 10 (New York), and several Irish sections, withdrew their delegates from both councils until the General Council made its decision. Lies of the Woodhull journal, in an article of December 2, entitled: "Section 12 Sustained. The Decision of the General Council." (This was the decision of the General Council." (This was the decision of the General Council, November 5, 1871, which, on the contrary, sustained the Central Committee against the claims of Section 12, which tried to replace it as Yankees.)

Resolutions of the General Council, March 5 and 12, 1872.

The fate of the International in the United States depended on it. (In passing, the humbug cult which the Woodhull journal has pursued to date should be noted.)

As soon as the resolutions reached New York, the fellows of the Counter Committee began to follow their old tactics. They had first discussed the original split in the most notorious New York bourgeois papers. Now they did the same against the General Council (presenting the matter as a conflict between Frenchmen and Germans, between socialism and communism), to the joyous cry of all labor-hating organs.

Very characteristic were the marginal comments in Woodhull's journal, May 4, 1872, on the resolution of the General Council.

Before that also: Woodhull's journal, December 15, 1871.

"No new test of membership, as that two-thirds or any part of a section shall be wage slaves, as if it were a crime to be free, was required."

(Particularly in the composition of the Counter Council.)

Woodhull's journal, May 4, 1872:

"... In this decree of the General Council its authors presume to recommend that in future no American section be admitted of which two-thirds at least are not wage slaves. Must they be politically slaves also? As well one thing as the other...."

"The intrusion into the International Working Men's Association of bogus reformers, middle-class quacks, and trading politicians is mostly to be feared from that class of citizens who have nothing better to depend upon than the proceeds of wage slavery."

Meanwhile, as the Presidential elections approached, the cloven hoof showed itself -- namely, that the International should serve in the election of -- Madame Woodhull!

Apropos. In article signed W. West, in Woodhull's, etc., journal, March 2, 1872, one reads:

"The issue of the 'Appeal' of Section 12 to the English-speaking citizens of the United States in August last was a new departure in the history of the International, and has resulted in the recognition by the General Council of Political Equality and Social Freedom of both sexes alike, and of the essential political character of the work before us."

Woodhull, etc., journal, March 2, 1872. Under the title, "The Coming Combination Convention", the statement:

"There is a proposition under consideration by the representatives of the various reformatory elements of the country looking to a grand consolidated convention to beheld in this city in May next, during Anniversary week.... Indeed, if this convention in May acts wisely, who can say that the fragments of the defunct Democratic party will come out from them and take part in the proposed convention.... Every body of radical everywhere in the United States should, as soon as the call is made public, take immediate steps to be represented in it."

(Apropos. The Woodhull journal, I can't find the date, comforts the spiritist sections with the though of telling the General Council to go to the devil.)

Woodhull, etc., journal, April 6, 1872:

"Every day the evidence that the convention called for the 9 and 10 May by representatives of the various reforms... is to be a spontaneous uprising of the people increases in volume."

National Women Suffrage Association supplements this:

"This Convention will... consider the nominations for President and Vice-President of the United States."

Ditto under the title:

"The Party of the People to secure and maintain human rights, to be inaugurated in the United States in May 1872."

The Appeal was headed by the signature: Victoria C. Woodhull, followed by Theodore H. Banks, R. W. Hume (Banks one of the founded of the Counter Council). In this Appeal: the convention will consider "nominations for President and Vice-President of the United States". Specially invited are:

"Labor, land, peace, and temperance reformers, and Internationals and Women Suffrages -- including all the various suffrage associations -- as well as all others who believe the time has come when the principles of eternal justice and human equality should be carried into our halls of legislation."

Woodhull, etc., Weekly, April 13, 1872. The Presidency dodge is presented ever more clearly. This time, for a change:

"... Internationals, and other labor reformers -- the friends of peace, temperance, and education, and by all those who believe that the time has come to carry the principles of true morality and religion into the State House, the Court, and the Market Place."

Under the title: "The Party of the People, etc.", a new Appeal, always with Victoria C. Woodhull at the head, followed by the chief scamps of the Counter Council, Th. H. Banks, R. W. Hume, G. R. Allen, William West, G. W. Maddox (the subsequent president of the Apollo meeting), J. T. Elliot (the English secretary of the Counter Council), T. Miller (delegate of French Section 2).

Woodhull, etc., Weekly (it isn't called Journal), April 20, 1872. Continuation of the same dodge.

The list grows, always headed by V. C. Woodhull. (There are also "Honorables" among them.)

Woodhull, etc., Weekly, April 17, 1827 [1872]. Continuation of the same ballyhoo. (Begins to print the list of delegates.)

Woodhull, etc., Weekly, May 4, 1872. Continuation of the dodge. (Constant reprinting of same and of enlarged lists.)

Woodhull, etc., Weekly, May 25, 1872. At last (Apollo Hall scandal, May 9, 10, 11), Woodhull for President of the United States, F. Douglass for Vice-President. (Maddox of Counter Council, president of the convention, first day.) Laughingstock of New York and United States.

The rest, officials of the Counter Council: John T. Elliot, vice-president, G. R. Allen, secretary (and member of Committee on Resolutions and Platform). In the latter committee, Th. Banks (one of the five founders of the Counter Council, November 19, 1871). Also Mrs. Maria Huleck on one of the committees. In the Central National Committee of New York there figure: G. R. Allen, Th. H. Banks (next to Colonel Blood, member of Section 12 and lover of Victoria), J. B. Davis.

Breakup of the Counter Council.

Section 2 (French) removes Laugrand (until then the French secretary of the Counter Council) as delegate. They accuse the fellow

"of using the organization for political purposes, and as a sort of adjunct to the free-love branch of the women's rights party.... Citizen Millot" (he proposed the withdrawl of Section 2 from the Counter Council, which was accepted) "stated upon the introduction of the Resolution that only three sections -- 9 (Claflin), 12 (Woodhull), and 35 -- were represented in the Apollo Hall 'odds and ends' convention, by scheming men for political purposes, and that the delegation in the said convention pretending to act for the Federal Council was a spurious one and self-appointed." (But the Federal Counter Council did not repudiate them.) (The World, May 13, 1872.)

Section 6 (German) removes its delegate, E. Grosse (ex-private secretary of Herr von Schweitzer) and threatens to withdraw if the Counter Council does not accept all the resolution of the General Council.

Le Socialiste (New York), May 18, 1872:

"Section 2 of New York at its Sunday meeting, May 12, adopted the following resolutions:

"Considering, etc., etc.,

"That Sections 2 has reason to believe that the union of Jewelers refuses to affiliate with the International, and that meanwhile a delegate continues to represent it in the Federal Council;

"That Section 2 has reasons to think that other delegates represent fictitious sections or those that are composed of only six to eight members;

"Section 2 declares: That an investigation is necessary, etc....

"Considering that, rightly or wrongly, Section 12 has been suspended by the General Council, acting by virtue of the authority given to it by the Congress of Basel, Section 2 protests against the Federal Council having a delegate from Section 12 with a deliberative voice.

"Finally, considering that the International is an Association of workers, having for its objective the emancipation of workers by workers themselves;

"Section 2 protests against the admission of sections in which the majority is made up of non-workers."

Other resolutions of Section 2:

"Section 2,

"Recognizing the principle of women's right to vote, in view of the insinuations of Citizeness Woodhull, at the meeting in Apollo Hall, leading the public to believe that the International supports her candidacy.


"That for the present the International cannot and should not be taken in tow by any American political party; for none of them represents the workers' aspirations; none of them has for its objective the economic emancipation of the workers.

"Section 2 had thought:

"That our sole objective ought to be, for the present, the organization and the solidarity of the working class in America."

Under the title "Internationals, watch out!", the same issue of Socialiste states, among other things:

"The International is not, and cannot be, persecuted in America; the politicians, far from aiming at its destruction, think only of using it as a lever and supporting point for the triumph of their personal views. Should the International let itself be dragged into this path, it would cease to be the Association of Workers and become a ring of politicians.

"For a long time now, there have been cries of alarm; but the convention in Apollo Hall, nominating, in the name of the International, Madame Woodhull as candidate for the Presidency, should henceforth open the eyes of the less perceptive. Internationals of America, watch out!"

The World, May 20, 1872:

Sitting of Counter Council, May 19, 1872. Maddox (of Apollo Hall) in the chair. Withdrawl of eight delegates (for eight sections) French and German).

Herald, May 20, 1872, reports the same sitting under the heading:

"The French" (are) "insulted and leave in disgust.... Terrible slang used. But 1,500 members in the United States. A split among the Internationals of London. The Woodhull crowd victorious."

Resolutions of General Council of May 28, 1872, by which -- in reply to the questions put by the German Section of St. Louis and the French Section of Nouvelle Orleans -- the Old Council (Provisional Federal Council for the United States) is alone recognized.