Friday, February 19, 2016

The First Socialist Candidate for President of the USA

It isn't Bernie Sanders.

From Eugene V. Debs' speech to the court on being convicted of sedition for opposing the entry of the USA into the First World War, September 18, 1918:

Your honor, I have stated in this court that I am opposed to the form of our present government; that I am opposed to the social system in which we live; that I believe in the change of both but by perfectly peaceable and orderly means....

I am thinking this morning of the men in the mills and factories; I am thinking of the women who, for a paltry wage, are compelled to work out their lives; of the little children who, in this system, are robbed of their childhood, and in their early, tender years, are seized in the remorseless grasp of Mammon, and forced into the industrial dungeons, there to feed the machines while they themselves are being starved body and soul....

Your honor, I ask no mercy, I plead for no immunity. I realize that finally the right must prevail. I never more fully comprehended than now the great struggle between the powers of greed on the one hand and upon the other the rising hosts of freedom. I can see the dawn of a better day of humanity. The people are awakening. In due course of time they will come into their own.

When the mariner, sailing over tropic seas, looks for relief from his weary watch, he turns his eyes toward the Southern Cross, burning luridly above the tempest-vexed ocean. As the midnight approaches the Southern Cross begins to bend, and the whirling worlds change their places, and with starry finger-points the Almighty marks the passage of Time upon the dial of the universe; and though no bell may beat the glad tidings, the look-out knows that the midnight is passing – that relief and rest are close at hand.
Let the people take heart and hope everywhere, for the cross is bending, midnight is passing, and joy cometh with the morning.
         --Eugene V. Debs 1918


Mary Clara said...

Doug, what a great reminder of someone who mattered a lot in his own time, and whose legacy still matters!

JCF said...

My late, sainted grandmother turned 21 in October 1920. Just in time to vote---the first time WOMEN could vote!---for Eugene V Debs. [Don't know whom she'd vote for if she were still the Dem primary that is! But in the time that *I* knew her, she was very much a feminist.]

Counterlight said...

My grandmother was 10 years older than yours. She was 31 when she got to vote for the first time in 1920. I don't know, but I'm reasonably sure that she voted for Harding.