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Series XVII. Socialist Party USA (SPUSA)

Scope and Content Notes:

Founded in 1901 by disgruntled members of the Socialist Labor Party and other Socialist factions, the party became the most electorally successful left-wing party in US history. It reached a peak membership of almost 120,000 in 1912 and again in 1919, and drew about 3% of the national popular vote in the elections of 1904, 1908, 1916, and 1920 and 6% in 1912. During these years the Party elected congressmen from New York City and Milwaukee, several dozen state legislators and perhaps as many as a thousand local officials including mayors of such major cities as Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

As a result of the 1919 split within their ranks between the Party’s Old Guard and those that wanted the Party to join the emerging Communist movement and the effects of government repression, the Socialist Party collapsed in the early 1920s. The Party endorsed Progressive Party candidate Robert La Follette in the 1924 presidential campaign and that endorsement masked the Party’s weakness. La Follette drew nearly 17% of the national popular vote. Moreover La Follette had failed to achieve Progressive Party ballot status in several large states and only appeared there as a Socialist. Socialists could thus claim enough of the La Follette vote as their own to argue that their 1924 totals compared favorably to the percentages they had received between 1904 and 1920. But in 1928 when Norman Thomas made the first of his six presidential runs the Socialist vote was down to 0.7%.

The depression appeared to revive the Socialist Party in the early 1930s. Thomas expanded his presidential vote percentage to 2.2% in 1932, and in 1934 the Party elected mayors in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Reading, Pennsylvania. Thereafter the Party found itself caught between a rapidly expanding Communist Party on one side and a Democratic Party that shifted to the Left after 1934. A substantial portion of the Party membership and leadership, including David Dubinsky and Sidney Hillman, leaders of International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union (ACWU), two of the Party’s bastions, argued that Socialists should endorse FDR in 1936. When the top Party leadership refused to consider this, they seceded forming a rival Social Democratic Federation that did endorse Roosevelt. Thomas’s vote fell to 0.4% in 1936. The Party continued to run candidates thereafter—up to the present—but rarely did much better than other tiny left-wing factions such as the Socialist Labor Party (SLP) or the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).


Box 10
Folder 62 "Which Road for American Workers, Socialist or Communist?", January, 1936
Folder 63 Assorted Socialist Party-Social Democratic Convention Papers
Folder 64 "Public Ownership Here and Abroad", By Harry W. Laidler, 1931
Folder 65 "An Appeal to the Young", By P. Kropotkin
Folder 66 The Melting Pot, Home Again With the Melting Pot, June, 1918
Folder 67 "The Germs of War", A Study in Preparedness, 1916
Folder 68 "Letters to Judd", An American Workingman, By Upton Sinclair
Folder 69 "Think or Surrender", By George R. Kirkpatrick
Folder 70 Assorted Writings (5) By Upton Sinclair, Pasadena, California
Folder 71 "Two Constitutions", By Oscar Ameringer
Folder 72 Assorted Leftist Papers
Folder 73 "Sit-Down", By Joel Seidman, and "A G.M. Stockholder Visits Flint", By Robert Morss Lovett, March, 1937
Folder 74 "Realignment", One Year After the Party Convention
Folder 75 "The Appeal Almanac and Arsenal of Facts for 1917", 1917
Folder 76 "No!,Steps to Create Peace", By the Peace Work Group Socialist Party USA
Folder 77 "America at the Crossroads", By David P. Berenberg, 1934
Folder 78 "Leaflet No. 6", Testimony to the Charges Against Assemblyman Solomon
Folder 79 "Tampa- Tar and Terror"
Folder 80 "Wages in Mexican Money", By Mary E. Marcy
Folder 81 "Socialist Campaign Songs"
Folder 82 "Socialist Song Book"
Folder 83 "Value, Price and Profit", By Karl Marx
Folder 84 Intemperance and Poverty, by T. Twining
Folder 85 Pocket Library of Socialism, No. 39, "Socialism and the Organized Labor Movement", By May Wood Simmons
Folder 86 Pocket Library of Socialism, No. 48, "Useful Work Versus Useless Toil", By William Morris
Folder 87 Pocket Library of Socialism, No. 50, "Marx on Cheapness"
Folder 88 "Economic Evolution", By Paul Lafargue
Folder 89 "Science and Socialism", By Robert Rives La Monte
Folder 90 "Rational Prohibition", An Address to Temperance Workers, Delivered in Los Angeles, June 22, 1902, By Walter L. Young
Folder 91 "What's So and What Isn't", By John M. Work, 1916
Folder 92 "The Cold War and the Russian Bogeyman: A Socialist Analysis"
Folder 93 "Why I am a Socialist", By Norman Thomas
Folder 94 "Democracy and Revolution", By Friedrich Adler
Folder 95 A Socialist Party of America Membership Card
Folder 96 "Capitalism, Socialism, Communism?- A Debate"
Folder 97 "Convict 9653, America's Vision Maker", Story of Eugene Victor Debs, the United States' Great Socialist Anti-Militarist, By Guy A. Aldred
Folder 98 Certain Misconceptions, A Few Current Objections to Socialism Answered, by John M. Work, 1931
Folder 99 Are There Classes in America?, by Ralph Korkngold
Folder 100 Little Blue Book, No. 1703, Organizing the World for Socialism, Clarence Senior, 1931
Folder 101 ASQ, American Socialist Quarterly Reprints, No. 1, "Towards Socialist Reorientation", By Haim Kantorovitch
Folder 102 "Problems of Revolutionary Socialism", By Haim Kantorovitch
Folder 103 The Essence of Socialism, by William H. Watts, 1910
Folder 104 "Wage-Labor and Capital", By Karl Marx
Folder 105 The Socialist Appeal, August-September, 1935
Folder 106 Socialist Party Leaflet, No. 4, "How Socialists Organized the Unions in Germany", By Robert Hunter
Folder 107 Socialism, What it is, and How to Get it, by Oscar Ameringer, 1930
Folder 108 "Scientific Principles of History, Political Economy and Sociology Wrapped in One Bundle
Folder 109 National Constitution of the Socialist Party
Folder 110 The Socialist Party of Ohio Poll Inspector Certificates (2), 1912
Folder 111 "Socialist Party Platform"
Folder 112 "National Constitution of the Socialist Party", 1912
Folder 113 "A Political Guide for the Workers", Socialist Party Campaign Book, 1920
Folder 114 "An Open Letter to Progressives", By Norman Thomas, 1928
Folder 115 "For Socialist America", National Platform, Socialist Party, 1936
Folder 116 "The ABC of Socialism", By Fred Henderson
Folder 117 Technocracy and Socialism, by Paul Blanshard, 1933
Folder 118 A Worker's World, by David P. Berenberg, 1931
Folder 119 "A Plan for America", Official Campaign Handbook of the Socialist Party, 1932
Folder 120 "Inflation, Who Wins and Who Loses?", By Maynard C. Krueger, March 23, 1934
Folder 121 "The Case for Socialism", By Fred Henderson
Folder 122 "Democracy and Revolution", By Friedrich Adler
Folder 123 "Socialist Handbook", 1937
Folder 124 Numerous Issues of Labor and Socialist Press Service, 1936

Box 11
Folder 1 "Constitution of the Socialist Party", 1983
Folder 2 Young Socialist, An Amateur Monthly Socialist Magazine (2), March and April, 1902
Folder 3 "Platform and Program of the Socialist Party of Turtle Creek Borough. General Election", November 8, 1921
Folder 4 The International Socialist Review, April, 1910
Folder 5 Flyer to Attend The Socialist Party's Monthly Meetings
Folder 6 Essentials of Socialism, 1932
Folder 7 Twenty Years of Social Pioneering, 1926
Folder 8 A Coverless League for Industrial Democracy Booklet
Folder 9 Now It Must Be Done, by Irwin St. John Tucker, 1920
Folder 10 "To-Day's Problems and Their Solutions", By 150 Able Writers
Folder 11 "The Land of the Free Socialist America"
Folder 12 "The New Capitalism and the Socialist", By Harry W. Laidler, 1931
Folder 13 "Socialist Songs With Music", Compiled By Charles H. Kerr, 1906
Folder 14 "The New Deal, A Socialist Analysis", By Norman Thomas, December 15, 1933
Folder 15 Membership Card for the Socialist Party of the State of Ohio
Folder 16 Socialist Party Cards (3)
Folder 17 "Soldiers, Sailors and Socialism"
Folder 18 Ohio Socialist Bulletin, May 1911
Folder 19 The Emporia Convincer Newspaper, May 18, 1912
Folder 20 Land and Labor Newspaper, March 7, 1914
Folder 21 The Findlay Call, July 1 1911
Folder 22-86 The American Guardian - Vol. 14 No. 35-Vol. 22 No. 41, May 12, 1933-July 14, 1939

Box 14
Folder 52 Issues of The Pioneer, 1938
Folder 53 A Letter from the Socialist Party National Campaign Committee in Regard to its Negro Work Sub-Committee, September 12, 1936
Folder 54 The Comrade: An Illustrated Socialist Monthly (4), July, November and December, 1902, and February, 1903
Folder 55 Issues of The Journal of the Socialist Party of Illinois (7), 1984-1986
Folder 56 Appeal to Reason Promotional Letter
Folder 57 Criminology, Crimes and Criminals
Folder 58 Wayland's Monthly, May, 1905
Folder 59 Shop Talks on Economics
Folder 60 Reception and Dance Given in Honor of the Delegates to the State Convention, March 20, 1909
Folder 61 Price List, ca. 1910
Folder 62 Your Unions Your Future, 1928
Folder 63 A.B.C. of Socialism, 1924
Folder 64 "The Young People's Socialist League" Flyer, ca. 1971
Folder 65 "Studies in Socialism: What is Yours and How to Get it" H.L. Riggs, October 1910
Folder 66 To-Night Captain C.C. Ross Flyer, 1912
Folder 67 "Packingtown" Pamphlet, 1907
Folder 68 "The Roman Catholic Church Answered: Attack of Roman Catholic Church on Socialism" Pamphlet, 1911
Folder 69 "Studies in Socialism" Pamphlet, 1906-1907
Folder 70 "Monkeys and Monkeyettes: A Reply to ex-President Roosevelt" W.F. Ries 1909
Folder 71 Newsletter to Members of SLP and SDP