Working Class Radicals
The Socialist Party in West Virginia, 1898-1920
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: West Virginia University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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Foreword: West Virginia’s Socialists: Recovering a Radical Working Class
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I have rediscovered and admired Fred Barkey’s dissertation on the Socialist Party in West Virginia numerous times. The passion generated by the new labor history in the 1970s was one of the reasons I became a historian. Influenced by the New Left and the capacity of social movements for democratic social change, studies of workers, minorities, immigrants, women, and the poor seemed...
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I wish it were possible to recognize each of the many individuals
who have contributed directly and indirectly to the completion
of this study. Only a few can be noted to whom I here express my
My deep appreciation to the late Dr. David Montgomery, Department of History, Yale University, whose wisdom, patience, and encouragement guided my research and whose life and work remain...
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It is difficult to convince most Americans that their country has had a significant Socialist tradition. Since there has been no visible Socialist movement in the United States for a generation or more, it is easy to conclude that this has always been so. Therefore, even educated citizens are startled when they discover that the American Socialist Party before World War I had over 150,000 due-paying...
Chapter I: The Origins Of West Virginia Socialism: 1898–1904
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The first significant Socialist movement in West Virginia was produced during a period of rapid industrial growth. Although this economic transformation had begun much earlier in the century, it was not until the late 1890s that the pace of development so quickened as to disturb the basic patterns of life in several regions of the...
Chapter II: The Growth And Appeal Of The West Virginia Socialist Movement: 1905–1911
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Charleston’s Socialist newspaper, The Labor Argus, believed the results of the general election in 1910 demonstrated that the future of the party in West Virginia was full of promise. If the Kanawha County situation was any indication, Socialists in the rest of the state might look forward to capturing political offices in the near future...
Chapter III: The Susceptibility of the West Virginia Working-Class Leadership to the Appeal of Socialism
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A fuller understanding of the nature and limitations of the West Virginia Socialist appeal must go beyond an appreciation of the party’s tactical and propaganda techniques. It is equally important to attempt to comprehend why some workers were more influenced than others by the Socialist approach. In order to determine if any particular set of social variables characterized the Socialists, a master...
Chapter IV: “We Had The Revolution”: The West Virginia Socialist Party At Its Peak: 1912–1915
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The Socialist Party of West Virginia achieved its greatest successes between 1912 and 1915. On both the political and industrial fronts it made significant progress. These victories were not unmixed blessings for they forced upon the party some formidable internal and external problems. Solutions to these difficulties were necessary to the continued viability of the West Virginia radical...
Chapter V: The Decline of the West Virginia Socialist Party: 1915–1920
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The West Virginia Socialists had to deal with the same crisis that confronted their comrades everywhere during the period from 1915 to 1920. The First World War and the Russian Revolution created such severe strains that only the strongest Socialist organizations could survive. Unfortunately, the West Virginia radicals were to...
Chapter VI: Technological Change and the Decline of Trade Union Strength for the West Virginia Socialist Party
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In a stimulating reappraisal of American socialism, James Weinstein has argued that the Socialist Party did not decline dramatically in 1912 but remained a significant economic and political force until after the First World War. During these years, he continues, the party had made even greater progress within the ranks of organized...
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“I sure wish the Socialist Party would have made it,” sighed seventy-eight-year-old Bert Seachrist as he rocked on the porch of his miner’s cottage at Holly Grove. “They had an awful lot of smart people there, and I’d like to seen them get a chance. Was a time when the miners here was all Socialists and wouldn’t talk anything...
A Forty-Year Retrospective
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Could you talk about the context in which you undertook the research
and oral histories that led to your study of the Socialist Party in West
I was an early convert to the idea that American labor history needed to be more than just the story of unions and collective bargaining. I had been living in West Virginia for a decade or so and was struck by the disconnect between what high school and college...
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About Fred Barkey
About Ken Fones-Wolf
About Gordon Simmons
Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: West Virginia and Appalachia
Series Editor Byline: Ronald L. Lewis, Ken Fones-Wolf, Kevin Barksdale