Reds! A Revolutionary Timeline: (Special Edition)

  • Introduction

    For those of you have followed and commented on Reds!, this will at least in part be a retread of what you've already read. However, this is the revised, definitive edition of the timeline, so there will be changes, new material and retcons abound. I hope that this will make a more complete alternate history. Unfortunately, this will be distracting me from updates for some time.

    However, Illuminatus_Primus and myself are collaborating on this retcon project, with the hope of accomplishing it as quickly and thoroughly as possible, so that we can continue to surge ahead with the rest of the timeline. This will be part of the overall transition of the TL from a one-person show (with heavy reader input) to a collaborative TL. This baby has grown too big for one person to manage at any decent rate.
    So, without further adieu, I present the revised Reds! TL.

    The Central Committee’s Staff

    The brainchild of PBS 7’s Aaron Sorkin, The Central Committee’s Staff was a weekly television drama that detailed the lives and work of the men and women in the Central Committee’s senior staff. The senior staff of the Central Committee are responsible for the unglamorous but crucially necessary work that keeps the government of the UASR functioning. Often criticized for having an overly optimistic picture of the inner functions of socialist democracy at the union level, it remained a huge critical and viewer success on public television for eight seasons before drawing to a close.

    Here follows an excerpt from a novelization of the pilot episode:
    So begins another day at the Committee’s Office. With all of the activity in the lobby this morning, it is easy to forget that this is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the seat of the All-Union Central Committee for the Union of American Socialist Republics, and not a busy subway terminal. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the early morning activity, a stately man, advanced in age, walks briskly past the security guards at the entrance. He moves quickly through the lobby, weaving past a busy clerical worker as he walks towards the receptionist’s office.

    As he passes the receptionist terminal, the attendant says “Nice morning, Comrade McGarry.”

    “We’ll take care of that in a hurry, won’t we, Mike?” the man replies with dry sarcasm.

    “Yes sir,” the attendant chuckles.

    The man continues his brisk pace into the inner workings of the west wing of the old Pennsylvania House. He is Leo McGarry, the Chief of Staff to the Central Committee, and a personal friend of the First Secretary.

    He quickly pushes through a set of white double doors, into the inner office. A woman runs past him quickly, pausing only momentarily to exclaim, “Don’t kill the messenger, Leo.”

    “Oh, why the Hell not, Bonnie?” he replies as he grabs the morning’s memos. He passes quickly through the press office, making his routine morning acquaintances before calling out for his deputy. “Josh!” he yells.

    Josh’s blond assistant responds instead. “Morning, Leo,” she says.

    “Hey Donna,” Leo responds. “Is he in yet?”

    She pauses from stirring her coffee, looking up at him coyly. “Yeah...”

    “Can you get him for me?” he replies, clearly irritated.

    She turns around in her seat and yells “Josh!”

    “Thanks...” he sighs.

    “I heard it’s broken,” she says, abruptly changing the subject.

    “You heard wrong,” he replies, barely pausing from reading the memo.

    “I heard it’s–”

    “It’s a mild sprain,” he interrupts; “he’ll be back later today.” He begins walking out of Donna's cubicle, still skimming the memos.​
    “What was the cause of the accident?”​
    “What are you, from the NHS?” he sighed, “Go! Do a job or something!”​
    “I'm just asking-”​
    He anticipated her next question: “He was swerving to avoid a tree...”​
    “What happened?” she asked.​
    “He was unsuccessful.”

    Leo walks though Josh’s open door just as Josh finishes his phone conversation. He asks “How many Cubans exactly have crammed themselves into these fishing boats?”

    Josh responds as he busily jots down a note, “Well, it’s important to understand, Leo, that by and large, these aren’t exactly fishing boats. You hear ‘fishing boats’, you conjure an image of, well, a boat, first of all. What the Cubans are on would charitably be described as rafts. Okay? They’re making the hop from Havana to Miami in fruit baskets, basically. Let’s just be clear on that. Donna’s desk, if it could float, would look good to them right now.”

    Leo begins walking out into the hallway, beckoning Josh to follow him. “I get it,” he says, “How many are there?”

    “We don’t know.”

    “What time exactly did they leave?”

    “We don’t know.”

    “Do we know when they get here?”


    Leo stops, turning towards Josh, and looks him straight in the eye. “True or false: If I were to stand on high ground in Key West with a good pair of binoculars, I’d be as informed as I am right now.”

    “That’s true...”

    “That’s the Foreign Office’s money well spent.”

    “Well, having any sort of diplomatic relations with the exile regime occupying Cuba, we might have a better idea.”

    “You look like Hell, by the way,” Leo sighs as he begins the walk toward his office.

    “Yes, I do. Listen, Leo, did he say anything about it?” Josh asks timidly as he follows Leo.

    “Did he say anything?!” Leo cries. “The First Secretary is pissed as hell at you Josh, and so am I.”

    “I know,” he protests.

    “We’ve gotta work with these people, and how the Hell do you get off strutting your--”

    “I know.”

    “Al Caldwell is a good man,” Leo scolds.

    “Al Caldwell wasn’t there!”

    “I’m saying you take everyone on the Christian Left, dump them into one big basket and label them stupid! We need these people.”

    “We do not need these people...”

    “Josh, if this minority government can’t get at least some votes from the Left Democrats, then we can’t govern. You know we have a whole lot better chance dealing with them than with the Socialists or the SEU.”​
    Excerpts from Sean Hannity, A History of the Worker's Vanguard in America, 1876-1946, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999)

    The Socialist Labor Party grew respectably throughout the 1890s. Under the firm but often heavy handed leadership of the brilliant theoretician Daniel DeLeon, the party and the affiliated Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance increased it's influence within the American working class. However, there were notable setbacks in this period. German language sections of the Socialist Labor Party chafed under DeLeon's rigid ideological purity, particularly this centered around the Newyorker Volkszeitung.

    The real godsend came when the relatively young leftist organization, Social Democracy of America, chaired by Eugene Debs, folded into the Socialist Labor Party in 1898.[1] The young organization had formed out of the remnants of the American Railway Union, crushed by the bourgeois state during the Pullman Strike of 1894. It's members, most often relatively new to the politics of Marxian socialism, represented a diverse spectrum of left-wing radicals, from industrial unionists like Debs, to city sewer socialists, to Owenite utopian socialists. After rejecting initial plans for co-operative colonies as unfeasible, the dialogue developed with delegates from Socialist Labor would ultimately prove fruitful.

    Debs himself engaged in a lengthy series of correspondence with DeLeon. While the two never found much personal affection for each other, both recognized the importance of an alliance between the two organizations. The potential for a resurgent American Railway Union within the STLA was far too politically important for DeLeon to let slip by. Likewise, Debs immediately recognized the importance of the organization that Socialist Labor had spent the last two decades building, from the myriad working-class newspapers, to the socialist clubs and party locals.

    After the whirlwind romance, the short history of Social Democracy of America concluded. On June 14, 1898, the group's National Convention dissolved itself into the Socialist Labor Party by an overwhelming vote. Dissenting delegates associated with Victor Berger of Wisconsin left the organization, and attempted to form an independent Social Democratic Party of America later that fall. The Social Democratic Party would prove short lived, out performed at the ballot box by the Socialist Labor Party throughout it's decade long history. Finally, in 1908, the two organizations made their peace, with both formally endorsing Eugene Debs' presidential bid that November. Within a few months, the dissident Social Democrats accepted the logic of socialist industrial unionism, and joined Socialist Labor.

    ...Eugene Debs was unequivocally the rising star within Socialist Labor. His rapid assent to the national executive of the party confirmed his status as DeLeon's foil. The two would form an uneasy diumvirate over the party until DeLeon's passing in 1911. Perhaps the first recognition of the new consensus within the party was the 1899 compromise with the opposition faction, which softened the party's perhaps overly confrontational attitude towards the then dominant labor union, the American Federation of Labor.[2] These changes reflected Debs' own power base within the party. As a union man at heart, Debs chief early contribution to the Socialist Labor Party was the growing parity of the STLA with the political organizations of the SLP. In time, the STLA would grow to become an equal partner with Socialist Labor, leaving DeLeon's shadow and growing to become an impressive political force itself.

    In the 1900 presidential elections, Socialist Labor's ticket of Eugene Debs and Joseph Maloney won an respectable 165,000 votes, placing the party in 4th place on the national electoral stage.[3] While still dwarfed by the dominant parties of the day, Socialist Labor was finally beginning to reach a national audience, allowing it to fulfill it's role in developing and organizing class consciousness among American workers.

    Excerpt: A selection of posts from the discussion titled “WI: McKinley Assassinated in 1901”, dated May 1, 2009.[4]

    RedAmerican said:
    So I was just reading through The Daily Worker today when I found a very interesting article. Apparently, when a family in Detroit, Michigan SR were digging through their attic looking at old family heirlooms, they stumbled upon the diary of their great-great-grandfather, a son of Polish immigrants named Leon Czolgosz.

    Apparently, Leon’s diary had confessed that he had attempted to assassinate the President of the old United States in early September 1901. He made his first attempt on September 5th, but was unable to get close to the old imperialist. He was going to try to catch him on the next day of the exposition, but he was arrested that night by a racist Buffalo cop who had a grudge against Poles and other immigrants.

    So what would our world look like today if Leon had managed to assassinate that bourgeois dog?
    SeriousSam said:
    Well, that’s interesting. If I remember correctly, McKinley’s VP at the time was a noted progressive... I forget his name though. Anyway, he’s not a very important person in history, so I don’t think you’ll find too much on Wiki about him.
    LeninsBeard said:
    I think his name was Theodore Roosevelt... *wikis*

    Yup, Theodore Roosevelt. Apparently, he was a politician of some progressive sympathies at the time, and McKinley picked him for his deputy because it would help him fight off the influence of the populists and the unions. The corporatist establishment kind of marginalized him afterwards, and he faded into relative obscurity.

    If McKinley were assassinated, then Roosevelt would become president, which would definitely give a boost to the progressive movement. While it might lead to short-term gains for the working classes, ultimately it might butterfly away the Red May revolution in ’33. It was the complete defeat of the progressive wings within the Republican and Democratic Parties that ultimately gave the Socialists the long-term support base they needed.
    The Socialist Labor Party as a national party

    National Platform

    Socialist Labor Party of America

    Adopted by the Eleventh National Convention, Chicago, May 1904

    And approved by a general vote of the party’s membership.


    The Socialist Labor Party of America, in convention assembled, reasserts the inalienable right of man to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
    We hold that the purpose of government is to secure to every citizen the enjoyment of this right: but taught by experience we hold furthermore that such right is illusory to the majority of the people, to wit, the working class, under the present system of economic inequality that is essentially destructive of their life, their liberty, and their happiness.

    We hold that the true theory of politics is that the machinery of government must be controlled by the whole people; but again taught by experience we hold furthermore that the true theory of economics is that the means of production must likewise be owned, operated and controlled by the people in common. Man cannot exercise his right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without the ownership of the land on and the tool with which to work. Deprived of these, his life, his liberty and his fate fall into the hands of the class that owns those essentials for work and production.

    We hold that the existing contradiction between the theory of democratic government and the fact of a despotic economic system—the private ownership of the natural and social opportunities—divides the people into two classes, the Capitalist Class and the Working Class; throws society into the convulsions of the Class Struggle, and perverts Government to the exclusive benefit of the Capitalist Class. Thus labor is robbed of the wealth which it alone produces, is denied the means of self-mastery by wagedom, rent, debt, interest, usury; and, by compulsory idleness in wage and debt slavery, is even deprived of the necessaries of life.

    Against such a system the Socialist Labor party raises the banner of revolt, and demands the unconditional surrender of the Capitalist Class. The time is fast coming when, in the natural course of social evolution, this system, through the destructive action of its failures and crises on the one hand, and the constructive tendencies of its trusts and other capitalist combinations on the other hand, will have worked out its own downfall.

    We, therefore, call upon the wage workers, toilers and yeoman of America to organize under the banner of the Socialist Labor Party into a class-conscious body, aware of its rights and determined to conquer them. And we call upon workers everywhere to join in the campaign of socialist industrial unionism in the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance to stand as one against the foes of human labor. And we also call upon all other intelligent citizens to place themselves squarely upon the ground of Working Class interests, and join us in this mighty and noble work of human emancipation, so that we may put summary end to the existing barbarous class conflict by placing the land and all the means of production, transportation and distribution into the hands of the people as a collective body, and substituting the co-operative commonwealth for the present state of planless production, industrial war and social disorder—a commonwealth in which every worker shall have the free exercise and full benefit of his faculties, multiplied by all the modern factors of civilization.

    The two souls of the early Socialist Labor Party, the charming Eugene Debs (left) and the brilliant but abrasive Daniel DeLeon (right)

    The Socialist Labor Party "Arm and Hammer" logo, 1876-1921

    Important Events of Interest


    February 10: The Western Federation of Miners breaks with the American Federation of Labor, following the sobering experience of the Leadville miner's strike.

    March 4:
    William McKinley is inaugurated President of the United States, succeeding Grover Cleveland.

    June 1:
    American mine workers begin a strike that successfully establishes the United Mine Worker's Union.

    June 15:
    The original American Railway Union's final conclave begins in Chicago. The new organization, Social Democracy of America, is openly courted by delegates from the Socialist Labor Party following its quick and decisive repudiation of utopian colonization schemes.[5]

    September 10:
    The Lattimer Massacre: A sheriff's posse kills more than 19 unarmed immigrant miners in Pennsylvania.

    October 4:
    At the close of the first national meeting of Social Democracy of America, the organization ratifies a general endorsement of industrial unionism, as the first step towards an eventual union with the Socialist Labor Party.


    February 15: The USS Maine suffers a catastrophic explosion in Havana's harbor, sinking with nearly all hands. Though the cause of the explosion is unknown, the press, particularly those under the ownership of William Randolph Hearst, portray the sinking as a result of nefarious Spanish treachery.

    April 22: The United States is at a de facto state of war with Spain, as the US Navy begins a blockade of Cuban ports and captures a Spanish merchant ship. A formal declaration will come three days later.

    May 1: The Socialist Labor Party organizes small pro-labor, anti-war demonstrations in its strongholds in New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. While there are minor clashes with the police, the demonstrations fail to gain much public attention.

    June 14:
    Social Democracy of America votes to dissolve the organization and its meager assets into relevant sections of the Socialist Labor Party and the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance.

    July 7:
    The United States annexes Hawaii.

    August 12:
    Hostilities end in Cuba between American and Spanish forces.

    October 1:
    Victor Berger and other dissidents from the now defunct Social Democracy of America hold their first convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where they form the Social Democratic Party of America.

    November 8:
    New York state office elections: the Socialist Labor candidate Benjamin Hanford makes the parties best run yet for the office, winning close to 30,000 votes, approximately 2.5% of the total.

    December 10:
    The Treaty of Paris is signed, formally ending hostilities between Spain and the United States.

    December 31:
    By year's end, John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company controls 84% of the USA's oil, and most American pipelines. The age of monopoly capital has begun.


    January 6:
    The American Railway Union is reassembled as a member of the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance. Eugene Debs returns as national chair during the reorganization period.

    February 4:
    The Phillipine-American War begins following the outbreak of hostilities in Manila.

    February 14:
    The US Congress authorizes the use of voting machines for federal elections, providing endless amounts of fun for future corrupt corporations and conspiracy theorists.

    April 17:
    Following the firing of 17 union employees at the Bunker Hill Mine in Idaho, 250 workers affiliated with the Western Federation of Miners occupy and demolish a mill at the mine. Following a major bribe by the United Mineowners, the National Guard is deployed by the Governor to Coeur d'Alene. After a violent confrontation, over 1,000 miners and their families are herded into makeshift prisons. Many will never be charged, and won't be released from the concentration camps for many months.

    June 1:
    The Socialist Labor Party's 10th National Convention begins in New York City, to review the integration of the Social Democrats into the party organization.

    June 18:
    At the close of the SLP's 10th National Convention, the leadership of Daniel DeLeon and Henry Kuhn concede to ARU president Eugene Debs' proposal for increased parity between the STLA and the party administration.

    June 19:
    The Newsboys Strike begins in New York. Delegates from the SLP National Convention, inspired by the impressive initiative of the all children Newsboys Union, agree to help the child laborers organize their strike.[6]

    June 24:
    The use of brutal strikebreaking tactics on the Newsies begins to backfire, as the Newsies begin selling working-class alternate press cleverly disguised as more famous newspapers, which bring full exposés of Hearst and Pulitzer's brutal tactics.

    August 21:
    The Newsboys Strike ends, with the recognition of the union, and a return to the pre Spanish-American war bundle price of 50¢. The Newsies will join the STLA by the end of the year.

    October 10:
    Samuel Clemens, alias Mark Twain, has a chance meeting with young, up-and-coming writer Jack London in San Francisco. Clemens, a newly baptized anti-imperialist, befriends the young Socialist Labor activist, though he remains steadfastly opposed to joining the party.

    December 2:
    The Battle of Tirad Pass: Filipino forces successfully commit to a delaying action against the US military, guarding the retreat of Phillipine President Emilio Aguinaldo before being wiped out.


    January 3:
    The US Census estimates the country's population to be approximately 70 million.

    January 8:
    Following reports of miner revolts and lawlessness, President McKinley places the Alaskan territory under military governance.

    March 5:
    Two US Navy cruisers are sent to Central America to protect US interests following a dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

    March 15:
    The Gold Standard Act is ratified, placing the United States currency on the gold standard, ending the era of bimetallism.

    May 15:
    The II Olympiad opens in Paris, France, as part of the Paris World Exhibition.

    September 13:
    Filipino resistance fighters overrun a large American column at the Battle of Pulang Lupa.

    November 6:
    Republican incumbent is William McKinley is re-elected President over Democrat William Jennings Bryan. The Socialist Labor Party places a distant 4th, with 165,000 votes, approximately 30,000 shy of the 3rd place Prohibition Party.


    March 2:
    The U.S. Congress passes the Platt Amendment, limiting the autonomy of Cuba as a condition for the withdrawal of American troops.

    March 4:
    United States President William McKinley begins his 2nd term. Theodore Roosevelt is sworn in as Vice President of the United States.

    May 17:
    The US stock market crashes.

    June 12:
    Cuba becomes a US protectorate.

    July 5:
    The Western Federation of Miners adopts a socialist platform, calling for collective, worker control of the means of production, and a program of industrial unionism to further that end.

    September 6:
    Leon Czolgoz is arrested in Buffalo, New York for vagrancy. President McKinley attends the day's festivities unimpeded.

    November 28:
    The new constitution of the State of Alabama incorporates literary tests for voters in the state.


    February 18:
    The US Attorney-General brings a suit against the Northern Securities Company, a railroad trust, under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, in order to allay middle class outcry over the very public machinations of the schemers of the trust. In private, the President has expressed his support to the owners of the trust.

    May 2:
    The Coal Strike of 1902. 150,000 miners in the anthracite coal fields of western Pennsylvania from United Mine Workers of America go out on strike, demanding shorter hours, higher pay and increased control over their workplaces.

    May 20:
    The Republic of Cuba begins de jure independence. In reality, the country is an American puppet.

    June 2:
    The Coal Strike deepens as maintenance and clerical workers affiliated with the mines join the strike in solidarity.

    July 10:
    The Rolling Mill Mine disaster in Jonestown, Pennsylvania kills over 100 miners.

    August 1:
    The Coal Strike: The owners appeal to the federal government for aid in defeating the strikers, as the Pennsylvania National Guard is not sufficient to maintain security of the mines and suppress the strike. Coal stockpiles have been exhausted, and by now, the entire coal field has joined in the strike.

    August 22:
    President McKinley becomes the first American president to ride in an automobile today in Hartford, Connecticut.

    October 15:
    President McKinley deploys units of the U.S. Army to suppress the Coal Strike. Over four dozen miners are killed in the resulting battles. The strike ends by early November, with the beaten unionists agreeing to return to work in exchange for modest pay cuts and a chance to keep their jobs.

    November 30:
    The leadership of the United Mineworkers of America, radicalized by what they saw as the blatant betrayal of the people by the government, push for the adoption of a socialist platform at the next union national convention.


    February 11:
    The Oxnard Strike of 1903 becomes the first time in U.S. history that a labor union is formed from members of different races.

    March 4:
    Turkey and Germany sign an agreement to build the Constantinople-Baghdad Railway.[7]

    March 11:
    The Hay-Herran Treaty, granting the US the right to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama, is ratified by the US Senate.

    May 31:
    Following Columbia's rejection of the Panama Canal Treaty, President McKinley orders the dispatch of a cruiser squadron and a contingent of Marines to support the Panamanian independence movement.

    June 1:
    The Butte Copper Strike begins in protest over low wages and the firing of known union leaders from the mine. The strike, jointly coordinated by the Socialist Labor Party local and the Western Federation of Miners, quickly shuts down the city's crown jewel industry.

    October 6:
    The Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty is signed by the US and Panama, giving the US exclusive rights over the Panama Canal Zone.

    October 11:
    In spite of sporadic violence, the Butte Copper Strike ends with a minor victory for the miner's union. While they fail to achieve all of their goals, the union wins pay raises and and a reinstatement of fired workers.

    November 23:
    Colorado Governor James Hamilton Peabody dispatches the state militia to the town of Cripple Creek to quash a miner's strike. The Colorado Labor Wars begin.


    January 31:
    The American Federation of Labor faces its first major reversal, the product of campaigns waged by employers for “open shops.” The employer and government back push starts with a legal injunction against United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners.

    March 14:
    The Supreme Court delivers it's verdict in Northern Securities Co. v. United States, 193 U.S. 197: The Sherman Antitrust Act is overturned as an unconstitutional overstretch of the federal government's authority to regulate interstate commerce due to a violation of the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment. The 5-4 decision represents a major blow to progressives in both major parties.[8]

    March 30:
    The US Army Corps of Engineers begins work on the Panama Canal.

    April 8:
    The Entente Cordiale is signed between the UK and France

    May 1:
    The Socialist Labor Party's National Convention begins in Chicago. The convention nominates Eugene Debs and William Wesley Cox to run on the party's presidential ticket.

    June 6:
    The First Industrial Congress of the STLA opens in Chicago, to promote a national industrial union federation. At the Congress, the Western Federation of Miners amalgamates with the United Mine Workers, joining the STLA. With swelling membership, the STLA can, for the first time, stand as a legitimate alternative to the reformist AF of L.

    July 1:
    The III Olympiad opens in St. Louis, Missouri.

    August 14:
    In the final vote before the Congressional Recess, a revised antitrust bill fails 40-44. The bill, tailored to attempt to pass the Supreme Court's scrutiny following the overturn of the Sherman Antitrust Act, withers under criticism that it will still fail to pass legal muster.

    November 8:
    Republican presidential nominee Charles Fairbanks defeats Bourbon Democrat Alton B. Parker.

    The 1904 US General election, in brief

    1904 would prove to be a tumultuous year in politics. Nowhere was this more the case than in the Republican Party. Strong voices of “Progressivism” in the party, among them Vice President Theodore Roosevelt and Wisconsin Governor Robert La Follette have become deeply dissatisfied with the state of American politics. With the overturn of the Sherman Antitrust Act, the lack of will to challenge the courts in the party, and the McKinley government's overly cavalier attitude in dealing with organized labor, they feel that the federal government and the state administrations controlled by the party have done great damage to the nation, and have aggravated a growing class war.

    In spite of the vulgar rhetoric thrown at them by the conservative branch of the Republican Party, the Progressive Republicans were not socialists; or even social democrats at that matter. Almost none of them are opposed to trusts on principle, and many have no love for organized labor. However, they do recognize that a state overtly colluding with the masters of capital on such a grand scale is tearing the nation apart. In their nationalism, they believe that a reconciliation between classes must be achieved; the excesses of capitalism must be restrained, the people must have some democratic voice in their governance.

    However, the class collaborationists were unable to convince the rest of the Republican Party of the logic of their position in this campaign. Theodore Roosevelt, though carrying considerable popular support going into the convention, is unable to defeat the retrenched conservatives in the presidential nomination. In a heated series of ballots, the conservative Charles Fairbanks sweeps aside Roosevelt, clinching the nomination.

    As his running mate, the party selects a relative moderate, William Howard Taft. In the aftermath, the Progressive Republicans themselves faced internal conflict over the proper course of action. The “Legalist Progressives,” represented among the professional politicians, civil servants, in the law schools and bar associations, argue that the movement as a whole needs to change tack and adapt to the new conditions. The majority of GOP Progressives, their intellectual center has adopted a kind of proto-corporatist philosophy. Now that breaking up trusts is no longer on the table, they argue that the government must take an increased role to manage the excesses of capitalism in a more cooperative manner. The cartels will be need to be “guided” by the federal government to produce socially desirable outcomes, regulating prices and quality, with the government serving as the umpire between organized labor and large capitalists. Heavily influenced by political scholar Woodrow Wilson's treatise Congressional Government, the Legalist Progressives believe some form of constitutional form, likely pro-parliamentary, is necessary to reduce the “politics of personality” for the health of the republic.

    In contrast, the “Populist Progressives” have become embittered by what is seen as a betrayal of the principles of the Grand Old Party of Lincoln. Government of the people, by the people, they argue, cannot be achieved through rational scientific management of the opposing classes of society. Without some material leveling, a republic itself is fast becoming an impossibility. Embittered and defeated in the post-election era, many of the faction feel they have been driven into the political wilderness.

    The Democrats, at their St. Louis national convention, would ultimately thrust New York Appeals Court Judge Alton B. Parker into the limelight. A man with immaculate credentials and an air of seeming incorruptibility, Parker turns the party's campaign against “the rule of individual caprice” and “the presidential office's growing abuse of authority.”

    The party platform would condemn the excesses of monopolies, high government expenses, and corruption within the executive departments. In spite of some of these paeans to populism, the party's platform remained essentially Bourbon in nature, favoring the gold standard, free trade and a relatively laissez-faire government attitude. While this put the Democrats at cross-purposes with the growing Legalist Progressives faction of the GOP, some common causes were found in the reduction of corruption and the limitation of presidential authority.

    In spite of great enmity between Democrats and Republicans, relations between the two parties were relatively cordial this election. Both Fairbanks and Parker were quite conservative, having very similar philosophies about the role of government in society. Without William Jennings Bryan's decidedly class war laced campaign, the 1904 campaign proved to be quite amiable. And, at the very least, both candidates equally denounced the “radical anarchistic crusade” of the growing Socialist Labor Party.

    1904 would be American Railway Union chairman Eugene Debs' second run for president. A brilliant, charismatic orator capable of uniting both AF of L supporters as well as his own STLA union's constituency, Debs gave “socialist treason” a human face. Supported by SLP stalwart William Wesley Cox as his running mate, Debs would greatly expand both the SLP's membership rolls as well as it's vote share through the course of the campaign.

    The 1904 campaign saw the first chink in the AF of L's armor as well. Defiance of AF of L president Samuel Gomper's explicit voluntarist philosophy became more common among union locals of AF of L affiliates, particularly among teamsters, brewers and locomotive engineers.
    The SLP also expanded into the traditional rural domains of the People's Party. Shattered by collusion and subsequent betrayal by the Democratic Party, the remnants of the Populists' organizations largely signed on to support Debs' call for a broad producers' alliance between industrial labor and yeoman farmers. However, this alliance is not yet universal, and many Populist groups do not actively endorse Debs' candidacy or make alliances with industrial labor. However, with the disintegration of much of the Populists' national organization those opposed to alignment with the SLP are unable to run a Populist candidate in the election.

    Presidential Results

    Congressional Results

    1. This is the first major divergence of in the TL.
    2. IOTL, this is the major issue that ultimately caused the split in the Socialist Labor Party. That rift is patched over and the split averted ITTL.
    3. Other than the OTL's Social Democrats and SLP's vote totals combined, there is no real change in the election outcome.
    4. This was the POD from the draft version of the TL. While the divergence still occurs, it is no longer the specific POD.
    5. This is the new POD: with a slightly greater turn-out of industrial unionists at the Social Democracy of America's opening meeting, it adopts policies more in line with the SLP, and soon falls into its orbit.
    6. This is included more for my own amusement than anything. The idea of militantly socialist newspaper boys just tickles me.
    7. This event, IOTL, had dramatic consequences for great power relations. Ultimately, if completed, it would give Germany access to developing Turkish oil supplies, and ensure that the threat of a naval blockade on Germany couldn't force her capitulation. This is one of the many factors that led to the First World War.
    8. The case went 5-4 the other way IOTL, validating the break up of the Northern Securities Company. The dissent, written by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., and joined by Fuller, White and Peckham, held that the act was unconstitutional.
    9. Prior to OTL's 17th Amendment, the U.S. Senate elections were determined by the state government. In most states, the state legislature elected Senators. A few western states and those with stronger progressive groups had added some form of popular electoral component, though few provided for true direct elections.
  • 1905-1912: The Rise of Socialist Labor


    March 4:
    Charles Fairbanks is inaugurated as President of the United States.

    March 20:
    The Grover Shoe Factory disaster: a massive boiler explosion occurs in a factory in Brockton, Massachusetts. The building subsequently collapses, killing 60 workers and injuring numerous others.

    April 6:
    The United States Supreme Court overturns a New York state law regulating the work week in the case Lochner v. New York. The sweeping decision invokes the Fourteenth Amendment's “Due Process Clause,” and results in the widespread invalidation of many state laws regulating commerce and the work week. The doctrine of “substantive due process” as enumerated by the Court gives another blow to progressives in the GOP.

    May 1:
    STLA deputy chairman William “Big Bill” Haywood announces the creation of two new unions within the STLA: the Yeoman Farmer's Federation, and the Agricultural Worker's Organization. As part of the declaration, Big Bill Haywood promotes the concept of the “One Big Union,” in which all members of the producing classes would organize together for a common socialist platform. The new organizations seek to organize cooperate mutual aid and revolutionary enthusiasm among small freeholders and the workers, sharecroppers and hired hands in big plantations respectively.

    May 16:
    The beginning of the Congressional Revolt: Progressive GOP leadership in the House steer the passage of Comprehensive Federal Trade Act. The sweeping legislation, modeled in many ways off of German Chancellor Bismarck's “practical Christianity” or “Staatssozialismus” programs, would establish a Department of Industrial Coordination, comprehensive safety regulations, as well as some limited collective bargaining standards.

    June 1:
    National Steel, a trust controlling almost 3/4ths of steel production in the United States, begins a major anti-union campaign against the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, withdrawing recognition of the union in all of the organized mills. Though the AAISW and the AF of L attempt to organize a national campaign against this, many of the larger locals go down without a fight in the opening salvo. The Labor Wars begin.

    June 4:
    The Senate narrowly gives assent to the Comprehensive Federal Trade Act. However, the act is quickly and aggressively vetoed by President Fairbanks. In his veto message, Fairbanks scathingly denounces the Congressional leadership who forged the compromise act, accusing them of bowing to “syndicalist-anarchist intimidation” and “waging a bloody, unconstitutional class war by despotically depriving men of their property and liberty.”

    June 30:
    The Labor Wars: The International Mercantile Marine Co. begins it's own anti-union campaign, particularly against longshoremen, using the AF of L's counterreaction as a pretext to destroy affiliated unions.
    July 1: Congressional leaders fire back at the President, accusing him of abuse of power, and of undermining the health of the nation by refusing any compromise over the growing inequalities of power in the country. Though attempts to override Fairbank's veto fail, it's clear that the honeymoon between Fairbanks and his party is over quite soon.

    July 9:
    The Labor Wars: Standard Oil joins in the attack on the AF of L. Attempts at organizing at fields and refineries owned by the trust are met with strikebreakers and scabs, resulting in the accidental death of three labor organizers in Texas.

    July 20:
    Governor Robert LaFollete of Wisconsin announces a major legislative deal with Victor Berger's growing Social Democratic Party. LaFollete's progressive Republicans and the Milwaukee “Sewer Socialists” agree to cooperate on a progressive agenda very close to the SDP's minimum program.

    July 31:
    The Women's Trade Union League votes to quit the AF of L, citing the ineffectiveness of the craft union policies, and the perverse indifference within the AF of L towards women workers and the women's suffrage movement. The predominantly socialist leadership of the League begin talks with the STLA to join the industrial union federation.

    August 24:
    The American Amalgamated Coal Company forms. The new trust is an offshoot of the National Steel trust, formed as a part of a vertical integration plan by the trust's leadership. The new trust acquires the Consolidation Coal Company, the Pennsylvania Coal Company, two of the largest coal mining companies in the United States.

    September 7:
    The American Telephone & Telegraph Company joins the Labor Wars, successfully crushing small union strikes within it's branches.

    September 20:
    Samuel Clemens, alias Mark Twain, publishes his political satire, What's Mine is Mine, skewering the unashamedly servile press coverage of, among other things, the 1902 Anthracite Coal Strike. Even the great humorist is not immune to charges of being a “socialist-anarchist bombthrower.”

    October 1:
    The Labor Wars: the Anaconda Copper Company, in Butte, Montana, begins a union-busting campaign at its flagship copper mines. The United Mineworkers responds by voting for a general strike against the Anaconda Company and it's affiliates.

    October 8:
    Congressional GOP leadership enter into a further row with President Fairbanks, over corruption within the executive departments. The “Imperial President” widely loses favor with the public over apparently rampant connections to major trusts, especially the much reviled Northern Securities Company.

    November 1:
    One month into the Copper General Strike, their seems to be very little hope for a peaceful resolution. The Governor of Montana, Democrat Joseph K. Toole, is pressured into mobilizing the National Guard to “restore order” in Butte, Anaconda, and the surrounding counties. This move meets wide resistance from Farmer-Labor groups, and ends up pushing the remnants of Montana People's Party organizations into the Socialist Labor Party, which has played a significant role in organizing the strike.

    November 12:
    In one of the last votes of the year, the House of Representatives votes 254-99 to endorse the Congressional Government Amendment. The Amendment, authored by Democratic Minority Whip Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey, will be debated in the Senate next. The Amendment would significantly strip the powers of the presidency and establish a parliamentary governmental structure, with the Cabinet responsible to the House of Representatives.


    January 16:
    The President's standoff with the legislative branch continues in the new year. Fairbanks' barbed State of the Union address reveals an executive un-intimidated by the Congress' threatened rebuke. He appears confident that the Republican Party political machines in the states will side with the executive instead of the Congress in the upcoming Constitutional Amendment battle.

    February 10:
    The HMS Dreadnought is launched, revolutionizing naval warfare. An impending naval arms race between the UK and the German Reich is on the horizon, with the lesser naval powers of France, Italy and the US expected to take part to some degree.

    February 14:
    An attack by the Montana National Guard against strikers in Butte is repulsed by an armed Farmer-Labor “Vigilance Committee.” Before the Montana front of the Labor Wars can further escalate, the Governor begins backing down, as he continues to loose support among the farmer constituencies that helped bring him into office. He urges the Board of Directors for the Anaconda Copper Company to enter the bargaining table with the strikers. Meanwhile, American Railway Union workers refuse to load shipments to and from the Anaconda Company, in solidarity with the UMW.

    February 28:
    Upton Sinclair publishes his landmark novel, The Jungle. Though the socialist tract also spreads considerable concern about the health and safety of the meatpacking industry, the Supreme Court's case law precedent, and the President's threatened veto stymie attempts to make headway on regulation.

    March 1:
    National leaders of the STLA and the United Mineworkers, including Eugene Debs and “Big Bill” Haywood, travel to Butte to begin a collective bargaining agreement with the Anaconda Company.

    March 15:
    The US Senate votes 60-30 in favor of the Congressional Government Amendment, narrowly meeting the two-thirds constitutional requirement. The Amendment will now head to the states for ratification

    March 17:
    The six-month long Copper General strike reaches an end, with a negotiated settlement. The UMW is tacitly recognized, and a bare-bones collective bargaining agreement is instituted, giving the union a measure of control over dismissal of members from the mines. The mineworkers also win small pay raises and shorter hours.

    April 6:
    The Congress and the President again enter into a row, this time over naval armament spending. The President finds himself reluctant to authorize the necessary spending increases to pay for a navy necessary to project America's status as an emerging world power.

    April 18:
    The Populist Party's Emergency National Convention begins. At stake is the future of the organization and it's mission of a broad, producing class reform government. The convention of the ailing organization is divided between two hostile camps. The “Left Populists,” consisting of Farmer-Labor and rural worker groups, endorse socialism and industrial unionism, and wish to enter the Socialist Labor Party led worker's movement. The “Right Populists” wish to maintain electoral independence, and stay steadfastly opposed to collaboration with other groups. At the end of the day, the “Left Populists” carry the day, and begin the process of affiliation with the SLP. “Right Populist” sections leave the organization, and vow to carry on the true Populist spirit in a new organization.

    May 1:
    SLP activist and novelist Jack London begins serializing his novel White Fang in The Outing Magazine.
    May 8: National Steel purchases it's largest competitor, Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company. Renamed the United States Steel Corporation,1 the J.P. Morgan backed steel trust controls nearly 3/4ths of American steel production. The corporation's aggressive expansion is paved by innovation, combined with the nullification of American anti-trust statutes.

    June 1:
    With the near total eradication of the Amalgamated Iron Workers' union, the STLA forms a Steelworkers' Organizing Committee, to begin making cautious inroads into forming a steelworker's industrial union. Other proposals for industrial oil workers' and telephone workers are considered as well, but rejected in the interim to concentrate the STLA's resources on the large steel industry.

    June 18:
    House Speaker Joseph Cannon (R-IL) meets with a delegation of Democratic Party leaders, including several Southern state governors, the Minority Leader John Sharp Williams (D-MS) and Minority Whip Woodrow Wilson (D-NJ), to discuss a compromise agreement on the Congressional Government Amendment. The eventual agreement balances populist issues with trusts, a key Democratic constituency and something looked down upon even by Bourbon Democrat hardliners, as well as Democratic isolationism. In exchange for Southern state support for the amendment, a Cannon led Congressional government will push for means to regulate and control trusts and improve wages for workers, hoping to shore up dwindling Democratic support among the industrial working class.

    July 11:
    Seven Southern states ratify the Congressional Government Amendment, intensifying the conflict between the President and the Congress. However, hopes of getting the Amendment ratified before the 1906 election seem wildly optimistic.

    August 1:
    President Fairbanks deploys the US Army to Cuba, to contain a Cuban rebellion that the puppet government has been incapable of putting down. The intervention quashes moderate Cuban leaders hopes of slow moves to independence.

    August 14:
    With the mid-term elections looming on the horizon, the GOP heavyweights in the lock horns with one another over the future of the party. While the growing consensus is towards Legalist Progressivism, the balancing the wishes of the electorate with the powerful business constituency in the Republican Party is difficult. While corporate interests can back the governmental reform of the Congressional Government Amendment, other proposals, such as an “anti-trust” amendment to the Constitution are unable to gain traction.

    September 1:
    An electoral fusion alliance is negotiated in Wisconsin, with a number of Progressive Republicans running on Victor Berger's Social Democratic Party ticket as well.

    October 11:
    The Steelworkers' Organizing Committee begins the first part of its unionization push, starting in the smaller foundries of the Pennsylvania based Bethlehem Steel Corporation.

    November 6:
    Midterm elections in the United States: The Republican Party gains an increased majority in both the House and the Senate. The Social Democrats and the Socialist Labor Party make their first entry into the US House of Representatives, as well as significant gains in state legislatures across the country.(2)

    December 2:
    After failing to obtain court injunctions or state aid against Steelworkers' Organizing Committee actions at a number of plants, the Bethlehem Steel Corporation reluctantly recognizes the union. Bethlehem Steel stock prices fall, and orders for steel steadily shift to its monolithic competitor, US Steel.

    Congressional Results, 1906

    House of Representatives_______Seats________Change

    Republican Party

    Democratic Party_______________123__________-12

    Social Democratic Party_________2____________+2
    Socialist Labor Party____________1____________+1

    U.S. Senate_____________________Seats________Change

    Republican Party________________58___________0

    Democratic Party

    Social Democratic Party*_________2___________2

    * SDP Senators elected on fusion tickets with state Progressive Republican groups in Wisconsin and Washington


    January 1:
    Daniel J. Tobin becomes president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

    February 11:
    Progressive Republican controlled states begin ratifying the Congressional Government Amendment, with Wisconsin leading the charge.

    February 28:
    The American Federation of Labor receives a major blow, as the rail based craft unions vote to leave the Federation, citing its inability to challenge the declining benefits for union members. The effectiveness of the industrial American Railway Union's actions lead many members, and the entire Brotherhoods of Locomotive Engineers and Railroad Signalmen, to decide to join the ARU.

    March 4:
    With the opening of the new Congressional term, freshman Congressman Victor Berger (SD-WI) delivers a scathing criticism of President Fairbank's failed leadership of the nation, reaching across the aisle to Progressive Republicans to curb the excesses of plutocracy in the US.

    March 12:
    The Autoworker's Organizing Committee is founded in Detroit, Michigan, by delegates of the STLA and workers from the Ford Motor Company. Almost immediately, Henry Ford attempts to destroy the fledgling union. The tide begins to turn in the Labor Wars.

    March 30:
    The Agriculture Worker' Organization reaches a membership of almost 100,000 workers.

    April 4:
    Republican politician and figure of the Progressive movement Theodore Roosevelt delivers a major speech at an organization of Northeastern Republicans. Roosevelt criticizes the failed hardline policies of the GOP center, represented by the current president, charging them with ignoring the growing class war in the country.

    April 18:
    The battleship USS Kansas (BB-21) is commissioned, the first of the American dreadnought type all-big gun battleships.

    June 6:
    The Lumber Workers' Industrial Union organizes in the Pacific Northwest and South from a coalition of smaller local unions and craft union locals representing workers in the lumber industry. The Lumber Strike begins almost immediately.

    July 8:
    The ailing AF of L begins a National Conference, with the hopes of finding a solution to its plummeting membership and distressed financial situation. While Gompers puts on a brave front, and his Voluntarist faction carries the day, behind closed doors it is grimmer than many had feared. The AF of L strike fund is nearly depleted, and a number of affiliates are on the verge of total bankruptcy.

    August 1:
    The Aeronautical Division is established within the US Army Signal Corps.

    August 14:
    The Seventh Congress of the Second International begins in Stuttgart, Germany. The Congress opens with the welcoming of a large slate of delegates from the fast growing Socialist Labor Party of America.

    August 31:
    Count Alexander Izvolsky and Sir Arthur Nicolson sign the St. Petersburg Convention, which results in the establishment of the Triple Entente.

    September 6:
    The Anaconda Copper Company, joined by a group of investors led by John D. Rockefeller, purchase a majority stake in the United Copper Company. The new cartel, which will become the US Copper Corporation, will soon control almost three-fourths of the American copper market.

    November 16:
    The Oklahoma and Indian Territories are combined, entering the union as the 46th State.

    December 6:
    Monongah Mining Disaster: A coal mine explosion kills 362 workers in Monongah, West Virginia.

    December 11:
    The Great White Fleet departs from Hampton Roads, Virginia, as a display of growing American military might.

    December 19:
    An explosion in a coal mine in Jacobs Creek, Pennsylvania kills 239. The second major coal mining disaster in a month, the central committee of the United Mineworkers vote to begin broad strike in the coal mining industry to protest the lack of safety precautions. This time the unionists enter the battle from a position of strength, with major public sympathy on their side.


    January 1:
    The first ball drops in Times Square on New Year's Day, beginning a long tradition.

    January 6:
    The Amalgamated Coal Company reaches an agreement with the United Mineworkers, beginning a serious investigation by a joint company-union task force on mine safety, and agreeing to the Mineworker's wage increase demands. This successful coup ensures that Amalgamated Coal will be the only sure supply of coal this winter.

    January 12:
    The American Railway Union and the Steelworkers' Organizing Committee begin sympathy actions to support the United Mineworkers. ARU organized locomotives and railyards refuse to deliver coal from mines owned by companies still under strike, and Steelworkers strike at factories that buy coal from said mines.

    February 1:
    The Lumber Strike ends, a major success for the Lumber Workers. Sustained by graft, lumber camp occupation, and generous donations from other working-class organizations, the Lumber Workers gain total recognition by much of the industry.

    February 12:
    Following rumors that the West Virginia Governor will deploy the National Guard to end the strike, coal miners arm themselves and begin an occupation of many of the rural coal pits. This escalation leads to the federal mobilization of the National Guard, and of the US Army by the president, to suppress the strike.

    February 15:
    Speaker of the House Joseph Cannon openly defies the President's command authority of the military, invoking the Posse Comitatus Act. A Congressional Joint-Resolution, condemning the president's violation of the Act (which prohibits the use of the military or National Guard under federal control for law enforcement within the borders of the US except when authorized by the Congress or the Constitution), and subtly threatening impeachment should he continue, passes both houses of Congress by a 2/3rds majority, gaining the support of nearly the entire Democratic Caucus as well as sufficient factions of the Republican Party.

    March 1:
    Following the President's retreat, and the refusal of state governors to intervene on behalf of mine-owners, shares of affected companies, and notably, the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, plummet at the New York Stock Exchange.

    March 15:
    Negotiations begin to end the largest strike in American history. Congressional leaders agree to mediate the negotiations between STLA leaders and the coal industry.

    April 1:
    US Steel begins a hostile takeover of the ailing Bethlehem Steel Corporation, cornering the plummeting stock of the corporation. If the deal is allowed to be completed, US Steel will hold a near total monopoly on the US Steel industry. Public outcry against the move is strong but impotent.

    April 5:
    The Coal Strike ends, following a successful settlement. The massively press coverage of the strike make the United Mineworkers and the STLA's victory a virtual propaganda coup. The Labor Wars effectively end.

    April 27:
    The IV Olympiad begins in London, England.

    May 26:
    At Masjid-al-Salaman in Southwestern Persia, the first major oil discovery in the Middle-East is made. The rights are quickly acquired by the United Kingdom, following a cryptic telegram delivered to the Home Office: “See Psalm 104, Verse 15, Line 3”(3)

    June 16:
    The Republican National Convention begins in Chicago, Illinois. Following a series of ballots, the Legalist Progressive aligned delegates succeed in their coup, nominating William Howard Taft for President.

    June 30:
    The Tunguska Event occurs in Siberia.

    July 1:
    The Socialist Labor Party National Convention begins in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Party ratifies a new platform, and endorses a large slate of representatives, some running on fusion tickets. The new platform specifies a minimum and maximum programme for the first time.

    July 3:
    The Young Turk Revolution begins in the Ottoman Empire.

    July 18:
    As the election draws near, delegates of the SDP and the SLP meet to finalize an electoral cooperation agreement. Congressional candidates for both parties will not run against each other, with hopes of maximizing the left vote, and paving a road to reconciliation between the two groups.

    August 12:
    The United Teamsters of America form a successful “dual-union”, effectively breaking the International Brotherhood of Teamsters craft-union policies, and IBT president Daniel J. Tobin's stranglehold on the organization.

    September 16:
    William C. Durant founds the predecessor to the General Motors Corporation.

    September 25:
    The first Ford Model T is produced.

    October 6:
    The Bosnia Crisis begins as the Austro-Hungarian Empire annexes Bosnia-Herznegovina.

    October 15:
    The International Union of Brewery Workmen of America votes to leave the AF of L and join the STLA.

    November 3:
    The 1908 US General Election. William Howard Taft is elected President of the United States, but the Republican Party faces a major defeat in Congressional elections as well as control of State Legislatures.

    December 2:
    Child Emperor Pu-Yi ascends to the Chinese throne at the age of two.

    General election, 1908

    Presidential Results

    Presidential candidate
    _____Party______________Popular Vote_____Percentage______Electoral Count

    William H. Taft_____________Republican Party______6,032,171_______42.59%________321

    Alton B. Parker_____________Democratic Party_____4,987,123________35.21%________140

    Eugene Debs_______________Socialist Labor Party___1,632,400__________11.52%________0

    William Jennings Bryan______Populist Democratic___1,512,011_____10.68%________0

    Congressional Results

    House of Representatives_______Seats________Change

    Republican Party

    Democratic Party_______________165__________+37
    Socialist Labor Party*___________20___________+17

    U.S. Senate_____________________Seats________Change

    Republican Party________________50___________-8

    Democratic Party

    Socialist Labor Party_____________2___________0

    * Socialist Labor Party and Social Democratic Party joint candidates


    January 1:
    Drilling begins on the Lakeview Gusher

    January 5:
    Columbia recognizes the “independence” of Panama.

    February 4:
    The long string of AF of L defections and takeovers continue, with the syndicalist takeover of the mostly immigrant Journeyman International Barber's Union. The new Revolutionary Barbers' International federates with the STLA.

    February 22:
    The Great White Fleet returns to Hampton Roads, Virginia.

    March 4:
    William Howard Taft succeeds Charles Fairbanks as President of the United States.

    March 31:
    Serbia accepts Austro-Hungarian control of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    April 1:
    The Bricklayers', Masons and Plasterers' International Union adopts an industrial unionist platform, beginning a power struggle in the AF of L between Gomper's Voluntarists and the still AF of L loyalist Bricklayers,

    April 19:
    The Anglo-Persian Oil Company is founded.

    May 6:
    The US Senate ratifies a treaty allowing co-recognition of corporations between the US and the Russian Empire.

    May 14:
    Following the completion of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, the parent company is acquired by the Northern Securities Company, granting the new Enterprise Railroad Corporation a near monopoly on transcontinental travel in the north of the country.

    June 16:
    President William Howard Taft recomends to Congress to vote to propose an amendment to the US Constitution to permit the federal government to levy an income tax upon persons and corporations, as well as clarify the meaning of the commerce clause.

    July 13:
    STLA union workers, affiliated with the ARU, begin a walk out at the Pressed Steel Car Company in Pennsylvania. Nearly three quarters of the six thousand employees of the company, which mass produces rail cars via assembly line methods, join the strike action. An attack by Pinkertons as well as the Pennsylvania State Police are unable to bring an early resolution to the strike.

    July 18:
    With 36 states ratifying the Congressional Government Amendment, the Sixteenth Amendment becomes the supreme law of the land. Democratic Party Majority Leader Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey successfully forms a coalition government with Republican Progressives and the Social Democrats.(5)

    July 30:
    President Taft welcomes the new First Secretary Woodrow Wilson to the White House, where the two hammer out a political agreement. The first “cohabitation” government appears to be a success, as talks are cordial, and a fair division of powers is achieved. The President will cede initiative in domestic affairs to the Cabinet, while the Cabinet assures the President's initiative in foreign and judicial affairs.

    August 2:
    The US Army Signal Corps purchases its first airplane.

    August 8:
    With Gompers' demands left unheeded, the AF of L votes to expel the Bricklayers from the Federation. Stung by this bitter betrayal, the Bricklayers naturally drift into the STLA.

    August 14:
    First Secretary Wilson's coalition government obtains its first legislative victory, steering the passage of the Mann-Elkins Act, expanding the authority of the Interstate Commerce Commission to include communications, and also strengthening regulation of railroads, mines and the steel industry.

    September 12:
    Emiliano Zapata begins his revolutionary career, when the city leaders of San Miguel Anenecuilco select him to recover lands owned by the village.

    September 18:
    The Pressed Steel Car Strike ends, with the strikers winning company recognition of the Industrial Assemblers' Union, as well as significant wage increases.

    September 20:
    The Union of South Africa is created, following legislation in the British parliament.

    October 4:
    The Industrial Assemblers' Union begins its first national congress. The congress is attended by representatives of the Autoworkers' Union, the Boot and Shoeworkers' Union, the Boilmakers and Iron Shipbuilders' Union, the Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Ironworkers' Union, the Iron, Tin and Steel Workers', and the International Association of Machinists. Attending unions are immediately suspended from the AF of L.

    November 11:
    The US Navy founds a navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

    December 17:
    King Albert I of Belgium succeeds his uncle, Leopold II, to the throne.


    January 17:
    By voice vote, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approves a bill calling for statehood for the territories of Arizona and New Mexico.

    February 4:
    The Boy Scouts of America youth organization is incorporated.

    February 7:
    France joins the naval arms race, with the passage of a bill calling for the construction of 28 battleships and 94 submarines over a 10 year period.

    March 8:
    A battle begins for control of the Carpenters' Union. One of the key organizations of the AF of L, it's large membership constitutes the majority of current deflated AF of L membership. Gompers' allies squash proposals to build a political program, or open the union up to racial minorities. “Outside agitators” linked with the STLA begin agitating for the union to quit the AF of L and join the STLA.

    April 18:
    The White-Slavery Act, also known as the Mann Act, passes with strong majorities in the House and Senate.

    May 11:
    The US Congress authorizes the creation of the United States Bureau of Mines.

    June 1:
    The American Civil Service Act of 1910 is steered through the House by First Secretary Wilson. The popular bill, aimed at improving efficiency and fighting corruption in the Executive Departments, greatly expands the existing Civil Service system to large numbers of positions within the government. The Act also establishes a temporary commission to weed out corrupt federal employees within the government.

    July 8:
    Social Democratic/Socialist Labor members of Wilson's reform coalition meet with the First Secretary today to discuss collective bargaining and safety standards. With the passage of the Commerce Amendment a near foregone conclusion at this point, Wilson confidently assures progress on mediating between capital and labor.

    August 22:
    The Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty is signed.

    August 28:
    The Eighth International Congress of the Second International begins in the socialist-governed city of Copenhagen, to considerable fanfare. With over a thousand delegates from thirty-three countries, the Congress strengthens previous commitments against war, and entertains the American delegations draft proposals for a socialist trade union international, modeled off the American Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance.

    October 7:
    The Seventeenth Amendment of the Constitution is ratified.

    October 18:
    First Secretary Wilson introduces three bills on the floor of the House of Representatives. The first would establish a small progressive income tax to generate revenue for the federal government. The second would establish a new federal department, the Department of Industrial Coordination, to serve as the Cabinet's oversight over the regulatory arms of government and to manage the increasingly tense conflict between labor and capital. The third would establish a central bank to regulate the American money supply and bring stability to the country's chaotic financial institutions.

    November 8:
    Midterm Senate elections begin. By the time the arcane process is done, the Democrats pick up five Senate seats, and the Socialist Labor Party picks up one, bringing the totals in the Senate to 45 Democrats, 44 Republicans, and 3 Socialist Laborites.

    November 20:
    The Mexican Revolution of 1910 begins, as Francisco I. Madero declares the elections of 1910 are null and void, calling for an armed revolution against the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz.

    December 12:
    President Taft signs First Secretary Wilson's “Progressive Slate” into law, following the lightning passage of the three bills. As per the previous agreement with the First Secretary, Taft submits his new Cabinet appointments to the House of Representatives: James R. Mann (R-IL) as Secretary for Industrial Coordination, and Victor Berger (SD-WI) for Secretary of Labor.


    January 31:
    At a special congress of the Social Democratic Party, the party votes to formally weld the party-apparatus to that of the larger Socialist Labor Party. The merger is expected to be confirmed by an early Summer special conference of the SLP.

    March 4:
    Congress returns from recess to face a growing crisis of confidence among the American people over the role of big business in society. The events of the year will not do much to help that confidence.

    March 8:
    The first installment of Frederick Taylor's monograph, The Principles of Scientific Management, appears in The American Magazine. The three month run gives a tremendous boost to the growing proto-corporatist movement among American Progressives.

    March 29:
    The M1911 .45 caliber pistol is adopted by the United States Army.

    May 1:
    The publicly owned central bank of the United States, the Bank of the Republic, begins formal operation today, with the appointment of economist Irving Fisher as Chairman of the Bank of the Republic.

    May 15:
    Standard Oil achieves monopoly status in the oil industry, with greater than 99 percent control of the American domestic oil market. This news is met with great apprehension throughout much of the country. Two massive monopolies are now entrenched in the US market, and have been hostile to both organized labor as well as progressive government attempts to regulate them.

    May 31:
    The RMS Titanic is launched. As the White Star Line's new flagship, she promises to be the most luxurious ocean liner in the world.

    June 14:
    A national seamen's strike begins in Britain.

    June 20:
    The National Executive of the SLP authorizes the mass enrollment of the Social Democratic Party into the SLP. The move is unpopular with Daniel DeLeon, but Eugene Debs remains hopeful that the reformist wing can be won over to a revolutionary position.

    July 1:
    The creation of a special committee to investigate the Monopoly Capital situation is announced by First Secretary Wilson. A joint creature of the Cabinet and the Commerce Committee, the commitee's chairman, James Mann, makes broad sweeping subpoenas to begin its task.

    August 8:
    Public 62-6 sets the number of representatives in the House of Representatives at 435.

    August 21:
    SLP National Secretary Daniel DeLeon passes away of a sudden stroke in the early hours of the morning. The powerful leader and brilliant Marxist theoretician will be sorely missed in the SLP. His funeral is attended by the First Secretary and the Speaker of the House. Future historians will remember DeLeon's funeral as the last of the halcyon days of broad progressive reform.

    September 8:
    Infighting begins in Wilson's coalition government over the preliminary reports of Mann's special committee. While the findings of capital concentration and it's potentially dangerous effects on the health of the Republic, the preliminary report's cautiously pro-capital policy recommendations draw fire from the left-wing members of the coalition.

    October 10:
    The Wuchang Uprising starts the Xinhai Revolution.

    October 18:
    Revolutionaries under Sun Yat-sen overthrow China's Qing Dynasty, founding a provisional government that would become the Republic of China.

    November 14:
    Just before the end year recess, a preliminary policy agreement is reached by the Wilson Cabinet. A new antitrust law, narrowly tailored under the new Seventeenth Amendment and the Court's interpretation of the takings clause from the case of Northern Securities Co. v. US, the new act would chiefly prevent vertical integration and collusions between trusts from different industries. The bill is chiefly aimed at separating the various parts of the J.P. Morgan and Rockefeller empires.

    December 8:
    The Carpenter's Union votes to quit the AF of L, and join the STLA, basically signally the death knell of the American Federation of Labor as a viable union federation.

    December 31:
    Sun Yat-sen becomes the first President of the Republic of China


    January 5:
    The Russial Social Democratic Labour Party splits into two separate organizations along the Bolshevik/Menshevik divide.

    January 18:
    Forty thousand workers walk out of textile mills in Lawrence, Massachussetts, beginning the Bread and Roses strike.

    February 14:
    The now bankrupt American Federation of Labor capitulates to the industrial unionist STLA. The AF of L President Samuel Gompers accepts STLA President Big Bill Haywood's offer for a “general Congress of American labor” to handle the organizational task for merging the two union federations.

    March 14:
    The Bread and Roses strike ends, with the combined forces of the craft-union United Textile Workers and the mostly woman, immigrant Revolutionary Textile Workers winning a forty hour work week, better pay, and a collective bargaining agreement.

    April 17:
    The RMS Titanic arrives in New York harbor, having bested the White Star Line's previous Atlantic crossing record. The White Star Line flagship's smashing success is a major coup for the International Mercantile Marine Company, the transnational cartel that holds a near monopoly on trans-Atlantic shipping.

    May 1:
    The streets of Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New York are paralyzed by May Day demonstrations organized by the Socialist Labor Party. The march this year is unique, making women's suffrage a center issue alongside traditional labor issues.

    May 5:
    The V Olympiad begins in Stockholm, Sweden. It is the first of the Olympic Games to have participants from all five continents.

    May 16:
    Gomper's and Haywood's “general Congress of American labor” meets in Chicago. The Congress, attended by representatives of every major trade union in America, would lead to the merger of the AF of L and the STLA into a new trade union federation, the International Workers' Solidarity Union. The new union would serve as a prototype for the international union federation endorsed by American delegates to the Second International.

    June 6:
    The Socialist Labor Party National Convention begins in Toledo, Ohio. The motley convention, representing a broad spectrum from Western miner syndicalists and prarie socialist yeoman farmers, to dissident intellectual progressives from the Republican Party, ratifies what would later be known as the Toledo Programme, endorsing industrial unionism, revolutionary socialism, and fierce anti-imperialism.

    June 18:
    The Republican Party renominates William Howard Taft for the presidency, almost completely unopposed.

    June 25:
    The Democratic Party nominates William Jennings Bryan for President, healing the potential split between his Populist Democratic insurgents and the rest of the party apparatus.

    July 3:
    The Socialist Labor Party and the International Workers' Solidarity Union ratify a joint-constitution, welding the two organizations together while preserving union independence from the party.

    August 6:
    Following pay-cuts dictated by the US Steel Corporation's central management, the Steelworkers' Organizing Committee votes to organize a walkout, to both win union recognition and push back the declining wages among steelworkers.

    August 21:
    Membership in the Steelworkers' Organizing Committee grows substantially, as the strike spreads like wildfire. The largest corporation in America is nearly paralyzed by striking workers. The only thing preventing a direct armed confrontation between the strikers and US Steel's allies in state governments and private mercenary organizations is the direct intervention by Wilson's coalition government to prevent such a catastrophe.

    October 7:
    The Eighteenth Amendment, guaranteeing the right to vote for women, and supporting the principal of electoral fusion and free association, is ratified, though not quickly enough to come into full effect for the general election less than a month away.

    November 5:
    William Howard Taft is narrowly re-elected President, while the Republican Party makes considerable gains in the House of Representatives. Negotiations soon begin between House Speaker Cannon and the incumbent First Secretary Wilson over whether the current cross-party coalition government will persist.

    November 7:
    US Steel settles with the steelworkers, recognizing the organization and rolling back the paycuts. However, the union was unable to win pay increases or shorter hours.

    November 24:
    An extraordinary congress of the Second International is convened in Basel to address the rapidly escalating tensions between Austrians and Serbs and the growing fear that a general European war was on the horizon. The congress reiterates the International's “war on war”, and called on all member parties to resist national war movements in their countries.

    General election, 1912

    The defection of large sectors of the Republican Party to support Woodrow Wilson's trans-party reform coalition following the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment would prove to be a wake up call for the party establishment. In spite of infighting in the coalition, Wilson governed effectively, and enjoyed broad support amongst the electorate, regardless of party affiliation. Neither could the stalwarts of the party ignore the growing class-war issue.

    With the 1912 Republican Convention, these divisions were healed. The conservative, pro-business faction moved to the center to placate dissident Republicans. For the first time, the growing concentration of capital, and the formation of large monopoly trusts in steel, oil, transatlantic trade, transcontinental railroad, and even sugar, was addressed in a sober manner.

    To the chagrin of the Populist Progressives, the Republicans would not go any further than mediating the class war, and regulating away its excesses through the application of a corporatist economic doctrine. The tacit endorsement of Legalist Progressivism by the Convention's Platform Committee was made explicit by Taft's renomination acceptance speech. Thus, in the 1912 election, two ostensibly “Progressive” political parties would battle for control of the national political economy. Unfortunately for Wilson's Democrats, the existence of a growing mass-based socialist party undermined the very point of Democratic Progressivism in electoral politics. The decline of the Northern working-class vote for the Democratic Party would prove fatal to the party's prospects as a national political party. Only thanks to the socialists sapping away large portions of formerly Republican voting electorates was the party able to mount an effective national campaign in 1912.

    For the Socialist Labor Party, 1912 seemed like the entrance into the big leagues. The growth of the party showed no signs of stopping or even slowing, and it seemed it would soon take power, perhaps by the end of the decade. So long as the party kept growing, the unresolved issues of reform vs. revolution could be put off for a later date. But even with the total capture of the formerly Democratic aligned northern working-class vote, and a significant further influx of Republican defectors, it was simply not likely that the party could crack the powerful Republican ideological dominance in many of the Northern states.

    Regardless, the 1912 election is a particularly interesting one for historians, due to how close the electoral count ultimately was. The shift of a few thousands votes in just one of the several Midwest industrial states, such as Illinois, Indiana, or Ohio, would have given the state's entire elector slate to the Democrats, and put William Jennings Bryan in the White House. In spite of almost a twenty-percent lead over Bryan, Taft was very nearly defeated in the election.

    Presidential Results

    Presidential candidate
    _____Party______________Popular Vote_____Percentage______Electoral Count

    William H. Taft_____________Republican Party______6,801,565_______48.45%________277

    Alton B. Parker_____________Democratic Party_____4,122,721________29.37%________254

    Eugene Debs_______________Socialist Labor Party___3,115,015__________22.19%________0

    Congressional Results

    House of Representatives_______Seats________Change

    Republican Party

    Democratic Party_______________160__________-5
    Socialist Labor Party*___________40___________+20

    U.S. Senate_____________________Seats________Change

    Republican Party________________49___________+5

    Democratic Party

    Socialist Labor Party_____________3___________0

    Amendments to the US Constitution, 1905-1913

    Sixteenth Amendment (Ratified July 18th, 1909)

    § One:
    The executive power shall be vested in the President of the United States; and in the Cabinet of the United States, consisting of the various Secretaries in charge of the executive departments, the First Secretary, and such other officers of the House of Representatives as determined by law.
    The First Secretary and Secretaries of the Cabinet shall be elected by the House of Representatives without debate on the proposal of the President. The person who receives the majority vote of the House of Representatives shall be appointed by the President.
    Members of the Cabinet may serve concurrently as members of the House of Representatives.

    § Two: The House of Representatives may express its lack of confidence in the Cabinet only by electing successors by majority vote of the members and requesting the President to dismiss the Cabinet. The President must comply with this request and appoint the successors.
    If a motion of the First Secretary for a vote of confidence is not supported by a majority of members of the House of Representatives, the President may dissolve the House of Representatives, and order new elections to occur within twenty one days of dissolution.

    § Three: Save the following provisions, the House of Representatives shall be elected for four years. Its term shall end when a new House convenes. New elections shall be held no sooner than forty-six months and no later than forty-eight months after the electoral term begins. If the House be dissolved, new elections shall be held within sixty days.
    The House of Representatives shall convene no later than thirty days following election.

    Seventeenth Amendment (Ratified October 7th, 1910)

    § One:
    The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

    Two: The Congress shall have the power to regulate Commerce within the United States; specifically with respect to the fair standards of safe labor, the regulation of the operations of trusts, corporations, cartels, trade unions and other such commercial combinations.

    § Three:
    The Congress shall have the power to establish a national bank.

    Eighteenth Amendment (Ratified October 7th, 1912)

    § One:
    The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

    § Two:
    The right of citizens to form associations within and between political parties shall not be infringed. Neither the United States, nor any State, shall prohibit electoral fusion as a matter of free association in all elections.

    Three: Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    from The Socialist Tradition in America: An Interpretation of American Political Thought Through Both Revolutions, by Louis Hartz (Harcourt: Brace Publishers, 1955)(6)

    ...The socialist tradition’s triumph among the American proletariat was not, as it might appear, the Red May Revolution of 1933. Such a victory, bold and obvious as it is, would be entirely impossible without a far more subtle but ultimately more earth-shattering development. That small but vital turning point can be found with the eclipse of Samuel Gompers and the AF of L, and the rise of “Big Bill” Haywood and Solidarity.

    1912 would prove to be a year of revolutionary importance in the American socialist movement. February would bring Gompers’ capitulation, and the final abandonment of class-collaborationist “craft-union” strategies in American organized labor. The commitment to revolutionary industrial unionism among the American proletariat would serve to provide the organizational bedrock upon which the class could be mobilized to seize political power. For now, that was still largely confined within the norms of Fabian Socialism, but important deviations from the traditional Bernstein-Kautskyian line of the Second International were also embraced by the Socialist Labor Party.

    As the chief intellectual theorist of the early Socialist Labor Party, Daniel DeLeon build the fundamental theoretical doctrine that would serve to distinguish the American movement from the parallel movements across Europe. For all of their zeal and scholarship, the European “Marxist” intellectuals of that era were almost without exception a sort of liberal reformer dressed in worker's clothing. The leaders of the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD) led the international workers' movement due to their mass organization and, on paper, powerful influence withing the German Reich. However, the liberal whiggery of Erfurt era SPD confined the influence of the German working class to the narrow avenues provided by the bourgeois state. The left-wing dissidents of the SPD such as Luxemburg notwithstanding, the whole of the party was as bourgeois to the core as any of the other German parties.
    The German reformists conceived of the class-struggle within the narrow confines of the bourgeois halls of government. In doing so, they neglected the very clear understanding that Marx and Engels had cultivated in their works for over three decades: the economic base of society is prior to and more fundamental than its superstructure.

    The class struggle is a battle fought within the economic base of society between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. As such, it is also fought in all of the manifestations of the superstructure, of which the tiny parliament is but one of the many institutions of state, and the state in turn only one of many components of the social superstructure. These “Marxists” handily neglected the primary mode of the class-struggle, and the trade unions that had formed as a direct consequence of the class struggle. The trade union wasn't just denied revolutionary potential; it was totally disregarded and placed as a secondary institution to the party's parliamentary designs on power.

    Even while the Socialist Labor Party made gestures to bourgeois respectability during the period immediately prior to the First World War, the party never abandoned its revolutionary orientation. The political struggle of the working class was properly understood to be broader than just elections. Elections would only be one aspect of the emerging vanguard's function within the proletariat. In many ways, the experience of the Socialist Labor Party would serve as a prototype to Lenin's writings on the nature of the revolutionary vanguard following the October Revolution.

    As the vanguard party, the SLP would serve as the “university of the working class,” educating the the proletariat in the theory of revolution, and providing the organization tools to teach the working class a means of resisting capital. In doing so, it would coordinate the totality of politics, and its intersection with social life. The vanguard party's apparatus would provide an authentically proletarian alternative to the organized corruption of the city machines, offering the means of subsistence, and most importantly, dignity and self-respect as a worker. As a rule of American politics, wherever the machiens retreated or were dissolved, the vanguard party quickly advanced to fill the vacuum. The Republican campaigns against the corrupt Democratic Party machines prior to the 1912 General Election, and which only barely ensured victory for the Republicans, would leave a fallow field for working class organization to grow in.

    ...The SLP's and the Solidarity union's policy with regards to small freeholders and rural farm workers was another important revolutionary deviation with the whiggish orthodoxy of the European Lasalleans. The unique absence of feudal legacies, especially serfdom and religious absolutism, in American history created a vital difference in American class dynamics. Unlike in Europe, the rural farmer was not a peasant. The whole of the rural areas of America were not populated with a vast reactionary mass; instead, the rural worker and the freeholder were members of and natural allies of the urban proletariat respectively.

    The 1912 General Election demonstrated this abundantly to the ruling classes, as vast sections of the rural Midwest and Western states turned out to support the Socialist Labor Party. Almost half of the Socialist caucus in the House of Representatives would come from predominantly rural western states, and these states had large slates of Socialists in their own state legislatures.

    Excerpts from Sean Hannity, A History of the Worker's Vanguard in America, 1876-1946, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999)

    The period from the mid 1890s to the start of the First World War is often described by historians of the left as the Rise of Monopoly Capital. This pithy phrase, while apt, unfortunately cannot capture the full terror of this era. Never before in history had the economic power of society been constituted and consolidated into so few hands. These robber barons, men like John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Charles Schwab and Henry Morrison Flagler, often massed fortunes literally one million times greater than the wealth of the average worker.

    Through entirely legal machinations, the cartels of this era centralized ever greater sections of capital into united combines called “trusts”. As they expanded, they plowed their lesser competitors under by the score.
    The reasons for this expansion of capital have been well understood by modern political economy. The tendency of the rate of profit to fall in a capitalist society, first elucidated by Marx in Vol. 3 of Capital, is the inexorable historical force that drives the concentration of capital. As he noted, within the capitalist epoch “it is thereby proved a logical necessity that in its development the general average rate of surplus-value must express itself in a falling general rate of profit.” As the value of past labor, capital, increases exponentially with accumulation, the volume of current labor shrinks in proportion. Thus:
    “ follows that the portion of living labour, unpaid and congealed in surplus-value, must also be continually on the decrease compared to the amount of value represented by the invested total capital. Since the ratio of the mass of surplus-value to the value of the invested total capital forms the rate of profit, this rate must constantly fall.”
    As the rate of profit fell, the very nature of capitalist market competition drove consolidation. It was no longer enough to be content with dozens of competitors in a given commodity market. But the size of the market for goods simply could not expand fast enough to keep in pace with the falling rate of profit. Without consolidation, each passing year would bring ever diminishing returns to capital, and thus stagnation. The successful firms, chiefed by the most ruthless and unscrupulous, acted first. They destroyed their competitors by whatever means they could, and absorbed their empires into their own. They colluded with one another to form cartels to maintain profits for themselves and their shareholders. And through the consolidation of power in the monopoly trust, they came to dominate political power within the state.

    It was simply no longer the case that the state was “the executive committee to manage the common affairs of the bourgeoisie.” The state became the executive committee of the national bourgeoisie. The final logic of moribund capitalism was the corporatist state, in its liberal and fascist forms.

    As part of the centralization drive, the trusts turned themselves to the seemingly largest champion of labor, and brought the full force of their might upon it. They crushed the American Federation of Labor, in spite of the pathetic class-collaborationist organization's sycophantic attitude towards capital. True to the inexorable dialectic of history, every action taken to preserve capital only dug its grave deeper. Through their machinations, the trusts worked harder than any activist to build the Socialist Labor Party and the Solidarity industrial union. Only too late would they realize that they had created their personal undertaker and reaper.

    The Socialist Labor Party as a national party: Primary Documents, circa 1912

    National Platform
    Socialist Labor Party of America
    Adopted by the Thirteenth National Convention, Toledo, June 1912
    And approved by a general vote of the party’s membership.

    The Socialist Labor Party of the United States of America in National Convention assembled in Toledo on June 7th, 1912, re-affirming its previous platform pronouncements, and in accord with the International Socialist Movement, declares:

    Social conditions, as illustrated by the events that crowded into the last four years, have ripened so fast that each and all the principles, hitherto proclaimed by the Socialist Labor Party, and all and each the methods that the Socialist Labor Party has hitherto advocated, stand to-day most
    conspicuously demonstrated.

    The Capitalist Social System has wrought its own destruction. Its leading exponents, the present incumbent in the Presidential Chair, and his counterpart in the First Secretariat, however seemingly at war with each other on principles, cannot conceal the identity of their political views. The oligarchy proclaimed by the tenets of the one, the monarchy proclaimed by the tenets of the other, jointly proclaim the conviction of the foremost men in the Ruling Class that the Republic of Capital is at the end of its tether. True to the economic laws from which Socialism proceeds, dominant wealth has to such an extent concentrated into the hands of a select few, the Plutocracy, that the lower layers of the Capitalist Class feel driven to the ragged edge, while the large majority of the people, the Working Class, are being submerged.

    True to the sociologic laws, by the light of which Socialism reads its forecasts, the Plutocracy is breaking through its republic-democratic shell and is stretching out its hands towards Absolutism in government; the property-holding layers below it are turning at bay; the proletariat is awakening to its consciousness of class, and thereby to the perception of its historic mission. In the midst of this hurly, all the colors of the rainbow are being projected upon the social mists from the prevalent confusion of thought. From the lower layers of the Capitalist Class the bolder, yet foolhardy, portion bluntly demands that “the Trust be contained.”

    Even if the Trust could, it should not be contained; even if it should it cannot. The law of social progress pushes towards a system of production that shall crown the efforts of man, without arduous toil, with an abundance of the necessaries for material existence, to the end of allowing leisure for mental and spiritual expansion. The Trust is a mechanical contrivance wherewith to solve the problem. To smash the contrivance were to re- introduce the days of small-fry competition, and set back the hands of the dial of Time. The mere thought is foolhardy. He who undertakes the feat might as well brace himself against the cascade of Niagara. The cascade of Social Evolution would whelm him.

    The less bold among the smaller property-holding element proposes to “curb” the Trust with a variety of schemes. The very forces of social evolution that propel the development of the Trust stamp the “curbing” schemes, whether political or economic, as childish. They are attempts to hold back a runaway horse by the tail. The laws by which the attempt has been tried strew the path of the runaway. They are splintered to pieces with its kicks, and serve only to furnish a livelihood for the Corporation and the Anti- Corporation lawyer.

    From still lower layers of the same property-holding class, social layers that have sniffed the breath of Socialism and imagine themselves Socialists, comes the iridescent theory of capturing the Trust for the people by the ballot only. The “capture of the Trust for the people” implies the Social Revolution. To imply the Social Revolution with the ballot only, without the means to enforce the ballot’s fiat, in case of Reaction’s attempt to override it, is to fire blank cartridges at a foe. It is worse. It is to threaten his existence without the means to carry out the threat. Threats of revolution, without provisions to carry them out result in one of two things only—either the leaders are bought out, or the revolutionary class, to which the leaders appeal and which they succeed in drawing after themselves, are led like cattle to the shambles. The Commune disaster of France stands a monumental warning against the blunder.

    An equally iridescent hue of the rainbow is projected from a still lower layer, a layer that lies almost wholly within the submerged class—the theory of capturing the Trust for the Working Class with the fist only. The capture of the Trust for the people implies something else, besides revolution. It implies revolution carried on by the masses. For reasons parallel to those that decree the day of small-fry competition gone by, mass-revolutionary conspiracy is, to-day, an impossibility. The Trust-holding Plutocracy may successfully put through a conspiracy of physical force. The smallness of its numbers makes a successful conspiracy possible on its part. The hugeness of the numbers requisite for a revolution against the Trust-holding Plutocracy excludes Conspiracy from the arsenal of the Revolution. The idea of capturing the Trust with physical force only is a wild chimera.

    Only two programs—the program of the Plutocracy and the program of the Socialist Labor Party—grasp the situation. The Political State, another name for the Class State, is worn out in this, the leading capitalist Nation of the world, most prominently. The Industrial or Socialist State is
    throbbing for birth. The Political State, being a Class State, is government separate and apart from the productive energies of the people; it is government mainly for holding the ruled class in subjection. The Industrial or Socialist State, being the denial of the Class State, is government that is part and parcel of the productive energies of the people. As their functions are different, so are the structures of the two States

    The structure of the Political State contemplates territorial “representation” only; the structure of the Industrial State contemplates representation of industries, of useful occupations only. The economic or industrial evolution has reached that point where the Political State no longer can maintain itself under the forms of democracy. While the Plutocracy has relatively shrunk, the enemies it has raised against itself have become too numerous to be dallied with. What is still worse, obedient to the law of its own existence the Political State has been forced not merely to multiply enemies against itself; it has been forced to recruit and group the bulk of these enemies, the revolutionary bulk, at that.

    The Working Class of the land, the historically revolutionary element, is grouped by the leading occupations, agricultural as well as industrial, in such manner that the “autonomous craft union,” one time the palladium of the workers, has become a harmless scare-crow upon which the capitalist birds roost at ease, while the Industrial Unions cast ahead of them the constituencies of the government of the future, and, jointly, point to the Industrial State. It should be of no surprise to anyone that the harmless scare-crow has been cast aside by the class-conscious Working Class.

    Nor yet is this all. Not only has the Political State raised its own enemies; not only has itself multiplied them; not only has itself recruited and drilled them; not only has itself grouped them into shape and form to succeed it; it is, furthermore, driven by its inherent necessities, prodding on the Revolutionary Class by digging ever more fiercely into its flanks the harpoon of exploitation.

    With the purchasing power of wages sinking to ever lower depths; with certainty of work hanging on ever slenderer threads; with an ever more gigantically swelling army of the unemployed; with the needs of profits pressing the Plutocracy harder and harder recklessly to squander the workers’ limbs and life; what with all this and the parallel process of merging the workers of all industries into one interdependent solid mass, the final break-up is rendered inevitable, and at hand. No wild schemes and no rainbow-chasing will stead in the approaching emergency. The Plutocracy knows this—and so does the Socialist Labor Party—and logical is the program of each.

    The program of the Plutocracy is feudalic Autocracy, translated into Capitalism. Where a Social Revolution is pending, and, for whatever reason, is not enforced, REACTION is the alternative.

    The program of the Socialist Labor Party is REVOLUTION—the Industrial or Socialist Republic, the Social Order where the Political State is overthrown; where the Congress of the land consists of the representatives of the useful occupations of the land; where, accordingly, a government is an essential factor in production; where the blessings to man that the Trust is instinct with are freed from the trammels of the private ownership that now turn the potential blessings into a curse; where, accordingly, abundance can be the patrimony of all who work; and the shackles of wage slavery are no more. In keeping with the goals of the different programs are the means of their execution. The means in contemplation by REACTION is the bayonet. To this end REACTION is seeking, by means of the police spy and other agencies, to lash the proletariat into acts of violence that may give a color to the resort to the bayonet.

    By its manoeuvres, it is egging the Working Class on to deeds of fury. The capitalist press echoes the policy, while the pure and simple political Socialist party press, generally, is snared into the trap. On the contrary, the means firmly adhered to by the Socialist Labor Party is the constitutional method of political action, backed by the industrially and class-consciously organized proletariat, to the exclusion of Anarchy, and all that thereby hangs. At such a critical period in the Nation’s existence the Socialist Labor Party calls upon the Working Class of America, more deliberately serious than ever before, to rally at the polls under the Party’s banner. And the Party also calls upon all intelligent citizens to place themselves squarely upon the ground of Working Class interests, and join us in this mighty and noble work of human emancipation, so that we may put summary end to the existing barbarous class conflict by placing the land and all the means of production, transportation and distribution into the hands of the people as a collective body, and substituting for the present state of planless production, industrial war and social disorder, the Socialist or Industrial Commonwealth—a commonwealth in which every worker shall have the free exercise and full benefit of his faculties, multiplied by all the modern factories.

    The Toledo Programme

    Ratified June 15th, in National Convention assembled.

    The Socialist Labor Party declares that the capitalist system has outgrown its historical function, and has become utterly incapable of meeting the problems now confronting society. We denounce this outgrown system as incompetent and corrupt and the source of unspeakable misery and suffering to the whole working class.

    Under this system the industrial equipment of the nation has passed into the absolute control of a plutocracy which exacts an annual tribute of hundreds of millions of dollars from the producers. Unafraid of any organized resistance, it stretches out its greedy hands over the still undeveloped re- sources of the nation-the land, the mines, the forests and the water powers of every State of the Union.

    In spite of the multiplication of labor-saving machines and improved methods in industry which cheapen the cost of production, the share of the producers grows ever less, and the prices of all the necessities of life steadily increase. The boasted prosperity of this nation is for the owning class alone. To the rest it means only greater hardship and misery. The high cost of living is felt in every home. Millions of wage-workers have seen the purchasing power of their wages decrease until life has become a desperate battle for mere existence.

    Multitudes of unemployed walk the streets of our cities or trudge from State to State awaiting the will of the masters to move the wheels of industry. The farmers in every state are plundered by the increasing prices exacted for tools and machinery and by extortionate rents, freight rates and storage charges.

    Capitalist concentration is mercilessly crushing the class of small business men and driving its members into the ranks of propertyless wage-workers. The overwhelming majority of the people of America are being forced under a yoke of bondage by this soulless industrial despotism.

    It is this capitalist system that is responsible for the increasing burden of armaments, the poverty, slums, child labor, most of the insanity, crime and prostitution, and much of the disease that afflicts mankind.

    Under this system the working class is exposed to poisonous conditions, to frightful, and needless perils to life and limb, is walled around with court decisions, injunctions and unjust laws, and is preyed upon incessantly for the benefit of the controlling oligarchy of wealth. Under it also, the children of the working class are doomed to ignorance, drudging toil and darkened lives.

    In the face of these evils, so manifest that all thoughtful observers are appalled at them, the legislative representatives of the Republican and Dernocratic parties remain the faithful servants of the oppressors.

    The Minimum Programme

    As measures calculated to strengthen the working class in its fight for the realization of its ultimate aim, the co-operative commonwealth, and to increase its power against capitalist oppression, we advocate and pledge ourselves and our elected officers to the following program:

    Collective Ownership

    1.) The collective ownership and democratic management of railroads, wire and wireless telegraphs and telephones, express service, steamboat lines, and all other social means of transportation and communication and of all large scale industries.
    2.) The immediate acquirement by the municipalities, the states or the federal government of all grain elevators, stock yards, storage warehouses, and other distributing agencies, in order to reduce the present extortionate cost of living.
    3.) The extension of the public domain to include mines, quarries, oil wells, forests and water power.
    4.) The further conservation and development of natural resources for the use and benefit of all the people: . . .
    5.) The collective ownership of land wherever practicable, and in cases where such ownership is impractical, the appropriation by taxation of the annual rental value of all the land held for speculation and exploitation.
    6.) The collective ownership and democratic management of the banking and currency system, administered through the Bank of the Republic.


    The immediate government relief of the unemployed by the extension of all useful public works. All persons employed on such works t be engaged directly by the government under a work day of not more than eight hours and at not less than the prevailing union wages. The government also to establish employment bureaus; to lend money to states and municipalities without interest for the purpose of carrying on public works, and to take such other measures within its power as will lessen the widespread misery of the workers caused by the misrule of the capitalist class.

    Industrial Demands

    The conservation of human resources, particularly of the lives and well-being of the workers and their families:
    1. By shortening the work day in keeping with the increased productiveness of machinery.
    2. By securing for every worker a rest period of not less than a day and a half in each week.
    3. By securing a more effective inspection of workshops, factories and mines.

    Political Demands

    1. The absolute freedom of press, speech and assemblage.
    2. The adoption of a graduated income tax and the extension of in- heritance taxes, graduated in proportion to the value of the estate and to nearness of kin-the proceeds of these taxes to be employed in the socialization of industry.
    3. The abolition of the monopoly ownership of patents and the substitution of collective ownership, with direct reward to inventors by premiums or royalties.
    4. Unrestricted and equal suffrage for men and women.
    5. The adoption of the initiative, referendum and recall and of proportional representation, nationally as well as locally.
    6. The abolition of the Senate and of the veto power of the President.
    7. The election of the President and Vice-President by direct vote of the people.
    8. The abolition of the power usurped by the Supreme Court of the United States to pass upon the constitutionality of the legislation enacted by Congress. National laws to be repealed only by act of Congress or by a referendum vote of the whole people.
    9. Abolition of the present restrictions upon the amendment of the constitution, so that instrument may be made amendable by a majority of the voters in a majority of the States.
    10. The granting of the right of suffrage in the District of Columbia with representation in Congress and a democratic form of municipal government for purely local affairs.
    11. The extension of democratic government to all United States territory.
    12. The enactment of further measures for the conservation of health. The creation of an independent bureau of health, with such restrictions as will secure full liberty to all schools of practice.
    13. The enactment of further measures for general education and particularly for vocational education in useful pursuits. The Bureau of Education to be made a department.
    14. Abolition of all federal districts courts and the United States circuit court of appeals. State courts to have jurisdiction in all cases arising between citizens of several states and foreign corporations. The election of all judges for short terms.
    15. The immediate curbing of the power of the courts to issue injunctions.
    16. The free administration of the law.
    14. The calling of a convention for the revision of the constitution of the US.

    Such measures of relief as we may be able to force from capitalism are but a preparation of the workers to seize the whole powers of government, in order that they may thereby lay hold of the whole system of socialized industry and thus come to their rightful inheritance.

    The Internationale

    On August 1st, 1912, Solidarity and the Socialist Labor Party of America adopted an official lyrical translation of the French socialist anthem “L’Internationale”. In time, the Internationale would come to be not only the anthem of working-class struggles across the nation, but would eventually be enshrined in the 1934 Basic Law of the Union of American Socialist Republics as “the national anthem of the American workers, in solidarity with the workers of the world”.

    The adopted lyrics represent a compromise between different traditions and nationalities within the American working class. Immigrants from European countries, especially Ireland or Scotland, were much more familiar with the British English version of the anthem, translated anonymously near the end of the 19th Century. However, native born Anglo-Americans tended to favor Charles H. Kerr’s translation made famous by the Wobblies’ Little Red Songbook. Naturally, the eventual compromise needed to strike a balance between the many ethnic groups within the American working class.


    Arise, ye workers, from your slumbers
    Arise, ye prisoners of want
    For reason in revolt now thunders
    And at last ends the age of cant.
    Away with all your superstitions
    Servile masses, arise, arise
    We’ll change henceforth the old tradition
    And spurn the dust to win the prize.
    ’Tis the final conflict
    Let each stand in his place
    The Internationale
    Shall be the human race.
    ’Tis the final conflict
    Let each stand in his place
    The Internationale
    Shall be the human race.
    Behold them seated in their glory
    The kings of mine and rail and soil!
    What have you read in all their story,
    But how they plundered toil?
    The fruits of the workers’ toil are buried
    In strongholds of the idle few
    In fighting for their restitution
    The people only claim their due.
    No more deluded by reaction
    On tyrants only we’ll make war
    The soldiers too will take strike action
    They’ll break ranks and fight no more
    And if those cannibals keep trying
    To sacrifice us to their pride
    They soon shall hear the bullets flying
    We’ll shoot the generals on our own side.
    No savior from on high delivers
    No faith have we in prince or peer
    Our own right hand the chains must shiver
    Chains of hatred, greed and fear
    E’er the thieves will out with their booty
    And give to all a happier lot.
    Each at the forge must do their duty
    And we’ll strike while the iron is hot.
    1. Errata: The previous updates about U.S. Steel were incorrect. I misread my source; U.S. Steel itself wasn't formed until the merger of National Steel and the Tennessee Iron and Coal Company. My apologies, and consider this a retroactive fix for the previous update.
    2. Detailed results further down
    3. Yeah, this little literary flourish is sadly not my own. Thank whichever British subject who decided to code the telegram IOTL. For reference, the Psalm excerpt reads “That he may bring out of the Earth, oil, and with it to make a cheerful countenance”
    4. Change total is positive, due to the admission of Oklahoma as a State.
    5. The Taft-Wilson Administration:
      President: William Howard Taft (R-OH)
      Vice President: James S. Sherman (R-NY)
      First Secretary: Woodrow Wilson (D-NJ)
      Secretary of State: Phillander C. Cox (R-PA)
      Secretary of War: Newton D. Baker (D-OH)
      Secretary of the Treasury: William G. McAdoo (D-CA)
      Secretary of Commerce & Labor: Champ Clark (D-MO)
      Attorney-General: Alexander M. Palmer (D-PA)
      Secretary of the Navy: Theodore Roosevelt (SD-NY)
      Secretary of the Interior: John Sharp Williams (D-MS)
    6. IOTL, Louis Hartz was a political scientist, and his book, The Liberal Tradition, argued a form of American exceptionalism that, in his opinion, made socialist values antithetical to the American political tradition. ITTL, he has come to the exact opposite conclusion.
    WWI: 1914
  • The First World War

    Prologue: Like the Snows of Yesteryear…

    President Taft’s 1914 State of the Union address talked of “peace and prosperity in our time”, and promised that his administration’s policies would be directed towards promoting those ends for the nation. As the thunderous applause in the halls of Congress died down, the grim execution of this promise lay but a few months away.

    On 28 June, a group of Serbian nationalists carried out an ill-planned and ill-conceived assassination in the streets of Sarajevo. Their target, Austro-Hungarian heir apparent Franz Ferdinand, was fatally shot that afternoon by the young Serb Gavrileau Princips. Austria’s rapid mobilization to punish independent Serbia soon triggered a Russian mobilization. France soon followed, calling up reserves in preparation for a general European war.

    Germany, the growing titan of central Europe, mobilized in response to the threats against her ally Austria. Diplomatic efforts to halt the plunge towards war soon became mere token formalities given the nature of the revanchist regime in France, and as ultimatums were left unheeded a general state of war across the whole of Europe followed. The European parties of the Second Internationale, in spite of their commitments in the 1912 extraordinary world congress, all capitulated within days, voting for war credits.

    Germany soon invaded the Low Countries as part of the later infamous Schlieffen Plan. Their aim was to move mass columns of troops across France’s undefended Belgian border to outflank French static defenses, followed by a deep salient penetration to capture Paris and end the war in the west. The violation of Belgian neutrality provoked Britain to declare war on Germany. The Schlieffen Plan would also export this European war across the Atlantic, to Canada and even the United States, which hitherto had always committed itself to general neutrality to European affairs.

    According to the 1912 Toronto Treaty, passed in a closed session of the U.S. Senate, the United States would stand in solidarity with the UK if ever the neutrality of a British ally was violated resulting in a state of invasion or occupation. While the clauses of this treaty allowed the U.S. to remain neutral in most possible European conflagrations, the language of the treaty clearly applied to the Belgian question. President Taft, in a speech to a joint session of Congress, argued that the terms of the treaty made the U.S. at a de facto state of war with the German Reich.

    A resolution formalizing the state of war was soon passed, with the Socialist Labor Party standing in firm opposition along with a few dissident members of the Democratic Party as well as the last remainder of the populist-progressive wing of the Republican Party. The vote for war mobilization soon followed, this time with the Socialist Labor Party standing alone in opposition to committing to the imperialist slaughter.

    The Schlieffen Plan required that the French military be committed elsewhere to ensure its resolution. In a rare coincidence, French war planners obliged their German counterparts with General War Plan XVII. Under the mobilization scheme of the plan, the French military would concentrate on the narrow frontier between Germany and France and begin an assault into Alsace-Lorraine, under German occupation since 1871.

    By the end of the year, neither France nor Germany succeeded in accomplishing their primary objectives. The Schlieffen Plan, for all of its precision, was logistically impossible. In spite of the efforts of the best logisticians the world had to offer, there simply were not enough roads and rail to move troops and supplies fast enough to exploit the breach. Both sides had fundamentally underestimated the ferocity of modern warfare. When the lines stabilized in the Winter of 1914-5, both the French and the Germans had completely exhausted prewar ammunition stockpiles, especially for the increasingly vital artillery.

    In spite of noted successes in the Lorraine campaign, French troops were by and large stuck back in the massive frontier fortifications. On the left flank of the growing trench line, the Germany military was camped uncomfortably close to Paris, and large portions of French industry were now in German hands.

    The days of wars decided by brilliant leaders and decisive battles were as dead as the one million soldiers killed in the Frontier battles. In spite of the stigma of incompetence given to WWI generals, both the Allies and the Central Powers displayed a level of professionalism in stark contrast to the experience of previous wars. It could even be argued that on the whole, both sides did the best they could with the resources they had.

    Stabilization of the Frontier, Winter 1914-5, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and the History Department of the United States Military Academy.

    Some Things Never Change...

    It is a sweltering September day on the Kent State University campus, as hungover and exhausted college students gratefully retreat into the air-conditioned confines of Norman Thomas Hall. Noon is far too early to be discussing modern history, they collectively mumble; but it’s better than being outside, and the comfy chairs in the lecture hall will make napping easy.

    For the professor, today is another great day in the academy, only slightly spoiled by ungrateful students. Dr. Demetriades quickly hangs up his fedora on the coat rack before scrawling on the white board in bold “WORLD WAR I”. There’s a murmur of groans from the lecture hall; World War I was so last century. The professor turns to the class and jokes, “I’m sure I can confidently assume that you’ve all read Chapter 14 of Zinn’s People’s History and the first three chapters of Hobshawn’s Age of Extremes that I assigned on Friday..."

    It’s a tough crowd for the professor-cum-comedian. He points out at random to one of the students, and asks “Can you tell me at least one of the principal causes of World War I?”

    The spiky haired youth scoffs, “Shit no. This stuff is boring, reading about ‘historical matrimony’ and stuff.”

    “Historical materialism,” the professor corrects him. “It may be boring to you, but these events aren’t just dusty pages in a book—they actually happened, and they continue to affect where we are today.”

    The youth shrugs, clearly not caring.

    “Okay then, what would you rather be learning about, then?”

    “I dunno, something exciting, like when General Patton led the Bonus Army to take DeLeon-Debs, D.C. during the Revolution. Something like that, you’know.”

    The professor resists the urge to correct the young man about how Patton was only a Lieutenant Colonel at the time, and that the ‘Bonus Army’ and the many volunteers, militiamen and deserters that marched with them had restyled themselves as the Red Army months before, and that DeLeon-Debs, D.C. was still called Washington at the time. Instead, he points out the fact that should be so obvious: “But without his experiences in the trenches of the First World War, Patton would have just been any other career military officer. He’d have been with MacArthur shooting the strikers in Pennsylvania, not defending them. We’re reading his war diaries later this week—it’s all right on the syllabus.

    “We study history because it tells us about how we got where we are today. This is why I can say that the German Reich’s decision to build a railroad from Berlin to Baghdad is just as important to American history as the Second Revolution was. The millions of American soldiers who died in the mud of Northern France from 1914 to 1918 radicalized American workers at home and vindicated the Socialists’ opposition to the war. That is why I’m asking you, humbly, to please pay attention in my class. College education may be free in this country, unlike in the Anglo-French Union, but that doesn’t mean you should waste this opportunity.”

    The professor stepped off his soapbox, and turned to the whiteboard, and busily sketched down some important bullet points.

    Excerpts from Howard Zinn, A People's History of America, (San Francisco: Black Flag Press, 1982)[1]

    "War is the health of the state," the radical writer Randolph Bourne said, in the midst of the First World War. Indeed, as the nations of Europe went to war in 1914, the governments flourished, patriotism bloomed, class struggle was stilled, and young men died in frightful numbers on the battlefields-often for a hundred yards of land, a line of trenches.
    In the old United States, not yet in the war, there was worry about the health of the state. Socialism was growing. The IWSU seemed to be everywhere. Class conflict was intense. In the summer of 1914, during a Preparedness Day parade in San Francisco, a bomb exploded, killing nine people; two local radicals, Tom Mooney and Warren Billings, were arrested and would spend twenty years in prison. Shortly after that Senator James Wadsworth of New York suggested compulsory military training for all males to avert the danger that "these people of ours shall be divided into classes." Rather: "We must let our young men know that they owe some responsibility to this country."

    The supreme fulfillment of that responsibility was taking place in Europe. Ten million were to die on the battlefield; 20 million were to die of hunger and disease related to the war. And no one since that day has been able to show that the war brought any gain for humanity that would be worth one human life. The rhetoric of the socialists, that it was an "imperialist war," now seems moderate and hardly arguable. The advanced capitalist countries of Europe were fighting over boundaries, colonies, spheres of influence; they were competing for Alsace-Lorraine, the Balkans, Africa, the Middle East.

    The war came shortly after the opening of the twentieth century, in the midst of exultation (perhaps only among the elite in the Western world) about progress and modernization. One day after the English declared war, Henry James wrote to a friend: "The plunge of civilization into this abyss of blood and darkness ... is a thing that so gives away the whole long age during which we have supposed the world to be ... gradually bettering." In the first Battle of the Maine, the British and French succeeded in blocking the German advance on Paris. Each side had 500,000 casualties.
    The killing started very fast, and on a large scale. In August 1914, a volunteer for the British army had to be 5 feet 8 inches to enlist. By October, the requirement was lowered to 5 feet 5 inches. That month there were thirty thousand casualties, and then one could be 5 feet 3. In the first three months of war, almost the entire original British army was wiped out.

    Into this pit of death and deception came the United States, in the spring of 1915. President William Howard Taft had promised American intervention in the fall of the previous year, citing the mutual defense treaty with the British Empire. “The violation of Belgian neutrality,” he said in his address before the Congress, “is an unparalleled act of barbarism. The German Empire seeks to subjugate all of Europe under its jackboot. The freedom of all peoples is imperiled by the Hunnic hordes.”

    As Richard Hofstadter points out (The American Political Tradition): "This was rationalization of the flimsiest sort.. . ." The war would be a principled defense of Belgian neutrality, while the plucky Belgians themselves were defending Congolese ivory and rubber from the native people they subjugated, or from the Germans who sought to relieve them of their spoils. The French and the British too had unleashed unparalleled savagery in their own colonies. Hofstadter says Taft "was forced to find moral reasons for policies that were based not upon morality but upon the balance of power and economic necessities."

    Hofstadter wrote of "economic necessities" behind Taft's and later Wilson's war policy. In 1914 a serious recession had begun in the United States. J. P. Morgan later testified: "The war opened during a period of hard times. ... Business throughout the country was depressed, farm prices were deflated, unemployment was serious, the heavy industries were working far below capacity and bank clearings were off." But by 1915, war orders for the Allies (mostly England) had stimulated the economy, and by April 1917 more than $2 billion worth of goods had been sold to the Allies. American mobilization for war would bring additional billions more in orders to the stagnant industries. As Hofstadter says: "America became bound up with the Allies in a fateful union of war and prosperity."

    Prosperity depended much on foreign markets, it was believed by the leaders of the country. In 1897, the private foreign investments of the United States amounted to $700 million dollars. By 1914 they were $3 billion. The industrialists and the political leaders talked of prosperity as if it were classless, as if everyone gained from Morgan's loans. True, the war meant more production, more employment, hut did the workers in the steel plants gain as much as U.S. Steel, which made $618 million in profit in 1915 alone? When the United States entered the war, it was the rich who took even more direct charge of the economy. Financier Bernard Baruch headed the War Industries Board, the most powerful of the wartime government agencies. Bankers, railroad men, and industrialists dominated these agencies.

    … In spite the rousing words of National Unity Government's First Secretary Wilson about a war "to end all wars" and "to make the world safe for democracy," Americans did not rush to enlist. Millions of men were needed, hut in the first six weeks after the declaration of war only 45,000 volunteered. Congress voted overwhelmingly for a draft.

    George Creel, a veteran newspaperman, became the government's official propagandist for the war; he set up a Committee on Public Information to persuade Americans the war was right. It sponsored 75,000 speakers, who gave 750,000 four-minute speeches in five thousand American cities and towns. It was a massive effort to excite a reluctant public. At the beginning of 1915, a member of the National Civic Federation had complained that "neither workingmen nor farmers" were taking "any part or interest in the efforts of the security or defense leagues or other movements for national preparedness."

    The day after Congress declared war, the Socialist Labor Party met in emergency convention in St. Louis and called the declaration "a crime against the people of the United States." In the winter of 1914-5, Socialist antiwar meetings in Minnesota drew large crowds-twenty thousand, thirty thousand thousand, fifty thousand farmers-protesting the war, the draft, profiteering. A local newspaper in Wisconsin, the Plymouth Review, said that probably no party ever gained more rapidly in strength than the Socialist party just at the present time." It reported that "thousands assemble to hear Socialist speakers in places where ordinarily a few hundred are considered large assemblages." The Akron Beacon-Journal, a conservative newspaper in Ohio, said there was "scarcely a political observer ... but what will admit that were an election to come now a mighty tide of socialism would inundate the Middle West." It said the country had "never embarked upon a more unpopular war." In the municipal elections of 1914-5, against the tide of propaganda and patriotism, the Socialists made remarkable gains. Thirty Socialists were elected to the New York State legislature. In Chicago, the party vote went from 18.6 percent in 1913 to 48.1 percent in 1915. In Buffalo, it went from 9.6 percent to 38.2 percent.

    Excerpt from James P. Cannon, Days in Red: A Memoir, (Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books, Chicago, 1969).
    ...The vote on [President] Taft’s mobilization bill was scheduled for the second day of new Congressional term. Fresh from his party’s election victory, he expected [House Speaker] Champ Clark to comply with his bill with no debate and at all due haste. Of course, we had other plans. Solidarity’s Central Committee voted unanimously to call for a nationwide general strike of all of the affiliates the week before the opening of the new Congress. I can still remember being on the picket lines in front of the steel mills that day.

    ...The working class unity was amazing. For the first time that I could recall, black and white, native and foreigner agreed to put aside all differences, if only for this one moment in time. Even though the horrors of the First World War had yet to be revealed to anyone so far from the fronts, the great fear of another major war, begun for seemingly no reason other than to ensure that bankers would get a return on their loans, quickly turned into anger and, for the moment, a galvanized resolve to oppose the war.

    ...We got exactly what we wanted; we gave them pause for debate. However, the general strike turned out to be a sword that cut both ways. Until now, the political classes had been apathetic about the rise of industrial unionism and the Socialist Party. It was all too easy to give ground and let the radicals recruit another worker than to deal with them in any concerted fashion either through terror or appeasement. Our united front had unwittingly unleashed the largest domestic terror and propaganda war by any State extant in the world at the time.​
    Excerpts from Patton’s War Diaries, 1915-1919, by Martin Bluemenson, Ed. (Washington State University Press, 1972).
    August 3, 1914

    Was ecstatic today to learn that we [America] would go to war against Kaiser Billy soon. It would be a great tragedy to miss out on the great War of this generation. And to be doing it for such a noble cause[2] should be the dream of every Christian soldier to fight and die for. It will be some time before we actually can ship out, and I do feel anxious about leaving my young wife so soon, but I have talked to her about it and she feels filled with pride that her husband has such devotion to duty. An acquaintance at the officer’s club informed me that such a sentiment is unlikely to last, and since he is many years my senior I am inclined to trust him on the matter. But her heart is in the right place.

    I read this morning that the damned Socialist leader Debs had pledged to do everything in his power to stop the war. Such a prominent firebrand of a leader speaking such things on the eve of war ought to be put up against a wall. But I am told that only the savage nations permit such practices, and I will leave the matter at that...

    December 2, 1914

    ...Also informed of possible promotion today. With the mobilization for war, I am told that a major expansion of the Army is now under way. Still, would have rather learned that promotion had come because of merit rather than a sudden urgent need for more First Lieutenants.

    April 5, 1915

    Currently aboard ship headed for France. The A.E.F.[3], I am told, will be deploying on the line somewhere, though for obvious reasons I still do not know where. One of the more cynical lieutenants remarked that the whole A.E.F. was nothing more than a propaganda ploy. Suspect him of being a Socialist subversive, though I am wondering if he is how he made it through West Point. He carries the air of the professional, educated soldier, though I wonder if it is indeed just cynicism on his part.

    June 4, 1915

    Haven’t written for several days. Still trying to make sense of it all. Our first action began on the 28th of May. We just arrived on the line to reinforce French push at Artois. We began the campaign with much enthusiasm; the news had told us the French were nearing a breakthrough and we were eager to push through the breach...On the front, the sound of the shelling was everywhere. I had never imagined warfare quite like this. My battalion would lead the charge. We went over the wall that morning, running through the fog over the broken earth. We covered no-man’s-land quickly, and encountered minimal resistance from the Huns. We neutralized their remaining machine gunners with minimal causalities and took their first trench with little difficulty. No sooner had we prepared to advance further than we came under bombardment. First thought the Frogs had fouled up the operation. But we were soon under massive attack from the Germans. No sooner had the bombardment lifted we saw waves of gray-uniformed German soldiers charging at us. We fought them off as long as possible, but they had the advantage of numbers and terrain. We were forced to retreat, abandoning all the ground we had gained, leaving behind many of our brothers....The Germans pressed us until the 1st on the line before the skirmishes stopped. Only just now beginning to make sense of it. We went over the wall with 1,120 men, exactly, as the Mstr. Sgt. informed me. By the time fighting died down, we had just over five hundred battle ready men. At least two hundred were killed in the initial engagement, and the remaining wounded, missing and dead accumulating over the next four days.

    June 30, 1915

    In the battalion infirmary today. The doctors tell me that I suffered “mild exposure” to “chlorine gas” during the fighting. I suppose that means they think I should feel more gracious about my fortune. Ashamed to say that I too retreated from the yellow gas clouds. A week ago, I had no knowledge of any such horrifying weapon. It came on the winds, and wafted into our trenches, and rather than stay and suffocate we all ran. Retreat could have turned into a route, but the winds reversed just in time, and we rallied to a secondary trench. Still, had to be carried off the lines on a stretcher, in spite of my insistence that I could still walk. Breathing has been more difficult than I’ve ever known, like being perpetually at a run. My lungs still burn some. I suppose it’s Christ’s Providence that it wasn’t worse. The man in the bed next to me suffocated in the night. Still feel shame over retreating without orders. But men can be fought with bullets and steel, this gas cannot.

    August 9th, 1915

    The horrors of this war do not cease. We marched through a ruined French village today, finally leaving the line. What I saw I’ll never forget. The little French girl, in torn rags, crushed under the collapsed house, sinking in the mud; must have been killed by artillery bombardment. I can’t stop thinking about my little daughters, young Beatrice, and Ruth, whom I have not even been able to see, or to hold yet. What if my daughters, or my wife, or any of my family were killed, an innocent “casualty of war"? I left for France with so much resolve, but my experiences here have given me doubts about our purpose...

    ...Met a young lieutenant today, a one David Dwight Eisenhower. In our spare time we took to talking of things we missed back home. He tells me to call him by his boyhood nickname, Ike. I suppose it’s easier than picking him out of the many Davids in the world. He’s five years my junior, and unmarried, but he’s bright and a welcome confidant. Apparently he shares my growing doubts about the war, doubts which we wisely keep to ourselves lest it affect the men’s morale. Still, I am sure that our cause is just, even if the outcomes have been unsavory so far. Our road is not an easy one, and we must push onward.​
    1. Text excerpted and altered from original, as originally presented in Chapter 14: War is the Health of the State. Copyrighted material borrowed in a spirit of socialist brotherhood. Rest in peace, Howard :)

    2. Patton refers here to the violation of Belgian neutrality by the German military. Allied propaganda heavily played up alleged German atrocities in Belgium, many of them completely fabricated.

    3. American Expeditionary Force; originally a single division (1st Infantry), rushed to France to bolster Allied morale, but would later be expanded to incorporate the bulk of the deployed American Army.
    Janey Got Her Gun (Short Story)
  • Janey Got Her Gun (Revised and Expanded)

    It sounds pretty pathetic to admit it after all of the hell I’ve been through, but I really didn’t join the Red Army for any noble reasons. Coming home after the war, you’d think I was some sort of hero. It’s embarrassing, really. The medals and the fanfare are annoying. Because honestly, I don’t deserve any of it.

    I am told that they make an interesting conversation piece. My fellow flatmates tell me as much quite often, while they ooh and aah at the Hero of Socialist Labor medal on my dresser. They tell me it’s something to be proud of, but looking back, my memories of the event almost don’t seem real, like it was something I read out of a book rather than lived it.

    We were all lauded as heroes when we returned from the war. And it’s true, we served the cause of the world revolution as best we could. But every heartfelt congratulation only ever reminds me of the many men and women who served under my command that never made it home. The Army shrinks call it “survivor’s guilt.” I suppose it’s true enough, but some days it seems like the real me died out there with my comrades, and all that is left is a husk waiting to pay the ferryman.

    Yeah, yeah, I’m a bit of a downer. The young men at the bar tell me that a lot; “A broad as gorgeous as you shouldn’t be so down in the dumps all the time,” they say. The other veterans, man and woman alike, just shake their heads with disgust and return to their beers. And they’re right to. They are the children that Wilfred Owen spoke of, “ardent for some desperate glory.” God-willing, they won’t ever have to learn through painful experience. I’m really not about to explain to them what it feels like to be covered in gore that was until a moment ago your still intact best friend’s face.

    Hey, you asked. But this isn’t really supposed to be a pity party. You wanted to know what it was like to be in the army, and why on Earth I decided to join. Unfortunately, you’re going to be disappointed by the answer. I mean it. It’s a serious anticlimax. I joined because of a boy. Not to chase him, you dope. Jeesh, what’s wrong with you? Didn’t they teach you in high school about the gender segregated units in the 30s and early 40s? I joined the military to get away from him, and the heartbreak he caused.

    I’m not the first person who volunteered for military service because of heartbreak, and I’m sure I won’t be the last. And in 1936, it was the easiest way out from everything I had ever known. It certainly beat going back to Brooklyn when our term in the Armed Masses Militia was over. Social Service was a bit different back in the 30s, though. They moved us around a whole lot less than they do the young’uns these days. Essentially, it’s still the same basic idea: one part universal military training, one part basic higher education, and one part seeing a broad picture of the country, doing socially necessary labor with people from all walks of life.

    So soon after the revolution, there was a greater sense of urgency. We lived with the expectation that we might be mobilized any moment to quell an insurrection or fight off a reactionary invasion. But the essence was the same: we all learned the basics of military life: the nature of military discipline, how to work and fight as a team, how to shoot a rifle, throw a grenade. And lots of PT. Can’t forget that. I’ve heard it likened to the old pre-revolution basic recruit training, though obviously modified for a more democratic military. I’m pretty sure much hasn’t changed.

    In the 30s, we all believed the enemy was the British Empire. The war would come soon, and they’d start it. We’d have to finish it though, and with Britain’s crack divisions mobilizing on the Canadian border, it certainly was a rational fear. In the end, fate conspired to make us allies rather than enemies in that historical moment.

    So when my year-long tour spent drilling for war, doing soil conservation work and occasionally helping kindergarteners learn how to read and write was done, and we had our going away party at our group’s hostel in Ohio, somehow a group of us got it in our minds to join the army.

    It was our first time really drinking, so we were making damned fools of ourselves. I was one of the youngest and hadn’t quite turned 19 yet, though everyone seemed to think I looked mature for my age. I guess a tomboyish cut of red hair, and fair skin shocked with freckles does that. I was tall for the girls in our unit, standing about 175, though the guys loved to call me “Shorty” for some reason.

    “I’m pretty sure it’s because you’re one of the guys to them, Janey,” my friend Anna said, in between sips of lager. She’d heard me complain about it a million times before. Drunk-Anna and Sober-Anna seemed to think the same reason.

    “That doesn’t make any sense!” I was slowly losing control of the volume of my voice with each passing drink. Not that I noticed then. The local lager we were drinking was both strong in taste as well as alcohol content, and I had long since stopped noticing the bitterness of the hops or the fruity back end at this point.

    Anna and I had come from the same neighborhood in Brooklyn, and had known each other since we’d taken shelter from fascist air-raids in the same subway. We were thick as thieves ever since and next to him, she was probably the closest friend I had growing up.

    “Don’t start this again,” she scolded. Anna wobbled over to me as I sat pouting on the bottom bunk. Unsteady as she was from all the drinking, she managed to make it without a serious accident, and sat next to me. “Quit pouting like that.”

    “No! You can’t make me!” I said with a huff, crossing my legs ‘like a proper lady’, and turned away from her.

    “I’m gonna make you stop pouting if you don’t quit.”

    “I ain’t a proper lady, but that doesn’t mean I’m a guy.”

    “You sure act like one unless you’re upset. Then you cross your legs and try to act all dignified.” One thing was for certain, she knew me all too well. “Look Janey, you know what I meant. You’re taller than the rest of the girls, and taller than some of the guys even. You get along with the guys well, and you’re a tomboy. That’s all I meant.”

    I finished my beer, slamming the glass bottle down on the end-table. In hindsight, that was a bit too masculine for my protests, but I obviously wasn’t thinking straight. I tried ignoring Anna for a while, but I found myself peering at her out of the corner of my eye. Then I shot my mouth off.

    “Tomboy is just another way of calling a girl ugly.” Seeing the look on her face, I instantly regretted saying that: her mouth hung open and her eyebrows narrowed like I had just stabbed her through the heart.

    Anna was a lot prettier than me, and I think in a lot of ways, I kind of resented her for that. She had gorgeous black hair, with the kind of natural wave that artists just loved to paint, whether on billboards or movie posters. She didn’t wear makeup very often, but she still had luscious eyelashes and a great complexion. And full lips: the kind that didn’t even need lipstick to get everyone’s attention, and became even more alluring with it. How could a frumpy old tomboy like me compare? I was jealous, and I hated myself for it.

    At least this time I hadn’t been the one to start the fight. She slapped me hard across my left check. My guilt disappeared pretty quickly, and I slapped her right back. Then the CQC training took over, and suddenly it was a sloppy drunken wrestling match. We kicked at each other and tried our best to punch each other’s ribs while we grappled and tumbled off the bunk onto the wooden floor.

    We got in a few good hits and chokes, plus knocked over a dresser and lamp before our comrades separated us. Julius, a burly but gentle giant from New Orleans pulled me off Anna and pinned my arms behind my back while Anna’s friends Saul and Esther held her back from rushing at me.

    “Jeepers! What’s gotten into you Shorty!?” said Julius.

    I struggled against his grip for a moment. He was a full head taller than me, and probably had at least 20 kilos of muscle on me. Eventually, I had the good sense to give up.

    “Hey, get your black hands off her!” someone shouted from the other side of the room. Great, the last thing we need in a fight between friends is to inject some race politics. There were a couple of likely suspects, but I was a bit too dazed from drink and blows to the head to pick it out.

    “Stay out of this, Bob,” Saul shot back. “I don’t know what started this fight, but we’re just stopping it.” Bob and Saul were about the same size, though they looked almost nothing alike. Bob was classically Nordic in looks, though from what I remember him telling me, he was French and Spanish by nationality. Saul, on the other hand, was a wiry Italian, with swarthy skin and kinky black hair. Though his parents were both good Catholics, his name and his looks made everyone think he was a Jew.

    “Eh, let ‘em fight it ought,” said Avram, “My friends and I got into a fight over a girl, we’d just end up fighting it out and making up.” Avram was German-Jewish like my family, and spoke Yiddish as a first language, totally unashamed of the accent it gave him. Avram had stepped in between Saul and Bob, hoping to stop a boxing match from breaking out between the two, who had never gotten along well.

    “Look how well that turned out for you, Avram,” teased Liz.

    I kind resented that he was implying that this was over a boy. But when it came down to it, it was kind of about him, though not in the way that Avram seemed to imply. I guess we got distracted by what was going around us, because slowly Anna stopped seething and relaxed, and I started to calm down.

    When we ceased to be interesting, the rest of the unit went back to making merry. Bob rejoined his friends acting out their favorite bits from the plays they’d seen or done. Avram fixed the position of the pieces on the chessboard that his cheating opponent had switched during the distraction (this was a common affair. When I asked them about it, apparently this was all part of the game for them). Liz resumed flirting with the college kid she’d invited as a guest.

    Julius whispered in my ear, “Are y’all gonna play nice now?”

    I nodded, careful to not actually make eye contact with Anna.

    “Good. Now go kiss and make up.”

    He shoved me towards Anna. She caught me before I lost my balance, and we ended up awkwardly hugging each other, waiting for the other to admit they were wrong first.

    I guess I lost my nerve first. “Hey, I’m sorry I said that. That wasn’t nice of me. You’ve been a good friend to me, always, and I shouldn’t have doubted your sincerity like that.”

    Anna blushed a little. We were back on eye contact terms now, and at this point I could see that amidst the sound and fury of our scuffle she’d been crying a bit. “I guess I shouldn’t have slapped you.” She hugged me close, and gave me a friendly kiss.

    “Aww, they do love each other,” said someone from the peanut gallery. It earned an unfriendly glare from both of us in that general direction. Still, normal service was resumed.

    A hot new song started on the radio by some up and coming cat named Francis Sinatra. It had a good swing to it, so Anna and I made up by dancing a bit. It wasn’t as much fun as a live band, but it was still nice. The radio reception was good that night, and we danced like it was going to be our last night on earth.

    The music died suddenly a few songs later. An announcer for IBF News came on the radio; the refined transatlantic accent that was still the standard in arts, culture and even the military gave it away instantly. “Good evening comrades,” he began, “We apologize for interrupting your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this important news bulletin. We have just received word from the Foreign office that Nazi-Fascist troops have begun crossing the German border into Austria. While he can offer no confirmation, Foreign Secretary Reed has concluded that the timing so soon after the signing of the Anglo-German Naval Treaty indicates collusion and a prelude to further military actions against the interests of the workers of all nations. This has been a broadcast from IBF News’ Overseas Desk. Good night and good luck.”

    After a bit of AM static, the music returned. But I didn’t feel like dancing anymore. Neither did Anna. Then she got that look on her face. It was the look I’d seen many times, and had been dreading seeing again. It was the “we really need to talk” look. And it looked like I wasn’t getting out of it this time. So I had a shot of brandy with the guys, and snuck out with Anna while they amused themselves singing a rowdy chorus of “Which Side Are You On?” They must have been angry at the news too.

    It was fairly cool outside. Our hostel was a fairly new building on the outskirts of Toledo. It had a pueblo style, with tan stucco adorned here and there with a few murals. The dorms were organized in a radial pattern around a central cooking and living area. We followed the boardwalk for a ways to a nearby park. The worst of the drunken haze seemed to evaporate in the cool night air, but at any rate we were still pretty sloshed.

    Anna playfully beckoned towards the swing set, and I somewhat reluctantly agreed. We sat next to each other, casually swinging back and forth for a few minutes, not saying anything to each other.

    Anna looked great in the moonlight. It highlighted her lightly tanned skin well. Somehow, she managed to look radiant even in her work denim. “Anna, you look lovely…” Oh god, that slipped out. “I’m sorry, that was kind of weird…forget I said that.”

    “Janey, you don’t have any reason to be jealous. You’re a lot prettier than you give yourself credit for.” She smiled at me, thinking she knew why I was feeling awkward. Unlikely, because then even I didn’t know why. Her smile tugged at my heart some more. It was a tingly feeling I didn’t quite understand. All I knew is that it reminded me of how I felt with him.

    “If you say so, Anna,” I replied, staring at my shoes as I idly kicked at the ground.

    “You’re thinking about him again, aren’t you?”

    “Yeah.” I winced as I said it. She always knew me so well.

    “I guess it’s natural. We will be starting on our way home in a few weeks. It’s the changing of the guard in the Militia brigades soon, and he’ll undoubtedly be going home too.”

    “I don’t think I can face him, Anna. I figured some time away running around the country might give me a chance to move on. But it hasn’t. Damn it, I was such an idiot.”

    “Did I give you permission to talk bad about yourself?”

    “What does that—“

    She cut me off, covering my chapped lips with her index finger. “Just don’t, Janey. You’re too hard on yourself.”

    I tried to push her hand away, but she held onto my hand, squeezing gently. “Anna, I ruined a perfectly good friendship by falling in love and thinking he could love me back. Look at what all that heartbreak it has brought me: he can’t stand to be around me, and now he’s engaged to that thing.”

    “You really need some perspective girl. You’re not the only girl to get your heart broken, Janey. You just happen to be the only girl I’ve ever known to try to do something about it. Everyone else laid subtle hints and baits to catch the man’s attention, and then wilted when he went elsewhere. You actively pursued him, and had the courage to confess to him. That’s why you’re my hero, girl.”

    I didn’t know what to say. I blushed with embarrassment (even more than I already was with the alcohol).

    “You still don’t think you can face him?”

    “No, I really don’t.” I bit my lower lip, puzzling over whether or not to tell her about what I’d been thinking. She noticed, and patiently waited for me to gather up the courage. “I was thinking about joining the Army. Like the professionals, not just the Organized Reserve of the Militia.”

    I had expected her to laugh or be angry. Even with the propaganda showing proud women soldiers from the revolution onward, it was still considered taboo for women to volunteer for military service. My mother and grandfather would flip their wigs if they heard the suggestion. Dad, if he were still alive, would probably not want his only daughter taking up arms like he did.

    Instead she seemed to be proud. “You’re not going without me, dummy.”

    “You don’t have to just because I am, Anna.”

    “I meant what I said: we’re best friends for life. Besides, I think it’s kind of romantic, trying to forget a heartbreak by dedicating your life to the world revolution. I think I’d like to be a part of that story.”

    I really had no idea what I was getting us in to. When we returned to the hostel, Anna decided to tell the rest of the troop our plans amidst another round of brandy. Rather than take our train back home, we’d visit the local recruitment office and volunteer for the army.

    I think we really cheapened the guys’ masculinity. A few of them were rather opposed to us doing it. A couple others declared if we were volunteering they’d volunteer too. This turned into a debate about whether or not women actually ought to volunteer for military service even if they’re allowed. To be honest, that kind of solidified my desire to join. Nothing makes me angrier than being told I can’t do something because of what’s between my legs.

    When we went to the recruitment office, a significantly smaller number of our comrades decided to actually go through with it. Anna and I went, as did Esther, another girl from our neighborhood. That was kind of surprising, actually. Julius and Avram came along as well. The rest probably didn’t remember their pledges, to be honest. They had been drinking a lot, and making rather merry.

    The lines at the military soviet headquarters were rather long. Recruitment’s always biggest right around the “graduation” of a new class of Militia cadets, since it’s a prerequisite for joining the professional military. We weren’t the only ones who wanted to get away for a bit longer, or do our revolutionary duty. I guess that’s heartening.

    They provided interviewers to help steer people towards a branch that fit them best, but since we were all dead set on joining the army, we were able to jump forward through that process. We were, after all, a bunch of landlubbers, and the navy always preferred to recruit from those who had prior sea experience. The Workers’ and Farmers’ Revolutionary Army was the prestige branch anyway. They’d been the sword of the revolution, and in any future revolutionary war, they’d take up that task again. When we finally made it to the front of our queue, they broke us up and split us with different interviewers.

    My interviewer was an Army Air Forces reserve officer who introduced himself as Dick Nixon. Like the rest of the deputies on the city’s military soviet, Nixon was here to help with rush week recruitment. He had kind of a rough appearance, like a bulldog, but he was quite friendly as he asked me a few questions. He had my militia file available, since my troop had been in the district.

    “Well, miss, I like your test scores here,” he said with a smile, “You’ve excelled academically in high school as well as in the Militia, and you’ve shown considerable initiative in work and training. While I’m quite happy to see you were the best rifleman in your troop, I do have one important question.”

    “What’s that, comrade?”

    “Why join the army? With this kind of aptitude, you could go to any university in the country and study whatever you like.”

    I’d been dreading this question. I hate lying. I’m absolutely terrible at it, and something about the way Nixon carried himself like a boxer preparing for a tough match up made me think that not only was he a pretty good liar when he needed to be, he knew how to sniff out one pretty well. The truth, then.

    “To be honest, it’s kind of selfish.”

    Nixon leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms with some measure of smug satisfaction. “This ought to be good,” he remarked, not caring whether I heard him or not.

    “While I do want to do my part for the revolution, I chose the army specifically…well…because I don’t want to go back home. Not even once. I don’t think I could face him if I did. I understand if this means you don’t want me in the military, comrade.”

    He smiled a bit. “Miss, you’re not the first person to join the army out of heartbreak. Indeed, I’ve been told that it’s a long tradition going back eons. And I can certainly see the logic. You get to meet new people, dedicate your life to a cause greater than yourself, and get to see new places along the way.”

    “I guess you’re right.”

    “Now, miss, this is a big decision. Are you sure you don’t want to think it over some?”

    “I’m certain.”

    Nixon had me read over the basic contract, and he explained my rights and duties after formally being inducted: how to deal with problems, the reasons I could file for early discharge, participation in the soldiers’ soviets, and the standing reserve I’d be a part of for four years after leaving active duty. I signed on the dotted line dutifully, and he sent me out through the back door to the nurses’ station for a basic physical.

    I blanched a bit stepping on the scale. It’s hard to get over worrying about your weight and your figure, even when you’re running ten kilometers every day. 70 kilos…not as bad as I’d feared. The nurse assured me that it was muscle, but to still expect to lose a bit of weight in AT.

    I could do without a grilling of my non-existent sexual history though. I understand why they don’t want pregnant women in the army, but I really wish there was just an easy test to do for it. They reserve the tests for those who might be determined to be at risk of being currently pregnant.

    The gynecologist examined me, and seemed to believe me. So in went the IUD. That was…uncomfortable…to say the least. He told me to take it easy for a few weeks, and to expect a heavier period and more discomfort for the next few months…hey, don’t look at me like that. I know guys just get the heebie jeebies when women talk about their reproductive health, particularly their periods, but this is important. It’s a natural bodily function, quit being so down about it.

    After that, it was really kind of a blur. Anna, Esther and I were assigned to the same training station, as we’d all opted for assignment to a rifle unit. Esther had wanted to get into nursing later, so she hoped to get a position as a corpsman. They shipped us down to Kentucky with a bunch of other female recruits for advanced infantry school. Somewhere along the way, I managed to get a telegram home to my mother explaining my choice, and of course ordering my little brother to take care of things while I’m gone.

    The instructors were all were all women NCOs, all of them as tough as shoe leather. Apparently, we were the first class of female recruits to have the privilege of being taught by female instructors. They had all fought in the Civil War, and we benefited greatly from their experience. It wasn’t really surprising to find out that they were even sterner taskmasters than the male instructors.

    They told us only at the conclusion of the course that the intimidation, the constant drills, live-fire exercises, and rigid discipline were designed to simulate war time discipline levels. A conclusion course would teach us how to work as a self-managed, democratic military unit outside of combat zone discipline. We were expected to show initiative and individual creativity, and work as a collective unit, not merely to follow orders passively. To be honest, that was harder than the combat discipline.


    If I could use any words to describe my short time with the 113th Infantry Regiment, it would be “disaster on stilts.” As I quickly found out, the Revolutionary Army had...mixed opinions about women in the combat branches. Some, particularly the pre-revolution Careerists, considered it little more than a political stunt.

    When I arrived fresh out of AT school, the 113th was basically just male cadre officers and NCOs. We were to be the formless mass they’d shape into an infantry combat unit.

    As I quickly found out, this amounted to punishment for political unreliability. From Colonel Jackson on down, they all viewed the task as beneath them, and us as invaders into their sacrosanct military fraternity. They certainly never let us forget that.

    The leaders of F Company, 2nd Battalion were either vicious or incompetent, and sometimes both. They made certain that “shit rolled down hill” on us. I didn’t learn how much until much later, but I’d rather not talk about that right now because I’m in a good mood. You wished to find out how I got to where I am today.

    After all, any idiot can join the Army. It takes a special kind of idiot, like yours truly, to really try to be all she can be. So it’s a surprisingly cold summer day, in early August I think, at Camp Beale, California. I’d recently been promoted to platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon. It might sound pretty rapid, having only been in the Army for five months, but it really wasn’t under the circumstances. The Amazon units were being created out of whole cloth, and there was a dire shortage of women NCOs. All it took to become one was to be a competent rifleman willing to put up with the additional hazing that came with the position.

    After completing PT that morning, showering, and changing into the standard khaki service trousers and Nehru jacket, I found myself summoned to my platoon leader, Lieutenant Jacob Mance’s “office.” I finished lacing up my boots and headed out from the barracks.

    The lieutenant’s “office” was a cramped closet where he did his clerical work, which he shared with several other officers. When I arrived, the door was open as always. I knocked on the wooden frame. “You wanted to see me sir?”

    Mance looked up over his reading glasses at me. “Ah yes, Sergeant Schafer. I was just finishing up some work. The Captain wanted to brief us on new equipment coming down the pipe from Stavka.” He stretched his stout frame before standing.

    Mance was an imposing figure, tall and burly like a lumberjack. His wavy brown hair had started to gray at the temples, even though he was barely thirty. His square face was chiseled and clean-shaven. He pocketed his spectacles, and led me to one of the camp’s rifle ranges.

    As it was, I’d lucked out and gotten maybe the only officer and gentleman in the whole company. I’d been Lt. Mance’s platoon sergeant for about a week at this point. Before, I really only knew about him by reputation. The other officers and male NCOs called him Lt. Nancy, but never to his face. Which probably saved their lives, because Mance loved two things with equal enthusiasm: men and a good scrap.

    Mance was always professional with me and the other women in the company. His leadership of the platoon was always on point, and he’d impressed me as a solid tactician and soldier. He was still only a LIeutenant at his age, even with the rapidly expanding army, because he was as queer as a three-dollar bill and would not let anyone hold it against him.

    “So how are those sergeant’s chevron’s treating you Schafer?” He said as he ducked under the low doorframe.

    “Just fine sir. Still getting used to the job, but nothing I can’t handle.”

    He led the way quite proudly. I followed about a pace behind to his left. “Excellent. If you have any problems, you let me know.”


    “So where are you from, if you don’t mind me asking?”

    I was still getting to know Mance at the time, and I didn’t know yet if I believed the rumors about his sexual proclivities, so I felt a little wary about his sudden interest. It didn’t take a genius to realize that male officers might have less than honest intentions towards female subordinates. I wasn’t that stupid. “Berlin, Germany originally. But my family lived in Brooklyn since I was little.”

    He chuckled something about being a long way from home.

    “Well, right now this is my home. The only one I’ve ever known.”

    “Relax, I didn’t mean anything by it. Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

    “Yes. I grew up speaking it alongside English. Learned conversational Russian that way too. My extended family were all party members.”

    As we left the administration complex, Mance donned the peaked cap he’d had tucked under his arm. Old habits die hard, and the peaked cap was still in that awkward in between point where it was seen as old-fashioned but not yet hopelessly reactionary. It was like two armies cohabitating at that point; the old bourgeois army with its peaked caps and neckties, and the revolutionary army with its pilotkas and mandarin collars.

    There were several units drilling on the parade ground as we marched are way down the foot paths to our assigned rifle range. I knew the marching cadences by heart and had to stop myself from humming along.

    “Good. Work on your Russian if you have the time. I’ve a feeling it will prove to be useful.”

    “Why’s that, lieutenant?”

    “Call it a hunch. I think we’re so focused on preparing to fight the English trouble is liable to brew up elsewhere when we’re not prepared for it. I don’t think the Germans and the Russians ever really settled matters from the Great War.”

    It seems obvious with hindsight, but Mance’s speculations were rather out in left field even in late 1936. It wouldn’t be until the Czechoslovak War that we started to see Germany as a serious geopolitical threat, and even then it took some time before the brass regarded them as anything more than Britain’s catspaw on the continent.

    We arrived at the rifle range with little fanfare. The skies were overcast with thick gray clouds this afternoon. But the wind was quiet for now. Chief-Lieutenant Dewitt was waiting under a pavilion with the rest of the platoon leaders. The table they had gathered around was draped with a thick tarpaulin.

    We reported in with the customary salute. The captain was quite evidently displeased at my presence. “I don’t believe my orders requested the presence of platoon sergeants,” he said curtly.

    “I’m sorry if I presumed sir, but I requested Sergeant Schafer accompany me, and your orders did say I should use my best judgment in how to brief the men under my command. Since Sergeant Schafer is one of the best riflemen in the company, I wanted her input as well.”

    “The men under your command,” said Dewitt, “Very well lieutenant. If you think your platoon will benefit from playing house, I don’t see the harm.”

    I certainly didn’t appreciate his sarcastic tone, but had the good sense to pretend otherwise. The captain, at the very least, tried to keep up the pretense of being a professional. The other platoon leaders watched me with thinly concealed contempt.

    A rifle company hasn’t changed much since then. It’s composed of three rifle platoons and a weapons platoon, each lead by a lieutenant. We were only now approaching our authorized full strength of one hundred sixty. While it wasn’t the military we know now, it wasn’t the brutal pre-revolution army everyone has seen from the period dramas. As a non-commissioned officer, I had certain rights and privileges, especially concerning the wellbeing of the enlisted men under my supervision.

    I bit my tongue, though I knew I was well within my rights to speak out. I had learned to pick my battles. While the other lieutenants sneered, Dewitt began rolling up the canvas, revealing an array of weapons and gear that I would become intimately familiar with in time, but at present were completely alien to me.

    “Gentlemen,” said Dewitt, his eyes flitting back to me, “welcome to the new army.”

    Second Platoon’s CO, Lieutenant Hiram Jones, whistled approvingly. “Well this is certainly a welcome change of pace. After a decade of begging for scraps we finally get something new.”

    He wasn’t exaggerating. Jones was in his thirties. He’d made it out of West Point just in time to see some action in the First World War. He’d been lucky enough to stay in the military during demobilization, and had made it to a captain in the Organized Reserves. He’d been busted down a notch to Lieutenant for ‘knowingly following unlawful orders’ in legalspeak. Many other White officer defectors had left in disgrace, but not Jones. The tall, wiry Texan had clung to the military like a barnacle, probably because he didn’t know how to do anything else.

    “Don’t kid yourself, Jones,” said Fourth Platoon’s CO. “You know we’re going to be last in line for the new equipment. I barely have enough Springfields for my platoon. It’ll be a new decade before we see the Garand rifle in our inventory.”

    “I wouldn’t be so pessimistic Andrews,” said Mance. “Supposedly they’re already making almost a thousand of them per day at the arsenals.”

    Andrews and Mance got into yet another one of their on-edge discussions that I was certain were just smokescreens for personal vendetta. And to be honest, I didn’t care enough to remember what it was over this time.

    Robert Lee Andrews had still been a cadet at the Virginia Military Institute during the Civil War. By the time he’d graduated, General Patton had just liberated his old alma mater. Andrews was the new union’s awkward birthing pains personified. A consummate nostalgic for the old order he’d never had a chance to serve, he was never going to fit in the new army. I might have felt sorry for him had he not become such a complete son of a bitch.

    Amidst the banter, Dewitt watched with faint amusement, while Third’s CO, Sublieutenant Morgan Hitch, remained as taciturn as ever behind his wooly handlebar mustache. He looked more at home on the cover of a dimestore western then in the Revolutionary Army.

    “Well, if you’re all quite finished, I’d like to continue with the briefing,” scolded Dewitt.

    After a round of apologies, Dewitt ordered me to present the Garand rifle for his briefing. Since being a prop at least let me have access to the new equipment, I complied readily. I grabbed the Garand from the table, locked the slide back and held it for inspection.

    It felt heavier than the M1903s I was used to. But it felt like a natural evolution of the old standard, lock, stock and barrel.

    “This is the Rifle, 7 mm caliber, Model 1,” said Dewitt, “It is a self-loading rifle chambered in the new seven by fifty-one millimeter cartridge, and it is the rifle of the future. Besides reliable semi-automatic sustained fire, this weapon boasts a ten round internal magazine.”

    All I could think, as he paced around me, was that he must have memorized some army cue cards.

    “As you can see, besides the full stock, the rifle has lugs to attach bayonets or rifle grenade launchers, ensuring reliability in both close quarters as well as fire support.” He held up an ammunition clip in front of me. “The weapon is quickly loaded by these ten round en bloc clips. Sergeant, would you please demonstrate by loading the rifle.”

    I was familiar with the basic idea of an en bloc clip, but I’d never actually used it. The M1903s and M1915s had optional stripper clips, but those had been hard to come by, and we mostly used loose cartridges. I took the clip from his rough hand as he watched stoically.

    It seemed simple enough. There was a little guide to ensure the smooth insertion of the clip. So I held the forearm of the stock with one hand while I inserted the clip with my free hand. I pressed it in with my thumb until I heard a click. As I quickly found out, this was the wrong way to perform this operation, because as soon as the clip was locked in place, the slide slammed forward and caught my thumb.

    I bit my tongue to not shout out. I saw the sadistic grin on Dewitt’s face while the lieutenants save Mance laughed.

    “Thank you, sergeant, for demonstrating how to not charge an M1.”

    I tried to hide my displeasure as I locked the bold open, and resolved to try this again the right way. It didn’t take long to find the release for the clip. I noticed the charging handle had a curved surface in the front. It looked like it was in just the right place to be held open with the same hand inserting the clip.

    I tried it and it worked splendidly. When the bolt released, I had plenty of time to get my thumb out of the way. It smoothly racked a shell in to battery. I double checked to make sure the weapon was still in safety.

    “Very good,” said Dewitt, “As you can see, easy as pie. So simple even a woman can figure it out.”

    The rest of the briefing was pretty formulaic. Hitch briefly grumbled his objections that the new “stubbly little 7mms” wouldn’t have the same stopping power as the longer .303s. Dewitt managed to turn the advantage of smaller, lighter ammo and more manageable recoil into yet another indictment of women’s fitness as soldiers. They mostly seemed impressed by the MG-5 test-type; everyone seemed to view it as a phenomenal improvement over the heavy water-cooled Browning M1915s, and the perceived unreliability of the air-cooled version. Most had fought for the bad guys in the Civil War, and each related their experience of how important volume of fire was in a fast-paced, mobile conflict.

    So they seemed happy that the table of organization and equipment was being overhauled, and each rifle squad was getting a machine gun team. They seemed a bit more ambivalent about the M6 Pistol.

    “Looks just like a 1911,” Andrews remarked as he studied it.

    “That’s about the size of it,” said Dewitt. “Modernized and improved by John Browning and others, so they tell me. New high power 10mm cartridge. Supposed to have better muzzle velocity and fits five more in the double column magazine.”

    “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard. Why would you replace the entire inventory just to do that?”

    “From what I read, Ordnance pulled the trigger on this because they wanted a new machine pistol to replace the heavy and expensive Thompson, and decided that the forty-five didn’t have the range they needed. Change one, you gotta change the other.”

    Andrews picked up something that looked like a slightly refined grease gun. “I suppose this is the end result.”

    “Machine Pistol 3, or MP-3 for short. I suspect it’ll be some time before they get it into service since they’re still working out the kinks. This one is a limited production test type they’ve been passing around like a party favor. I like the thirty round mags, and it seems to have good range but I’m still not convinced.”

    Mance tried on the big steel pot helmet. “Call me crazy, but I think the new helmet is the best change. It fits much better than those awful Brodies we’ve been using, and should protect the head better.” To demonstrate his point, he shook his head while wearing it. The olive painted helmet stayed pretty snug.

    I was an instant convert. The Brody helmet had been first fielded by the Brits in the Great War, and the AEF had ended up predominantly using it or an American produced copy. We’d been using the dinner plate styled helmets since then, and no one liked them. It probably survived only because it was better than nothing, and by the time we got the gumption to try to change it the Great War had already ended it, and the army had demobilized down to a shell.

    While we continued discussing some of the other equipment, particularly that mammoth 20mm anti-tank rifle, an Army Studebaker rolled to a halt outside. Dewitt’s eyebrow cocked as I heard doors clanging shut. He set down the massive box magazine, and snapped to a salute.

    We quickly followed suit. I saw a steely eyed young lieutenant colonel striding towards us. He grudgingly returned the salute while mumbling something about bourgeois bullshit. “At ease, comrades.”

    “Colonel Gracchus,” said Dewitt, “we weren’t expecting you so soon. I was just demonstrating the modern army to the platoon leaders.”

    I’d heard of Marius Gracchus before. Even in the thirties he was somewhat of a legend in the Army. He’d fought with distinction with the Haymarket Brigade in the Civil War, and earned his accolades fighting in the Battle of Chicago. He’d gained a reputation during the Mississippi Campaign serving with the Nat Turner Column as a model officer adept in the practice of maneuver warfare and combined arms tactics. Like many Spartacists, his given name had long since fallen by the wayside. Most of the serious militants adopted noms de guerre before the revolution.

    “No need to worry, Chief-Lieutenant, I’ve only just arrived. I’ll let you make the introductions.”

    I must admit, it was amusing to watch Dewitt strain to maintain his demeanor as a Southern Gentleman now that his commanding officer was black. Dewitt seemed to be talking through gritted teeth as he introduced the lieutenant colonel as the new commander of 2nd Battalion.

    Gracchus was tall and fit. His sable skin was freckled on his cheeks. His short, wiry hair was starting to gray at the temples. A pencil mustache lined his stern lips.

    He instantly noticed me and suddenly I felt so out of place. “I see there’s only one NCO here.”

    Dewitt jumped to answer all too quickly. “Yes sir. My orders made no mention of platoon sergeant’s being involved in this briefing. Lieutenant Mance insisted she be brought along.”

    Gracchus regarded Mance impassively. “Indeed. Why is that lieutenant?”

    Mance replied coolly, “I believe that close cooperation between NCOs and commissioned officers is vital to the performance of our duties, sir. We have far too few experienced female soldiers. Sergeant Schafer has been exemplary in the performance of her duties, but I believe that if we are to go into combat, she and other women NCOs need all the experience they can get.”

    “That is an excellent answer lieutenant.”

    Dewitt seemed to break out in a cold sweat as he tugged at his collar. Andrews, formerly his ever-faithful toady, inched away.

    And it’s rather fortuitous you brought her along. It means I can deliver some news in person.” He looked at me again and smiled thinly. “It’s no secret, gentleman, that most of you regard being billeted to a women’s unit as a sort of punishment.”

    I fought back a chuckle. It was a welcome change to see them squirming for once.

    Gracchus paced as he lectured. “Indeed, it’s why I’m here at all. They’d kept it quiet until now, but I suppose you all deserve the news. I’ve been sent here by Stavka to assume command of this battalion because my predecessor took his own life.”

    Dewitt turned pale as a sheet. “My god…”

    “My condolences Chief. I know he was a friend of yours. I’d only heard myself when I boarded the plane for California this morning. Now, back to my point. You all believe that this posting is your punishment for following what you believed to be the lawful orders of your commanding officers. I’m here to tell you that isn’t true. If they wanted to punish you, you’d be in Alcatraz with the rest of the counterrevolutionaries. You’ve been put here to prove yourselves and your loyalty to the people.

    Save for the whistling wind, the whole range was still and silent.

    “Lieutenant Mance is absolutely correct. You will not benefit by excluding or looking down on your women NCOs. And you may end up losing one of your best ones.” Colonel Gracchus pulled an envelope from his pocket. “This came down from regiment. SecDef has opened up the military service academies to women for the coming year. To jumpstart female admissions, each women’s battalion was supposed to nominate one soldier. Sergeant Schafer was at the top of Second’s list.”


    When I’d first joined the Army, neither the academies nor OCS had been opened up to women yet. My recruiter had remarked about what a shame it was, and had seemed to think I was officer material. At the time, I wasn’t sure what the hell he was talking about. I got good grades in school, so what.

    I’d spent the entire afternoon thinking about it. My initial reaction was indignation. During the long walk back to the barracks, I stewed in a foul mood. I’d only just started feeling competent at my present rate. I hadn’t even mastered the basics of soldiery and now they wanted to give me more responsibility.

    It was supposed to be an honor. But I sure as hell didn’t feel cut out for it.

    Thankfully, the base had an indoor pistol range. I had free time that night, and it seemed like a good idea to think it over while doing something that I found both relaxing and constructive. Aside from the range safety officer, I was the only one making use of the range that night. Pistols are not terribly useful as weapons of war, and they weren’t standard issue equipment. I’d picked up the hobby during my compulsory.

    I still had the same old M1911 that I’d bought with my first month’s pay. I finished loading seven rounds of 15-gram ball into the last magazine. After slipping the magazine in, and pressing the slide release, I focused on the silhouette target. As I exhaled, I pushed away all of my fears and doubts. All that was left was the target and me. The 1911 was weighty in my hands as I lined up the sights.

    The report was loud even through the safety muffs. The pistol kicked firmly as I squeezed off three rounds. The brimstone smell burned at my nose. It was strangely comforting. I emptied the rest of the magazine, recentering in between each shot.

    I was less than impressed the results. I removed the magazine and set my pistol down on the shelf. I reeled the target in to get a better look. The paper target felt like a disappointing report card. I only counted six holes in it, and those were barely within the black silhouette.

    I was about to reload when I heard the muffled sound of someone talking right behind me. My heart jumped as I spun around and tore the muffs from my head. Mance was standing a professional distance away, looking as world weary as ever.

    “Jesus! You should know better than to sneak up to someone with a gun in her hands.”

    He laughed quietly. “Sorry, I’d been meaning to get your attention, and I figured it was best to do it before you reloaded.”

    “Well, what can I do for you sir?”

    “I wanted to talk to you about Colonel Gracchus’ offer.”

    I decocked my 1911 and set it down. “Well, you’ve come at a good time. I came here to clear my head and think about it.”

    “It’s a big burden he’s placing on you. Even worse, they’ll be starting you as a second year, and you’ll have to sink or swim.”

    “Did you go to West Point sir?”

    “We’re not in combat, Schafer. You don’t need to call me sir. I think we’ve been trying to cling to the ideas of an army that no longer exists. Yes, I went to West Point. I’m not sure how much has changed; I attended in the middle of MacArthur’s reforms.”

    He noticed me bristle at the mention of his name and chuckled. “He wasn’t always the bête noir he is now. Once upon a time, he was a diligent and perhaps even progressive military officer. Anyway, I’m not sure I can be much of a guide for you. But I will say this: if you choose to go, you’ll be treated like an outsider. The other cadets will resent you. Many will even hate you. You’ve seen the treatment these ‘officers and gentlemen’ have been doling out here? The arbitrary punishments, the harassment, the constant hectoring of any iota of initiative or independence on your part? It’ll be ten times worse at the Academy.”

    His solemnness confirmed what I’d been fearing. “You think I should turn it down?”

    “No, rather the opposite. I think you should go. Because I think you can take it.”

    “That doesn’t mean I’m officer material.”

    “You’re smart enough to excel academically. Unlike the other lieutenants, I actually keep tabs on the women under my command. You’re the one person in the whole platoon to read the field manuals Stavka sends us without being ordered to. They call you the ‘bookworm’ in the barracks, and I’d bet you’ve probably read the whole West Point first year curricula already.”

    I felt intensely uncomfortable. There’s an old saying that goes something like that nail that sticks out the most is the first to be hammered down. I’d never liked being different but somehow, I could never manage to help myself. Mom always wanted to set me up with a nice Jewish boy with a decent trade. And yet she never understood why I wanted to go study the Torah with the boys. My teachers always felt I was too rough and mannish, and warned me that it was a bad idea to embarrass my future husband by being smarter than him or too outspoken. I didn’t like sticking out, and yet all my attempts to conform seemed to be rebellious.

    “And most importantly, they trust and respect your leadership. You lead by example. You never ask anything of others that you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself. And from what I’ve heard, when you decided to enlist, a fair number of your Militia cadre decided to follow you in.”

    “I…I don’t know what to say.”

    “Just think about it. You’ve got a couple days before you need to make a decision.”

    It’s easy with hindsight to see how obviously right Mance was. But at the time, I was terrified. To be honest, I didn’t sleep a wink that night. But somewhere in the wee hours of the morning, I found enough resolve to make a decision. Bleary-eyed and exhausted, I helped lead the troops through PT and a live-fire exercise. The moment I found some free time, I typed out my acceptance letter, and handed it to Mance.

    He read it over once, nodding his head. He looked at me with such pride in his eyes I think I saw the ghost of my father in him. Before I knew it, I was waiting for my train at Sacramento, all prim and proper in my dress uniform, polished boots and pilotka, the rest of my platoon waiting with me on the platform to see me off.