An Unfinished Revolution: Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln
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Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln exchanged letters at the end of the Civil War. Although they were divided by far more than the Atlantic Ocean, they agreed on the cause of “free labor” and the urgent need to end slavery. In his introduction, Robin Blackburn argues that Lincoln’s response signaled the importance of the German American community and the role of the international communists in opposing European recognition of the Confederacy.
The ideals of communism, voiced through the International Working Men’s Association, attracted many thousands of supporters throughout the US, and helped spread the demand for an eight-hour day. Blackburn shows how the IWA in America—born out of the Civil War—sought to radicalize Lincoln’s unfinished revolution and to advance the rights of labor, uniting black and white, men and women, native and foreign-born. The International contributed to a profound critique of the capitalist robber barons who enriched themselves during and after the war, and it inspired an extraordinary series of strikes and class struggles in the postwar decades.
In addition to a range of key texts and letters by both Lincoln and Marx, this book includes articles from the radical New York-based journal Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, an extract from Thomas Fortune’s classic work on racism Black and White, Frederick Engels on the progress of US labor in the 1880s, and Lucy Parson’s speech at the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World.
Slavery in America, New York 2004, p. 19. 77 Charles Vincent, Black Legislators in Louisiana During Reconstruction, Baton Rouge 1976, p. 22. 78 Oakes, The Radical and the Republican, pp. 238–43. Oakes explains that Douglass had declined an invitation from the president about a week after his meeting at the Oval Office in August 1864 on the grounds of a prior speaking engagement. Their third (very friendly) encounter was not until six months later. While both men were very busy the apparent lack
Fellow Countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new
out: the summoning of a general convention of the American people, as Lincoln had proposed in his inaugural address. As it was, Lincoln was left with the choice of fleeing from Washington, evacuating Maryland and Delaware, surrendering Kentucky, Missouri, and Virginia, or of answering war with war. Karl Marx, 1849 The question as to the principle underlying the American Civil War is answered by the battle slogan with which the South broke the peace. [Alexander H.] Stephens, the Vice President
supineness; but men, who are habitually provident, stand condemned of inconsistency for all the opposition manifested to the course events will pursue. In consideration of the fact that woman is entering the active sphere of life and is every day widening this sphere, can she sit in utter quiescence saying she has no desire to establish herself as an element of power politically? In this she voluntarily acknowledges her inferiority and her willingness to remain the political slave, which is
means of production, in which the land is of course included. If Henry George declares land monopolization to be the sole cause of poverty and misery, he naturally finds the remedy in the resumption of the land by society at large. Now, the Socialists of the school of Marx, too, demand the resumption, by society, of the land, and not only of the land but of all other means of production likewise. But even if we leave these out of the question, there is another difference. What is to be done with