From the Minute Book of the General Council. Central Council Meetings (January 1865)

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Central Council Meeting January 3, 1865[edit source]

The minutes are in an unknown hand on pp. 20-23 of the Minute Book.

Mr. Eccarius in the chair.

The Secretary [Cremer] read the minutes of the former meeting, which were confirmed on the motion of Mr. Dell, seconded by Dr. Marx.

Dr. Marx handed in a German translation of the Address and Rules of the Association and stated that 50,000 copies had been circulated in Germany[1]; he also stated that a branch of the Association was being formed in Switzerland.[2]

A discussion then took place with regard to the non-appearance in the Bee-Hive of the address to Mr. Lincoln, and the following was then proposed by Mr. Buckley, seconded by Mr. Odger:

That the Editor of the Bee-Hive be written to requesting him to publish the address in the next issue.[3] Carried unanimously.

Mr. Fontana then handed in the following address:



The Association instituted for mutual progression amongst the Italian working men residing in London give their full approbation to your aims and method. They enter your compact and pledge themselves to the fulfilment of the duties contained in it. A bond of union has been formerly established at the recent working men’s congress at Naples between most of the Italian working men’s associations. A central direction has been elected and we have no doubt that what we now do, will be done at no distant period by that central direction for the bulk of our Italian confederate brothers.

To establish a general practical brotherhood, a general unity of aim amongst the working men of all nations, to promote everywhere and on the same basis their moral, intellectual and economical improvement, to embrace according to opportunities afforded all the important questions affecting the condition of working men, from taxation, electoral reform and political rights to mutual relief societies, co-operation and educational institutions (for this must be your aim), is no doubt a bold attempt fraught with difficulties requiring time and a persisting unconquerable activity on our part; still it is a grand moral and truly religious aim. It elevates our tastes from the inferior narrow ground of local interests to the higher principle of common aspirations for general interests; it points out the dawning of a new era which will cancel inequalities, compulsory ignorance, the present wages system, and [which will promote] the substitution of equal duties and rights for all, true national education and the association system for producing and consuming. It is the thing to be attempted and therefore we do join you. May our union last for ever!

The Council of the Italian Working Men’s Association of Mutual Progress: D. Lama, President. G. P. Fontana, C. Setacci, Vice-Presidents. A. Vaccansi, Treasurer. G. Geninazzi, F. Fenili, F. Solustri, Gintini, Biloschy, Velati, Councillors. Dr. G. Bagnagatti, Secretary.

After the reading of the above Dr. Marx resumed the adjourned debate on the address which it is proposed to send to the National Government of Poland, and in a very able historical resumé argued that the traditional foreign policy of France had not been favourable to the restoration and independence of Poland. The address of Dr. Marx was pregnant with important historical facts which would be very valuable in a published form.[4]

Mr. Fox in reply stated lie did not defend the foreign policy of modern France; all he contended for was that the foreign policy of old France had been favourable to the independence of Poland.

The following was then proposed by Mr. Jung, seconded by Le Lubez and unanimously adopted:

That the views expressed in the address concerning the French foreign policy towards Poland not being borne out by historical facts, that it be amended so as to accord with the truths of history.

It was then unanimously agreed to invite Messrs. Beesly, Grossmith, Beales and Harrison[5] to the soirée which is to be held on the 16th inst.

The meeting then adjourned to January 7th. [The last sentence is in Cremer’s hand. Apparently an error. See minutes of the next meeting.]

J. G. ECCARIUS, Vice-President
W. R. CREMER, Honorary General-Secretary

Central Council Meeting January 10, 1865[edit source]

The beginning of the minutes is in Cremer’s hand on p. 23 of the Minute Book.

Vice-President Eccarius in the chair.

The minutes of the former meeting having been read, were confirmed on the motion of Mr. Dell, seconded by M. Le Lubez.

The following address from the three German working men’s societies in London was then read by the Secretary.

Here a clipping from The Bee-Hive Newspaper, No. 170, January 14, 1865, is pasted into the Minute Book.

To the Central Council of The Working Men’s International Association

Fellow Workmen,

The Londoner Arbeiter Bildungs-Verein, 2, Nassau Street, Soho, at a general meeting, held on the 4th January, 1865, and attended by the delegates of the two kindred societies in the East and South of London, passed the following resolution: “That the three societies, the Londoner Arbeiter Bildungs-Verein, the Teutonia, and the Eintracht, as an affiliated body, join the International Working Men’s Association as one society.” The Londoner Arbeiter Bildungs-Verein was founded on February 7th, 1840, and is consequently a quarter of a century old. During the first years of its existence it was in constant communication with the Socialists and Chartists of this country. From 1846 to 1848 the French Social-Democratic Society, the Fraternal Democrats, and this Society, were united under the same roof. It was by means of these international communications that this Society was enabled to fulfil a great mission — that of propagating amongst the German working men those principles and ideas which agitated England and France at a time when all public discussion of social and political questions was next to impossible within the confines of the German Confederation. We have thus acted as interpreters between the East and West of Europe; we have contributed our mite towards removing the delusion amongst the working men of Germany, that Constitutional Government and the rule of the capitalists are synonymous with the welfare of the people. We hail with joy the prospect of an enduring international union between the too long estranged working classes of the different countries of Europe, being convinced that nothing but the combined action of the working men of the whole of civilised Europe will ever be able to resist the combined action of all the oppressors of Europe.

On behalf of the Eintracht, W. Vogt, L. Loeber, O. P. Kessler.

On behalf of the Teutonia, A. Klinker, A. Lorenz, H. Konter.

Arbeiter Bildungs-Verein, Gocht, President; P. Van Hofen, Secretary; Schmelzer, Treasurer.[6]

It was then proposed by Mr. Whitlock, seconded by M. Le Lubez, and carried, “That the three German Societies, having subscribed to the principles of the International Association, be admitted, as affiliated societies, and the delegates from them take their seats as members of the ,Central Council.”

A deputation from the National League for the Independence of Poland, and representatives of the National Government of Poland,[7] were then received, their object being to consult the Central Council as to the propriety of holding a public meeting to commemorate the Polish Revolution of 1863. Mr. E. Beales, on behalf of the National League, and Captain K. Bobczynski, as a representative of the Polish National Government, addressed the meeting, followed by Messrs. Fox, Dunn [Dell], Whitlock, Holtorp, Eccarius, Le Lubez, Jung, Cremer, Bolleter and Carter, all agreeing that the independence of Poland was of paramount importance to the peace and liberties of Europe.

It was then proposed by Mr. Lucraft, seconded by Mr. Eccarius, and unanimously adopted, “That should the Polish Committee call the meeting, this Association pledges itself to assist by all means in its power ‘the commemoration of the glorious, though unsuccessful, Revolution of 1863.”

The Sub-Committee were appointed to act in conjunction with the Polish Committee and the National League to carry out the above resolution. [The newspaper clipping ends here. The last sentence is in an unknown hand.]

The Council adjourned to January 17th.

J. G. ECCARIUS, Vice-President
W. CREMER, Honorary General Secretary

Central Council Meeting January 17, 1865[edit source]

The minutes are in an unknown hand on pp. 24-25 of the Minute Book.

Mr. Eccarius in the chair.

The minutes of the previous meeting having been read, Mr. Holtorp complained that a protest he had made at the last meeting was not inserted in the minutes.

The Secretary said he had no recollection of Mr. Holtorp having made a specific or positive protest but if he wished it should be inserted in the next minutes. Agreed to.

The following is the protest referred to:

That J. E. Holtorp do protest against Captain K. Bobczynski and his companions who attended the meeting of the Council on January 4th [an error, the meeting in question was on January 10] as being the representatives of the Polish Democrats or of the National Government of Poland.

Mr. Wheeler proposed, Mr. Le Lubez seconded:

That the minutes with the protest added be confirmed. Carried unanimously.

Mr. Lubez then proposed, Mr. Whitlock seconded:

That the best thanks of the Council be given to the German chorus and the Italian band for their attendance and performance at the soirée. Carried unanimously.

Mr. Jung proposed, Mr. Wheeler seconded:

That the Council thank the ladies who assisted at the refreshment department. Carried unanimously.

Mr. Fontana then proposed, Mr. Aldovrandi seconded, that Mr. Le Lubez be appointed provisional corresponding secretary for Belgium.

Mr. Le Lubez reported that Mr. Nusperli, Morgan, Odger and himself had attended a meeting at Greenwich on the previous Sunday evening and there was a prospect of a good branch being established there.[8]

Mr. Morgan having reported that several shoemakers’ societies would meet on the 30th of this month, deputations were appointed to wait on them to join the Association.

The meeting then adjourned.

J. G. ECCARIUS, Vice-President
W. CREMER, Honorary General Secretary

Central Council Meeting January 24, 1865[edit source]

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on p. 25 of the Minute Book. The heading and the first sentence are in an unknown hand.

Mr. Eccarius in the chair.

The minutes of the former meeting having been read, were confirmed on the motion of Mr. Dell, seconded by Le Lubez.

Correspondence was read from Switzerland in reply to a communication which Mr. Jung had forwarded[9]; by Dr. Marx from the Compositors’ Society of Berlin, also from the General German Working Men’s Association, both expressing their entire concurrence with the principles of the International Working Men’s Association and regretting that there were legal impediments which prevented them from becoming affiliated members of the Association, but promising to send representatives to the congress.[10]

Dr. Marx also read a very interesting letter from the military commander [J. Weydemeyer] of St. Louis,[11] and a ‘letter from M. Tolain having reference to the position they occupied in Paris in relation to International Working Men’s Association.

A discussion then took place concerning certain statements or rumours in regard to M. Tolain, and it was agreed that before any cards of membership were sent to Paris that the truth of such rumours should be investigated.[12]

The following was then elected on the Central Council: Mr. Thomas Donatti proposed by Mr. Dell, seconded by Odger.

Dr. Marx then proposed and Mr. Whitlock seconded:

That nominations for the Central Council shall be made at least a week previous to the election, such election to take place in the absence of the candidate, and that the person to be elected shall before his nomination have taken a card of membership. Carried unanimously.

The Council then adjourned to January 31st.

J. G. ECCARIUS, Vice-President
W. R. CREMER, Honorary General Secretary

Central Council Meeting January 31, 1865[edit source]

The beginning of the minutes is in Cremer’s hand on p. 26 of the Minute Book.

Vice-President Eccarius in the chair.

The Secretary read the minutes of the former meeting when Citizen Marx stated there was a slight error having reference to the German Working Men’s Association.

The error having been rectified, the minutes were confirmed on the motion of Mr. Whitlock, seconded by Citizen Fontana.[13]

A discussion then took place regarding the period when the subscriptions of members should begin and end when Citizen Marx proposed and Citizen Whitlock seconded: That subscriptions begin on the First of January and end on the 31st of December.

Citizen Cremer then proposed and Citizen Fontana seconded: That those who have been elected members of the Central Council but have not taken out their cards of membership by the 1st of March next, shall after that date be considered as excluding themselves from the Central Council.

The Secretary read a letter from the American Embassy in reply to the address from the Central Council to Mr. Lincoln; the reply was as follows:

The continuation of the minutes is in an unknown hand on pp. 26-29 of the Minute Book.

Legation of the United States
London, 28th January, 1865


I am directed to inform you that the address of the Central Council of your Association, which was duly transmitted through this Legation to the President of the United [States], has been received by him.

So far as the sentiments expressed by it are personal, they are accepted by him with a sincere and anxious desire that he may be able to prove himself not unworthy of the confidence which has been recently extended to him by his fellow-citizens and by so many of the friends of humanity and progress throughout the world.

The Government of the United States has a clear consciousness that its policy neither is nor could be reactionary, but at the same time it adheres to the course which it adopted at the beginning, of abstaining everywhere from propagandism and unlawful intervention. It strives to do equal and exact justice to all states and to all men and it relies upon the beneficial results of that effort for support at home and for respect and goodwill throughout the world.

Nations do not exist for themselves alone, but to promote the welfare and happiness of mankind by benevolent intercourse and example. It is in this relation that the United States regard their cause in the present conflict with slavery, maintaining insurgents as the cause of human nature, and they derive new encouragement to persevere from the testimony of the working men of Europe that the national attitude is ‘favoured with their enlightened approval and earnest sympathies.

I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,

Charles Francis Adams

W. R. Cremer,
Honorary Secretary of
The International Working Men’s

Citizen Marx then read an extract from the St. Louis Daily Press eulogistic of our Address and Rules and expressing their regret at not being able to publish the whole.[15]

Citizen Le Lubez read correspondence from Citizen Fontaine, the Secretary of the Universal Federation in Belgium. The communication stated that on the 11th of February the Federation would decide as to joining the Association. It also stated the Address and Rules had been translated and circulated, and asked for 500 cards of membership.[16]

Citizen Le Lubez proposed and Citizen Wheeler seconded, that Citizen Fontaine be the corresponding secretary (pro tem.) in Belgium. Carried unanimously.

It was then proposed by Citizen Le Lubez, seconded by Citizen Marx, that Citizens Wheeler and Cremer be deputed to attend the Council of the Universal League to ascertain if the Sub-Committee having been locked out of their meeting place was by the authority or sanction of that Council.,

Citizen Whitlock proposed and Blackmore seconded, that a stamp be provided as the seal of the Association. Carried unanimously.

Citizens Kaub, Lessner, Eccarius, Le Lubez, Jung, Cremer reported their attendance on organised bodies. They had been everywhere courteously received and all had promised to further consider the question.,

The Secretary then introduced the question of the suffrage, stating there was an attempt being made to organise a meeting for manhood suffrage and he thought the Council ought to watch the preliminary proceedings and for that purpose would propose that a deputation be appointed to attend the preliminary meeting which will be shortly held.[17]

A long discussion took place in which Citizens Marx, Whitlock, Wheeler, Le Lubez, Carter took part. Citizen Wheeler seconded the resolution which was carried unanimously.

The following were then elected as the deputation: Citizens Carter, Eccarius, Odger, Lubez, Whitlock, Cremer, Wheeler and Dell.[18]

It being stated that Citizen Dick, a member of the Central Council, was leaving for New Zealand, Citizen Carter proposed, Citizen Wheeler seconded, that Citizen Dick be appointed as corresponding secretary for that part of the world.

The meeting then adjourned to February 7, 1865.

J. G. ECCARIUS, Vice-President
W. CREMER, Honorary General Secretary

  1. Marx has in mind the publication of the Inaugural Address in Der Social-Demokrat, No. 2, December 21, and No. 3 (Beilage), December 30, 1864 under the heading: “Manifest an die arbeitende Klasse Europa’s.” The German translation of the Inaugural Address was made by Marx.
  2. Sections of the International began to be formed in Switzerland immediately following press reports about the meeting in St. Martin’s Hall. On October 11, 1864, a group of Geneva workers, headed by Dupleix, a bookbinder, addressed a letter to Tolain informing him of the formation of a provisional committee in Geneva to establish contact with workers of other countries and asking him to send them the necessary instructions. This letter forwarded by Tolain to London was, as is apparent from Jung’s letter of January 10, 1865 to Dupleix, read by Marx at the said meeting and received with much satisfaction. Jung sent Dupleix the Rules of the Association and recommended, on behalf of the General Council, that the Swiss workers form a central committee for the whole of Switzerland and that they establish regular contact with the General Council in London.
  3. The General Council’s address to President Lincoln appeared in the English press in the latter part of December 1864 (see Note 20). The Bee-Hive Newspaper, although the Council’s organ, published it only on January 7, 1865 (No. 169), after the said decision had been passed.
  4. The address of the British members of the General Council to the Polish people, which was drawn up by Fox (see Note 22), was the subject of a long discussion at the Council meetings of December 13 and 20, 1864, and January 3, 1865. Marx took the floor on this question twice — on December 13 and January 3. On the basis of a wealth of factual material on the relations between Poland and France Marx showed that Fox idealised the traditional foreign policy of France’s ruling classes towards Poland, and exposed the reactionary nature of the policy pursued by the governments of Russia, Prussia and Austria on the Polish question. Marx attached great importance to the discussion of the Polish question in the International for it enabled the workers in the respective countries to criticise the foreign policy of their own governments. Furthermore, he regarded the Polish national-liberation movement as a force capable of undermining Russian tsarism and accelerating the development of the revolutionary-democratic movement in Russia herself.

    The speech made by Marx at this meeting was not published.
  5. The decision to invite the bourgeois radicals Beesly, Beales and Harrison to the soiree to celebrate the founding of the Association had been taken by the General Council at its meeting of December 29, 1864 and recorded in the minutes of that meeting (see p. 58 of the present volume). The report of that meeting was not published, and Cremer, when he sent the report of the meeting of January 3, 1865 to the papers, included the said decision in it and recorded it for a second time in the Minute Book. Besides, he inserted in the decision, on his own initiative, Grossmith’s name who, as a General Council member, did not have to be specially invited. The report appeared on January 7 in The Bee-Hive Newspaper, No. 169 and in The Miner and Workman’s Advocate, No. 97. Marx who was visiting Engels in Manchester at the time sent Jung a letter on January 8 in which he protested against the inclusion of Grossmith’s name in the minutes and warned the General Council against the attempts of some leaders to use it as an instrument for furthering their own petty ambitions. As is evident from Jung’s reply of January 11, 1865, Marx’s protest was read at the General Council meeting of January 10. Cremer admitted his mistake and Grossmith’s name was crossed out of the minutes of January 3.
  6. The resolution was also published in Der Social-Demokrat, No. 7, January 11, 1865.
  7. The British National League for the Independence of Poland was founded in London on July 28, 1863. Its establishment was preceded by the famous meeting held in St. James’s Hall on July 22, 1863, in connection with the suppression of the Polish insurrection. The meeting, which was one of the harbingers in the founding of the International, was attended by British trade-unionists and democrats, as well as by a French workers’ delegation from Paris. The meeting resolved to send a delegation to the Foreign Secretary, John Russell, to hand in a protest against the British Government’s double-faced policy towards the Polish insurgents. Russell refused to receive the delegation, and a second meeting was called on July 28, 1863, this time on the premises of The Bee-Hive Newspaper, at which the League was founded. Edmond Beales was elected president and John R. Taylor — honorary secretary. Jan Kurzyna, who was connected with the democratic wing of the Polish emigres (Bobczynski, Oborski, Zabicki and others), was the London representative of the National Government of Poland which had directed the insurrection of 1863-64.
  8. The reference is to a meeting held in Greenwich, London, on January 15, 1865, at which the General Council members Le Lubez, Odger, Morgan and Nusperli had expounded the aims and tasks of the International Working Men’s Association. The meeting had recognised the need for an international organisation of the working class and pledged to further the success of the Association in every possible way. It resolved to establish a branch of the Association in Greenwich and elected a committee of seven which was empowered to co-opt new members. Nusperli was elected a member of the committee.
  9. Dupleix’s letter from Switzerland, dated January 17, was in reply to Jung’s letter of January 10, 1865 (see Note 26). Dupleix reported that the Geneva Committee was campaigning for the establishment of sections of the International Association in Switzerland and asked that all General Council publications therefore be forwarded to him.
  10. The reference is to Wilhelm Liebknecht’s letter to Marx, dated January 21, 1865 (see p. 263 of the present volume). The affiliation of the General Association of German Workers to the International was impeded not only by the police regime in Prussia, but also by the sectarian stand of the Lassallean leadership in the Association. (For more details see Liebknecht’s report, sent to the London Conference, on pp. 251-60 of the present volume.)
  11. The reference is to a letter, dated January 2, 1865, from Joseph Weydemeyer, a former member of the Communist League and friend of Marx and Engels. After the defeat of the 1848-49 Revolution Weydemeyer emigrated to the United States where he fought in the Civil War of 1861-65, on the side of the North. Towards the close of 1864 he was appointed military commander of St. Louis. On November 29, 1864, Marx wrote to Weydemeyer informing him of the founding of the International Working Men’s Association and sent him four copies of the Inaugural Address. Weydemeyer in his letter wrote that he was going to publish the Inaugural Address in the local workers’ paper St. Louis Daily Press as well as in the New York democratic paper World. p.66
  12. The Paris section of the International Association was formed at the end of 1864. It was founded by the Proudhonist workers, Henri Tolain and Charles Limousin, both of whom had participated in the inaugural meeting held at St. Martin’s Hall on September 28, 1864. Early in January 1865 the section put out a French translation of the Provisional Rules, which contained a number of inaccuracies and distortions; in particular, in the third paragraph of the Preamble (“that the economical emancipation of the working classes is therefore the great end to which every political movement ought to be subordinate as a means”), the words “as a means” were omitted.

    Besides the Tolain group, Henri Lefort, a French lawyer, who had also taken part in the inaugural meeting of September 28, likewise laid claim to being one of the founders of the International and the representative of the French workers. Lefort was in touch with Le Lubez, Corresponding Secretary for France, and with French petty-bourgeois emigres in England. On January 13, 1865, the Lassallean organ Der Social-Demokrat, No. 8, printed a statement by Moses Hess in which he accused Tolain of being in contoct with Bonapartist circles. When Marx, upon his return from Manchester on January 16, read this he immediately wrote to J.-B. Schweitzer in Berlin and to Victor Schily in Paris. In his letter to Schily he asked the latter to look into the matter; in his letter to Schweitzer he strongly protested against Hess’s insinuations against the International Working Men’s Association and warned that he would publicly break with the paper if such accusations were repeated. On January 19 Schily informed Marx that the slanderous accusation against Tolain emanated from persons close to the journal L'Association, the organ of the French co-operative societies, whose editorial board included Lefort. Schily promised to send additional information in the near future.

    The proposal temporarily to postpone the sending of membership cards to Paris was made by Marx at this meeting, as his letter to Engels, dated January 25, 1865, indicates.
  13. The corresponding place in the minutes of January 24, 1865 carries no alterations. Cremer most probably recorded the minutes in the Minute Book after they had been confirmed at the said meeting.
  14. Adams’s letter to Cremer was published in The Times, February 6, 1865. In a letter to Liebknecht, written in February 1865, Marx noted that Lincoln’s reply to the Association’s address on his re-election as President was the only one of all his replies to the congratulatory messages that “was not merely a formal confirmation of receipt.”
  15. The reference is to the editorial in the St. Louis Daily Press. The same issue published excerpts from the Inaugural Address of the International Working Men’s Association. Marx received the paper from Weydemeyer on January 31, 1865.
  16. The Brussels letter from Leon Fontaine, a member of the democratic Universal Federation in Belgium, written on January 29, 1865, was in reply to a letter, dated January 18, from Le Lubez, Corresponding Secretary for Belgium, pro tem., in which he had enclosed the Inaugural Address and the Rules. Fontaine’s letter was included in the report of the said General Council meeting, published in The Bee-Hive Newspaper, No. 173, February 4, 1865.
  17. The reference is to the preliminary meeting of electoral reformers that was being called by a group of bourgeois radicals on February 6, 1865 in London Tavern, in preparation for a bigger meeting to be held in St. Martin’s Hall on February 23, 1865.
  18. In a letter to Engels, dated February 1, 1865, Marx gives a detailed account of the consistently democratic stand on the electoral reform movement upheld by the General Council at this meeting. After informing Engels of the invitation received by the Council from the bourgeois radicals to attend the meeting in St. Martin’s Hall, Marx writes: “Without the trade unions no mass meeting is possible and without us the trade unions are not to be had. This is also the reason why the gentlemen are applying to us.... On my motion it was decided: 1) To send the deputation merely as ‘observers’ (in my motion I excluded foreigners, but Eccarius and Lubez were elected as ‘English’ and as silent witnesses); 2) So far as the meeting is concerned, to act with them if, in the first place, manhood suffrage is directly and openly proclaimed in the programme, and in the second, if people elected by us are brought on to the regular Committee, so that they can watch the fellows and when the fresh treachery, which, as I made clear to them all, is certainly planned, takes place can compromise them.”