From the Minute Book of the General Council. Central Council Meetings (October 1864)

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General Committee Meeting, October 5, 1864[edit source]

P. 1 of the minutes is in Cremer’s hand. Pp. 1-3 of the Minute Book are in an unknown hand.

The first meeting of the Committee,[1] elected by the public meeting held at St. Martin’s Hall on the 28th of September 1864, was held at 18, Greek St., Soho, on October 5th, 1864, and on the motion of Mr. Weston, seconded by Mr. Whitlock, Mr. G. Odger was voted to the chair.

The Chairman said the first business was the appointment of a secretary to the Committee when Dr. Marx proposed and Mr. Whitlock seconded that Mr. Cremer be appointed.

Mr. Cremer would prefer the appointment of M. Le Lubez who was he believed in every way qualified to fill the office.

M. Le Lubez having for various reasons declined the office, Mr. Cremer was unanimously elected.

The next question discussed was the meeting nights of the Committee when several resolutions and amendments[2] were proposed, but ultimately on the motion of Mr. Longmaid, seconded by Mr. Dell, it was carried with one dissentient:

That until the Association is in working order the Committee meet at 18, Greek St., every Tuesday evening at 8 o'clock.

A question being asked as to the expenses of meeting in the room, it was agreed to adjourn the consideration of that matter till the Council of the Universal League had decided on what terms they could allow us the use of the room.[3]

The question of the rate of contributions was then discussed when Mr. Noble proposed and Mr. Whitlock seconded:

That for the present the rate of contributions for the Committee be Is. per quarter, but that further voluntary contributions be accepted from any member or friend.

As an amendment Mr. Worley proposed and Mr. Longmaid seconded:

That the preliminary expenses of the Committee be defrayed by voluntary contributions from members of the Committee and other friends.

For amendment — 6, for resolution — 14. Carried.

A subscription of 3 guineas was then made by the members present, and on the motion of Mr. Dell, seconded by Mr. Blackmore, Mr. G. Wheeler was unanimously elected treasurer to the Committee.

M. Le Lubez then proposed, Mr. Whitlock seconded, and it was unanimously agreed to that the following be added to the Committee:

Vasbenter, Morrissot, Jourdain, Leroux, Bordage, Aldovrandi.

On the motion of Major Wolff, seconded by Mr. Holtorp, M. Setacci, Mr. Carter and Professor Beesly were added to the General Committee.

The question of appointing secretaries to the different nationalities represented on the Committee was then discussed, and on the motion of Mr. Whitlock, seconded by Major Wolff, M. Le Lubez was unanimously elected corresponding secretary for France. On the motion of Mr. Whitlock, seconded by Dr. Marx, Mr. Holtorp was elected corresponding secretary for Poland.

Dr. Marx stated that the German Working Men’s Association[4] would elect a corresponding secretary for Germany.

Major Wolff made a similar statement with regard to the Italian Working Men’s Association.[5]

A long discussion then took place with regard to the election of a general honorary secretary and the position he should occupy in relation to the secretaries of the various nationalities, and on the motion of Mr. Wheeler, seconded my Major Wolff, Mr. Cremer was unanimously elected honorary general secretary.

Mr. Cremer stated he would have preferred the election of M. Le Lubez who was in every way qualified to occupy so important a post but as M. Le Lubez positively declined he, Mr. Cremer, would accept it until the Association had adopted a platform of principles, framed their laws, and fairly started. He should then resign the office.

A very long and animated discussion then took place with regard to the principles on which the Association should be based, and ultimately on the motion of Mr. Dell, seconded by Mr. Trimlett, a sub-committee of 9 were appointed to draw up a platform of principles, such principles to be discussed at the next meeting of the General Committee.

The following were then elected as the Sub-Committee: Messrs. Whitlock, Weston, Dr. Marx, M. Le Lubez, Major Wolff, Mr. Holtorp, and Mr. Pidgeon, the Chairman and Secretary to be members by virtue of their offices.6

The meeting then adjourned to Tuesday, October 11th, 1864.

President G. Odger
W. R. Cremer, Honorary General Secretary

Sub-Committee Meeting, held at 80, White Cross St., October 8, 1864[edit source]

The minutes are in an unknown hand on pp. 3-4 of the Minute Book.

Present: Major Wolff, M. Le Lubez, Messrs. Odger, Cremer, and Weston.[6]

Mr. Odger in the chair.

Mr. Weston brought forward and read a paper which he had drawn up as a declaration of principles.[7]

A very long discussion took place regarding the principles set forth in the paper, and it was ultimately decided on the motion of M. Le Lubez, seconded by Major Wolff: That Mr. Weston be requested to abridge and alter his paper and that it be then recommended by the Sub-Committee to the General Committee as the programme of the Association.

Major Wolff then proposed and Mr. Cremer seconded the following resolution:

That this Committee suggests as the basis of its operations the promotion of the moral, intellectual, and economical progress of the working classes of Europe by coming to an understanding with the various working men’s associations all over Europe in order to obtain unity of purpose and unity of action, the two great means of arriving at the above-named results. Carried unanimously.

Major Wolff then read the Rules of the Italian Working Men’s Association who have for some time been endeavouring throughout Italy to unite into one fraternal bond the various working men’s associations.[8]

The Rules were highly approved by the Committee, and on the motion of Mr. Cremer, seconded by M. Le Lubez, it was decided to recommend them to the General Committee for their adoption.

M. Le Lubez then proposed and Cremer seconded:

That we recommend to the General Committee to fix the rate of contribution at a shilling a year for individuals and that for such sum each member be presented with a card and that the rate of contribution from organised bodies be as low as it can possibly be made. Resolution carried unanimously.


G. Odger, President
W. R. Cremer, Honorary General Secretary

General Committee Meeting, October 12, 1864[edit source]

The minutes are in an unknown hand on pp. 5-6 of the Minute Book, and the meeting took place on Tuesday, October 11, not the 12th, 1864.

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

The Secretary [Cremer] then read the minutes of the SubCommittee held on the 8th, which minutes were generally approved, and Mr. Weston read the paper he had at the recommendation of the Sub-Committee abridged, and which he believed would serve the Association as a platform of principles.

A very long discussion took place on the contents of the paper, and Major Wolff having at the request of the Committee brought forward and read the Rules of the Italian Working Men’s Association, it was ultimately decided on the motion of Mr. Carter, seconded by Mr. Wheeler:

That the paper read by Mr. Weston and the Rules as read by Major Wolff be referred back to the Sub-Committee for revision.

Mr. Dell then proposed and Mr. Hartwell seconded:

That the best thanks of the Committee be given to Major Wolff and Mr. Weston for the abilities they have displayed, Mr. Weston in drawing up the paper and Major Wolff in translating into English the Rules of the Italian Working Men’s Association. Carried unanimously.[9]

Mr. Cremer then proposed and Mr. Whitlock seconded:

That persons becoming members of this Association shall pay not less than Is. per annum and that the rate of contribution for organised bodies be hereafter determined. Carried unanimously.

It was then discussed as to what should be the name of the Association, and Mr. Wheeler proposed and Mr. Leno seconded: That the Sub-Committee be deputed to enquire into and report to this Committee as to the advisability of merging this Association into the Universal League.

Mr. Leno said, as the objects sought by both associations were almost synonymous it would be far better to unite them and thereby unite their efforts.[10]

As an amendment Mr. Whitlock proposed and Mr. Eccarius seconded: That the name of the Association be the International Working Men’s Association.

For the amendment — 16, for resolution — 4. The Association is therefore entitled the International Working Men’s Association.

It having been stated that Major Wolff was about to visit Naples and would attend the working men’s congress about being held in that city,[11] Mr. Cremer proposed and M. Le Lubez seconded:

That Major Wolff be deputed to enquire of the Italian working men through their deputies in congress assembled if they are willing to enter into a fraternal bond with the working men of the other countries of the world and, if they are, on what basis such bond should be established. Carried unanimously.

The Secretary was instructed to forward to Major Wolff credentials for this Committee.

The following were then added to the General Committee:

Mr. Rybczinski proposed by Mr. Holtorp, seconded by Mr. Fox;

M. Talandier proposed by Major Wolff, seconded by Mr. Fox;

M. G. Nusperli proposed by M. Le Lubez, seconded by M. Bordage.

Mr. G. P. Fontana proposed by Major Wolff, seconded by Mr. Lama;

Mr. J. R. Taylor proposed by Wheeler, seconded by Whitlock, and on the motion of Major Wolff, seconded by M. Le Lubez, Mr. M. G. Nusperli was elected corresponding secretary for Switzerland.

The meeting then adjourned to October 19, 1864.

J. G. Eccarius, Vice-President
W. R. Cremer, Honorary General Secretary

Central Council Meeting, October 19, 1865[edit source]

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 7-8 of the Minute Book. The meeting took place on Tuesday, October 18, not 19, 1864

The President [Odger] being absent on important business, on the motion of Mr. Weston, seconded by Mr. Fox, Mr. Eccarius was elected to take the chair, and the minutes of the former meeting having been read, were confirmed on the motion of Mr. Fox, seconded by Holtorp.

Mr. Wolff of Luxemburg was then elected a member of the Council on the proposition of Lubez, seconded by Bordage.

Mr. Taylor then referred to his position in connection with the Universal League and this Council, but having been called to order by the Chairman, Mr. Taylor stated his intention to (for the present) withdraw from the Council.

M. Le Lubez then read the programme and rules which the Sub-Committee had agreed to submit to the General Council.[12]

After the reading of the above a long discussion took place, Mr. Worley objecting to the statement that the capitalist was opposed to the labourer. He also ridiculed the idea of the French supplanting English workmen or vice versa.

Mr. Carter in some pertinent remarks replied to Mr. Worley as did M. Le Lubez, Dr. Marx and others, after which Mr. Cremer proposed, Marx seconded, that the programme as read by Le Lubez be adopted.

As an amendment Mr. Worley proposed and Weston seconded to strike out the words: “capital and land in the hands of the few.”

For the amendment — 2, for the resolution — 12.

Mr. Fontana then proposed, Lama seconded, that the substance of the programme be accepted. Carried unanimously.

Mr. Fox on the motion of Mr. Fontana, seconded by Wheeler, was added to the Sub-Committee who were instructed to put into a definite form the preamble and rules and submit the same to the next meeting of the Central Council.

A letter was read from Mr. Facey announcing his resignation as a member of the Central Council.

A letter was also read from Major Wolff explaining a misunderstanding which has arisen from his having opposed the election of M. Sassinari; the explanation was considered satisfactory.

Mr. Morgan on the proposition of Mr. Carter, seconded by Wheeler, was elected on the Central Council.

The meeting then adjourned to November 1st.

J. G. Eccarius, Vice-President
W. R. Cremer, Honorary General Secretary

  1. The International’s leading body, the Central Council, as it was named on October 18, 1864, was elected by a big international meeting held in St. Martin’s Hall, London, on September 28, 1864. The meeting, which had been called by leaders of the London trade unions jointly with a group of Paris Proudhonist workers, and attended by representatives of the German, Italian and other foreign workers living in London at the time, as well as by prominent European petty-bourgeois and revolutionary-democratic emigres, adopted the resolution to found the International Working Men’s Association — (afterwards known as the First International). The Central Council consisted of noted British trade-unionists like G. Odger, W. R. Cremer, B. Lucraft, G. Howell, R. Shaw, Blackmore, W. Stainsby, W. Pidgeon and J. Longmaid; men prominent in the British labour and democratic movement of the sixties, among them the bourgeois radicals W. Dell, G. W. Wheeler, J. Osborne, W. Worley, T. Facey, J. Nieass and E. Whitlock. Other members were: J. Weston, an Owenist; J. Leno, a former Chartist, active in the electoral reform movement of the 1860s; R. Hartwell, one of the editors of The Bee-Hive, weekly organ of the trade unions, and also a former Chartist; P. Fox, an English journalist and active participant in the labour and democratic movement of the sixties; Le Lubez, J. B. Bocquet and J. Denoual, representatives of the French petty-bourgeois emigres in London; L. Wolff and D. Lama, members of the London organisation of Italian workers, the Mazzini Association of Mutual Progress. K. Marx and J. G. Eccarius were elected to the Council as the representatives of the German workers. The meeting had empowered the Central Council to co-opt new members. Later on, the Council, which at the end of 1866 finally came to be known as the General Council, was elected at the respective congresses of the International Working Men’s Association.

    From The Bee-Hive Newspaper report of October 8, 1864 (No. 156), it is evident that about 40 people were present at this meeting of the General Council.
  2. Here and elsewhere the word “amendment” is used in the sense adopted in British parliamentary procedure.
  3. The reference is to the Universal League for the Welfare of the Industrious Classes, founded in London in December 1863. The London Trades Council took an active part in the founding of this League. Its leadership included persons who were elected after. wards to the General Council of the International — Facey, Taylor, Worley, Dell, Odger. The League whose programme was bourgeoisphilanthropic and cultural-educational in character had as its object to promote “the moral, social and physical welfare of the industrious classes of the whole world, without regard to the differences of nationality or of religious or political opinions.” The League had its headquarters at 18, Greek Street, Soho, London. This was also the meeting place of the General Council of the Association from October 5, 1864 to January 2, 1866.
  4. The reference is to the German Workers’ Educational Association (Deutscher-Arbeiter-Bildungs-Verein), founded in London in February 1840 by Karl Schapper, Joseph Moll and other leaders of the League of the Just. In the early period of its existence the Association was strongly influenced by the utopian, equalitarian communism of Wilhelm Weitling. With the organisation of the Communist League, leadership of the Association passed entirely to the League’s local sections. The Educational Association was in close connection with the English Socialists and Chartists, with the organisations of the Fraternal Democrats and the French Social-Democrats. Marx and Engels actively participated in its work in 1847 and in 1849-50. During November 1849-September 1850, Marx read a series of lectures there on political economy and on the basic ideas of the Manifesto of the Communist Party.

    On September 17, 1850, Marx and Engels and several of their followers withdrew from the Association when it came out in support of the minority in the dispute between the majority of the Communist League’s Central Committee, led by Marx and Engels, and the sectarian adventurist minority (the Willich-Schapper faction). At the close of the fifties Marx again took an active part in the work of the Association.

    Besides its headquarters at 2, Nassau Street, Soho, in the tavern of G. Bolleter, a member of the Association, the latter, in the sixties, had two branches in the East and South of London, viz., the Eintracht and the Teutonia. After the founding of the International

    many of the Association’s members, including Eccarius, Kaub, Lessner, Bolleter and Lochner, were elected to the General Council where they played a notable role. For the Association’s affiliation to the International see pp. 62-64 of the present volume.
  5. The reference is to the Association of Mutual Progress (Associazione di Mutuo Progresso), founded at the end of June 1864 by Italian workers resident in London. The society which had a membership of about 300 workers at the time it was established was under the influence of Mazzini. Garibaldi was elected honorary chairman. For the Association’s affiliation to the International see pp. 60-61 of the present volume.
  6. Being unwell at the time, Marx was unable to attend this meeting of the Sub-Committee and the General Council meeting of October 11, 1864. On October 12 Eccarius wrote to Marx: “The letter of excuse sent me by your dear little daughter reached me only this morning at one o'clock, when I came home, and thus could not serve to explain your absence in the Committee. I am very sorry to learn that you are not feeling well, but hope with all my heart that your indisposition is not serious, and that it won’t last long. You must absolutely impress the stamp of your terseness, full of content, upon the first-born child of the European workmen’s organisation.

    “Last Wednesday you were elected to the Sub-Committee, after we had left. Major Wolff could not explain your absence; your absence last night seemed even more incomprehensible; everyone asked why you hadn’t come. I could give no positive answer, of course, but with regard to the Sub-Committee, guessed that they probably hadn’t notified you of the election nor of the time and place of its meeting, which proved to be true upon investigation. Mr. Cremer will let you know of the next meeting.” See also Marx’s letter to Engels of November 4, 1864.
  7. The text of the programme of the International Working Men’s Association as drafted by the Owenist Weston has not been preserved. In his letter to Engels of November 4, 1864, Marx described this document as “full of the most extreme confusion” and “indescribable breadth.”
  8. The Rules submitted by Wolff to the Sub-Committee meeting were an English translation of the “Brotherly Agreement Between the Italian Working Men’s Associations,” which had been published in Il Giornale delle Associazioni Operaie in July 1864, and adopted by the congress of Italian working men’s associations, held in Naples at the end of October 1864. In recommending these Rules, which were bourgeois-democratic in substance, to the International Working Men’s Association, Mazzini and his followers had reckoned on seizing leadership of the international working-class movement.
  9. In his letter to Marx, dated October 12, Eccarius described in detail the discussion on the drafts submitted by Weston and Wolff at this meeting of the General Council:

    “Regarding the absolute necessity of your being present at the next Sub-Committee meeting, I feel compelled to give you some information.

    “You will remember that even last Wednesday Mr. Weston moved that the preliminaries for the platform of principles be discussed, and that he said he had drawn something up and was prepared to lay the material before the Committee for discussion. As it turned out yesterday evening, he had an elaborate paper, which under a sack of chaff contained a handful of grains, themselves of no decisive character. In the Sub-Committee he was commissioned to condense his paper, but his abbreviated product is no better than the original; it is a sentimental declamatory editorial on the matter, not the matter itself. Cremer publicly said that the paper would have to be shortened by three-quarters. Moreover, Major Wolff has translated a draft of by-laws for the Italian workmen’s organisation and handed it in, which was received with approval on the whole. Both these documents were returned to the Sub-Committee, to make use of what was useful in them, to put them in shape, etc., and to draw up a single document, containing the platform of principles and rules at the same time. After the meeting, Cremer said privately that Weston ought to have nothing to do with the matter, that the editing of the draft must be turned over to a commission of three at most, which could make use of the available material or could not as they saw fit. Odger and others agreed. ‘The right man in the right place’ will undoubtedly be Dr. Marx.

    “Weston is an old Owenist, who confines the sentimental doctrine of the old school to the workmen, to be sure, and hates the oppressors instinctively, but seems to know no other basis for labour movements than the hackneyed phrase, truth and justice.”
  10. After the unsuccessful attempt at this Council meeting to unite the International Working Men’s Association and the Universal League for the Welfare of the Industrious Classes (see Note 3), two of the League’s leaders, Taylor and Facey, left the General Council (see p. 42 of the present volume).
  11. The Naples Congress of the Italian working men’s associations was held on October 25-27, 1864; representatives from 25 organisations attended it. The congress adopted the Rules, called “Brotherly Agreement Between the Italian Working Men’s Associations” (see Note 9). Wolff was not present at the congress.
  12. The reference is to the document adopted by the Sub-Committee at its meeting of October 15, 1864. It consisted of a preamble to the rules (programme) and the rules themselves, drafted originally by Weston and Wolff, and then rewritten by Le Lubez. The minutes of this meeting have not been preserved. Marx was not present, for Cremer’s note informing him of the Sub-Committee meeting, posted on the day of the meeting, had not reached him in time. Cremer wrote:

    “Respected Sir:

    “The Sub-Committee meet this Saturday evening at the house of Mr. Weston, 80. White Cross St., and I am instructed to say, they will be very pleased with your presence; perhaps you are not aware that the General Committee in your absence elected you on the Sub-Committee; I was not aware or had forgotten that you had left the room when the Sub-Committee were elected, or I should have sooner communicated to you the fact of your election. I am, Sir, yours very respectfully,

    W. R. Cremer,
    Honorary Secretary.”