JOSEPH ARNOLD WEYDEMEYER (February 2, 1818,
Münster – August 26,
St. Louis, Missouri ) was a military officer in the Kingdom of
Prussia and the
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* v * t * e
At first a supporter of "true socialism " he became, in 1845-46, a
He worked on two socialist periodicals which were the Westphälisches
Dampfboot (Westphalian Steamboat) and the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. In
1851 he emigrated from
Weydemeyer took part in the US Civil War as a lieutenant colonel in the Union Army.
* 1 Biography
* 1.1 1848
* 1.2 New York
* 1.2.1 A Marxist journalist * 1.2.2 The foundation of the American Workers League
* 2 See also * 3 Footnotes * 4 External links
Born in 1818, the same year as
The leftist officers in
After a second visit to Marx in
During the rest of the year, he was a full-time revolutionary
journalist. In June 1848, he was invited to
In July 1851, with his wife and two children, he went to Switzerland
, where he did not find a job. On July 27, he wrote to Marx that he
had no alternative than migrating to the
A Marxist Journalist
In December 1851, Weydemeyer issues a paper, named Die Revolution, a
German-language revolutionary paper, which purpose was to make picture
of the class struggle in the Old World. The paper first appeared on
January 6 but was suspended on January 13. In a letter to Marx at the
end of January, he attributed his failure because of the corrupting
effect on the people of the American soil. He also pointed out the
dominance of the liberal bourgeois-nationalist ideology on the people,
Gottfried Kinkel and
He began to write for the Turn-Zeitung about different political
issues, as the American aversion of the proletarian dictatorship , the
calling of liberal American groups for free election in
In the Turn-Zeitung of September 1, Weydemeyer analyzed the relationship between Australian cotton and American slavery . The development of American monopoly on the world market, in his point of view, promotes the rise of national economical development rather than regional and the rise of national parties in American politics rather than regional. He saw the shift from an agricultural dominance over the industrial to an industrial dominance over the former.
In the Turn-Zeitung of November 15, Weydemeyer wrote a review of the election campaign of 1852, pointing the absence of labor issues in the platforms of the Whig and Democratic parties. In December, in a two-part Political-Economic Survey, he attempted to project a platform for American labor. He stands for organizations of the workers on a large scale political as well as economical, and urged the workers to adopt internationalism .
The Foundation Of The American Workers League
It has been suggested that American Workers League be merged into this section. (Discuss ) Proposed since December 2016.
With four of his friends, Weydemeyer formed a tiny organization, the first Marxist organization in the United States, formed in the summer of 1852. The group, called Proletarierbund, won the attention of German immigrants with the organization of a meeting on March 20, 1853, in New York, where eight hundred German Americans assembled in Mechanics Hall and founded the American Workers League .
This was an organization of mixed union and party functions, and presented a programm of immediate issues for the working class and the socialist goal at the same time. The program was for immediate naturalization of all immigrants who wished to gain American citizenship, it favored federal, rather than state, labor legislation, stood for guaranteed payment of wages to workers whose employers went bankrupt, assumption by government of all costs of litigation with free choice of counsel, reducing the working day to ten hours, banning labor for children under sixteen, compulsory education with government maintenance for children whose families were too poor, against all Sunday and temperance laws, for the formation of tuition-colleges and for state acquisition of existing private colleges, for keeping the national lands on the frontier inalienable, etc. Beside the immediate demands, the League's platform stated some revolutionary principles. The preamble charged the capitalists of the everyday worse situation of the workers, the need of an independent political party for the workers, "without respect to occupation, language, color or sex", and the task of overthrowing the capital leadership with it as a way to solve social and political problems. It also leaned on the American Constitution of the Founding Fathers .
The American Workers League functioned for several years under a central committee made up of delegates from wards clubs and trade unions . Member of its committee, Weydemeyer tried to wide the influence of the League to non German Americans but the League served primarily as a German recreation and mutual aid society, in isolation from the English-speaking workers. When in the context of the Know-Nothing agitation, in 1855, the members began forming a secret military organization to defend themselves against nativist attacks, Weydemeyer withdrew from the League. He devoted himself to study the American Economy and to writing and lecturing of Marxists ideas.
AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
As the country was moving toward a civil war , German Americans played an important part in the emergence of the Republican Party , so did Weydemeyer, who was one the men who drew the German community toward the Republicans and the antislavery cause. Weydemeyer's stand for the Republicans was consistent with the influence of the most prominent labor radicals at the time, as Wilhelm Weitling . William Sylvis , leading native-born trade unionist, didn't engage in Republican politics, but showed approval for their platform in several commentaries published by Die Welt .
The Republican Party gained also influence through the free-soil movement . According to his Marxist opinion against the parceling out of government lands to small farmers, Weydemeyer denounced the Homestead Act agitation in 1854 as contrary to the interest of the workers and was in favor of large-scale agriculture. But in the 1860s, together with other German Republicans, he urged the party to campaign for "immediate passage by Congress of a Homestead law by which the public lands of the Union may be secured for homesteads of the people, and secured from the greed of speculators." Weydemeyer back of the free-soil movement and shift of position about that issue wasn't a stand for the free-soil movement as a social progress (as Hermann Kriege endorsement in this movement in 1845), but a question of tactic, backing the free-soil movement at that moment being a support for the antislavery cause, the main issue at the time in his point of view.
Shortly after dropping the
American Workers League , Weydemeyer left
New York and settled down in the
Thanks to his background as a Prussian military officer and surveyor, he became a technical aide on the staff of General John C. Frémont , the commander of the department of the West. He superintended the erection of ten forts around St. Louis . After Frémont was removed from his command in November 1861, Weydemeyer was made a lieutenant colonel and given command of a Missouri