International Workingmen’s Association 1865

Note to Hermann Jung about Ernest Jones’ Letter to the Central Council Meeting March 21, 1865 [241]

Source: MECW, Volume 20, p. 337;
Written: by Karl Marx on March 18, 1865;
First published: in Russian., in Generalny Sovet. Pervogo Internatsionala. 1864-1866, 1961.

Ernest Jones writes to Marx (d.d. March 16, Manchester) that he will support the delegation sent to the Manchester Conference. [242] The middle class had sent to him and Hooson to sign the Circular convening the Manchester Conference. He had not accepted it at the date of the letter. He writes moreover:

“We are going to hold district meetings in Manchester to organise the Manhood Suffrage movement in support of the London one.”

Give Mr. Cremer (privately) the address of E. Jones: 55, Cross Street, Manchester.

Notes from MECW

241 This note is a summary of Ernest Jones’ letter to Marx of March 16, 1865 concerning the participation of the International’s representatives in an electoral reform conference to be convened in Manchester by the Liberals. Marx, who advocated drawing the broad mass of workers into the campaign for a democratic reform, encouraged all the measures of the Central Council that were directed to this end. He sought to enlist the support of Ernest Jones, an active participant in the campaign for universal suffrage in Manchester, who exposed the attempts of bourgeois liberals and radicals to lend a moderate character to the reform. At the Central Council meetings of February 14 and 28 Marx read Jones’ letters on this campaign. Marx could not personally inform the Council of Jones’ letter of March 16 because of his forthcoming departure for Holland. Jung presumably acquainted Cremer with Marx’s summary of Jones’ letter. On Cremer’s proposal the Central Council carried on March 21 a resolution instructing its deputation to the Manchester conference to demand manhood suffrage. Marx wrote down the summary of Jones’ letter on the back of one of the three sheets of his memorandum to Hermann Jung about the conflict in the Paris Section.

On March 12, 1865, Hermann Jung, who had been instructed to write notes for the information of the International’s members in France about the conflict in the Paris Section, asked Marx to help him. Marx agreed and on March 18 he met Jung and handed over to him a memorandum written on three sheets of paper. The result of their talk was the text on the back of the first sheet, written partly by Marx and partly by Jung.

In his memorandum Marx showed that the essence of the conflict was in the bourgeois democrats’ encroachments on the class character of the international proletarian organisation and drew attention to the French refugee Le Lubez, who constantly supported the bourgeois republican Lefort. Marx, in particular, noted Le Lubez’s striving to coopt Lefort’s supporters into the Paris Administration and his opposition to the Central Council’s decision on this issue adopted on March 7, 1865. Le Lubez and his followers were rebuffed and he was forced, in early April 1865, to give up the post of Corresponding Secretary for France.

This document was published in English for the first time in The General Council of the First International. 1864-1866, Moscow, 1962.

242 The national Reform Conference, sponsored by the liberal National Reform Union, was held in Manchester on May 15 and 16, 1865. Most of its delegates were representatives of the bourgeoisie. They refused to include the demand for universal manhood suffrage in the conference’s resolutions as proposed by the International’s Central Council member Cremer, who was supported by Ernest Jones and some delegates of the radical Reform League.

The British trade unions took an active part in the general democratic movement for the second electoral reform in 1865-67.

In the spring of 1865 the Central Council of the International initiated, and participated in, the setting up of a Reform League in London as a political centre of the mass movement. The League’s leading bodies — the Council and the Executive Committee — included the Central Council members, mainly trade-union leaders. The League’s programme was drafted under Marx’s influence. Unlike the bourgeois parties, which confined their demand to household suffrage, the League advanced the demand for manhood suffrage. This revived Chartist slogan secured it the support of the trade unions, hitherto indifferent to politics. The League had branches in all the big industrial cities. However, the vacillations of the radicals in its leadership and the conciliation of the trade-union leaders prevented the League Iron] following the line charted by the Central (General) Council of the International. The British bourgeoisie succeeded in splitting the movement and a moderate reform was carried out in 1867 which granted franchise only to the petty bourgeoisie and the upper layers of the working class.

Edmond Beales, President of the Reform League, and other. radicals adopted an indecisive attitude to the nature of the reform. As a result, the conference carried a moderate resolution to extend the franchise to householders and house tenants who paid poor-rates.