International Working Men’s Association

The Minute Book of the General Council
May 1865

Meeting of Central Council
May 2, 1865

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 47-48 of the Minute Book.

Vice-President Eccarius in the chair.

A slight alteration having been made in the minutes of the last meeting, referring to the expenses of the deputation from Paris, they were confirmed.

The following were then elected on the Central Council:

Narcisse Salvatella proposed by Jung, seconded by Odger;

Lassassie proposed by Lessner, seconded by Bordage:

Karl Schapper proposed by Marx, seconded by Lessner.

Marx gave a report from Paris stating there were changes about being made there in the Administration which when made would be fully reported to the Central Council.[81]

Dupont read a letter from Fribourg suggesting to the Central Council the propriety of opening a branch at St. Denis; he also read a letter he had received from Lefebvre; said letter contained passages from a letter of Lubez. The questions involved were referred to the Sub-Committee.[82]

Cremer referred to the assassination of President Lincoln and proposed that an address should be drawn up and sent to the American people expressing the views of the Central Council on recent events in America, more particularly referring to the murder of Mr. Lincoln.

The resolution was seconded by Lucraft and carried unanimously.

Weston then read a portion of his paper on the question of wages[83]; the remainder was adjourned to the next sitting.

The Council then adjourned to May 9th.

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

Meeting of Central Council
May 9, 1865

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 48-50 of the Minute Book.

The President and Vice-President being absent, Citizen Dell was voted to the chair.

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.

Citizen Fox gave report of deputation to [London] compositors, on behalf of the Leipsic compositors[84]; it would not be possible for that body to grant any money for a period of 3 months — the deputation had therefore failed in their effort.

Citizen Jung hoped we should devise some means of giving support to them as the loss of this strike would have a depressive influence on the trades of Germany generally.

Citizen Weston gave report of deputation to fur skin dressers; they appeared without any exception to be in a pitiable condition but they had courteously received the deputation and promised to further consider the propriety of joining us.

Cremer gave report of Sub-Committee.

Citizen Fox proposed, Jung seconded, that the following resolution recommended by the Sub-Committee be adopted:

That whenever the French Secretary shall receive letters from any citizen or citizens who have been elected by workmen in their localities and who are anxious to open a branch, that he be empowered to reply to such communication and accept such offers without waiting for the assembling of the Central Council, but he shall report all such communications to the Central Council at their first sitting after such letters have been received.

The resolution was carried unanimously.

Cremer proposed, Odger seconded:

That Citizen Dupont write to the Paris Administration requesting them to return a full and detailed account of income and expenditure up to the time of his writing. Carried unanimously.

Citizen Fox proposed, Citizen Weston seconded:

That the following resolution which had also been recommended by the Sub-Committee be adopted, also that the remarks of the Sub-Committee which accompany the resolution be endorsed. Carried unanimously.

The following are the remarks and resolution as drawn up by Sub-Committee at their sitting on May 6th:

“Two letters read, one from Citizen Lubez, the other from the Secretary of the Greenwich branch of the Association. [Mulchinock] Lubez’s letter was an explanation of his conduct since his resignation from the Central Council; the letter from Greenwich announced that Citizen Lubez’s resignation as the representative of the Greenwich branch at the Central Council had not been accepted. After some discussion on the two letters two statements contained in Citizen Lubez’s letter were denied: 1st, that Citizen Lefort had first conceived the idea of the International Working Men’s Association; 2nd, that most of the French members of the Central Council had resigned in consequence of Citizen Lefort’s appointment having been cancelled, the fact being that only Citizen Denoual had resigned with Citizen Lubez. On the termination of the discussion the following resolution was passed:

“That it be suggested to Citizen Lubez that he should defer presenting himself at the Central Council for confirmation as delegate from the Greenwich branch until the Sub-Committee have received and reported on the letter he addressed to Citizen Lefebvre.”

Citizen Fox read a letter from Citizen Vinšard who had been appointed on the Paris Administration, stating that the state of his health would preclude him from accepting the appointment, also expressing his best wishes for the success of the Association and regretting that he could not assist to make it so.

Jung proposed, Marx seconded:

That the General Secretary write to Citizen Vinšard thanking him for his past services and hoping that he will, as far as [is] consistent with his health, do his utmost for the interest of the Association. Carried unanimously.

Citizen Marx read the address to President Johnson in reference to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Cremer proposed, Weston seconded:

That the address be adopted, written on parchment, signed by the Central Council and transmitted to President Johnson through the United States Legation. Carried unanimously.[85]

Citizen Howell, who had been appointed to attend with Citizen Cremer the Reform Conference in Manchester on the 15th and 16th of May, having been elected by the Reform League[86] as its secretary and being deputed by that body to attend said conference, his appointment from this Council was therefore on the proposition of Citizen Wheeler, seconded by Citizen Marx, cancelled and Citizen Odger was elected in his stead.

Citizen Fox asked if Citizen Lassassie had been mixed up in the Orsini plot.[87]

Citizen Lessner replied No.

Citizen Fox proposed, Bolleter seconded:

That Weston’s question for discussion stand adjourned to Saturday, May 20th, at 8 o'clock, the entire sitting to be devoted to the discussion.[88] Carried unanimously.

The Council then adjourned to May 16th.

J. G. ECCARIUS, President pro tem
W. CREMER, Honorary General Secretary

Meeting of Central Council
May 16, 1865

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 50-51 of the Minute Book.

In the absence of the General Secretary who was in attendance as delegate of the Association on the Manchester Reform Conference, Cit. Fox read the minutes of the previous meeting which were confirmed. [Here a clipping from The Bee-Hive, No. 188, May 20, 1865, carrying the printed text of the minutes, is pasted into the Minute Book.]

Cit. Marx stated that he had sent to the New York Tribune[89] a copy of the Society’s address to President Johnson. He also mentioned that there had been an immense public meeting in Geneva in regard to the assassination of the late lamented President of the United States; that the Society’s correspondent, Philipp Becker, had spoken at the same, and remarked upon the international character of the meeting.

Cit. Becker then proceeded to state that the Working Men’s International Association was at the head of the new movement for popular rights,[90] which statement was received with cheers by the meeting.

Cit. Fox then read from the Manchester Guardian of the day a report of the first day’s proceedings of the Manchester Reform Conference.[91]

Cit. Weston laid upon the table for distribution a number of copies of “A Requiem for Abraham Lincoln,” addressed to the Liberals of Europe, and published in all the cosmopolitan languages. He stated that he had had an interview with the author, Mr. Leon Lewis, a citizen of the United States, resident in London, and proposed him as a member of the Central Council.

Cit. Carter, on the interpellation of the Acting Secretary, [Fox] stated the result of his interviews with a number of working men in Paris during his late trip to that city. He reported that all those with whom he spoke were entirely satisfied with the action of the Council in the matter of the late imbroglio. [the newspaper clipping ends here]

Citizen Morgan on behalf of Citizen Dell proposed William Bannister as a member of the Central Council. A long discussion ensued, said discussion being of a very discursive character, after which the Council adjourned to May 23rd.

Vice-President [unsigned]
W. R. CREMER, Honorary General Secretary

Meeting of Central Council
May 23, 1865

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 51-52 of the Minute Book.

The President [Odger] in the chair.

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.

Citizen Fox in the absence of Citizen Denoual [Dupont] read a letter from Lyons[92] stating the tulle manufacturers were endeavouring to reduce the wages of their operatives giving as their reason for so doing that the competition with the English manufacturers was so keen as to compel them so to act. The letter asked for information as to the manufacture and price of tulle in England; it was agreed to write to Nottingham for said information.

A discussion took place regarding Lubez being kept from taking his seat on the Council.

Cremer proposed, Eccarius seconded:

That in case Lefebvre’s letter[93] (the absence of which had induced the Council to suggest to Le Lubez the propriety of not presenting himself as councilman) is not forthcoming by Tuesday next, that Le Lubez be allowed to take his seat on the Council as the representative of the Greenwich branch. Carried. Citizen Jung neutral. [This sentence was inserted when the minutes were confirmed at the next meeting.]

Fox gave report of his interview with Mr. Adams, United States Minister, who had received the address and would transmit the same to the President.

The report was received.

Cremer gave report of his mission in conjunction with Citizen Odger to the Manchester Reform Conference. They had fought hard for the principle of manhood suffrage but had been unsuccessful. They feared the conference like others which had preceded it would prove to be abortive of good results.[94]

The report was received and the action of the delegates approved.

Citizen Weston resumed the adjourned debate on his proposition regarding wages. He was followed by Citizen Marx who opposed Citizen Weston’s views[95] as did Citizen Wheeler, after which Cremer proposed the adjournment of the debate till the 30th. Carried unanimously.

The Council then adjourned.

G. ODGER, President
W. R. CREMER, Honorary General Secretary

Meeting of the Central Council
May 30, 1865

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 52-54 of the Minute Book.

The President [Odger] in the chair.

The minutes of the previous meeting having been read, Jung took objection to that portion of them referring to the resolution re-admitting Le Lubez to the Central Council and stated that the resolution had not passed unanimously as he, Citizen Jung, had remained neutral, a fact which he wished recorded.

The Secretary said it had been his practice when no opposition was offered to the passing of a resolution, to record it as being carried unanimously.

With the alteration suggested by Citizen Jung the minutes were confirmed.

The Secretary read communication from the United States Legation acknowledging the receipt of the address to President Johnson.

Citizen Weston proposed, Whitlock seconded, that Leon Lewis, a citizen of the United States, be elected a member of the Central Council. Carried unanimously.

Cremer proposed Citizen Stainsby be nominated as a member of the Central Council.

The Secretary introduced the question of cards of membership.

Citizen Marx proposed, Whitlock seconded:

That the Secretary have power to order cards should they be required. Carried unanimously.

The question of the proposed international exhibition was then discussed.

Citizen Lucraft stated he had attended one of the meetings and had informed those who were moving in the matter of the existence of this Association, a fact of which he found they were previously aware. He also advised them to communicate with the Central Council, but for some reason they had declined.

A long discussion took place having reference to so-called exhibition of working men, all who took part in the discussion declaring against Mr. Coningsby being allowed to represent himself as at the head of British workmen.

Here a clipping from The Bee-Hive, No. 190, June 3, 1865, is pasted into the Minute Book.

Citizen Cremer protested against the selection of Mr. Coningsby, as British Secretary to the Anglo-French Committee, as being calculated to alienate from the Committee the sympathies of British Democrats.

Citizen Fox observed that the three first names on the celebration committee, namely, Michael Chevalier, Emile Ollivier and Emile Girardin, were not in good standing with the French Republicans.

Citizens Odger and Howell held that Working-Class Exhibitions, both national and international, were being patronised by the wealthy classes at the present time, partly with the object of diverting the attention of the working classes from the nobler aim of the political enfranchisement of their class.

Citizen Marx recommended that the Council should concentrate its efforts upon promoting the success of the Working Men’s Congress to be held in Belgium this year.

On the motion of Citizen Cremer, seconded by Whitlock, [The words “seconded by Whitlock” are inserted in hand in the printed text] the following resolution was passed: “That our French secretary inform the Committee of this Association Paris Administration that Mr. Coningsby is the avowed enemy of the working classes of Great Britain, and, consequently, the common enemy of the working classes of Europe, he having proclaimed in the columns of the Times his hostility to the suffrage being extended to the bulk of his countrymen.” [The newspaper clipping ends here.]

A discussion took place as to the publication of the above resolution, but on the motion of Citizen Cremer, seconded by Citizen Shaw, it was decided by 11 votes to 4 to publish the resolution and an epitomised report of the proceedings.[96]

It was then agreed on the motion of Citizen Dell, seconded by Fox:

That the Address and Rules of the Association be printed in French, Italian and German leaving to the Sub-Committee the power to order the quantity they may deem necessary.

Eccarius proposed, Jung seconded; that Citizen Schily be requested to translate the Address and Rules into French. Carried unanimously.

The Secretary asked whether, as no reply had been received from Lefebvre, Citizen Le Lubez was to be notified that he was at liberty to take his seat on Central Council as representative of Greenwich branch.

It having been stated that some further difficulties might arise if Le Lubez came to the Central Council before the letter to Lefebvre was produced, Dell proposed, Worley seconded:

That the President and Citizen Kaub wait on Citizen Dupont in reference to the matter. Carried, 1 voting against.

Here a clipping from The Bee-Hive, No. 190, June 3, 1865, is pasted into the Minute Book.

Citizen Kaub, as a deputy from the German Working Men’s Mutual Improvement Association in London (Bildungs-Verein), stated that that body had been in the habit of commemorating, by a public meeting, the insurrection of the 24th June, 1848, when the working men of Paris were barbarously massacred by the soldiery in the service of the middle classes. The Bildungs-Verein, had hitherto received their chief support on this occasion from their own members and French Democrats in London. They intended to repeat the commemoration this year, in the usual manner, and hoped for a wider support than ever from Democrats of all nations. [The newspaper clipping ends here]

The Secretary introduced the subject of a journal to represent the Association and stated that Citizen Leon Lewis was about to bring out a journal.

A long discussion took place on the question ending in the following resolution and amendment.

The resolution proposed by Citizen Cremer, seconded by Worley: That a deputation of 3 be appointed to wait on Citizen Lewis.

Amendment by Dell, seconded by Lucraft: That Citizen Lewis be invited to attend the next sitting of the Central Council. Amendment carried.

The Council then adjourned to June 6th.

W. R. CREMER, Honorary General Secretary President [Unsigned]