International Working Men’s Association 1866

An Appeal from the British Members of the Central Council to their Fellow Working Men of the United Kingdom

Drawn up: by Cremer in January 1866;
Source: Minutes of the General Council of the International Workingmen’s Association, 1864-1886, Progress Publishers, 1964, printed according to the pamphlet;
Published: in The Workman’s Advocate, No 152, February 3, 1866;
Transcribed: for by Andy Blunden.

The appeal of the British members of the General Council to the workers of the United Kingdom in connection with the Geneva Congress was drawn up by Cremer on the instructions of the Standing Committee and approved by the Council on January 16, 1866. The appeal was published in The Workman’s Advocate, No. 152, February 3, 1866, and also put out as a separate leaflet.

Central Council, 18, Bouverie Street,
Fleet Street, London, E.C.


On the evening of the 28th of September, 1864, at a public meeting of the working men of London, held in St. Martin’s Hall, a deputation from the working men of Paris attended for the purpose of laying before the meeting the answer of the French workmen to an address which they had received from their English brethren. At that meeting a council was elected, charged with the high mission of forming an association which should unite in a bond of fraternal co-operation the working men of all countries. The Council’s first duty was to draw up and issue an address, explanatory of the objects contemplated by the founders of the association; also to frame a code of laws for its government; this was speedily done, since which time, the Council has been engaged in the work of propagandism, and already several English societies have subscribed to its principles, and joined the Association. In France, Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium, they have been still more successful, several thousands in those countries having been enrolled as members. In the month of September last, a conference of delegates representing the principal. branches of the Association, was held in London. At that conference, it was unanimously agreed to hold at Geneva in the month of May next, a congress of delegates from the branches of the Association in Europe, for the purpose of discussing the following questions:

1. Organisation of the Association. 2. Combination of the effort by means of the Association in the different national struggles between Capital and Labour. 3. Trades’ Unions — their past, present, and future. 4. Co-operative Labour. 5. Direct and Indirect Taxation. 6. Reduction of the Hours of Labour. 7. Female and Children’s Labour. 8. Standing Armies — their effects upon the interests of the productive classes. 9. That it is imperatively necessary to annihilate the influence of Russia in Europe by applying to Poland the right of every people to dispose of itself, and to re-establish that country upon its native democratic basis. 10. The religious idea: its relation to the social, political, and intellectual development of the people.

Our immediate object in appealing to you is to induce you to assist us in making that Congress thoroughly representative of the working men of Great Britain. This may be done in the following manner: — First by joining the Association* either as individual members, or where you belong to organised bodies, by joining in your corporate capacity. Secondly, by your discussing the great questions contained in the programme, and appointing a delegate to represent you at the Congress; or, where the latter is impracticable, by sending your views and instructions to the Central Council. Thirdly, by assisting with your contributions to defray the expenses necessarily attendant on assembling such a congress. Kings, Queens, princes, and statesmen, have had their congresses to discuss questions affecting the privileges of their orders, and why should not the toiling masses have theirs, and before the whole world discuss their grievances and proclaim ‘their remedies. Help us, then, in the noble enterprise, help us to bring about a common understanding between the peoples of all countries, so that in the struggles of labour with unprincipled capitalists they may not be able to execute the threat which they so often indulge in, of using the working men of one country as instruments to defeat the just demands of the workmen in another. This has been done in the past, and seeds of discord and national antipathies have been thereby created and perpetuated. A part of our mission is to prevent the recurrence of such evils, and you can help us to achieve our aims. You often vote money from your funds in the most liberal manner for the support of men on strike, help us then to initiate a movement which in its development and ultimate triumph will render strikes unnecessary.

Signed by the British members of the Central Council: Buckley, Carter, Cope, Coulson, Donatti, Dell, Gardner, Howell, Johnson, Longmaid, Le Lubez, Leno, Lucraft, Morgan, Nieass, Osborne, Shaw, Stainsby, Side, Shearman, Williams, Weston, Wheeler, Worley, Hales.

G. Odger, President of Central Council
W. Dell, Financial Secretary
G. W. Wheeler, Treasurer
W. R. Cremer, Hon. Gen. Secretary.

Contributions can be sent to the Financial Secretary, W. Dell, 18, Bouverie Street, Fleet Street; money orders payable to him at the Strand Post Office. Subscription sheets, Addresses, Rules, or any information will be gladly given on application to the Hon. Gen. Secretary at the above address. All subscriptions will be acknowledged in the Commonwealth.

* Trade, friendly, or any working men’s societies are invited to join in their corporate capacity, the only conditions being that the members subscribe to the principles of the Association, and pay for the declaration of their enrolment (which is varnished and mounted on canvas and roller), the sum of 5 s. No contributions are demanded from societies joining, it being left to their means and discretion to contribute or not, or as they may from time to time deem the efforts of the Association worthy of support. The Central Council will he pleased to send the Address and Rules to any society applying for them; and, if within the London district, deputations will gladly attend to afford any further information that may be required. Societies joining are entitled to send a representative to the Central Council. The amount of contribution for individual members is 1s. per annum, with 1d. for card of membership.