International Working Men’s Association

The Minute Book of the General Council
January 1866

(January 2) 1866

No heading. The minutes are in Fox’s hand on pp. 94-98 of the Minute Book.

President Odger in the chair.

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.

State Prisoners in Ireland[147]

Fox read from the Cork Daily Herald the appeal of Mrs. O'Donovan Rossa and Mrs. Clarke Luby to the women of Ireland for funds for the families of the state prisoners now or lately in Ireland and also evidence from the Dublin Irishman[148] that collections were being made for this purpose in the manufacturing towns of the North of England. He remarked on the liberty granted by the British Government to Irishwomen, who were allowed to proclaim themselves Fenians without being prosecuted. He finished by moving that the appeal be sent to the Workman’s Advocate by the Central Council with a request for its publication.[149]

This motion was seconded by Weston, who thought Ireland had been as much oppressed as any of the nations on the Continent with which Englishmen were want to sympathise and, although he was something of a moral force man, yet he was beginning to think that unless moral force had some physical force in the background, it was perfect weakness.” Motion carried unanimously.

Organ for French Switzerland

Fox gave a summary of the contents of the journal of the International Association for Romance Switzerland.[150]

Dell said that it reflected great credit on the working men of Geneva who had put up such a creditable performance in a small town and unaided by the middle class. Such facts were very encouraging.

He moved that “the Central Council, having read the first number of the said journal, express their high approbation of its character and contents and beg to accord to the conductors their best wishes for its permanent success.”

The above motion was seconded and carried unanimously.

Echo de Verviers and Proposed Constitution

Le Lubez laid upon the table two copies of the Echo de Verviers, one of which contained the conclusion of the attack on the Central Council mentioned in the minutes of the last meeting; the other contained a copy of the proposed constitution of the Association which would be submitted by the First [an error in the Minute Book. Should read: French] branch of the Association in London to the Central Council and possibly afterwards [the words “to the Central Council and possibly afterwards” were put down in the minutes when they were confirmed at the Council’s next meeting] to the Geneva Congress.[151] Le Lubez observed that he did not represent the First [French] branch in any official capacity, but he was a member of the same. The branch thought that anybody who came to the Congress with well-digested ideas and a cut and dried plan would have a great advantage over those who went there in a fog or like the foolish virgins of the parable, without oil in their lamps.

The constitution was then read by Fox in English but the translator excused himself from reading the second part of the attack as the first part was not then in the room.

Appeal for Funds to the British Democracy

Fox stated that the Standing Committee had met on Sunday afternoon and had considered his proposed appeal; that Cremer had then stated that he thought he could produce one which if not so well composed would tell better with the working classes and obtain more funds, that he would produce an appeal on Tuesday. Under those circumstances the Committee agreed to report both appeals to the Council, leaving the larger body to select the one best suited to the occasion. The Standing Committee also recommended the two following methods of agitating the working classes for the aforesaid object, viz.:

1. That subscription-sheets should be got up and distributed, in which it would be stated that all monies would be acknowledged in the Workman’s Advocate.

2. That whichever appeal be accepted it be circulated with the Address and Rules of the Association and in sufficient numbers to reach individual members of the societies. That as there were not sufficient numbers of the Address in print to meet this exigency, it would be necessary to ask the Directors of the Workman’s Advocate to reprint it in that journal and so bring out a new edition.

Fox and Cremer then read their respective appeals.

Jung demanded that the Council should first decide about the reprinting of the Address.

Howell moved and Jung seconded that the Directors be requested to reprint the Address of the Association. This motion was carried after discussion, with one dissentient.[152]

A general discussion then ensued on Cremer’s and Fox’s appeal.

Eventually Cremer’s[153] was preferred by a vote of 6 against 5 (one neutral).

It was then unanimously voted that Fox be requested to recast his appeal in the shape of a leader with certain suggested additions for publication in the Workman’s Advocate.[154]

Change of Location

Cremer reported that the room in 18, Bouverie St. was ready for the reception of the Council. He moved that we meet there next week.

The Chairman then went down to Mr. Corbett to see if he required a week’s notice. On his return he stated that Mr. Corbett did not require any notice.

Cremer’s motion was then carried and Fox was directed to call on Mr. Corbett during the ensuing week and bring the account to the next meeting of the Council.

Unsigned. Then comes text under the heading: “Conclusion of Minutes of Central Council on October 31, 1865.”

January 9, 1866

No heading. The minutes are in Fox’s hand on pp. 99-101 of the Minute Book.

President Odger in the chair.

Minutes read and, after an alteration demanded by Le Lubez, confirmed.

Proposal of Members

Jung proposed and Dupont seconded the preliminary nomination of Citizens Charles Longuet and Crespelle as members of the Central Council.


A letter from our correspondent at Condé-sur-Noireau was read complaining that through non-payment of postage his cards were stopped in the English post-office.


An extract was read from the Tribune du Peuple stating that the “Society of the People” and the Brussels section of the International Working Men’s Association had amalgamated, so that the Tribune had, in fact, become an organ of the Association.[155]

Vésinier’s Attack in the Echo de Verviers

Marx thought that the constitution published in the Echo de Verviers as emanating from the French branch in London ought to have been laid before the Council before publication. He then alluded to the attack which he said was written by Citizen Vésinier.[156]

Jung denounced the attack as an infamous one and exposed some of its misstatements. Such a manifesto ought to have been signed. He moved that Vésinier retract these falsities or be expelled from the Association.

Le Lubez admitted that Vésinier was the author of the. attack.

Marx took occasion to defend our Paris correspondents from the aspersions made upon them. They had left with the Council all their accounts and correspondence and had behaved in the most honourable manner.

Dupont thought the Council could not overlook the matter for sake of its own dignity. He seconded Jung’s motion.

Bobczynski said the Council must not condemn a man unheard. Let him be invited to explain his attack before proceeding to extremities.

Marx objected to the word “retractation.” Vésinier should be called upon to substantiate or to make his exit.

Le Lubez demands that the articles impeached be read in English.

Fox accordingly read both articles in French and English.

Odger stated that they were a tirade of abuse.

Weston was disposed to admit that Vésinier was justified in blaming the remissness of the Central Council in not having discussed a single social question. The Council had had too many irons in the fire. That was its best excuse.

Jung then withdrew his motion and Marx moved and Jung seconded that Vésinier be called upon to substantiate his accusation or, failing to do so, be expelled.

Le Lubez moved as an amendment that the subject be referred to a committee of three to conduct a correspondence with Vésinier. He objected to the harsh measure of expulsion. This amendment was not seconded.

The motion of Marx was carried with one dissentient and one neutral.

Polish Insurrection of January 22

Bobczynski stated that the Poles were intending to celebrate this event. He invited the co-operation of the Council.

The Council having previously resolved to celebrate this event,[157] the arrangements were referred to the Standing Committee.


Cremer stated that the appeal for funds which the Council had resolved to emit must be sent out by somebody. Anxious to forward this business, he would resume the secretaryship until after the Congress. As his resignation had never been accepted and as no one had manifested any disposition to accept the office, he presumed no further formality would be necessary.

The Council then adjourned.


Meeting of Central Council
January 16, 1866

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 101-02 of the Minute Book. The minutes of this meeting were also recorded by Marx he should receive an instalment and a definite answer. Carried unanimously.

Vice-President Eccarius in the chair.

The minutes of the former meeting read and confirmed.

Citizens Longuet and Crespelle were nominated members of the Central Council.

Marx communicated that Fox had received a letter from Mrs. O'Donovan Rossa thanking him for his articles on Fenianism in the Workman’s Advocate and the reprint in the same paper of the ladies’ appeal for the support of the convicted Fenians.[158]

Marx proposed the appointing of Longuet in his place as the corresponding secretary of Belgium. Seconded by Jung. Carried unanimously.

Jung read a letter of Mons. Dujonquoy, Hotel New York, requesting the payment of £7 17s. due to him since the September conference.

Jung proposed, Lessner seconded, that Dupont should be empowered to tell Dujonquoy that on Wednesday night

Jung read a letter from Talbot (Caen) enclosing one pound in payment for 20 cards. The letter stated that the propaganda is proceeding actively in different towns of the departments of Calvados, Orne and Manche.

Wheeler proposed, Jung seconded, that notice be given to every member of the Association in this country that failing to pay his contribution by the 13 February, his name will be struck out of the lists of members. Carried unanimously.

Werecki explained the absence of the Poles at the Standing Committee on Monday; they had a meeting and got the necessary money together.

After some discussion the public meeting in commemoration of the last Polish insurrection was settled for Monday, 22 January, in St. Martin’s Hall.[159]

Cremer read an appeal to the British members of the Association.

On the motion of Wheeler, seconded by Marx, it was unanimously agreed:

1st. That the appeal ought to appear with the signatures of such British members of the Central Council as took part in its proceedings and were sufficiently known to Cremer as men not likely to repudiate their names being used;

2nd. That subscription-sheets ought to be printed;

3rd. That the money sent was to be directed to 18, Bouverie St.

The Council then adjourned.


Meeting of the Central Council
January 23, 1866

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 103-04 of the Minute Book.

Odger in the chair.

The previous minutes read and confirmed.

The bill for the New York Hotel expenses was brought forward and discussed.

Dell agreed to advance two pounds towards paying an instalment which, with £1 10s. held by Wheeler, Cremer was ordered to pay.

Marx read a letter from the Leipsic correspondent Liebknecht. They had formed a small branch there; he also referred to a visit he had recently received from the editor of the Social-Demokrat. [160]

Marx also read letter from De Paepe explaining his long silence; he was sorry they had not increased in numbers; but they had now confederated with the “People” and had made the Tribune of the People their organ; they wished to exchange with the Workman’s Advocate.[161]

Dupont read letter from Neufchâteau, from correspondent there, Lefebvre.

Jung also read extract from [the] Forerunner [and from] another paper The Voice of the Future published in the French language in Chaux-de-Fonds [162]; in Basle they had also formed two branches of the Association and were expecting a number of branches to join in Germany. They had read in a French paper that in Paris they had made 1,000 adherents in last month.[163]

Cremer called attention to the fact that Coraz who had some time since sailed for New York had been entrusted with 400 cards of membership, but no returns had been received.

Dupont stated he expected soon to hear from “New York.”

Dell nominated John Hales a member of the Central Council.

Dell thought that instead of issuing fresh cards, if the contribution was entered on the back of last year’s card and signed by the Financial Secretary, that would be sufficient. Agreed to.

Weston thought the Central Council ought to begin to discuss the principles contained in the programme of the Congress.

Marx agreed but thought we ought first to decide the mode in which they ought to be discussed. He proposed: That the general purposes and ruling principles of the Association as laid down in the Address and Statutes be first defined before entering upon the discussion of the question proposed by the conference. Weston seconded.

Eccarius replied to Weston urging the necessity for political agitation now. They could not push two ways or they would succeed in neither. On the Continent they could not talk or write politics so they had nothing to interest them but social and religious questions. But here political agitation was a primary necessity.

The resolution was carried unanimously.

The Council then adjourned.

ROBERT SHAW, President

Meeting of Central Council
January 30

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 104-05 of the Minute Book.

Shaw in the chair.

The minutes of the former meeting were read and confirmed.

Cremer reported that he had paid Citizen Dujonquoy £3 10s. as a part of the Hotel bill owing him.

Dupont read a letter from Talbot of Caen.

Jung read a letter which he had drawn up in reply to Citizen Vésinier’s attack on the Association. Referred to Standing Committee.[164]

Cremer called attention to the fact that a meeting of London trades delegates were about to assemble to consider the question of boards of arbitration for the settlement of disputes between employers and employed. In the last session of parliament Lord St. Leonards had given notice of a bill for that purpose, and it was to consider the provisions of that bill that the meeting was about to assemble. In France there had been for years in active operation boards of arbitration and he thought if the Council were to appoint delegates to attend that meeting, that valuable information would be given to that meeting as to the working of the French councils.

Citizens Dupont and Jung were elected to attend the trades delegates’ meeting.[165]

The Council then adjourned.

R. SHAW, President pro tem.