Socialist Party of New York

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Socialist Party of New York
Senate leaderNone
House leaderNone
Founded1973
Headquarters339 Lafayette St., New York City, New York
IdeologyDemocratic socialism
National affiliationSocialist Party USA
ColorsRed
Website
[1]

The Socialist Party of New York is the name of two distinct, but historically related state affiliates of the American socialist movement located in New York state. Emerging from a July 1899 split in the Socialist Labor Party of America, the organization existed first as the Social Democratic Party of New York, retaining that name even after the founding of the Socialist Party of America (SPA) in the summer of 1901. A presence was maintained in the state as the Socialist Party of New York for the next seven decades.

The SPNY is currently the state chapter of the Socialist Party USA (SPUSA), an organization which emerged from the ashes of the old SPA in 1973.

Socialist Party of America and antecedents (1890s-1972)[edit]

Forerunners[edit]

The Socialist Labor Party of America (SLP) throughout its first fifteen years was primarily an organization of German immigrants. Organized in 1876, the party included sections from New York City and its environs from its date of origin.

By the decade of the 1890s the National Executive Committee of the SLP was based in New York, which was also the place of publication of the organization’s official organs, including the English-language weekly, The People, and the German-language Vorwärts (Forward).

A bitter dispute over trade union policy led to a split of the SLP in July 1899, with a dissident faction (disparagingly known as the “Kangaroos”) headed by lawyers Henry L. Slobodin and Morris Hillquit. Fighting for control of the National Executive Committee and losing, a majority of the party’s membership departed to launch a new organization — also confusingly known as the Socialist Labor Party and issuing an English-language weekly which made use of the same front page nameplate as that of its orthodox rivals.

1900 convention[edit]

On Saturday, June 16, 1900, a joint convention was held in New York City bringing together delegates from the dissident SLP and the Chicago SDP. A nine-member State Committee was elected that included, among others, German editor Herman Schlueter, Leonard D. Abbott, and future National Secretary of the Springfield SDP William Butscher.[1]

For a number of years after the formation of the Socialist Party of America in the summer of 1901, the New York state affiliate of that organization retained its prior name, the Social Democratic Party of New York, owing to provisions of New York election law that made a renaming of the party without loss of its ballot line problematic.[2] The party also retained the former ballot logo of the Social Democratic Party with headquarters in Springfield, an upraised arm bearing a torch.[3]

Growth[edit]

During its height in the 1910s, the party fielded candidates for the office of Mayor,[4] seats in the New York State Assembly and the House of Representatives.[5] In 1917, several anti-war organizations along with SPNY gathered to discuss the War in Europe.[6] When they nominated Morris Hillquit for Mayor, the party was afraid he along with other members faced imprisonment because of the party's anti-conscriptionist platform. During the national convention for the SPNY of 1917, the party decided to create a party bureau which would support socialist agitators who faced jail time or where sent behind bars.[7] During the national convention in 1918, they discussed the crisis in Russia and the election strategy for the gubernatorial election which was held later in 1918.[8]

In 1920, Samuel Orr, Louis Waldman, Charles Solomon, Samuel DeWitt, and August Claessens were called before the Speaker of the New York State Assembly. The five were charged with being unfit for membership in the Assembly through their membership in the Socialist Party of America and its state affiliate, and were suspended from their seats by a vote of 140 supporting to 6 against suspension.[9] A protracted political trial followed as to the fitness of the five Socialists to assume their seats, which ran throughout the winter and spring. The trial began on January 20, 1920.[10]

Socialist Party USA (1973-date)[edit]

The party is affiliated with the Socialist Party USA. It has a close relationship with the Green Party; as such, the Socialist Party almost never seeks ballot access, instead endorsing Green Party candidates.

At the SPA's 1972 National Convention, which was held in Manhattan,[11] the SPA changed its name to "Social Democrats, USA" by a vote of 73 to 34.[12] During the convention, the majority won every vote, by a ratio of two to one. The Convention elected a national committee of 33 members, with 22 seats for the majority caucus, 8 seats for the coalition caucus of Michael Harrington, 2 for the Debs caucus, and one for the "independent" Samuel H. Friedman.[13] Many former members of the Debs caucus joined David McReynolds in founding the Socialist Party of the United States of America in 1973.[citation needed]

After failing to renew their charter, the Socialist Party of New York City was revived in February 2017.[14] As of April 2017, there are 3 locals of the Socialist Party in New York State; the Capital Region, Central New York and New York City.[15]

Presidential nominee results[edit]

In 1956, Darlington Hoopes ran as the final nominee of the Socialist Party of America but was not on the New York ballot. In 1976, following a split in the Socialist Party, Socialist Party USA began running independent candidates with the Socialist Party label. However, no SPUSA presidential nominee has appeared on the ballot in New York.

Year Nominee Total Votes Percent Notes
1900 Eugene V. Debs 12,869 0.83% Social Democratic Party of America nominee
1904 Eugene V. Debs 36,883 2.28%
1908 Eugene V. Debs 38,451 2.35%
1912 Eugene V. Debs 63,434 3.99%
1916 Allan L. Benson 45,944 2.69%
1920 Eugene V. Debs 203,201 7.01%
1924 Robert M. La Follette Sr. 268,510 8.23% Dual endorsed Progressive Party nominee
1928 Norman Thomas 107,332 2.44%
1932 Norman Thomas 177,397 3.78%
1936 Norman Thomas 86,897 1.55%
1940 Norman Thomas 18,950 0.30%
1944 Norman Thomas 10,553 0.17%
1948 Norman Thomas 40,879 0.66%
1952 Darlington Hoopes 2,664 0.04%

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ ”Two Years’ History of the SDP of New York,” ‘’The Worker’’ [New York], vol. 12, no. 16 (July 20, 1902), p. 1.
  2. ^ "Warning to New Readers,"] The Worker [New York], vol. 13, no. 31 (Nov. 1, 1903), p. 4.
  3. ^ "SDP Ticket In New York: The Party's Emblem," The Worker [New York], vol. 13, no. 31 (Nov. 1, 1903), p. 4.
  4. ^ "Socialists Fling at all the Parties" (PDF). The New York Times. October 13, 1913. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  5. ^ "Sulzer Appeal Under Way?" (PDF). The New York Times. October 26, 1913. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  6. ^ "Pacifist Demand War Referendum" (PDF). The New York Times. February 5, 1917. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  7. ^ "Socialist Expect Trouble for Ticket". The New York Times. July 9, 1917. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  8. ^ "Socialist Count on Anti-War Voters" (PDF). The New York Times. June 30, 1918. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  9. ^ Journal of the Assembly of the State of New York, Volum 4. University of Michigan. 1920. pp. 33–55. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  10. ^ Waldman, Louis (1920). Albany: The Crisis in Government. Boni & Liveright, New York. p. 50. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  11. ^ Anonymous (27 December 1972). "Young Socialists open parley; to weigh 'New Politics' split". New York Times. p. 25.
  12. ^ The New York Times reported on the 1972 Convention on other days, e.g.,
  13. ^ Anonymous (1 January 1973). "'Firmness' urged on Communists: Social Democrats reach end of U.S. Convention here". New York Times. p. 11.
  14. ^ "Socialist Party USA on Twitter: "This evening, the @SPofUSA National Action Committee voted to officially charter the Socialist Party's New York City local! #NYC"". Twitter. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  15. ^ "States & Locals - Socialist Party USA". Retrieved 1 April 2017.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]