Socialist Party of America

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The Socialist Party of America began in 1904 with the merger of the Social Democratic Party and the Social Labor Party. The party contained both moderate and radical socialists. At it's peak in 1912, there were 118,000 members. It was dissolved after the 1976 presidential election.


Throughout its existence, the party had very little party unity. Its members' political stances took wide ranges of views from small social reform to Marxist Utopianism. It's most prominent candidate (and founder), Eugene Debs, ran for president in 1904, 1908, and 1912. In 1912 he received 897,011 votes.[1] He ran on the notion of a "Cooperative Commonwealth." The constitution of the party can be found here[2]

The party never received much national support. At its height, it held only a few mayoral positions and some chairs in city legislatures.

During the first world war, the party aggressively opposed America's entrance into the war. They claimed that the cause of the war was the "imperialist competitive society." Through these actions, the party lost much of the support of the American public. They held protests for the war and were imprisoned under the newly-sanctioned Espionage Act.

Downfall and Dissolution

Due to the varied political views of members of the party, there was a schism during the Russian Revolution. The right-wing members condemned the Revolution, and expelled over 20,000 members who were sympathetic with Russia. Because of the so-called "Red Scare," many Americans stopped subscribing to the left-wing socialist newsletters.

After FDR's New Deal legislation was enacted, the leaders of the Socialist Party called for many of its members to vote for the Democrats. Between this and the rising tide of McCarthyism, the Party's membership dropped to 2,000.


A minority faction of the Socialist Party of America, Socialist Party USA, came into being in 1973. They have yet to achieve any seats in federal government.

See Also

Socialism Communism Karl Marx

External Links

Notes and References

  1. Spartacus: Socialist Party of America
  2. I think one can draw his own conclusions.