The AMERICAN SOCIALIST CONFERENCE was held in Cleveland 28-30 Nov. 1958 to study and discuss the need for socialism in America. One hundred and forty independent socialists and members from various labor unions and universities convened at the Tudor Arms Hotel under chairman Eric J. Reinthaler of Willowick, OH. Although the Socialist and Socialist Labor parties declined to participate in or endorse the conference, several individuals claiming membership in these organizations and in the COMMUNIST PARTY were in attendance. As a result, the session was put under surveillance by the Cleveland antisubversive squad.
Although speakers at the conference discussed a wide range of issues, civil rights and the need for independent political action on the part of labor emerged as the major concerns. Clevelander RICHARD TUSSEY of the MECHANICS EDUCATIONAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA called for the formation of a labor party to help elect candidates pledged to the interests of workers. Conference participants believed that such minority parties were discriminated against by state electoral laws which also prevented socialist programs from appearing on the presidential ticket in many states, including Ohio. They agreed to endorse a change in the laws, and most also agreed that labor union support was essential in advancing socialism in America. The conference adjourned, intending to conduct further discussions among the participants on issues of socialist action.
Proceedings of the National Conference of American Socialists, Cleveland, Ohio, 28-30 Nov. 1958, WRHS.