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LOCAL CLEVELAND

LOCAL CLEVELAND, a branch of the Socialist Party of America, supported the collective ownership of industry, the solidarity of worker interests, and their right to demand better working conditions through union action. Organized shortly after the national Socialist Party was formed in 1901, Local Cleveland claimed 342 members by 1909. In 1911 the party outlined its labor objectives in a proposed constitution for the State of Ohio, which included workers' right to strike and to use boycotts to further their aims and opposition to the use of police and court injunctions as antistrike tactics. The party reached its zenith in 1917 when membership approached 3,000 and party secretary, CHAS. RUTHENBERG, received almost one-third of the 100,000 votes cast in Cleveland's mayoral election.

Local Cleveland's downfall was rapid, however. When we entered World War I, and the nation rallied to the American cause, the party's antiwar stand caused it to be branded as disloyal. On 27 May 1917, Ruthenberg, speaking before a large crowd on PUBLIC SQUARE, attacked the government and its involvement in the war and called for a general strike. As a result of the speech, he was arrested and imprisoned in the Stark County jail. That, and his subsequent move to the Communist party, further damaged Local Cleveland's credibility. Isolated from the mainstream by its outspoken pacifism, the local socialist party withered into a minor, ineffectual body by the end of World War I.


The Socialist News, ed. Chas. Ruthenberg (1917).