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AU-American
ANARCHIST
JOSEPH A. LABADIE
and the Labor Movement
Carlotta R. Anderson


★ ★ ★
All-American
ANARCHIST


Debonair and carefully attired, Labadie belied the stereotype of an anarchist.
(Author’s photo.)


All-American
ANARCHIST
Joseph A. Labadie
and the Labor Movement
Carlotta R. Anderson
Wayne State University Press Detroit


Great Lakes Books
Philip P. Mason
Editor
Department of History, Wayne State University
Dr. Charles K. Hyde
Associate Editor
Department of History, Wayne State University
Copyright© 1998 by Wayne State University Press, Detroit, Michigan 48201.
All material in this work, except as identified below, is licensed under a Creative
Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States License. To view a copy
of this license, visit https://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/.
All material not licensed under a Creative Commons license is all rights reserved.
Permission must be obtained from the copyright owner to use this material.
^0 Humanities
MELLON
The publication of this volume in a freely accessible digital format has been made
possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the
Mellon Foundation through their Humanities Open Book Program.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Anderson, CarlottaR., 1929-
All-American anarchist: Joseph A. Labadie and the labor movement/
Carlotta R. Anderson.
p. cm. — (Great Lakes books)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-8143-4326-5 (alk. paper); 978-0-8143-4327-2 (ebook)
1. Labadie, Jo, 1850-1933. 2. Anarchists—United States—
Biography. 3. Labor movement—Michigan—History. I. Title.
II. Series.
HX843.7.L33A53 1998
335'.83'092-dc21
[B] 97-42353
Cover photo: Jo Labadie, 1905. (Author’s photo.)
WayneStateUniversity Press thanksthe following institutions for their generous permission
to reprint material in this book: Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations at The New
York Public Library; Catholic University of America Department of Archives and
Manuscripts; Houghton Library at Harvard University; University of Michigan Library
(Joseph A. Labadie Collection); and The Wisconsin Historical Society.
http://wsupress.wayne.edu/


To the memory of my mother,
Charlotte Antoinette Labadie Hauser,
who adored her father
and inherited the gentle part of his nature.
★ ★ ★



7
Contents
★ ★ ★
Acknowledgments 9
Preface 11
1. A Knighthood Flowers 15
2. A Backwoods Boyhood 27
3. Passionate Stirrings 35
4. Waving the Red Flag 47
5. Strange Bedfellows 57
6. Toward One Big Union 71
7. Epiphany 89
8. Tempestuous Times 103
9. A Bomb Is Thrown 119
10. Open Warfare 133
11. The Showdown 145


Contents
12. Working with Gompers 159
13. Pet Radical 173
14. A Humbling Job 187
15. Jabs from Right and Left 199
16. A Millionaire Patron 211
17. A Pack Rat’s Hoard 227
18. Looking Back on It All 237
Epilogue: The Flame Is Passed 249
Afterword: The Labadie Collection Today
by Edward C. Weber, Curator 255
Notes 259
Bibliography 299
Index 311


9
Acknowledgments
The genesis of this book came from Edward C. Weber, curator of the Laba
die Collection which I first visited in 1984 when my daughter was a stu
dent at the University of Michigan. He suggested I write the biography of
my grandfather after reading an article of mine about grand juries. In the
years since, he has been an unfailing source of encouragement and assis
tance as well as a personal friend. I am also indebted to librarians Kathryn
Beam, Julie Herrada, and Anne Okey of the University's Special Collec
tions Library for their painstaking professional help in locating and obtain
ing source materials for me. Dione Miles, former reference librarian in the
Walter P. Reuther Library of Wayne State University, extended her friend
ship along with archival assistance. Many other librarians have been most
helpful.
It was particularly gratifying to me to receive the support of Paul
Avrich throughout the long process of completing the book. He read por
tions of the manuscript and was always confident that I would finish it and
that it would be published. Other scholars who encouraged me, made useful
suggestions, pointed me to relevant sources, or gave me articles or man
uscripts include Prank Brooks, Randall Donaldson, Sidney Pine, the late
Herbert G. Gutman, the late Stuart B. Kaufman, Leonard Liggio, and Rich
ard Jules Oestreicher. James J. Martin, one of Laurance Labadie's few close
friends, also offered assistance in the disposition of the books and literary
effects of Jo and Laurance remaining in the latter's possession at his death
in 1975.
I would like to thank Mark A. Sullivan, a young man who admired
and befriended Laurance in his last lonely years. It was he, assisted by Sha
ron Presley, who knowledgeably sorted through the daunting mass of mate
rials Laurance had stashed away, shipping most to the Labadie Collection
but saving for me Jo Labadie's scrapbooks, his personal account book, and


10
Acknowledgments
hundred of photographs, all enormously valuable in researching this book.
He also gave me useful counsel and insights into anarchist philosophy.
I had the benefit of extensive research, genealogical and otherwise,
undertaken by Larry Emery, the grandson of Jo's brother, Oliver, as well as
Brother Albert Labadie, editor of Labadie's Family Newsletter. I received
newspaper clippings, photographs, and recollections from distant relatives
Emmett, Austin, and Elizabeth Labadie, and from Siphra Rolland.
I owe immense gratitude to my husband, Jim, daughter, Julia, and
dear friend George Shennan—editors and journalists all—who spent many
hours reading the entire manuscript, giving me invaluable advice. My sons,
Chris and Eric, affectionately prodded and encouraged me as the years
passed, and I appreciate it.


11
Preface
Some lives are notable because they changed the course of the world. Oth
ers played a more subtle role in the movements they helped inspire and
form. Reading about these figures, we experience the events of the past in
fuller detail and can often identify more vividly than with the stories of the
great heroes and villains. Such a man was Joseph A. Labadie.
A Michigan anarchist and labor leader, Labadie (pronounced La-ba-
die and known as “Jo” most of his adult life) was neither hero nor villain,
but he had his day on the stage during one of the most turbulent and forma
tive periods of American society. When he was bom in the village of Paw
Paw in 1850, the nation was wrenching itself from a rural, craft-oriented
economy to one that was increasingly mechanized and depersonalized.
As he came to maturity, revolutionary fervor stirred the world's impover
ished workers as they watched the new capitalists flaunt gilded lives. Emile
Zola described the tune and the new social forces being bom: “Men were
springing up, a black avenging host was slowly germinating in the furrows,
thrusting upwards for the harvests of the future ages. And very soon their
germination would crack the earth asunder.” 1
Jo Labadie, a bom rebel, was one of the country's most zealous in
leading the fight for workers' rights and social justice. By the late nineteenth
century, he had become Michigan's most influential labor agitator. Through
him, the underdogs began to snarl back with a vengeance. Labor was frag
mented and at the mercy of employers. Many labor leaders and workers
were determined to seek power through solidarity. Labadie iimnersed
himself in countless efforts to revolutionize society. As one memorialist
quipped, “Jo was a man who could see something good in every movement
that was opposed to the present system.” 2
He was a crusader for the Socialist Labor party, the Knights of Labor,
the Greenback party, the American Federation of Labor, the single-tax


12
Preface
movement, land refonn, and the eight-hour movement. Above all, for fifty
years he promoted his brand of non-violent anarchism in pursuit of liberat
ing the individual. After embracing this libertarian philosophy, so endemic
to America, he campaigned against protectionism, customs, patent and
copyright laws; labor bureaus and labor legislation; compulsory taxation,
arbitration, and schooling; and, indeed, anything he believed limited per
sonal liberty. He was convinced that it would all work out if “Uncle Sam”
would get out of the way. 3
Like many refonners and idealists of the 1880s, Labadie was pas
sionately devoted to the Knights of Labor, seeing in its “great brotherhood”
the future emancipation of the wage earner. After it disintegrated in a mess
of intrigue, denunciations, and factionalism, he was heartbroken and never
dedicated himself with equivalent ardor to another labor body.
Until his death in 1933 at age eighty-three, Labadie prolifically wrote,
edited, and published for the radical and daily press; was a popular speaker
at demonstrations, meetings, rallies, and forums; and maintained a lively
and often contentious correspondence with such figures as Eimna Gold
man, Eugene V. Debs, Samuel Gompers, Albert and Lucy Parsons, Benja
min Tucker, Joseph Buchanan, Alexander Berkman, Terence Powderly, and
Henry George.
Frustrated in many of his efforts for social and economic refonn,
Labadie in middle age turned to verse, from revolutionary paeans to tender
love poems. Lines selected from them introduce each chapter of this book.
It was said that not to know Labadie was not to know Detroit. Flam
boyant, outspoken, and picturesque, he was both a dissident and a town char
acter. His pen was often barbed, but in person he was reckoned kind, amiable,
and witty. Especially noteworthy was his ability to quiet the alarm that the
word anarchism generally evoked. Such was his personal charm, that even in
the months after the Haymarket bombing in Chicago sent other cities into a
paroxysm of terror of its alleged anarchist perpetrators, Detroiters remained
cahn and continued to cherish their “Gentle Anarchist.” For a lifetime, Laba
die patiently laid out the evolutionary tenets of his American species of
anarchism to church groups, businessmen's clubs, a stream of reporters, and
anyone who would listen, with the result that Detroit probably had a greater
percentage of people who understood its essence than anywhere since.
Labadie's biography can be written in vivid detail, as those of most of
his worthy comrades cannot, because of the wealth of material he and his
wife saved. The conviction that he was engaged in events likely to transform
the social and economic system imbued him with an acute sense of history.


Preface
13
He was also an irrepressible pack rat, and something of a sentimentalist as
well. The ideas and ideals of so many other fighters in humanity's cause,
their struggles, triumphs, and tragedies, can no longer be recaptured. Only
the bare facts remain; the personal element is lost. Labadie's endures.
The story of his life, deeds, and thoughts is abundantly revealed
through the treasure trove of letters, periodicals, clippings, manuscripts,
booklets, photos, and circulars once stored in his attic, and now housed
in the Labadie Collection of the University of Michigan. His stockpile of
documents of social protest has proved a boon to scholars, enabling them to
study the early labor movement in detail and draw on rich source materials
representing a multitude of radical causes.
After several years of research, it was clear to me that Jo Labadie
was not a saint, but a tireless, and sometimes tiresome, crusader. Once he
adopted the doctrine of anarchism, he promulgated it with the fervor of a
religious zealot. He did not advocate violence, but could delight in punctur
ing an opponent with a stiletto of words. Like Mark Twain, he affected to
be a simple rube when it suited him, although he was a genuine intellectual,
despite a lack of schooling. He had a poetic soul, but (as he himself admit
ted) wrote a lot of “bum” verse, although in the best of it one critic discerned
“the sweep of Whitman, the tang of Sandburg.” 4 Sometimes he was vain and
full of himself; sometimes a bit obsequious to his benefactors.
There is, however, no denying that he devoted a lifetime to fighting
for human rights without regard for power or personal gain. Suimning him
self up five years before his death, Labadie wrote: “I'm a kicker from Kick-
ville, and so long as I have the physical and intellectual strength,... I shall
kick, and kick like hell.” 5
Before I visited the Labadie Collection the first tune, I had heard a
great deal about Jo Labadie from my mother, his daughter. She never tired
of speaking of him, almost with reverence. My uncle, Laurance Labadie,
also an anarchist, said his father was the only person he ever met who was
lovable all his life. Although I had not known my grandfather, I began an
examination of his life with something less than scholarly dispassion.
I am not a professional historian; my background is in journalism.
During more than a decade working on this book, I was able to draw not
only on the vast holdings of the Labadie Collection and the archives of many
other special collections, but also many of Labadie's scrapbooks, letters and
other papers bequeathed to me by Laurance Labadie. I have turned over to
the Labadie Collection copies of all materials cited in the book. If the relative
ignorance in which I began my research has any benefit, it might be an ability


14
Preface
to lead the non-specialist through the convoluted labyrinth of causes Laba
die made his own with less bafflement than I felt on first encountering them.
My intention has been to bring Jo Labadie and his tune and place
to life in a way that will be of interest to the general reader as well as the
scholar. I hope I have carried out the wish of Agnes Inglis, first curator of
the Labadie Collection, who imagined that one day someone would write
the story of “Old Joe . . . who had the Dream and was the poet and the
anarchist—to the last!’’ 6 and that it would illuminate for the reader the great
movements in which he participated.


15
A Kmgh*£2
flowers
Men of Labor, men of mettle.
Let no person govern you!
For his crimes make Mammon settle!
Block the bandit! Dare and do!
—from "Dare and Do,” Songs of the Spoiled
Un a Sunday in early October 1878, Joseph Labadie, a newly
married young printer and socialist, strode down Detroit's wide avenues on
his way to a portentous meeting in the old Market Hall. Charles Litchman,
the Grand Scribe of the Knights of St. Crispin, a once-prominent national
shoemakers union, was going to speak. It was whispered that Litchman
was recruiting for a new, secret labor organization of a type never before
attempted.
This was to be a grand and noble enterprise, as workshop rumors
had it, that would welcome all the nation's workers—skilled as well as
unskilled—of every race, creed, and nationality, into one big brotherhood
of toil. It was said that the mission of this underground society, known to
non-members only by the insignia of five stars (written *****), W as to
end poverty and wage slavery throughout the world, to right all economic
wrongs, and to achieve “the greatest good to the greatest number.’’ A great
defensive army of labor would be created, mobilized for mutual protection.
Its motto: “An injury to one is the concern of all.’’ 1
The twenty-eight-year-old Labadie was inflamed by these high-prin
cipled goals. Along with millions of the country's workers, he had struggled
and suffered through the last five years of depression, an economic down
turn unequaled in the young industrial history of America. Near-starvation
and misery had haunted working people across the country. “The men asked


16
All-American Anarchist
for work and found it not, and children cried for bread,” wrote George E.
McNeill. 2 Although Labadie had lived among the Indians in the Michigan
woods until the age of fourteen, he spent those depression years in Detroit,
where he found thousands on relief and the county poorhouse filled with
the destitute.
The distress filled him with moral indignation. He was convinced it
was wrong for the underdog to suffer so, while the new capitalists flaunted
huge accumulations of wealth. It was wrong that the privileged few should
feed off the toil of the working people. As he wrote later, he was stirred by
“the abuse and insults heaped upon the workers by brutal employers and
bosses”; he sometimes wished for the “total annihilation by any and every
means at our command” of the ruling class. He predicted a “terrible conflict
that is surely coming.” 3
The workers he passed on their day off he viewed as “industrial
slaves.” No longer proud and independent artisans in their own shops, they
toiled in factories, at the mercy of employers who might dismiss them on a
whim, especially for attempting to unionize. They had much to avenge, and,
perhaps, a new day was dawning.
Labadie was on his way to what became one of the three great pas
sions dominating his life. Lor the next decade, he threw himself into the
fight for labor power and solidarity represented by the Knights of Labor,
soon to develop into the mightiest labor organization the nation had yet
seen. Simultaneously, he channeled his prodigious energies into promot
ing an idealized vision of anarchistic society, which became his religion of
sorts. And, in the background, glowed his abiding love for his wife, Sophie.
His first passion expired bitterly in a few years, a loss to which he was never
reconciled. The remaining two endured a lifetime.
As Labadie walked along the riverfront that Sunday in 1878, he could
not help but see that times were getting better, at least temporarily. The
depression was ending and the city was coming alive again. Mills and fac
tories sprouted up along the Detroit River. The beautiful avenues, cooled by
great shade trees, reached outward and the skyline thrust upward. A majes
tic procession of ships carrying lumber, grain, coal, and ore steamed past.
Immigrants, chatting in German or Polish, or with an Irish brogue, streamed
in for factory jobs in the reviving industries. Two daily newspapers kept
Detroit abreast of world affairs: Afghan regiments advanced on British
troops near the Khyber Pass; Bismarck pushed his anti-socialist bill through
the German Reichstag; ex-President Grant watched the Dutch trotting races
in Paris; and America's South battled a yellow fever epidemic. In Detroit,


A Knighthood Flowers
17
the papers reported a continuing problem: alcohol-related violence. There
had been two murders “caused by liquor” that weekend. One was in a cigar
factory, where a drunken cigannaker threw a heavy wooden cigar mold at
a fellow worker. 4
All sorts of modem inventions arrived in a city considered one of the
loveliest in the country. In the Telegraph Building at Congress and Gris
wold streets, a tiny telephone exchange had just been installed, enabling
more than a hundred Detroiters to call each other. Thomas Edison's new
phonograph had been on exhibit in Detroit that suimner. At night, the city
was still illuminated by gaslights but their end was near. As he approached
the Market Hall, Labadie faced the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, where,
only a few years before, Detroit's first electric light had feebly illuminated
the middle altar. 5
Dodging the horse-drawn buggies, Labadie approached the Campus
Martius and Cadillac Square. He walked across rows of flagstones worn
smooth by the traffic of many feet toward the Market Hall, where the day
before fanners and city folk had engaged in their weekly haggling over
wares. He found a large number of workingmen—mostly shoemakers—
eager to hear Grand Scribe Litchman, the proselytizing labor leader. Con
sidered “a big gun,” he had spoken the previous evening at St. Andrew's
Hall on “Labor and Linance.” Today's group was uneasy. A number of
“roughs” nearby seemed threatening. Were they company thugs? Police
spies? Agents provocateurs? Litchman decided it was best for his audience
to disperse, but invited Labadie and a few others he trusted to accompany
him to his temporary quarters in the house of Otis C. Hodgdon. Hodgdon,
a shoemaker, lived on Third Street, north of Grand River. 6 In his parlor,
Litchman tried to size up the men before him. Were they the right ones to
organize a branch of the secret labor brotherhood in Detroit?
Litchman was an impressive man of twenty-nine, well liked and
famed for his eloquence. Lavoring a large drooping mustache and pince-
nez, he did not look a wage earner, nor was he. He began work as shoe
salesman for his father's business in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Later, he
and his brother established their own shoe factory. He had hoped to become
a lawyer, a goal shattered when the shoe business failed in the depression.
With no income, he was forced to give up his legal studies.
Reduced temporarily to shoemaking again, the enterprising Litch
man did not remain long with the shoemaker's welts and lasts. He turned
to union organizing. He soon became a ranking official in the Knights of
St. Crispin, a secret shoemakers' society that in the early 1870s was the


18
All-American Anarchist
largest and strongest trade union in the United States. A few months before
he visited Detroit for the secret ***** society, he had been named its grand
secretary, the second highest office. Soon afterward, he also was elected to
the Massachusetts state legislature on the Greenback-Labor ticket. 7
Labadie found Litchman a compelling and persuasive leader. He had
heard Litchman's speech the previous evening and agreed with its “Social
istic wisdom.’’ Known as the “silver-tongued orator of the labor movement,’’
Litchman had spoken of the curse of labor-saving machinery, of the neces
sity for laborers to own the machines themselves, and of producers' coop
eratives as the only remedy for the nefarious wage system. 8 Labadie, the
Greenback party's mayoral candidate for the upcoming city election, was
also in sympathy with Litchman's work for the Greenback currency refonn
movement. But at that moment Labadie was excited by an aspiration that
none of the other causes he worked for—socialism, Greenbackism, or the
printers' union—offered: one big workingmen's union.
In evaluating Labadie at Hodgdon's quarters, Litchman found a well-
read and well-infonned man, attributes frequently found in printers. Of
French and Native American heritage, Labadie was carefully dressed and
groomed. Somewhat short in stature, but bearing himself regally, he had
luxuriant black, wavy hair atop a big head, with penetrating blue eyes. His
handsome face was punctuated by a handlebar mustache and goatee. Usu
ally in a genial mood, he had “a smile that beamed upon you.’’ But when
angered, “his eyes glinted and you saw the unquenchable spirit of the Indian
in him,’’ remarked a close associate. 9 Labadie was highly respected in the
local printers' union. The year before, he was one of the first two Ameri-
can-bom workers to join the Socialist Labor party in Detroit. Coupled with
a reformer's passion was a gregarious, convivial personality that could help
win converts.
In selecting candidates for the newly bom ***** Litchman had
three initial questions: “Do you believe in God, the Creator and Universal
Father of all?’’ “Do you obey the Universal Ordinance of God, in gaining
your bread by the sweat of your brow?’’ “Are you willing to take a solemn
vow binding you to secrecy, obedience, and mutual assistance?’’ 10 We do
not know how Labadie, a budding agnostic, reconciled these theological
requirements with his own beliefs.
Litchman picked Labadie, shoemaker Hodgdon, and a man named
Miller to initiate on the spot. 11 Of the three, Labadie was destined to become
the most important Michigan labor leader of his day; Hodgdon served as a
good soldier and Miller sank into oblivion. Litchman motioned them into


A Knighthood Flowers
19
Hodgdon's bedroom and revealed the secrets of the organization they were
about to join: the Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor. He out
lined its objectives: The Order, as it was commonly called, did not desire
to destroy the capitalists, but to prevent “the pauperization and hopeless
degradation of the toiling masses” and to secure for them “a proper share
of the wealth that they create.” Capital had its “combinations” (monopolies
or trusts) that “crush the manly hopes of labor and trample poor humanity
in the dust.” To counteract them and gain collective power, laborers needed
to band together into a “universal brotherhood.” Solidarity was the key. 12
The three were sworn to silence until death. Labadie took the oath that
he would “never reveal by word, act or implication ... the name or object of
this Order, the name or person of anyone a member thereof, its signs, mys
teries, arts, privileges or benefits ... any words spoken, acts done or objects
intended; except in a legal and authorized manner, or by special permission
of the Order granted to me.” 13
Then came a part of the initiation Litchman was particularly fond of:
an explanation of the secret handgrips, signs, symbols, and passwords. Like
many of the Knights, Litchman was a Mason and delighted in the mysteri
ous rituals that imitated Masonic ceremonies, thought to have passed down
from medieval stonemasons' guilds. A man enamored of fraternal organi
zations, he also claimed membership in the Great Council of the United
States hnproved Order of Red Men, the Grand Encampment of Massachu
setts I.O.O.F. (International Order of Odd Fellows), the Royal Arcanum, the
American Legion of Honor, and the Order of the Golden Cross.
There was the identifying Grip, given when shaking hands: “The
thumb to be placed over the fingers immediately back of the knuckles. Give
one heavy pressure with the thumb, and, if returned, answer with two light
pressures in quick succession without removing the hand.” Or the Sign of
Caution, involving an intricately closed hand placed under the chin. Or the
Cry of Distress (to be used in the dark): “I am a stranger.” Any member of
the Order present was to answer: “A stranger should be assisted.” 14
The arcana of the ritual represented more than a pleasure in the
trappings of fraternal orders. It served also as a protective device. Some
employers were so terrified at the prospect of workers uniting that they fired
or blacklisted union members. Rumors were rife that ***** was plotting
revolt and terrorism. Detective and strike-breaker Allan Pinkerton once
called the Knights “probably an amalgamation of the Molly Maguires [a
secret miners' organization accused of violent acts in the mid 1870s] and
the Paris Commune.” 15


20
All-American Anarchist
Labadie was chosen leader of the three initiates and given the respon
sibility of organizing the first cell of the Knights of Labor in Detroit. On
November 18,1878, he received a commission authorizing him “to go forth,
to Cover and Instruct our Fellow Men, wherever found worthy and fitting of
FELLOWSHIP” and organize them into assemblies (local unions). It was
signed by Grand Master Workman Uriah S. Stephens, who, with a small
group of garment cutters, had founded the Noble and Holy Order of the
Knights of Labor in Philadelphia nine years earlier. 16
Labadie began circulating the word surreptitiously. He worked hard to
entice a group of like-minded men into what was grandly called the Wash
ington Literary Society. This camouflaged name for Detroit's Local Assem
bly 901 (L.A. 901, also referred to as Pioneer Assembly 901, or PA. 901
because it was the first in Michigan) was intended to shield members of the
Knights of Labor from a suspicious public. As its number suggests, there
were by then nine hundred other local assemblies representing around ten
thousand members in the East and Middle West, and the total was nearly
doubling annually. 17
On Sunday evening, December 1, more than a dozen recruits for the
“Washington Literary Society” had their first meeting in Detroit. Labadie
had already been selected as master workman (chairman). He had persuaded
the perpetually obliging cigannaker and socialist Thomas M. Dolan, one of
the old guard of the Detroit labor movement, to act as Recording Secretary.
To this bearded, English-born Civil War volunteer, who proudly wore
a Grand Army of the Republic button in his coat, forming unions was old
hat. On a tiny lined notebook less than six inches high, Dolan jotted down
the minutes in a clear hand. He recorded the group's decision to meet every
other Monday at Forester's Hall, 218 Randolph Street. “Brother Walters”
was given twenty-five cents to advertise the assembly's next meeting in the
Detroit Evening News under its Literary Society alias. This was a departure
from the romantic practice of convening Knights' meetings by chalking
mysterious symbols on sidewalks, fences, and buildings. Dolan collected
total contributions of $1.25, representing the approximate cost of lunch for
all those present. 18
Within a month, Litchman had sent the charter to Detroit and new
members were taking their places. With a hfty-cent initiation fee and fifteen
cents monthly dues, the treasury reached $10. Hodgdon had been elected
Ahnoner (relief officer) of the “Lodge.” The Inspector, Outside Esquire,
Inside Esquire, and Unknown Knight had also been chosen. As Statistician,


A Knighthood Flowers
21
Labadie's lifelong friend Judson Grenell, a fellow socialist and printers'
union member, took on the grand project of compiling a report on the status
of all the trades in the country. He planned to request questionnaire forms
from the Massachusetts Bureau of Labor Statistics, the first such bureau
established.
Labadie was already “squawking” about the “excessive rigamarole”
involved in the mystical ritual and had written Grand Secretary Litchman
(who relished it), asking if it could be cut down. He scorned the secrecy as
“more childish than manly.” As for the elaborate ceremony, which evoked
images of medieval chivalric pageantry, he thought it represented “the hab
its and the fears and the ignorance of our barbaric ancestors.” 19
By the middle of February, Master Workman Labadie had reluctantly
fulfilled his obligation to instruct twenty-one new members in all the rituals
as laid out in the Adelphon Kruptos (secret brotherhood), a booklet of secret
instructions that were to be committed to memory. It was full of talk of the
“venerable sage,” the “sanctuary” (where the Bible was kept), “inner and
outer veils,” and the “circle of harmony,” and even contained sections in
ciphers using words like CPONXEL and IHAWH, sometimes with letters
made up or printed upside down. Its scriptural passages and references to
“The King of glory” and “The Lord of hosts” reflected the strong religious
sentiments of founder Uriah S. Stephens, who had been educated for the
Baptist ministry. 20
When candidates were prepared for initiation, a mysterious figure,
the Unknown Knight would appear before them, his face concealed behind
a mask and slouch hat, his form concealed in a black cloak. His identity
remained a secret until after the ceremony; members were to be known by
number, not name. “Mystery was the order of the day,” recalled one Detroit
Knight. “I never saw a candidate that knew what it was all about.” 21
As for the organization's program, it was humanitarian and high-
minded, but murky as to methods. Labadie's job included reading to the
initiates the preamble and declaration of principles. These documents set
forth an audacious mission: securing for the laborer “the fruits of his toil,”
making “industrial [productive], moral worth, not wealth, the true standard
of individual and national greatness.” They called for the establishment of
cooperative institutions; public lands for the actual settler (“Not another acre
for railroads or corporations”); the end to all laws “that do not bear equally
upon capital and labor”; an eight-hour day; prohibition of child labor before
the age of fourteen; substitution of arbitration for strikes; equal pay for


22
All-American Anarchist
equal work for both sexes; and other grand demands common to refonn
organizations of the time. It was hoped that eventually capitalism would be
replaced by some sort of cooperative system. 22
How were these hopes and dreams to be realized? By political lob
bying? By boycotts (strikes were frowned on by the Knights' leadership)?
By publicizing them and creating a public demand? No one knew. But such
vagueness about how to achieve lofty goals for the working class was typ
ical then. In their early days the Knights were, as Nonnan Ware wrote, “in
sympathy with everything and involved in nothing,” awaiting the millen
nium. The local assembly he likened to a congregation living in times of
persecution. 23
Labadie wholeheartedly supported founder Stephens in believing a
main objective of the Knights was education—bringing working people
together into a labor fraternity for the purpose of discussing “social sci
ence” and their rights and duties to each other. “No one would ever think
of putting a law case into the hands of anyone who had never studied law,”
Labadie argued. “No one can ever hope to win the case of social prog
ress . . . unless they know ... the laws of political economy.” With only a
few months of fonnal education behind him, Labadie himself was reading
the writings of Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Ferdinand Lassalle, Thomas
Paine, and Francois Guizot; in the following year he spent $26.85—nearly
two weeks wages—on books. 24
So it was with great enthusiasm that he obeyed the Knights' injunc
tion to devote at least ten minutes of each meeting to discussing “labor
in all its interests.” His “brethren” in what he described as a “socio-eco
nomic school, where each member is at once both teacher and pupil,” were
soon being elected to read aloud their own essays. “He who will not work
shall not eat” was one of the first, chosen by cigannaker and avid socialist
Charles Erb. Occasionally a member was unprepared—not surprising con
sidering that most were putting in at least a sixty-hour work week. 25
L. A. 901 was a “mixed assembly,” open to workers in all trades, unlike
most of the early local assemblies, which were limited to one craft. Founder
Stephens's long-tenn goal was to unite all toilers of whatever craft, creed,
color, or political affiliation into a grand labor anny. The Knights of Labor
was also the first large labor organization to welcome the unskilled into its
ranks. Some 95,000 blacks joined the Order, as it was called. Women, how
ever, were not regularly admitted until 1882, apparently because some men
claimed they distracted from “serious” matters or could not keep secrets.
Labadie found it difficult to get a Catholic into the Knights, “as they were


A Knighthood Flowers
23
afraid of the consequences.” The Roman Catholic Church objected to secret
societies with rituals and vows that might interfere with the confessional,
and for a long time automatically excommunicated Masons. Fanners were
eligible to become members; even employers who sympathized with orga
nized labor could be admitted. Lawyers, bankers, and saloonkeepers were
baned because they were held responsible for many of the evils of the social
system. 26
L.A. 901's new Detroit recruits were mainly skilled workers—cigar-
makers, shoemakers, and printers—most of whom probably belonged to
trade unions as well. But the unions, never very powerful, had been virtually
moribund during the preceding five years of depression; men struggling to
find work had been in no mood to antagonize employers and little had been
accomplished to better their lot. The depression also had put an end to the
first efforts in Detroit to establish amalgamations of trade unions. Only in
more prosperous tunes did workers' thoughts again turn to the possibility of
massing together for unified action.
Those elected to join L.A. 901's small brotherhood were a stellar
crew. During the first few months (the only period for which minutes were
preserved), a fair number of initiates were men who became leading players
in the unfolding drama of the Detroit labor movement. Several, including
Labadie, were to become nationally prominent.
Among them was printer Lyman A. Brant, one of the founders of the
Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, a forerunner of the AFL,
and also a leader in the International Typographical Union. Judson Grenell,
another printer, was later elected to the state legislature, as were Brant and
cigannaker Flugh McClellan. Carpenter Edward W. Simpson and Charles
Erb served on the National Executive Committee of the Socialist Labor
party (SLP) and as officials in the Detroit Trades Council. E. A. Stevens, an
SLP organizer, became a member of the Knights' General Executive Board.
Charles Bell was the local printers' union president. Adam Stuenner was an
official in the cigannakers' union. Shoemaker John Strigel, a former official
in the Knights of St. Crispin, organized over fifty assemblies for the Knights
and remained active in the Detroit Trades Council for nearly twenty years.
The enigmatic Philip van Patten, whose only trade appears to have been
agitation during his energetic career in social refonn, joined soon. He was
prominent as both a Knight and the national leader of the SLP. They came
predominantly from English, Irish, and Gennan ethnic stock. Curiously, in
a city with such a strong French association, Labadie seems to be Detroit's
only labor pioneer of French ancestry. 27


24
All-American Anarchist
Almost half of the thirty-eight new Knights were socialists, many of
them recent converts, who had joined the American wing of the SLP Laba
die and Grenell had formed in Detroit the year before. Both organizations
reflected the same high-minded humanitarian goals, cooperative spirit, and
vision of labor solidarity, and thus attracted the same type of individual. 28
It may have been Labadie's fellow socialists who were responsible
for turning down in the assembly's first months his nomination of Henry
A. Robinson, an ardent Greenbacker and later one of the leading lights
of Michigan refonn movements. The local socialist newspaper, violently
anti-Greenback until 1880, had just attacked Robinson as “an audacious,
scandalous, impudent, abominable liar’’ for accusing socialists of wanting
to divide the wealth “between people who are lazy and those who work
hard.” The brethren also may have been suspicious because, while Robinson
claimed to be a carpenter, he probably was already studying law. This pro
fession was much reviled by the Knights and sufficient to ostracize one from
their ranks. Robinson, however, described himself as a lifelong “champion
for the weak, puny and abused ... a communist—in the best and broadest
sense of that term.’’ He later became both a judge and a leading Knight, and
was appointed Michigan Commissioner of Labor in 1892. 29
It is small wonder that in its early days in Detroit, the Order was
represented by such a distinguished cast of activists. A sort of underground
workingmen's college, it offered no strategy to increase weekly paychecks.
With such long-term, utopian goals, the organization appealed only to those
most visionary and committed.
Absorbed with initiation rites, labor essays, and general business,
L.A. 901 began as little more than an elite, working-class fraternity and
night school with religious overtones. When some of the members found
the “socioeconomic’’ discussions too dry, Labadie referred them portent
ously to “the sphinx of old, which not to solve is to be destroyed.’’ He had
no patience with such types. “Go to, with such drivel,’’ he berated them.
“We want men, hard-headed thinking men, in this movement and not babies
. . . this is serious business we have undertaken.’’ 30 Some, tired of all talk
and no action, dropped out, but there appears to have been a steady flow of
new blood.
Since the newly knighted were forbidden even to name their organi
zation outside its sacred sanctuary, their crusades for emancipation of the
wage slave originally had to be channeled through the socialist or Green
back parties. The trade unions—narrowly concerned with wages, hours, and
working conditions for their own members, and not with grand schemes


A Knighthood Flowers
25
of social reform—were considered too timid or too limited in aspirations to
enter the battle.
No real progress was made in furthering the Order's fortunes in Mich
igan in the first years. Labadie was able to form only one other assembly,
in Jackson, where Litchman informed him the miners “wanted organizing.’’
He chafed at the secrecy that made for “slow growth,’’ as he told the new
grand master workman, Terence V. Powderly. It was worse than that. Detroit
membership dipped to 24 in 1880, 20 dropping out and only 5 joining. But
the following year, secrecy was abolished. Soon Labadie and fellow orga
nizers were “honeycombing’’ Michigan with local assemblies composed
of mechanics (as craftsmen were then called), fanners, laborers, and small
storekeepers. 31
In Michigan, as elsewhere, membership climbed steadily and then in
leaps, reaching the national high point of 700,000 by mid 1886.
It was a tune of great hope. “Labor is awakening from its long slum
ber,’’ Labadie and Grenell assured readers of their journal, Labor Review.
“The rising giant is just now stretching and yawning. But his eyes are begin
ning to open and his sinews tightening; and soon ... he will sweep away our
false systems of finance and unjust system of distribution.’’ 32 Many looked
to the dawn of a new era, with a higher, grander, and more humane civiliza
tion and the complete unification of labor worldwide.
There were but a few glorious years ahead as the Knights created
America's first successful labor organization, the largest the country had
yet seen. Except to students of labor history, the Knights of Labor is an
all-but-forgotten force today, but in its brief, dramatic existence, it devel
oped labor consciousness as no workers' union had previously done and
managed to build the foundations of the modem labor movement. Hundreds
of Knights were elected to public office. Massive rallies, demonstrations,
and parades were organized. The organization mounted a general strike
against Jay Gould's Southwestern rail systems, the greatest strike victory
until then in the United States. It inspired Grenell to write: “Its principles
are the purest, its object is the noblest, its motive is the most sublime, and
its mode of procedure the most peaceful of any great labor organization of
which we have any record.’’ 33
The Order was to have nine more years of vibrant life before dying a
lingering death. Labadie struggled for its success, then, disgusted with the
plotting, perfidy, corruption, and hypocrisy of its leaders, played a significant
role in its downfall. As Michigan's foremost labor leader, he went on to form
a new type of labor body, the Michigan Federation of Labor, an ALL affiliate,


26
All-American Anarchist
and to become a well-known figure in the nation's labor movement. In a
few years, he also found that the “fever of govermnentalism’’—counting on
the state to solve all social problems—that had animated him as a young
socialist firebrand, had been quenched. In its place, Labadie embraced with
greater ardor its exact opposite, no government at all, anarchism. But let us
go back to the beginning.


k 2 k
27
A BacU«2
^Boyhood
Oh! for the rhyming, echoing woods.
Where songbirds twitter overhead.
Where dwells the soul of Liberty,
Which proudly strides with a freeman's tread! . . .
Away from the ruthless wheels of trade.
Far from the grubbing, grinding crowd,
I climb and run and plunge like mad.
And revel in freedom, crying aloud!
—"For the Wild Woods,” Sing Songs and
Some That Don't
The southern Michigan woods were dark and heavy with snow
on a winter evening around 1860. The boy with black curly hair was bright
eyed with visions of tomorrow's hunt. He huddled near the tire watching the
Indian women prepare the meal, wrapping fish in wet leaves and laying the
bundles in hot ashes, with mounds of bread dough and some potatoes. A cup
of hot sassafras root tea wanned him as he waited his turn to hold a spit of
venison chunks over the flames.
The Indian band had set up their night's shelter miles away from any
settlement. The boy, Joseph Labadie, had learned how to build one on pre
vious outings. As he later described it, the men first cut a long pole to reach
from one tree to another, perhaps thirty feet away, finning it in place with two
crotched poles. Joseph and the other children collected pine boughs, which
were leaned upside down against the horizontal pole, fonning “walls.” Under
this lean-to they placed a floor of fine branches, then a thick layer of straw.
Buffalo robes were thrown atop this gigantic “mattress.” There, wrapped in
blankets and buffalo robes, the whole band slept comfortably, with the fire


28
All-American Anarchist
built against a front log radiating heat into their forest abode. Joseph's
father, an interpreter between the Indians and the Jesuits, slept near him. 1
For ten-year-old Joseph, living among the Pottawatomi like a member
of the tribe was an idyll in the forest primeval. He delighted in the knowl
edge that some Indian blood ran through his veins. “Them was the happy
days!” he would later say, reminiscing on the lost paradise of his childhood.
The Indian ways, as he relived them in letters and random jottings, took on a
romanticized glow. His memories far transcended the techniques of building
a shelter without boards, haimner, or nails, or shooting a deer. They were
crucial in fonning his view of the ideal society and an individual's place in
it. As Labadie later translated the experiences of a wilderness boyhood into
revolutionary tenets, he concluded that only when men and women recap
tured the individual freedom and self-sufficiency of Native Americans, or of
pioneers like his parents, could they be truly happy.
The Indian, far from being the “boob” many people took him for,
Labadie wrote, “knew how to wrest a living from nature without robbing his
fellows thru interest, profit, rent and taxes.’’ 2 In the early days, ownership of
land was unknown to the Indians, except as the white man's concept. They
used only what was required for survival and did not claim land beyond
that. They did not waste or ravage nature's bounty. They could reach out
and reap the necessities of life without pennission from some bureaucracy.
Chiefs often had little power and no one was compelled to follow them.
Individuals lived with the band in a voluntary community, sharing the food
and work, but were free to go their solitary way or join another band. No
one was subservient to another; no one dominated. The children were sel
dom disciplined, learning by imitating their parents rather than sitting in a
schoolroom. 3
In truth, this idyllic life had long since passed away for most of Mich
igan's Indians by the time of Joseph's childhood. Soon after Michigan
became the twenty-sixth state in 1837, most of the Native Americans in
the Lower Peninsula had been callously rounded up by the United States
government under the “Removal Act,’’ tom from their ancestral lands and
herded west across the Mississippi River. The young boy did not know that
there, in the early 1860s, he was playing Indian with what were but rem
nants of once-proud tribes.
As Labadie peered back through the gauze of nostalgia, it seemed that
in that pristine life he had viewed anarchism in practice. Those unfettered
boyhood days represented an ideal he later sought for all people, even in an
urban world, where there were no woods full of game or wild berries for


A Backwoods Boyhood
29
the picking. Like the Michigan Indians, Labadie never reconciled himself
to government, nor thought others should have to, and in his labor reform
efforts, he envisioned the workers, not the government, demanding and
ensuring their rights.
Joseph's love of liberty was a legacy from his father, the only legacy
he was to have. Anthony Cleophis Labadie was a sturdy, rough, independent
man, who thrived only in the wilderness. Like Michigan's early fur traders,
he spent most of his life in the forests, used to hardship. He was one-eighth
Ojibway, bom in 1830 in the Canadian woods near the Detroit River. His
family later moved to Paw Paw (then called Lafayette), a town of around
one thousand in southwestern Michigan. It was about forty miles from the
Indiana border, where relatives had a homestead on Three Mile Lake. There
were still about fifty Indians in the locality, many of mixed blood. Around
the age of fourteen, Anthony apparently went off to live with them when
the mood struck. With his dark complexion and black hair, he blended
in well.
Anthony had learned the carpenter's trade, and sometimes earned
money painting houses, but always he was lured by the call of the wild.
Even Paw Paw was too much civilization for him. He yearned for a log
cabin in the wilderness, where fish and game abounded. Whenever he had
the opportunity, he traveled with the Jesuit missionaries, serving as inter
preter with the Indians of southern Michigan and northern Indiana. 4
One day a distant cousin, Euphrosyne Angelique Labadie, came to
Paw Paw to visit his family. Perhaps the two were already courting, or per
haps romance bloomed at that time. All we know is that soon afterward,
they were married by Father Barreaux, who had been a missionary in China.
On April 18, 1850, a son was bom and baptized Charles Joseph Antoine
Labadie. His godmother, an Ojibway, added an Indian name that sounded
like “Otwine.” Both his parents were twenty years old. 5
Years later, Labadie proudly claimed that he was the first native-born
Michigan anarchist: “I am no dam [sic] foreign ‘Amikist,’ ” he once quipped.
“I'm on my native heath.’’ 6 Taking his Indian blood into account, he was, in
fact, about as American as one could be. His French ancestors were already
in the New World by 1667; they owned land on the Detroit River prior
to 1749. Both his mother and father were descendants of Antoine Louis
Descomptes dit (also known as) Labadie, one of the most prominent and
prolific French settlers in eighteenth-century Detroit. A prosperous fanner
and fur trader, variously credited with having fathered either twenty-three
or thirty-three children (depending on whose count is accepted) from three


30
All-American Anarchist
wives, he was jocularly acclaimed for bringing the area a tremendous impe
tus in both industry and population. 7
Joseph's mother, Euphrosyne, was Antoine Louis's granddaughter by
Charlotte Barthe, his third wife, the daughter of a French anny surgeon. She
was raised in the spacious frame house her father, Louis, built on the vast
Labadie estate in East Sandwich, on the Canadian side of the Detroit River,
on land conveyed by the Ottawa chief Pontiac in the mid eighteenth cen
tury. The family's numerous relatives and friends frequently canoed across
from Detroit or drove along the Queen's Highway in carriages for parties.
Sometimes Euphrosyne would paddle a stout dugout the half mile or so
to Detroit and back alone. The lawn which sloped to the water's edge was
made available to local Indians for feasts and pow-wows, celebrations in
which the Labadies would often join. 8
Although he was the great-grandson of Antoine Louis, Euphrosyne's
cousin (and later husband) Anthony Cleophis was not raised in similar
wealth and comfort. His home was a log house three miles back into the
woods at the edge of the 918-acre farm, near the fonner site of an Ottawa
village. 9 Joseph's father came down the family line from Antoine Louis's
second wife, Marie, a full-blooded Ojibway, daughter of the chief of a band
whose hunting grounds were along the Detroit River. Despite his seventeen
years with Marie, Antoine Louis did not value her offspring as highly as
those of his other wives. When he died in 1807, Marie's children did not
receive a share of the main estate, its farm animals or slaves, who might have
been Indians or blacks. Their only legacy was one horse and one cow each,
plus some wilderness land. As a result, that branch of the family languished,
while the others prospered. Indeed, Joseph Labadie's paternal grandfather
in Paw Paw was an illiterate laborer, while his mother's father, Louis Des-
comptes dit Labadie, was a well-to-do landowner and pillar of society. Per
haps Antoine Louis made a distinction in the legacies to his children because
he and Marie were married only in native ceremonies. There are no church
records and their offspring are referred to in his will as “natural children.’’ 10
Sometime in Joseph's early childhood, his parents moved from Paw
Paw back to East Sandwich, the site of his mother's upbringing. Euphrosyne's
aunt, Cecile, ran a hotel on the riverfront near the Labadie estate with her
husband, Augustin Lagrave. Joseph and his family moved to this large log
building, and went into the pensionnat or boarding house business, their
clientele being shipbuilders from Jenkins's shipyard, up the river. 11
Sandwich was then a settlement of some five hundred inhabitants
one and half miles upstream from Windsor, Ontario; the town itself had


A Backwoods Boyhood
31
a population of only one thousand. The Detroit River formed part of the
boundary between Michigan and the province of Ontario. The area was fer
tile, and generation after generation had fanned long and narrow “ribbon
farms," typical of French-Canadian settlement, that extended from the river
southeast about three miles into a wilderness covered thickly with timber.
Most of the families occupying these strips of land had French Catholic
origins. A good many were related to the Labadies.
As a small boy, Joseph liked to sit on the grassy riverbank and watch
the wind propel the sweeping anns and flapping sails of an old windmill,
possibly one that had been grinding flour since 1770. The busy river traf
fic between Lake Saint Clair and Lake Erie afforded abundant amusement,
as scores of barks, brigs, tall-masted sailing ships, and steamers passed by.
When his mother wanted to serve the boarders poisson blanc, he and his
father would haul in a barrelful of the Detroit River's renowned whitehsh—
the “prince of freshwater fish"—in a few minutes of seining. All the ponies
a young boy could want were running almost wild in the back woods, where
his wealthy grandfather kept them. The only problem was trying to catch one.
In old age, Labadie kept coming back to the pleasures of these early
days. His most frequently recounted memories were of the Indians from
Walpole Island, some fifty miles across Lake St. Clair. (It is still an Indian
reserve.) These remnants of once-mighty bands—Chippewa, Ottawa, and
Pottawatomi—used to camp on the riverbank below his home when they
came to Windsor to trade. Nearly one hundred years of friendship and hos
pitality by generations of Labadies had made them feel at home. These
good relations had come in handy some thirty years earlier, the Labadies
recounted, when the Walpole Indians went on a rampage, burning farm
houses and murdering settlers, but sparing those who had befriended them. 12
Joseph remembered that sometimes the Indians were even allowed to sleep
on the dining room floor, which then became so crowded that he had to go
outside and around the house to get into the kitchen.
But this delightful period came to an abrupt end. Industry was court
ing Detroit, just across the river. A grocer and liquor merchant named Hiram
Walker was seeking a site for a distillery and steam milling plant. The Laba
die homestead was deemed ideal: cheaper real estate and labor costs than
in Detroit, excellent water transportation possibilities, and well-tilled local
fanns to supply all the grain needed for his enterprises.
Walker began buying up portions of the original Labadie estate from
various heirs. In 1857, Joseph's uncle Charles, deputy inspector and collec
tor of inland revenue in Windsor, sold Walker 104 acres, including the house


32
All-American Anarchist
Joseph's grandfather had built. Walker's new business prospered immedi
ately and the company town that grew around it soon became known as
Walkerville. There, Walker eventually set up a little hefdom, where all who
worked for him were obliged to rent his cottages, where he selected the
church and the pastor, appointed the police force, and benevolently pro
vided all the amenities he thought his tenants ought to enjoy at no cost. The
sale was made against the wishes of Joseph's mother and Charles's other
siblings. Thereafter uncle Charley was referred to bitterly as “the man who
sold Walkerville to Hiram Walker.’’ For some thirty years, various Labadie
relatives tried to bring suit against Walker, the last time in 1909, when the
property was estimated to be worth $22 million. Labadie was sure the deal
had been carried out “by chicanery.’’ What disturbed him most was that the
land was lost to his family, its original settlers after the Indians. “And then
to name it ‘Walkerville’ was a crushing blow; it should have been Labadiev-
ille,” he fumed, expressing a curiously retrograde sentiment for an anarchist
who abjured ownership of land. 13
Walker wasted no tune building his flour mill and the whiskey dis
tillery that was to make him famous. Young Joseph watched in fascination
as hosts of workers drove the foundation pilings into the ground. By 1858,
lines of wagons loaded with wheat could be seen along the roadway on
the way “au moulin de Walker’’ (to Walker's windmill). Walker remodeled
Louis's old frame house and moved in. When Joseph's family was ousted
from their comfortable home, the boardinghouse business, and middle-class
life, his father was probably relieved for it gave Anthony the opportunity to
return to his beloved forests.
The family relocated in the Michigan frontier settlement of Silver
Creek Township, Cass County, south of the Labadie homestead in Paw Paw
and near the Indiana border. Most of their neighbors were Pottawatomi,
whose chief was the college-educated Simon Pokagon. 14 Joseph's father
again served as an interpreter in both French and English for the Jesuit mis
sionaries, who had founded their first mission in Michigan in 1668, hoping
to Christianize the Indians. He often took his young son along as he roamed
the woods in the company of Indian tribes.
The Labadies lived a pioneer existence deep in the forest. On occasion,
Joseph walked seven miles to town to get the mail. As a frontier region, land
for the homesite was there for the taking. Although there were now at least
seven children (four died in birth or infancy), they all crowded into a one-
room log house, quite a contrast to their Sandwich home. There was nothing
extraordinary about this—families of twenty or more were living in such


A Backwoods Boyhood
33
homes at the time. A cavernous stone fireplace, so large that a bonfire could
be built with a log of almost any size, wanned them in even the most frigid
temperatures. A bed stood in each comer, with a trundle bed underneath.
The woods were teeming with game. Anthony prided himself on being able
to shoot whatever his wife wanted to cook—deer, rabbit, squirrel, turkey,
pigeons. The children picked wild fruit, to be eaten fresh or dried in the sun.
Though primitive, conditions were not harsh, as Labadie later remem
bered them, and offered a high degree of freedom and equality.
With an ax, gun, good health, the knowing how and the willingness to work
there was no excuse to go hungry or suffer the inclemencies of the weather.
. . . The necessities of life were at hand . . . without being subject to the will
of another for the opportunity. ... A comfortable log house could be built
in a few days, the materials for it being easily at hand in the forest, and a
bee [community-organized task] could be organized in a short time for its
erection ... we made bees to haul the winter's wood to the different houses
in the neighborhood ... on bob-sleds and ox teams. . . . The exchange of
work for work was the rule . . . equality in economic conditions made the
neighborhood kin. 15
It was Labadie's destiny to work in cities all his life, but he always
longed for the wilderness. He spent his life promoting an anarchist utopia
where survival was simply a matter of hard work, self-reliance, and volun
tary cooperation.
The little house in the big woods was the stuff of nostalgia, not least
because there were no schools to constrain a boy's wild spirit. Due to the
unsettled conditions of his early life, Labadie had no schooling except
a few months in a parochial school near South Bend, Indiana, when his
father briefly worked as a carpenter for the University of Notre Dame. 16 It is
unclear how Labadie learned to read and write, but by the age of sixteen he
was able to compose a letter quite adequately. Since his father was barely
literate, he could hardly have been the teacher. Probably Euphrosyne, from
the richer and more privileged branch of the family, was able to instruct her
son. There must have been a Bible in the house, but it was the New York
Ledger a popular weekly “which came into my house somehow or other,”
that Joseph used as reading matter. 17 Both French and English were spoken
in the home and Joseph also knew the Pottawatomi language.
Ahnost the only demand for childhood decorum came during Sunday
mass at a homespun local church built by a French priest. There Joseph
served as an acolyte, learned a little Latin, and instilled the cleric with dreams
of turning him into a fellow Jesuit. Alas for the cleric, Labadie chose the


34
All-American Anarchist
agnosticism of his father over the devoutness of his “saintly” mother, as he
described her.
This fairy tale life may not have seemed so charmed to Euphrosyne as
it did to her eldest son. Her husband was by nature a hunter and free spirit,
not a pater familias. Sometimes he was at home and a good provider, but
when he felt like it he would go off and let the brood fend for themselves.
During one of his father's absences, young Joseph was hired out to a fanner
to help his mother provide for the family of five boys. Of a sober turn of
mind, she appears in photographs as a stem and sharp-faced woman, quite
unlike her genial, inesponsible mate. Her face is gaunt and careworn, her
hair tightly pulled back in a bun; she wears granny glasses and a spinsterish
high-necked dress. Labadie idolized her. In a poem, “What Is Love?” he
wrote of her “grace and meekness, charity and sweetness, affection and
generosity.” He acknowledged, in the same poem, that his father was “not
what I would have ordained.” Nevertheless, Labadie remembered him with
love and some admiration:
His hankering for the silent forest, the talkative stream, the exciting chase.
The log cabin, the rude hearth, the blazing faggot.
The coonskin tacked to the rustic door.
The yielding pelts strewn upon the floor.
The wooden latch and rawhide string outside.
His unerring gun on the crotches nailed to the rugged beam.
His thrilling tales turned true from oft telling. 18
The family probably was little aware of events beyond, from the elec
tion of Abraham Lincoln to the secession of the Southern states. But their
seclusion did not protect them from the government's long arm. On August
16, 1861, Joseph's father was enrolled as a private in the Lirst Regiment of
the Michigan Cavalry. He fought in the Shenandoah Valley and the second
battle of Bull Run, though not with distinction. He managed to shoot off
his forefinger while loading a pistol, then injured his spine when he fell
off a horse during General Banks's retreat from Martinsburg, Virginia, to
Williamsport. In 1863 he was discharged as totally disabled. Anthony's dis
abilities did not cramp his style much. The house was again filled with his
cronies, lively with laughter, drinking, and tall story-telling. Hospitality was
Anthony's pride, but often his generosity meant his children went hungry.
His father's improvidence was probably evident to Labadie then and seems
to have stirred in him a concern for the welfare of others, which eventually
extended to the workers of the world. 19


35
~k 3 ~k
I am a sprout of the primeval forest
Transplanted to the sweltering town.
With its grime and smoke and squalor.
Where ignorant poverty jostles ignorant wealth.
And both go to the grave with wasted lives.
Knowing not the joy of freedom and justice.
I am a pioneer, unafraid to blaze new paths
Into virgin forests or realms of social weal.
Or follow old ones neglected and untrod.
"I,” MANUSCRIPT
l^abadie was soon transported from a backwoods idyll to the
“sweltering town,” as the above lines from one of his poems attest. At the
age of fourteen, Joseph began learning watchmaking in his uncle's jewelry
store in White Pigeon, Michigan. A year or two of frustrated fussing with
gears and mainsprings impelled Joseph to move on. He rejoined his family,
then in South Bend, Indiana, and qualified for a job as printer's devil for the
National Union, a local weekly. Despite his lack of formal education, his
pemnanship, spelling, and punctuation were easily on a par with today's
sixteen-year-olds, as evidenced by an 1866 letter. 1
As it has for so many incipient radicals, the printing trade offered
Labadie both exposure to a wide range of ideas and the means to dissemi
nate his own. In a few years, he was publishing tracts, labor journals, and
revolutionary poetry in the service of a variety of reformist causes. The
first recorded example of Labadie's fierce defense of workers' rights—in
this case, his own—occurred at the National Union. The episode is unique
because it almost involved physical violence. As Labadie recounted the


36
All-American Anarchist
story, proprietor Edward Molloy unjustly blamed his young apprentice for
some errors. When Labadie objected, Molloy swore at him. In righteous
indignation, Labadie grabbed a poker and “I would have brained him . . .
if the foreman had not intervened.” His job precipitously tenninated, Laba
die moved on to Schuyler Colfax's Register. 2 (Colfax was vice-president in
Grant's first administration.)
At seventeen, Labadie began his travels as a “tramp” (itinerant)
printer. This hobo-like existence, involving a series of stints in many cities,
was almost obligatory in the days of handset type in order to be considered
a journeyman printer. It was also a wonderful opportunity for an inquisitive
young man from the backwoods to learn about the world. Wandering for the
next few years, Labadie witnessed the disparity between the new class of
millionaire capitalists and the struggling workers of emerging industrial cit
ies. He observed tenements, misery, and grueling hours of toil. He perceived
social upheavals in the making and the role that unionization could play
in bringing power to the working class. He developed a passion for social
justice that was to dominate his life.
Lor a young man raised in a backwater of the Midwest, the life of a
tramp printer was thrilling. So long as he could satisfy his sparse needs,
Labadie was free to follow his wanderlust from place to place as the mood
took him, while reassuring himself that in doing so he was mastering the
craft. He crisscrossed the northeastern part of the country, working a week
here, a month there, for the five years of his required apprenticeship. As a
rookie printer, Labadie would pick up jobs at busy publications, only to be
laid off as soon as the need disappeared. A day's work often could be had
by standing in front of a newspaper office, prepared to fill in if one of the
regular printers failed to show up.
His wanderings took him to Boston and New York City and through
out New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. Business was booming
when the Civil War ended, and jobs were not hard to come by. Labadie
worked at the Cincinnati Gazette, Scranton Republican, Erie Dispatch, and
Jackson Citizen, with a year-long stint at the New York World. 2
Tramp printing was wearisome, unremunerative, and exasperating,
but educational, as Labadie's pal, Judson Grenell, described it. A variety of
employers were encountered, “some fair, some tricky.” There were many
days of “stonn and stress.” Sometimes the new arrival would find a surfeit
of printers and be forced to hit the road again. These hobos were generally
“a happy-go-lucky lot, content if they had a dollar or two to provide them a
meal and a bed and the still more necessary alcoholic stimulant.” Drink was


Passionate Stirrings
37
the tramp printer's “staff of life,” Grenell wrote, necessitated by a demand
ing working day of twelve hours or more. 4
On a morning daily, the work began soon after noon. First came
“throwing in the case,” that is, distributing the type set the day before into
its wooden type cases. Around four o'clock, the printers began composi
tion, selecting each individual letter from the cases. After dusk, this exact
ing work was continued by gaslight or kerosene lantern. Hand-setting of
type went on at least until midnight, interrupted only by a supper break.
Some printers remained until early morning, setting the news coming over
the wire by telegraph.
Fighting mental exhaustion was a daily battle and alcohol was con
stantly at hand. Grenell recalled how he would start the morning with an
“eye opener,” need another “finger or two” in the afternoon, and another
before beginning the long hours of the night. After work, an all-night saloon
provided the “nightcap.” 5
The hours were by no means exceptional. Most wage earners put in a
workday of ten to fourteen hours. Although not necessarily longer than those
once worked by independent craftsmen and women, the pace was no lon
ger the worker's to control. Employers, disguising their own self-interests,
defended the practice on the grounds that “idleness breeds sloth.” It was
during Labadie's tramp printing days that the demand for an eight-hour day
became the main rallying cry of American labor. Businessmen found this
movement alarming, especially since proponents of the shorter working day
stressed its purpose was not only more leisure for the enjoyment of life and
family. It would also provide time to study the political and economic system
so as to check the “corruptions of capital” and reform the social order. 6
The crusade's leading light was Boston machinist Ira Steward, who
inspired the formation of hundreds of eight-hour leagues in the mid 1860s.
He anticipated that a cut in working hours with no cut in wages would benefit
everyone: workers would have more time to desire and buy products previ
ously considered luxuries, manufacturers would then increase production,
prices would fall, more workers would be hired, creating more consumers,
and so on. “Whether you work by the piece or work by the day, decreasing
the hours increases the pay” went the rhyme that popularized the idea.
During his working life, Labadie participated in countless rallies,
demonstrations, marches, and agitation meetings stimulated by the dream
of more free tune. But the optimistic prophesies of its originators proved
illusory. Although President Andrew Johnson signed into law an eight-
hour day for federal workers in 1868, it was not until 1919 that even half


38
All-American Anarchist
the country's workers had achieved as little as a six-day, forty-eight-hour
work week. 7
Labadie's first stop after he left South Bend in 1867 was Kalamazoo,
where he worked on the Telegraph, using a cylinder press with hand power.
Here the eighteen-year-old first tasted labor activism by helping form the
Kalamazoo Typographical Union. 8 The move probably did not endear him to
his boss. Many unionists were discharged and then blacklisted by employers
anxious to suppress unionization. But printers had a record of trade organi
zation dating back to the late eighteenth century and it was not easy to sti
fle their demands. Tramp printers, in particular, were energetic organizers.
“Should they arrive in a town where there is no Union they immediately set
about organizing one,” the Typographical Journal noted in 1889, adding
that “there are more typographical Unions who owe their inception to the
proselyting efforts of the tramp, than to ... all other causes combined.” 9
As young Labadie tramped the country from Kalamazoo to Boston,
he joined the typographical union in each city, paying the dues—“the best
investment I ever made”—with relish. His union traveling card entitled him
to assistance in finding a bed, a meal, and a job as soon as he arrived. He
lovingly treasured the working cards from these early days. A glance at
them reveals his itinerary: Erie T.U. (Typographical Union) 77, Scranton
T.U. 112, New York City T.U. 6. 10
In this roaming life Labadie developed not only union consciousness,
but social consciousness as well. The printing trade has a history of breed
ing and nurturing eloquent and articulate champions of social refonn. The
tramp printer was “certain to be pretty well up in his infonnation touching
the leading questions of the day ... ever ready to engage in a controversy, it
making no material difference whether the subject is one of theology or pol
itics, or on matters dramatic, musical or pugilistic,” according to the Typo
graphical Journal article. In sum, Labadie's tramping days provided some
of the education of which he had been deprived. They enabled him to enroll
at the age of eighteen as “a modest student of social science,” as he put it,
by means of discussions, observations of the life around him, and reading
the provocative thinkers who influenced him deeply, like Mill, Emerson,
and Thoreau. 11
The tune was ripe for such studies. Labadie was bom on the eve of a
cataclysmic social and economic revolution as the United States transfonned
itself from an agrarian to an industrial nation. Vast fortunes were amassed by
the new capitalist class, powerful monopolies and trusts were fonned, and
the competitive spirit raged. This phenomenal economic expansion gave


Passionate Stirrings
39
rise to explosive social questions. With the introduction of mass produc
tion machinery, the artisan in his shop was replaced by the depersonalized
factory hand. Once-respected craftsmen found themselves regarded as a
coimnodity, to be bought like any other raw material and tossed out at will.
As Labadie saw them, they were the new slaves—wage slaves, displaced,
demoralized, and degraded.
The rapid growth of capitalism found the laboring people powerless
against the onslaught of big business. There had been sporadic strikes or
riots in the past, but most ended disastrously for the workers. Work previ
ously had been individualized, carried out by artisans. It was difficult for the
new American working class to come to tenns with the Industrial Revolu
tion and learn to band together for self-protection. On his journeys, Labadie
saw the growing chasm between the haves and have-nots—those who lived
a gilded life and the downtrodden subsisting in squalor. He could hear the
rumblings of a volcano of discontent preparing to erupt. He later recalled
that he began to be “troubled... with that thing we call thought. Before that,
I was content with satisfying my animal wants.’’ 12 Radical activism had not
been part of his heritage or his frontier upbringing, but he was soon caught
up in the momentum of social change.
In 1872, Labadie traveled from New York City to South Bend to visit
his family, and then to Detroit to see friends and relatives. His intention was
to return to New York, but by then Detroit was a booming town, though not,
of course, as lively a metropolis as New York. Life was far more stimulating
than during his early childhood in the sleepy hamlet of Sandwich across the
river in Canada. Perhaps by this tune the twenty-two-year-old was tired of
the roaming life and wanted to settle down. Whatever the reason, he got a
job at the Detroit Post and Tribune, presented his printer's traveling card
to Detroit's Typographical Union #18, and, after his five wandering years,
began to put down roots. 13
Detroit was in the midst of astounding industrial growth. Manufac
turing establishments were crowding out the small shops of what had once
been a city of merchants. In the previous forty years, the population, fed by a
steady flow of iimnigrants, had exploded from 2,000 to 79,000. It had become
the seventeenth largest American city. The number of manufacturing jobs
had quadrupled in the previous twenty years. Stove making and production
of the famous Pullman sleeping cars, Detroit's largest industries before the
automotive pioneers came along, depended on iron ore and coal shipped
down the lakes from Michigan's Upper Peninsula and from nearby states.
Sawmills were fed by deck loads of logs from the state's forests. Thousands


40
All-American Anarchist
of commercial ships, navigating the northwestern lakes either began their
journeys in Detroit or passed through it on their way to Buffalo, Chicago,
Milwaukee, and elsewhere. By 1880, ten railroads connected Detroit with the
rest of the country. 14 Workers were producing drugs, varnish, cigars, shoes,
and furniture. Detroit, like most of the country, had embarked on what Mark
Twain dubbed the “Gilded Age.” Industry, and with it the worship of wealth
and status, was king.
The majority of Detroit's working class had been bom outside the
United States. Canadians and British were the first to arrive in large numbers,
followed by the Irish, fleeing the potato famine and British land monopoly.
They clustered on the city's west side in “Corktown,” and by 1850 formed
one-seventh of the population. Most were poor and unskilled when they
arrived, but many found jobs in the metal trade and eventually prospered.
By 1860, Germans surpassed the Irish in numbers and within thirty
years represented more than four in every ten Detroiters. Waves of German
immigrants were also sweeping into other Great Lakes cities like Cleve
land, Chicago, and Milwaukee. The latter was known as the “Deutsche Ath
ens,” and 70 percent of its population was German by 1890. Nearly half the
workers in Detroit's eastside German coimnunity were skilled artisans—
cigannakers, shoemakers, brewers, woodworkers, and coopers—but it was
harder for them to achieve high-skill positions than the English-speaking
immigrants.
Poles were the most recent arrivals, but by 1890 may have outnum
bered native-born workers (since Poland was divided between Prussia and
Russia, Poles sometimes identified themselves to census takers as Russians,
Austrians, or Germans). Most had been peasants back home. They found it
difficult to enter skilled trades and, as in Milwaukee and other cities, found
work only as manual laborers, earning half the wages of a skilled craftsman.
The poor, however, were not craimned into tenements. Detroit was
a city of single family houses, although many laborers lived in outlying
shantytowns near brick-and lumberyards. 15
In 1873, just one year after Labadie's move to Detroit, the boom
sparked by the Civil War came to a dramatic end. A devastating financial
panic swept the country, followed by six years of widespread unemployment,
poverty, and misery, an economic depression felt not only in the United
States, but in much of the industrialized world. Blame for the Panic of 1873
was laid on currency inflation, reckless speculation, overly rapid building
of railroads, and a host of other unhealthy economic practices. “Vicious and
ignorant financial experiments,” the Detroit Evening News called them. 16


Passionate Stirrings
41
In Detroit, more than six thousand people went on relief. The number
of inmates in the county poor house increased more than threefold. 17 Bread
lines formed in many cities. It was said that nine hundred people starved to
death in New York City. Radical rumblings grew among the unemployed,
but it was a black period for labor unions. Wage earners were reluctant to
antagonize employers and union membership declined drastically.
Labor was “used and abused,” as Labadie described the times. “When
pay day came around the men found [their wages] had been reduced . . .
without any notice whatever. Those who would not stand the reduction . . .
were discharged.” 18 Hordes of hungry tramps roamed the country. These
were not adventurous young men out to seek their fortunes or fulfill their
apprentice years, but experienced craftsmen desperately seeking work.
During this depression, the worst yet experienced in the country,
Labadie's parents and four brothers returned to Windsor from South Bend.
His father could not find work and the family was reduced to begging for
money from their prosperous relatives. It was not long before Anthony
Cleophis was yearning for “woody glens, the gleaming trout streams, the
sighing of the mournful pines and the exciting chase.” Labadie attributed
this discontent to “the blood of his ancestors,” meaning the Indians. 19
The rest of the family, however, found city life alluring. They were
tired of the hardships of the backwoods. So, accompanied by his dogs
and guns, Anthony bade his family farewell, and journeyed north
ward into the forests of Kalkaska County. He spent the rest of his life
living alone in a cabin on the Little Manistee River, visited occasion
ally by his sons. He was no hermit, however; his convivial nature, passed
down to his children, attracted a constant stream of visitors to his cabin,
including “sportes from all partes of the world” to whom he rented fishing
boats. Despite the “total disability” that occasioned his army discharge, he
managed to go into lumbering and eventually bought over five thousand
acres of timberland. 20 He even founded a township and became one of its
elected officials. But newfound prosperity and respectability did not turn
Anthony into a responsible family man. He provided for his abandoned
wife and children only to the extent of occasionally sending a barrel of
potatoes or a deer he had shot. 21 At some point, they joined Jo, the eldest
son, in Detroit.
During this period, Labadie experienced a tragedy that provoked the
first of what was to become, throughout the years, a flood of passionate
protest letters to editors. His brother Edward, also a printer, contracted a
virulent form of “black” smallpox. Labadie sought vainly for a nurse, since


42
All-American Anarchist
their mother and his other three brothers had become so ill after vaccinations
that they were hospitalized. At the board of health, it was suggested that he
contact the “poonnaster,” although Labadie insisted it was a nurse, not char
ity, that he needed. Edward, by then in a raging fever and delirious, twice
escaped from their Orchard Street house by breaking through a window
and wandered shoeless through the streets. In the middle of the night, two
policemen found him on Michigan Avenue and took him, “half naked and
raving like a maniac,’’ to the smallpox hospital. 22
“I was not aware of the existence of a pest-house until my brother was
taken there ... or I would have had him taken there as soon as possible,’’
Labadie protested in an anguished letter to the Evening News. “I wish to
draw the attention of the public ... to the existing negligence in the care of
poor unfortunates who are afflicted with this terrible disease ... and [hope]
the authorities will awaken to the sense of duty they owe the community.’’
Edward, whom Labadie “loved ... as much as man ever loved a brother,’’
died on May 4, 1876, at the age of twenty-two, after suffering for three
weeks “all the torture and horrors of the most terrible disease God ever
afflicted mankind with.’’ 23
At the time Labadie was grieving over his brother he was also deeply
absorbed in a tempestuous love affair with his cousin, Sophie Elizabeth
Archambeau (or Archambault). They had had a discordant relationship as
teenagers in South Bend, when Sophie's mother, Laura Josephine Archam
beau, lived down the street with her four daughters. Cousin Sophie, two
years his junior, prided herself on her fine education, contrasting it to that of
the rustic, uneducated Joseph, and ridiculing his use of language. In turn, he
accused her of swallowing a grammar book. 24
Sophie was an exceptionally well educated and pious young woman
of twenty-four, a high school graduate at a tune when only one in fifty
Americans could make that claim. Once a star pupil at St. Joseph's Acad
emy, a parochial school in South Bend, she now was teaching in a parochial
school in Belle River, Canada, several miles outside Windsor. Somehow,
in the unknown way that opposites attract, their quarrels had ceased and
romance blossomed. Every weekend in the mid 1870s, Sophie made the
journey to Detroit to see Labadie. In between, they wrote long and fer
vent letters, hers frequently in French. Labadie's dwelt on his love for her;
Sophie's stressed her duty to the church. 25
In florid, rapturous phrases, “Antonie’’ or “Antonius,’’ as the twenty-
six-year-old Labadie affectedly signed himself, wrote of his “wild, passion
ate love’’ which was “eating my very soul for lack of your affections to


Passionate Stirrings
43
appease its hunger.” He identified himself with “the lovers of old—those
we read of in the days of chivalry.” If Sophie refused to become his wife, he
threatened, he would be happy at the bottom of the Detroit River. 26
Sophie was adamant that they not marry until he, a lapsed Catholic,
was restored to the faith. “I feel I must save you,” she declared, “I know we
will be so proud of our labors, and how I will hold you up before the world
as one who left the world with all its wickedness and joined that faith with
out which it is impossible to please God ... I believe that God has brought
us . . . together for some great end, and that end is your conversion.” He
exclaimed that his “passions have been running wild.” She proclaimed: “O
blessed creed! O Holy creed, O may God increase my faith that I may do
right. . . that you might know the Truths He has revealed to us.” Labadie
was deeply hurt by her demands. “I am not good enough ... as I am. I must
be bom again and remodeled before she can take me. She loves me, but she
loves a vague ethereal thing she calls my soul better,” he reproached her in
his strong, confident hand. 27
Added to this travail was strong opposition from Sophie's family,
now living in Detroit. Her mother, who had known Labadie all his life, so
strongly disapproved of her daughter's suitor that she refused to acknowl
edge him on the street. His incipient radicalism could not have been the
cause. He was still conventional enough to be a mainstream Democrat, sup
porting Samuel J. Tilden for president. 28 Mrs. Archambeau, a strong-willed
seamstress separated from her husband, might, of course, have taken excep
tion to Labadie's rustic upbringing and lack of education. She probably
thought him a bit reckless and flamboyant, not at all like the steady Sophie.
There was also the problem of his father, the kind of man who would desert
his family and follow a will o' the wisp into the wilderness. Although he did
not yet proclaim himself an agnostic, Labadie was also clearly religiously
deficient in her eyes.
The most likely reason for her opposition, however, was probably
the same one given by the Church. The pair was consanguineous to an
even closer degree than first cousins. Not only were their mothers sisters,
direct descendants of Antoine Louis's third marriage, but Labadie's father
came down the line from Antoine Louis's second marriage to the Sauteuse,
Marie. The two lines, which had merged in the marriage of Labadie's par
ents, would be drawn even closer. Such a marriage was not illegal according
to state statutes, but required a special dispensation if the Church were to
approve. 29 It was commonly thought that such unions produced diseased,
mentally retarded, or handicapped offspring.


44
All-American Anarchist
Perhaps Sophie was more motivated by love than she revealed in
her letters. She eventually agreed to the marriage with or without a church
dispensation. When, afraid of her mother and public opinion, she retracted
that promise, Labadie vowed to enlist a Detroit priest he knew in their
“good and holy cause.” If that failed, he wanted Sophie to become a resi
dent of Windsor, where the bishop seemed more amenable. 30
He begged Sophie to be true to their love, not church dogma:
Listen, darling, you hold in your hands the purest, truest crystal of love man
ever gave woman; it remains in your future actions to preserve and cherish
it or throw it to the pavements of tyranny and cowardice to be broken into
fragments! . . . Hold strong and tight, and do not let me slip away from you . ..
I have made up my mind to many you, and many you I will, if you will only
be true and not forsake me in the fight. Buckle on my armor, love, and I will go
to the battle with a stout heart and the sword of right sharpened for the conflict.
What he would not do in order to receive permission to marry was “bend
my knee or humiliate myself, as only a spaniel would ... [before] loveless,
heartless men . . . who, in all probability, never loved a woman in their
lives.” 31
Labadie was the consummate romantic revolutionary; Sophie, the
devout conformist, absorbed since childhood with school, daily Mass, and
sewing. He was handsome, a bit vain, dynamic, and theatrical. She was
somewhat plain, domestic, and rather colorless. “Nothing marked her,” as
their friend Agnes Inglis put it. His thoughts soared in contemplation of
grand social schemes. Hers focused on mundane tasks and the approved
feminine interests of the tune. They did not appear to be souhnates.
His passion apparently prevailed. The two eventually wed in a for
mal ceremony on August 14, 1877, in St. Alphonse's Church in Windsor.
He was twenty-seven, she was twenty-five. Father Dean Wagner officiated,
indicating that they must have received a church dispensation in Canada.
Their wedding photograph, posed before a painted backdrop of bookcase
and fireplace, depicts a full-faced young man in morning coat, with dark
hair curling around his collar, a modified handlebar mustache and goatee.
Sophie, swathed in tulle and lace, gazes at the photographer with large,
wide-set eyes and a sweet and trusting expression. Not shown is her pride
and glory—a mane of wavy hair which, when unpinned, cascaded down her
five-foot frame and trailed six inches on the ground.
The outcome of the union put to shame any who questioned its
durability. It proved incredibly felicitous. The pair lived together in loving


Passionate Stirrings
45
harmony for the next fifty-five years. We can only conjecture on what trans
formed this strong-minded young woman into the docile and supportive
helpmate she became.
Sophie lived and died a pious Catholic. Rather than returning to the
fold, Labadie developed into a lifelong agnostic. Yet they lived “as near
the anarchist philosophy as could be,” marveled Agnes Inglis, who knew
them well. As Labadie later expressed it in anarchist jargon, “We do not
aggress each other's rights.... We do not choose to make one the slave of
the other.” He granted his “companion-wife” perfect freedom in her own
affairs (which were pretty tame), even to the extent of planning a career in
the priesthood for their son (who, to Labadie's relief, rejected it). She, in
turn, as Labadie himself described it, allowed him to “come and go at will;
entertain men and women friends as I choose; accompany them on excur
sions, picnics, to theaters, meetings, churches and wherever I choose to go
without opposition.” 32
Labadie was very like his father in one respect. Freedom was the fuel
that ignited his soul. Sophie offered him a lifetime of freedom, coupled
with tenderness and loyalty. Through his many endeavors and tunnoils,
she was a pillar of support, even when his actions conflicted with church
dogma. When he was the target of ridicule and scorn, she offered comfort.
Uncomplainingly, she made the best of their always limited means. While
he glowed in the limelight, she was largely content to linger in the shadows.
In return, he made the following vow to Sophie:
To grant thee the right of the rose to follow the bent of thine own nature.
To assume no authority over thee.
To be kind to thee and courtly.
To respect thy whims, wishes, desires, thots, inclinations.
And to be loyal to thee.
This is love. 33
In years to come, Labadie had many dynamic women friends in
the labor and anarchist movements, including such firebrands as Emma
Goldman and Lucy Parsons. Yet he never swayed from his devotion to his
beloved “Mamma.” In old age, he declared: “She has been to me very well
worth the living.” 34



k 4 k
47
Waving
—^TTRedFlag
;,io tn e \—_
O workers of the world, unite.
And use your dormant brains!
You have the right, you have the might
To break your slavish chains!
—"Workers, Unite,” Songs of the Spoiled
In 1848, two years before Labadie's birth, Karl Marx and
Friedrich Engels exhorted the workers of the world to throw off their
chains. “The proletarians . . . have a world to win,” they cried out in the
Communist Manifesto. It described history as a class struggle that would
result in inevitable doom for the oppressive bourgeoisie: “Let the ruling
classes tremble.” As the apocalyptic pamphlet whipped up fervor, the ruling
classes did not waste their time trembling but rather galvanized their pow
ers to crush all incipient uprisings.
But a revolutionary labor movement had been bom that was carried
to the United States by boatloads of Germans fleeing their country in the
crackdown that followed the revolutions of 1848. These exiles, some of
whom had worked with Marx, formed Coimnunist clubs and workers'
groups in America before the Civil War. In 1872, the International Working
Men's Association—the labor organization Marx helped found in London
in 1864—moved its headquarters to New York City. This legendary “First
International,” as it was later called, numbered about five thousand mem
bers in the United States. 1
Marx was, in Engels's words, “the best hated and most calumniated
man of his time.” Any organization he was associated with was bound to
strike terror in American hearts. The First International, however, was not a
coimnunist cell, but rather the first international organization of labor, and


48
All-American Anarchist
was by no means committed to revolution. Its members represented a range
of ideologies, not necessarily Marxist. What they strove for was economic
emancipation of the working classes, to be achieved through international
solidarity. There was no unanimity regarding how to bring this about.
Among Detroiters in the 1870s, as in other cities, unease about immi
grant radicalism was growing. The crushing of the 1848 revolts had brought
the first wave of German political refugees to Michigan. More than twenty
years later, still more Germans streamed into the city, attracted by its rapid
industrial growth and favorable employment opportunities. Once a Gal
lic city, Detroit was becoming, in many ways, a Teutonic one. There was
widespread apprehension that foreign-bom socialists were spreading their
alien creed among Michigan's working people.
As the largest ethnic community in Detroit, Germans by 1870 rep
resented 36 percent of the city's foreign-bom; they soon made up nearly
a quarter of the entire population. The corridor along Gratiot Avenue on
the near east side was a Little Germany, with its own businesses, churches,
saloons, and newspapers. Socialist sympathies in this ethnic community
were strong even before two top-notch German cigannakers were hired
from New York in 1874 by local cigar manufacturer, George Moebs, who was
doubtless unaware of their revolutionary inclinations. Recent immigrants
Henry Kummerfeldt and Gustav Herzig, as it turned out, were veteran
socialist agitators and union organizers. 2
Tobacco and cigars were two of Detroit's major industries, with dozens
of factories and many more small shops. Most of the city's cigannakers
were Gennan men, renowned for the fine craftsmanship they had acquired
in the Old Country, and thus highly prized. (A few women found work
in non-union cigar factories, but unionists demanded all-male workshops.)
Like printers, cigannakers often acquired an education on the job. Sitting
together for long hours stuffing tobacco leaves into smooth rolls, they had a
custom of “hiring” one of the workmen to read to them, rewarding him with
as many cigars as he would have rolled at his bench. Sometimes the reader
chose pages from Marx, or his rival social theorist, Ferdinand Lassalle. In
Detroit, Kummerfeldt and Herzig found receptive ears. Within a year, they
had established a thriving socialist “section,” with meetings attended by 400
to 500 sympathizers, all native Germans, many of them cigannakers. 3
It soon became clear to these Gennans that if the economic doctrines of
Marx and Lassalle were to influence the majority of Detroit's wage work
ers, the movement would have to be Americanized. Party organizers began
scheduling meetings outside the Gennan ethnic coimnunities and addressing


Waving the Red Flag
49
audiences in English. One Sunday afternoon in 1877, in front of a small hall
on Michigan Avenue opposite the Book-Cadillac Hotel, they posted a sign:
SOCIAL DEMOCRATS MEET HERE. WALK IN. ADMISSION FREE. It
was at this meeting, or one like it, that Labadie was introduced to socialism
firsthand. 4
Since the young printer had considered the study of sociology—a tenn
that then included all aspects of economic, political, and cultural life—his
“hobby” since the age of eighteen, some idea of Marxist tenets already must
have come his way. 5 With socialism popularly denounced as a vicious,
un-American doctrine that aimed to steal from the industrious and reward
the lazy, he probably mounted the stairs with both anticipation and trepida
tion. He was, in effect, taking his first steps toward radicalism. A man at the
hall door was handing out tracts; another shook his hand and welcomed him.
Small groups of men stood around, speaking Gennan.
The chainnan spoke in English. He was explaining the cause of pov
erty in the midst of plenty. In the capitalist system, wage workers were con
tinually creating surplus wealth that became the property of the employing
class. When gluts in the market occuned, workers were idled until this
surplus, of which they had been robbed, was absorbed. To rectify this injus
tice, workingmen must demand a cooperative coimnonwealth, with society
collectively the only employer. Profit would be eliminated, prices would
be no more than the cost of production, and each worker would be com
pensated in proportion to his individual production. The socialist motto,
“To each according to his deeds” (“needs” in a later version), would be put
into practice. 6
Here was a program to inspire a young refonner. Here was a diag
nosis of society's most debilitating diseases and a just and beautiful,
all-encompassing cure. Labadie had been horrified by the country's mis
ery and suffering in the last four years of economic depression. Socialism
offered a remedy dedicated to providing the greatest good to the greatest
number and saving the multitudes he saw perishing because they lacked the
necessities of life. He threw himself into the cause of state socialism with
the same intensity and fervor he exhibited in repudiating it six years later in
favor of anarchism and rejection of the state.
What particularly impressed Labadie was the difference between the
socialist vision and the narrow program of the printers' unions he had been
involved with, which focused on bettering the wages and working condi
tions of their members alone. Although an active member of Detroit's Typo
graphical Union 18, he knew it sought no pennanent solution to labor's


50
All-American Anarchist
problems. Labadie craved an agenda far more sweeping than trade union
aims, one that foresaw a complete recasting of society. As he learned more
about state socialism, he thought he had found the mold. When he was
issued the Socialist Labor party's red card in 1877, he became one of the
first two native-born converts to socialism in Detroit. The other was Judson
Grenell, later Labadie's co-worker in many radical endeavors. From this
point on, their lives were to be closely linked, and Grenell's writings offer
many insights into Labadie's role in these turbulent times.
Grenell was a New York-born printer, three years to the day older than
Labadie, the fourteenth child of a Baptist minister. He became a “printer's
devil,’’ or assistant, at the age of thirteen. After a bit of “tramping,’’ he settled
down as a typesetter in New Haven, and served as financial secretary of the
local printers' union. At the time there were three women printers in New
Haven. Only one, Mary Thorpe, joined the union, a smart move on her part,
as it turned out. The union saw to it that thereafter she received the same
wages as the men; the other two women received only two-thirds as much.
Judson Grenell married Mary Thorpe. 7
In 1876, Grenell moved to Detroit to take charge of the composing
room of the Michigan Christian Herald, a Baptist weekly publication. When
he first observed Labadie at a crowded union meeting, Grenell was attracted
by his aggressive dynamism, so in contrast to Grenell's own reserve and
self-confessed lack of “personal magnetism.’’ A drunken printer, big and
brawny, was disrupting the proceedings. The sergeant-at-arms, charged with
restoring order, hesitated to throw him out. Labadie rushed headlong into
battle. Without pausing for official sanction, he announced: “If the union's
regularly delegated officer won't do this duty, I'll elect myself his assistant
and do the job myself.’’ He strode purposefully down the aisle, all five feet
four inches of him girded to confront the drunkard. Much to Grenell's dis
appointment, the troublemaker fell into a stupor before Labadie reached
him, thereby depriving Grenell of the chance to see “Joe ‘in action,' a mili
tant exemplification of ‘authority.’ “ 8
The two novice socialists, Labadie and Grenell, soon found them
selves working in the same Lamed Street print shop, Gulley, Bomman,
and Company. During lunch breaks, they discovered similar humanitarian
ideals and economic predelictions. They agreed that the labor problem was
international in scope and that trade unions were not doing much to “help
the forward march of the human race toward the light,’’ as Grenell liked
to quote Victor Hugo. Full of youthful enthusiasm, they resolved to reorga
nize the industrial world. In the fall of 1877, Labadie and Grenell began the


Waving the Red Flag
51
first of many collaborations, when local socialists started publishing an
English-language newspaper dedicated to “the economic emancipation of
the working classes.” The Socialist was Detroit's most radical labor paper
up to then, and the first to achieve national prominence. Grenell was its
editor; Labadie its chief contributor. 9
Several other English-speaking members joined Grenell and Labadie
in Detroit's hitherto totally “foreign” socialist movement. The city had three
sections—Gennan, Bohemian, and American—of the Working-Men's party
of the United States, fonned in 1876 and soon to be renamed the Socialist
Labor party. Meeting in Lafayette Hall at 189 Gratiot Avenue, in the work
ing-class east side, the American section included English-born Edward
W. Simpson, president of the Detroit Carpenters' Union; veteran unionist
Thomas Dolan, who had organized the Detroit Cigannakers Union in 1863;
Charles Erb, of Gennan parentage, who also worked with the Gennan sec
tion; printer Charles Bell; and E. A. Stevens, who became an SLP organizer.
(All were to join L.A. 901 of the Knights of Labor one year later when
Labadie organized it under cover as the Washington Literary Society.) The
activities of the SLP were primarily educational, and, to Labadie's relief,
entailed no grips, signs, or passwords. 10
“The interests of the whole people are more sacred than the interests
of the individual” The Socialist proclaimed on its masthead. One of a hand
ful of English-language socialist papers in the nation, the eight-page weekly
sold for five cents a copy and had paid advertising. Grenell and Labadie
produced it at night and Sundays, often after a grueling work week. By the
light of a kerosene lamp, they stood at a printer's case on the third floor of
the Volksblatt building on Banner Street, writing and typesetting articles
simultaneously to save tune. 11
That fall the socialists nominated Simpson for mayor, Dolan for city
clerk, and Erb for director of the poor—all native-born Americans—in their
first electoral campaign. Coupled with a lack of money and precinct-level
organization, the party was handicapped by a heavily immigrant constitu
ency, many of whom did not speak English and were not registered to vote.
Simpson received 778 votes, 6 percent of the total, most from eastside
Gennan precincts. As with other elections of the period in Detroit, the count
was disputed, since some of Simpson's votes were thrown out in a recount
and Grenell once watched an election inspector throw away handfuls of
ballots and neglect to tally others. 12
Every cent received by The Socialist was “sacredly devoted to agi
tation purposes” and “not a single farthing” went into the pockets of its


52
All-American Anarchist
staff, the paper announced. Labadie even paid for his own subscription, his
account book shows, delivered to him at his regular job in the Post and
Tribune composing rooms at the comer of Shelby and Lamed Streets. He
saved each issue, also stashing in his and Sophie's quarters a great mass of
periodicals, tracts, leaflets, letters, newspaper clippings, and odds and ends.
Grenell observed that Labadie “seldom if ever [threw] away any printed
matter having to do with labor conditions and radical propaganda, no matter
how trivial it might seem to be.’’ 13
The SLP had been established in New York City earlier that year
as an alliance of Marxist (trade union) and Lassallean (political) social
ists. Soon after its first convention in Newark, New Jersey, in December
1877, The Socialist made the exaggerated boast that there were seventy
thousand members in seventy-two sections in the United States. (What
ever the correct number, few were native-born Americans.) The Socialist’s
subscription sales were going so well that it anticipated over eight thou
sand readers the following year. The paper marveled that the “capitalistic
papers” were fiercely “fumigating [sic] against communism, socialism, and
other isms they know nothing of,” when only a year previously, the term
socialism had been almost unknown to the average newspaper reader. It
stressed that the SLP supported “ballots before bullets,” and denied that
socialists were arming themselves for a revolution. Yet it warned that if
those controlling the means of production tried to further enslave labor,
“a bloody revolution will begin that will end only in Labor's complete
emancipation.” 14
What exactly socialism meant was then, as now, the subject of fervent
debate. It has been said waggishly that there are as many definitions of
socialism as there are socialists. There were at the time several compet
ing versions of socialism, and the party was tom by factional disputes. The
followers of Lassalle sought the salvation of the workers through a labor
party and considered trade union actions futile. They were pitted against the
Marxists, who emphasized militant unionism because they felt it was prema
ture to form a workers' party of any power. Most SLP members were mod
erates; even Marx relied on the inevitability of the collapse of capitalism,
and believed socialism in America might come about by democratic means.
Among the warring factions were militants—chiefly Germans—who wanted
to destroy capitalism by force and sneered at the Americans for being too
tame. In turn, Americans like Labadie and Grenell mocked the doctrinaire
Old World ideologues “who walked so straight they leaned backwards.”
Indeed, the long-term failure of the socialist movement in the United States


Waving the Red Flag
53
has been attributed by one scholar to its ideological rigidity and refusal to
make practical compromises. 15
The Socialist proclaimed that working people should organize them
selves into one great labor body, with each trade union as a section of the
party. It held that the “present slavish, capitalistic, competitive system of
industry’’ should be abolished; the means of production, transportation, and
coimnunication, as well as land, machinery, and railroads should become
the coimnon property of all the people; cooperative production should
replace the wage system and the producer should have the right to all that
he created; and all class distinctions should be eliminated. Competition, as
Labadie saw it then (he later completely reversed his position), was “inhu-
manizing,’’ based on a “soul and mind destroying selfishness.’’ It was all
very well to fight for such limited goals as the eight-hour day, but commu
nism (as he described the SLP doctrine), which he defined simply as “[to]
help one another,’’ was “the only permanent remedy I can see for enforced
idleness and consequent misery.’’ 16
The SLP platform also included other “ameliorative’’ demands, sim
ilar to those of the Knights of Labor. They included sanitary inspections of
factories, setting up of bureaus of labor statistics, no private use of prison
labor, no employment of children under fourteen, equal pay for women,
repeal of conspiracy laws, weekly paydays, and a graduated income tax.
The party also called for a ban on the importation of coolies, commonly
accused of “taking the bread away from the wage-laboring people’’ by
working too hard for too little. Labadie rejected this cry for the prohibi
tion of Chinese immigration, a cry that was echoed by American labor for
decades to come. “I looked behind the laborer who worked cheaply and saw
the forces that cheapened him,’’ Labadie wrote. Nothing could be gained
by “maltreating this man.’’ Instead, he maintained, laborers of all countries
should band together to save themselves “from the terrible vortex of capital
ism that threatens ... to plunge us into everlasting ruin.’’ 17
Though it is unlikely that many Detroiters studied the party platform,
the newspapers pronounced it alarming. Socialism and communism were
words used more or less interchangeably, and communism, in the 1870s,
evoked the Paris Coimnune—when insurrectionists controlled Paris for
seventy-two days. Its popular imagery signified rampages, atrocities, and
anarchy. The Detroit News branded the SLP “a band of organized fanatics,
of whose members, means or purposes but little is known.’’ The newspaper
suspected that they were arming and drilling in Detroit in preparation for
overthrowing the entire social system. 18


54
All-American Anarchist
In fact, the Detroit socialists were quite a merry bunch, leavening their
agitation meetings and study groups with a busy schedule of excursions and
entertaimnent organized to raise funds for the cause. From Christmas to late
spring, there were monthly balls and masquerades, some in support of such
causes as a cigannakers' strike in New York City or the Workingmen's Aid
and Relief Society. In May, the steamer Steinhoff took SLP members on a
grand excursion to Slocum's Island. 19
In keeping with his new responsibilities as a married man, Labadie
kept a detailed account book which sketches the link between domestic life
and social commitment. The couple bought twenty-hve-cent tickets for sev
eral balls held by the socialists and attended theatrical performances. They
spent $4.75 for hay for their horse, $1.50 for a case of homeopathic medicine,
allowed such indulgences as billiards, a sleigh ride, dried figs, and cigars.
The Labadies gave five cents to a “poor old man’’ and ten cents to “orphans.’’
Labadie's notations make clear that his job at the Post and Tribune was irreg
ular. Some months he worked as few as fourteen or fifteen days, his earnings
varying from $31.80 to $78.44 a month. Printers in union shops could earn
fifteen dollars or more per week, considerably more than the average worker's
nine or ten dollars for a sixty-hour work week. Labadie also recorded several
ten-cent fines, commonly given for tardiness or talking on the job. 20 Jo and
Sophie found it hard to make ends meet. They were paying his mother room
and board (around eight dollars a week) and occasionally buying clothes for
his brothers. Even with Sophie's salary as a teacher during these early days of
marriage, the couple often spent more than they took in.
Despite the fact that many rank-and-file members frowned on his
left-wing activities, Labadie was well liked and well respected in the local
printers' union. In June 1878, the Detroit T.U. 18 chose him as one of two
delegates to the annual convention of the International Typographical Union
(ITU), held in Detroit. At the tune, the Detroit local had around 160 mem
bers out of a total of some 400 printers in the city. 21 Although it was the
nation's oldest craft organization, the ITU was not thriving. Hard times after
the Panic of 1873 had nearly crushed the nation's entire trade union move
ment; its numbers had declined from some 300,000 to perhaps 50,000. The
printers' organization had lost more than half its members in four years. 22
For a young man who thrived on visionary programs, the talk in the
convention's Coimnon Council chamber that year seemed dry and tepid.
Labadie conceded later that he had “reaped many benefits’’ from the union,
but he was impatient with its “slow, conservative course,’’ never striking at
the root of labor's troubles. The ITU did not concern itself much with larger


Waving the Red Flag
55
social reforms, although it was always successful in looking after its own.
Labadie sat with forty-six representatives from printers' and pressmen's
unions in the United States and Canada as they contemplated such specif
ics as lowering the per capita union tax, setting up an insurance scheme,
and how much to fine “rats” (non-union printers or scabs) who rejoined the
union. He proposed that the union support efforts to get a new apprentice
law setting fourteen years as the minimum age, but his resolution did not
come to a vote. Why, he wondered, did printers, who should stand at the
head of organized labor, have “one of the poorest organizations in the coun
try?” After his firsthand look at their annual get-together, Labadie suspected
that conventions were held “simply to let the boys have a good time ... the
work done is not equivalent to the cost.” 23
The only fireworks exploded after ITU President Darwin L. Streeter
launched an attack in his introductory remarks against communists as
“worthless vagabonds ... who seek to incite genuine workingmen to unlaw
ful acts through the medium of paid agitators . . . bummers and barnacles .
. . [who] hope for a chance to live at somebody else's expense,” according
to the report of the proceedings. Labadie surely winced as other delegates
joined the onslaught. R. Higgins of Denver proposed that the ITU publicly
express contempt for communism. Henry White of Memphis asked the
union to oppose all “isms” that were stigmatizing the ITU and interfering
with “friendly relations between employers and journeymen.”
All printers were not as unenlightened as Labadie feared, however,
and dissenting voices spoke up. One delegate objected to appeasing the
public's fears, saying the delegates “were not here to put ourselves right
before anybody.” Another who knew communists and socialists personally
found they were “all right.” A third asked what right the convention had
“to denounce fellow workingmen for holding views which to them seemed
just and honest.” The committee appointed to study the anti-communist
resolutions recommended their approval, but the majority of the delegates
opposed such action, calling it “undignified” and “entirely outside the legit
imate business of the Union.” The Detroit Evening New>s expressed exasper
ation with that decision and asked how the union—“supposed to be the most
intelligent body of workmen in this or any other country on the globe” could
have such a “suspicious” and “short-sighted policy.” 24
Labadie was paid $15 for his services as T.U. 18's delegate for the
week. A delegate's certificate and other expenses, including an excursion up
the Detroit River to Lake St. Clair, cost him $8.34. It could not have been


56
All-American Anarchist
encouraging for the new husband to record an income that month of $40.77
and expenditures of $53.55. 25
The week of the convention also marked the demise of the Detroit
Socialist after thirty-three issues. The death blow came when the SLP
decided to launch the National Socialist in Cincinnati as its official organ.
It was a devastating setback for those trying to keep the nearly bankrupt
Detroit paper alive. Workers could not afford to buy two papers. But the
National Socialist ran heavily into debt, and was soon replaced by the Chi
cago Socialist—which hung on less than a year before it used up its entire
capital of $2,600. 26
Grenell had been offered editorship of the Chicago Socialist, but
declined to move there, a decision he considered providential in light of
future events. After the 1886 Haymarket bombing, socialists and dissenters
of all stripes were rounded up by Chicago police. “Had I accepted,” wrote
Grenell, “it is probable that I would have been accused of complicity.” The
fate of the Chicago's Socialist’s staff was indeed dismaying. Assistant edi
tor Albert Parsons was charged with murder and hanged after the Haymar
ket trial, although it was acknowledged he was not present at the tune of
the explosion. Editor Frank Hirth, a Detroiter, was arrested in Milwaukee,
where state troops killed five workmen and a boy during a demonstration
that took place on the same day as that in Haymarket Square. Hirth later
coimnitted suicide in Detroit by taking poison. 27
Undeterred by the failure of their first collaborative publishing effort,
Labadie and Grenell went forward with the optimism and belief in unlimited
possibilities so characteristic of both radicals and capitalists in the Gilded
Age. In the next decade they produced a stream of pamphlets and short
lived periodicals to prod and enlighten the wage earner. These labor journals
were read by workers throughout the country and played a significant role
in the growth of the labor movement. They were a most effective tool with
which to exhort and inform workers, recruit them into labor organizations,
explain economic and political theories, communicate the state of trades in
various cities, profile labor leaders and radical thinkers, and reiterate the
message that labor's hope for the future lay in organization. 28


57
~k 5 ~k
Strang©
Bedfellow^
I shall speak out!
Like the roar of the sea, I have a message.
There is danger ahead and I would give warning.
The greater the danger the louder the roar.
And my foghorn voice is pitched deep and strong.
I am the spirit of Discontent.
—from "Freedom of Speech,” Doggerel for
The Underdog
Agitate, educate, organize!” was the endlessly repeated rally
ing cry of those fighting for the “emancipation of labor.” Labadie vigorously
followed this command, throwing himself into a confusing array of reform
ist battles. He intended to “speak out,” to “give warning.” He rarely saw a
cause he did not like—socialism, Greenbackism, the “single tax” scheme,
the Knights of Labor, and, finally, anarchism. Ideologically, he was always
an ardent lover, but not a monogamous one.
As a printer, Labadie found the press his most effective weapon.
The Detroit Socialist was dead; it was tune for a new publishing venture
to awaken the masses and recruit a working-class army. He and Grenell
planned to stir up the city's working people and make them think, for “when
we can set the people to think, the battle is won,” Grenell told the Chicago
Socialist. 1
Inspired by the success of religious tract societies, they hit on the
idea of printing simple, cheap pamphlets explaining socialism. These,
they argued, the SLP sections could afford to buy in quantity and distrib
ute throughout the country “like leaves in autumn.” The two pamphleteers
reasoned that if each SLP member passed the tracts out free whenever the


58
All-American Anarchist
subject of socialism came up, “these little messengers . . . cannot fail of
converting many.’’ 2
Calling themselves the Socialistic Tract Association, Labadie and
Grenell congregated most evenings with a few socialist comrades to set type
by the light of kerosene lamp and tallow dip. Their headquarters, described
rather romantically by Grenell as a “dusty garret,” was a little printing office
owned by the SLP, located above a saloon and a cigar factory at the comer
of Gratiot Avenue and Randolph Street. Motivated by the “great truths [that]
can be compressed into four pages,” the dedicated crew nevertheless found
it required “considerable grit and determination” to spend their only free
time writing, typesetting and printing by flickering light after a long day
laboring at the same task. 3
The unsigned tracts were written by Chicago Socialist editor Frank
Hirth and seventy-year-old Pontiac, Michigan, fanner John Francis Bray,
as well as by Labadie, Grenell, and others. Bray was a legendary old-time
socialist. As a youth, he had been involved in the Chartist movement of the
late 1830s, the first attempt of the British working classes to gain political
power. He was writing about socialism when Karl Marx was still a law
student at the University of Berlin. Marx later called Bray's 1839 book,
Labour’s Wrongs and Labour's Remedy, “a remarkable work” and quoted
him at length in Poverty of Philosophy. For fifty years, Bray had been
espousing his fanciful remedy for labor's ills: the “marriage” of labor and
capital. He acknowledged that the metaphoric marriage would be a forced
one, “but when the wife—capital—sees how kind a husband—labor—she
has, the hate will quickly change to love, and the result of the union will be
a perfected progeny of which both alike will feel proud.” 4
Far from being menacing proclamations, the tracts were the soul of
moderation. “What Is Socialism?” the first tract, foresaw the gradual evolu
tion of a cooperative commonwealth that would be the only manufacturer,
landowner, or “railroad king.” Everyone would be his own employer, there
would be no depressions, no overproduction, and the earth would be trans
formed from “a vale of tears” into a “paradise.” 5
Socialism was not an invented system, the tract emphasized, but a
discovery of the laws governing the development of mankind. It was based
on “scientific truth.” (Marx and Engels held that socialism had graduated
from its earlier “utopian” phase and had become “scientific,” the result of an
inexorable historical process.) Socialists did not need to foment revolutions,
but only remove obstacles in the way of mankind's natural and inevitable
advancement. The new order was nearly at hand, the tract assured its readers;


Strange Bedfellows
59
indeed, if ignorance could be eliminated next week, “we could commence
to inaugurate the Socialistic State the day after.” To the pamphleteers, it was
simply a matter of informing the public of socialism's wonderful possibili
ties to ensure its ready adoption. 6
The tracts were sold at cost, at just over a dollar per thousand. “Think
of it! Four thousand pages of Socialistic reading matter for $1.12!” their
advertisement proclaimed. By July 1880, the association could brag that it
had printed and sold 210,000 tracts. As Labadie and Grenell stood on street
comers handing out free copies, they were perhaps regarded with distaste
and horror by those Detroiters who believed the well-publicized warnings
of an international socialist conspiracy to assassinate all the world's leaders.
Even an advertisement for a medication in the Detroit News sounded the
alarm while promoting its nostrum: “Beware of Socialists. . . . Beware of
any man who seeks to convince you . . . that the world can reach a higher
social and moral plane through anarchy and by saturating the flags of the
nations in their rulers' blood. Beware, too, of the man who attempts to con
vince you that there are better remedies for chronic diseases of the stomach
and liver than Dr. Pierce's Pleasant Purgative Pellets.” 7
These self-styled “propagandists [for the] left” side of the labor move
ment (the word propaganda was not pejorative then) donated their time out
of love for the cause, although the SLP offered equivalent wages when they
were called from their regular jobs to work for the “movement.” They often
returned the cash to the SLP coffers, Labadie remembered. As he looked
back on it in old age, he contrasted the dedication of those early comrades
with the labor leaders of the 1920s, whom he saw looking out for their own
financial interests, “profiteering on the hopes for the future.” 8
Despite the heroic efforts of the little socialist band and their trust in the
approaching millennium, socialism was not flourishing in English-speaking
Detroit in the 1870s and 1880s. The SLP, whose membership had surged
in the wake of the great strikes and labor agitation of 1877, known as The
Great Upheaval, was actually at the apogee of its strength. Its numbers soon
began dwindling rapidly. Factionalism was a good part of the problem.
Infighting was rife among the political party backers (Lassalleans), the trade
union backers (Marxists), and even the bomb backers, who sought worker
salvation by means of the attentat, or “propaganda of the deed” (as opposed
to “propaganda of the word”).
Many of these bomb backers were newly arrived Germans, fleeing
Bismarck's Anti-Socialist law of October 1878. After the enactment of that
repressive decree, newspapers were banned, books seized, homes searched,


60
All-American Anarchist
and party leaders (including socialist members of the Reichstag) arrested
and imprisoned in order to eradicate socialism in Germany. In an effort
to aid the hundreds of exiles arriving in New York City in early 1879, the
Detroit SLP section organized a relief committee and held a Grand Enter
tainment and Ball as a fund-raiser. 9
Labadie, though avidly agitating, educating, and organizing for social
ism, was not content to put all his eggs in that basket. Braving the scorn of
his socialist comrades, he began stirring the reformist pot of a competing
political movement, Greenbackism. This inflationary “cheap money’’ pana
cea was one of the many third-party endeavors that, for a brief period, blazed
in American politics and then fizzled out. Greenbackers advocated printing
large quantities of paper bills, unbacked by gold, in the somewhat naive
belief that more money in circulation would cure the nation's economic ills.
The movement took its name from the currency with green-printed backs
that was first issued by the government in 1862 as a way of borrowing large
sums of money to pay the costs of the Civil War. As fiat (let it be) money,
with no metal backing, it had value only because the government said it did
and because people were willing to accept it as legal tender.
Adding more than $450 million in easily printed money to the econ
omy during the Civil War had naturally produced inflation, with higher
prices, higher wages, and lower rates of interest. During the depression of
the 1870s, many impoverished fanners, small businessmen, and debtors,
remembering the days of wartime prosperity, figured that putting even more
paper money in circulation would bring back the good times by raising
prices and making it easier to pay off debts. It was widely suspected that
the Resumption Act, which fixed January 1, 1879, for the government to
redeem the war-related greenbacks in coin, was orchestrated by moneylend
ers who had attained wealth and power from enonnous rates of interest and
who wanted to raise that rate even further by keeping money scarce. These
“money-sharks’’ and “bloodsuckers” wanted to recall the greenbacks and
resume a metal-based currency so as to “enrich themselves by pauperizing
and enslaving the people,” claimed Detroit congressman and leading Green-
backer Moses W. Field. 10
Greenbackism began as an agrarian movement. In time, union leaders
and labor activists saw an advantage in joining forces with the fanners to
create an independent political party that would destroy accumulated money
power as well as enact laws favorable to labor. The early Greenbackers
believed that financial refonn alone would solve all labor's problems, but


Strange Bedfellows
61
saw the advantage of adding labor votes to the campaign. Thus, in 1878, a
Greenback-Labor fusion party was bom.
Michigan was one of the strongest Greenback states in the country.
Detroit's grand old man of labor, Richard Trevellick, one of the nation's
first labor lobbyists, helped launch the Greenback party at a Cleveland con
vention in 1875 and was a leading light in the movement. Henry Robinson
(who had been rejected for membership in Detroit's first Knights of Labor
assembly) was another dedicated Greenbacker, and had nominated Peter
Cooper as the party's first presidential candidate in 1876.
Most Detroit socialists, however, refused to be “bamboozled” into
supporting “the Great I AM [Greenbackism] which all are worshipping,”
the Chicago Socialist boasted. They reviled the cheap money program as
middle class, perpetuating “the same cut-throat game between the man at
work and the man out of work,” according to the paper. The labor planks—
shorter hours, state labor bureaus, a ban on imported laborers—were just
a bait: “None but fools will bite.” Grenell denounced the idea of cranking
out additional paper bills to solve the nation's economic ills as “unsound,
incorrect and sophistical,” a mere palliative.
Nevertheless, Labadie was lured to the Greenback cause, ignoring the
hostility of his comrades. He found it difficult to resist any project orga
nized to cure society's ills. Many nationally prominent Knights of Labor,
including founder Uriah S. Stephens and Charles Litchman, who initiated
Labadie into the Knights, embraced the Greenback movement, and Labadie
acknowledged it “drew me into its whirl of activities.” 11
The November 1878 elections were something of a triumph for the
new fusion party. Its nominee for governor of Michigan received 73,313
votes, nearly as many as the Democratic candidate and more than half the
126,280 cast for the successful Republican. In Scranton, Pennsylvania, Ter
ence V. Powderly, who had replaced Stephens as grand master workman of
the Knights, was elected mayor on the Greenback-Labor ticket and, in turn,
found himself accused by the local newspaper of attracting workingmen
into “the meshes of communism.” The party's congressional candidates
polled more than one million votes and fifteen were elected. 12
The election was the Greenbackers' lone moment of glory. The effect
of the Resumption Act the following January eventually killed the move
ment, although Congress permitted the greenbacks then in circulation to
remain part of the nation's currency. As the five-year depression ended
and prosperity increased, the cheap money star rapidly waned. In 1879, a


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All-American Anarchist
committee seeking “prominent persons of the party” to run in the Detroit
city elections went “into the highways and byways, and nearly everybody
. . . declined the honor of being set up as a target for the old parties to
shoot at,” the Evening News reported. Already, the paper was relegating the
“Party of Discontent” to “the limbo where repose the old federal party, the
know-nothings, the whigs, the barn-burners, the free soilers and others.” 13
The 1879 Greenback-Labor nominating convention, held on a Sat
urday evening that October at Kittelberger's Hall on Randolph Street was
a noisy and turbulent affair, with a mob of about 150 “Democratic ward
bummers ... Socialists and Communists” heckling the thirty-six delegates,
according to a newspaper clipping. Labadie was chairman, possibly cho
sen because he seemed the most Greenback-inclined of the local socialists.
Greenback loyalist Henry Robinson recoimnended support for the Repub
lican ticket, since no financial issue was at stake in the city election, two
weeks hence, and the Republicans had shown a willingness to put some
Greenbackers on their ticket. Other delegates, protesting that they were tired
of being fed “taffy and wind pudding,” demanded an out-and-out Green
back ticket. Fellow Knight John Strigel nominated Labadie for mayor, and
there was a “lively howl” when a show of hands favored the Republican
candidate, William G. Thompson, by two votes. Five of the delegates, “fol
lowed by the riffraff which had been so active in interrupting the conven
tion,” then stomped downstairs to organize a “seceders' convention,” the
newspaper reported. 14
Labadie continued to preside while the remaining delegates, among
them pioneer Greenbackers Richard Trevellick and Moses W. Field,
decided there were no party questions at issue and thought it opportune
to support the Republican ticket. Straddling the split, Labadie then joined
the “straight-haired greenbackers” below, who were loudly denouncing the
“shyst-greenbackers” above. The dissenters adopted a six-point platform,
including public works jobs for the unemployed, and nominated Labadie
for mayor. Their campaign leaflet called on voters to support the ticket “of
honest working and business men ... and not the party of political tricksters
and bummers.” Labadie accepted. 15
The platform was moderate, but the candidate was not. Labadie's
minority view that the Greenback party was “but a wing of the great com
munistic movement which is going grandly forward the world over” gave
some credence to newspaper warnings about communists lurking in the
Greenback fold. Labadie believed it was just a matter of tune before not
only the means of production, but also the products, would be owned in


Strange Bedfellows
63
common. Then, according to communism's “beautiful” principles, people
would draw from the common fund not in proportion to their work, but to
their need. 16
Labadie expected to lose resoundingly, but he viewed his candidacy
as an opportunity to “throw the light into dark places.” The Evening News
generously described the twenty-nine-year-old as a “sober, intelligent and
industrious” journeyman printer. Only 110 votes were recorded for Labadie
out of nearly 15,000, and Thompson was elected mayor. Labadie, however,
was convinced the Greenback nominees had been cheated, as election fraud
was commonplace in Detroit. Over-dramatizing the outcome, he raged to
Powderly, the new leader of the Knights, that the ballot was futile. He sug
gested for the first but not the last time that “by force alone” would soci
ety's wrongs be righted, although “agitation, organization and intelligence”
would pave the way. Labadie never again ran for public office and soon saw
government as labor's oppressor rather than its possible savior. 17
Jo, as he now called himself (dropping the “e” for unknown reasons),
and Sophie were living with his mother and grandmother at 121 Porter
Street near the city center, walking distance from his job at Gulley's print-
shop. Sophie taught at a Catholic school across the river in Windsor. Their
account book records that she attended church regularly, paying $1.75 every
three months in pew rent. She bought a copy of “Mark Twain's Adhesive
Scrap Book: Patented by Sami. L. Clemens, June 24, 1873” in which to
paste a growing collection of articles by or about Jo. They saw Shake
speare's Othello at the opera house, at which Labadie probably wore his
new made-to-order suit ($21). He put great store in workingmen being well
dressed: “The world hates him who is dirty and ill-dressed ... we must not
beg for respect... we must place ourselves in such a position as to com
mand respect.” 18
He also spent liberally on books. By early 1880, his library included
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the works of William H. Seward (secretary of state
under Presidents Lincoln and Johnson), Duncombe's Free Banking, Web
ster's Dictionary, Macaulay's History of England, Taine's History of English
Literature, Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, the Koran, several works by
Thomas Paine, and Lessons in Elocution. He paid twenty-five dollars for an
encyclopedia and bought the first of several copies of the newly published
Progress and Poverty by Henry George, whom he considered the greatest
economist of the century. 19
One of the all-time best-sellers, Progress and Poverty had hit the
world like a bombshell, exciting millions of readers and edging out the


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All-American Anarchist
most popular fiction. This impassioned and eloquent analysis of the ills of
the rising urban world went through more than one hundred editions and
was translated into at least a dozen languages, including Chinese. It was
read (aloud) in the shop where Samuel Gompers rolled cigars; Leo Tolstoy
incorporated its ideas into his novel Resurrection; even plutocrats around
the world found it provocative. Its impact on the American labor movement
was enonnous.
The book began by posing the seemingly paradoxical question: Why
were the forces of the Industrial Revolution creating monstrous wealth for
the few living in the “House of Have,” but increasing poverty for the many in
the “House of Want”? George found his answer in the private ownership of
land. Why, he challenged, should one be allowed to benefit from simple own
ership of land without contributing any goods or services to the coimnunity?
The remedy he proposed was simple: not revolution, not nationaliza
tion, or even redistribution of the land, but a tax on its actual value. This
“single tax,” in George's scheme, would make it possible to eliminate all
other fonns of taxation. Industry and enterprise would be encouraged by
being freed of taxes, and landowners would find it unprofitable to pay taxes
on idle property while waiting for it to increase in value.
George was no socialist, but a hearty believer in free enterprise. Yet
Labadie was enamored of the book from the first, primarily because of its
“bold, original and revolutionary” approach to land refonn, which he came
to believe was the basis of all refonns. Although he considered the private
ownership of land robbery (as did George), and felt it should be available
only to those who were actually occupying and using it, Labadie conceded
that in the single tax George had come up with a most practical solution to
the problem of unjust land distribution. 20
A fan letter from Labadie in 1881 initiated an occasionally discordant
friendship which lasted until George died in 1897 at the age of fifty-eight.
“The great struggle is now at hand,” George responded warmly, “and there
fore it is important that men who think as you and I do should know each
other.” 21 In some ways, the two men were soul-brothers. Both left home as
teenagers to make their way in the world, George as a foremast boy sailing
around Cape Horn to Australia. Both began as itinerant printers, working
up to the job of reporter. Indeed, in 1879 George had issued the first five
hundred copies of Progress and Poverty himself after it was rejected by
two New York publishers. Both were self-taught, voracious readers, who
scorned academics for writing murkily and turning education into a chore
instead of a joy.


Strange Bedfellows
65
Temperamentally, both were hell raisers, with strong opinions on
every subject and a sharp pen, but were not prone to personal animosity.
Their passionate humanitarianism was little touched by self-interest. More
important, both developed a strong distrust of government interference,
making peace with the state only because on the whole it seemed more
practicable than overthrowing it. Labadie believed all true single taxers
were “anarchistically inclined.” 22 George's stress on individualism and the
glorification of liberty in his prophetic crusade for social justice doubt
less played a significant role in disentangling Labadie from the embrace
of socialism.
But that development lay ahead. In January 1880, still a true believer,
Labadie teamed with Grenell to turn out yet another socialist paper, a
sixteen-page monthly with no name. The rift over Greenbackism had not
disturbed their personal friendship nor did any ideological disagreements
to come. The heading of the new publication was simply three stars (evoc
ative of the secret “five stars” society, as the Knights of Labor was still
known), and the bold motto: “Labor Conquers Everything.” It was issued
from Labadie's Porter Street home by the “Cooperating Printers of Detroit,”
which included Henry Poole, a pressman who had worked with Labadie and
Grenell at Gulley's printshop and helped issue the socialist tracts. It gained
the immediate approval of SLP national leader Philip Van Patten. He moved
the SLP headquarters from Cincinnati to Detroit and merged his publica
tion, the Bulletin of the Social Labor Movement, with * * *, which became
the Labor Review and the new official organ of the SLP.
The small fonnat, two-column publication cost seven cents, a sig
nificant sum for workers earning ten to twenty-five cents per hour. It fea
tured essays by Van Patten, John Francis Bray, and the editors, as well as
instructive fables and news of labor developments locally and worldwide.
Serialization of Victor Hugo's lengthy Les Miserables under the title, The
Convict, betrayed a touching overconfidence in the paper's lifespan. It
reported on the opening of a workingmen's clubroom (“no Beer House”)
at the comer of Randolph and Lafayette Streets, where workers could read
labor papers, play games, and enjoy ten-cent dinners and three-cent cups
of coffee, with all the labor papers “thrown in free.” The clubroom was a
significant achievement, freeing workingmen from the necessity of congre
gating in locales like Tim Gonnan's Saloon, the “Printers' Headquarters,”
where they were prone to drink up their wages before reaching home. 23
The paper covered Detroit's “Beecher Bread and Water Banquet,”
one of many held throughout the country to ridicule New York preacher


66
All-American Anarchist
Henry Ward Beecher, who had had the effrontery to question why workers
were complaining: “Is not a dollar a day enough to buy bread? Water costs
nothing; and a man who cannot live on bread and water is not fit to live.”
Two hundred attended in their work clothes, sitting at long board tables on
which were placed dishes of bread. A small tin pie-plate and tin cup were
set at each place. Water was ladled from a bucket into the cups, which were
lifted repeatedly for toasts—by Labadie (“To Discontent, the Mother of
Progress”), Grenell, Van Patten, Henry Robinson, and others. Robinson was
dressed for the occasion as a “capitalist” in high silk hat and swallow-tail
coat. “Laughter and fun” is how Sophie Labadie remembered the festivities;
and she recalled the thrilling voice of a young lady singing “The Song of the
Shirt.” Further entertainment was provided by the Socialistic Maennerchor
(Gennan men's singing group). While enjoying himself, Jo was looking out
for potential recruits for the still underground Knights of Labor. 24
In June 1880, Labadie boarded a train with a group of Detroit radi
cals bound for the Greenback-Labor national convention in Chicago. Their
mission as socialist delegates was to join with the Greenbackers to nomi
nate third-party candidates for the forthcoming presidential election who
would “make the corrupt politicians stand back in dismay,” according to the
Labor Review. Like Labadie, the passengers—Grenell, E. W. Simpson, N.
L. Barlow, and Van Patten—probably paid the $8.00 train fare from their
own savings. 25
By agreeing to support an alliance with the Greenbackers and other
“politically disaffected elements,” the little SLP contingent broke with the
more ideologically rigid Gennan element. Only a year earlier, the now-
defunct Socialist had condemned Greenbackers as “scalawags” with an
“execrable policy.” But just when the Greenback-Labor movement was
already splintered and faltering, the American branch of the SLP, prodded
by national secretary Van Patten, voted to participate in the coalition this
one tune in a pragmatic effort to form a viable third party (the Gennan
branch wanted no part in the endeavor). Whatever hopes the socialists had
for a political solution based on the Greenback-Labor party's incongruous
merging of rural fanners, small businessmen, the urban laboring class, and
social radicals were seriously misplaced. As Grenell later recognized, it
was “a crazy and abortive notion, considering [the SLP's] own disorganized
condition.” The convention was a turbulent one, in which the socialists had
little part. “Their notions were entirely too radical for the fanner element,
which predominated,” Grenell recalled. The results turned out to be disas
trous for both the socialists and the Greenbackers. 26


Strange Bedfellows
67
On arriving in Chicago, the forty-four socialist delegates—including
a number who figured mightily in labor history—met in caucus to compare
notes and plan their convention strategy. 27 Peter J. McGuire, the fiery Irish
man who organized the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and
was second only to Samuel Gompers as architect of the AFL, was there.
Also present was the redoubtable Chicago labor stalwart and single taxer
George Schilling, whose lifetime dedication to a slew of reformist causes
is reminiscent of Labadie's own career, and who became his faithful friend.
Labadie also first met Albert Parsons (who was executed seven years later
for the Haymarket bombing) and his wife, Lucy, one of the few well-known
blacks in the labor movement.
As groups of the delegates (including prominent Michigan
Green-backers Richard Trevellick and Moses Field) chatted at the Palmer
House convention headquarters, the subject of socialism naturally arose.
Labadie, Van Patten, Simpson, and others stood with Terence Powderly, a
slender, blue-eyed ex-machinist with a great drooping blond mustache, the
new grand master workman of the Knights of Labor and Greenback-Labor
mayor of Scranton. They were delighted to hear him support socialist aims
and agree to join the SLP. Seemingly insignificant at the time, the conversa
tion proved historic, one that Powderly lived to regret. Labadie remembered
it bitterly a few years later, after the Haymarket disaster, when Powderly
was frantic for the Knights of Labor to escape any socialist taint. He read
that Powderly was “teetotally and fanatically opposed to socialism and is
very desirous of bouncing everybody who is socialistically inclined out of
the Knights of Labor.” To this claim, Labadie publicly professed amaze
ment, recalling that Powderly had been a good, dues-paying member of the
SLP and “his card was as red as the reddest card issued.” 28
Labadie had come to this 1880 convention in a combative mood,
spoiling for a fight. “There may be an attempt to bar socialists,” he wrote E.
A. Stephens in a published letter, “but if they do, it will be capital for us....
We have outgrown our swaddling clothes and laid aside our toys and we
must not jump from that to dotage. We are men in the prime and vigor of
life, and we must act like it.” 29
Alas, no such triumphant showdown lay ahead. The Greenback-La
bor convention agreed to admit the socialists as a separate body, with the
right to vote as a unit on all issues, a right later rescinded. At the same tune,
the socialists were relegated to second-class status, their proposals virtually
ignored. Thomas J. Morgan of Chicago was allowed to present a mildly
socialist resolution declaring land, light, air, and water the free gifts of nature


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All-American Anarchist
to all, and seeking to abolish “any law or custom ... that allows any person
to monopolize more of these gifts than he has a right to.” It was referred to
a coimnittee and left sitting. The socialists also were prevented from voting
as a body in support of women's suffrage, while Susan B. Anthony of the
Woman Suffrage Association sat on the platform, “her presence a silent pro
test against the disinclination to endorse woman suffrage fully and freely,”
Grenell recalled. 30
The proceedings were characterized by confusion and loud disputes;
“ ‘points of order' and ‘questions of privilege' were thicker than whortle
berries in fly-time,” the Labor Review reported. Frustrated in the attempts
to get Morgan's land resolution added to the platform, the socialists walked
out at midnight before the last day. In their absence, delegates nominated
James B. Weaver, an Iowa congressman, for president, with B J. Chambers
of Texas as his running mate. The socialists, after spending the night in
caucus outside, at 6:00 a.m. presented a list of their grievances and threat
ened to withdraw from the coalition unless their land plank was voted on.
Not wanting to lose socialist support at the polls in November, the Green
back-Labor delegates adopted the plank and the convention adjourned. 31
Despite this shabby treatment, Van Patten, hard-pressed to keep the
warring factions of the SLP together, counseled conciliation. He and other
SLP leaders like him saw the forthcoming presidential campaign as “a
splendid opportunity for making known our principles.” The platform, after
all, opposed land, railroad, and money monopolies, and contained labor
planks calling for enforcement of an eight-hour law, workplace inspection,
child-labor restrictions, and the payment of wages in cash (rather than chits
redeemable at a company store). They pledged SLP support for the Green
back candidates. 32
All this compromising was too much for the socialist militants to
stomach. Seething with dissension, the SLP splintered into two hostile
factions. A radical Chicago group, mostly Germans, bolted and nominated
their own candidates for the fall elections. Among them was Albert Parsons,
who proceeded down the fateful road to his execution. Some of the dissi
dents who threatened to depose Van Patten and the SLP leadership were
expelled from the party. They formed social revolutionary clubs, began
calling for “direct action,” including violence if necessary, and drilled with
rifles and bayonets in the paramilitary Lehr-und-Wehr Vereine (Teach-and-
Resist Clubs), and similar groups. As the breakaway factions launched a
new revolutionary anarchist movement, the word “socialist” took on a more
fearsome tone to the public.


Strange Bedfellows
69
Meanwhile, the remainder of the SLP membership under Van Patten's
leadership voted to swallow their pride and endorse the Greenback-Labor
ticket. Labadie, Grenell, and the rest of the Labor Review staff decided to
go all out for the campaign, and in August turned the paper into a weekly,
reducing the price to two cents. They acquired some very conservative read
ers who even suggested they change the name of the paper because “many
workingmen are too aristocratic to read anything bearing on the subject of
labor.’’ 33
The Labor Review's hearty support for the Greenback cause infuriated
the SLP breakaway faction. The paper reported that “cliques who are deter
mined to rule or ruin the Socialistic Labor Party’’ had revived the Bulletin of
the Social Labor Movement as a competing publication. These “menageries’’
in Chicago and New York, afraid of the “more Americanized ideas’’ shaping
SLP policy, then managed to convince the National Executive Committee to
switch support to the new rival paper in the interests of harmony, according
to the attacked Labor Review. Cut off from SLP funding, the Detroiters were
forced get financial help from the pockets of their Greenback friends. Laba
die later captured such internecine turmoil in doggerel:
They jawd and glared, and jawd agin.
An' pounded fist with fist,
Denyin' t'others's right ter call
Hisself a socialist. 34
At a Greenback Michigan state convention, some four hundred del
egates nominated a full slate of candidates. The Labor Review's business
manager, Henry Poole, ran for justice of the peace in Wayne County. The
paper cheerily predicted that “victory will crown our efforts The Repub
lican Party is dying and in its last agonies.’’ 35 Instead, Republican James
A. Garfield took the state with over 185,000 votes, although Greenbacker
Weaver managed to gamer nearly 35,000 votes, the second largest state
support in the nation. Of over nine million votes cast throughout the United
States, the party polled only a little over 300,000, less than one-third of the
million who had supported it four years earlier.
The Greenback-Labor party was to make one last stab at the presidency
in 1884, but after a dismal showing at the polls, gave up the ghost. The SLP
under moderate leadership was similarly gasping for breath. Section after
section joined the more militant social revolutionary movement, centered in
Chicago. By the end of 1883, it could count no more than 1,500 members
nationwide. The Labor Review, once again installed as an SLP organ with


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All-American Anarchist
70
the slogan “To Each According to His Deeds,” railed against the Chicago
“malcontents” and “Eastern revolutionists.” 36
For a tune, Labadie continued to write prolihcally in support of
socialist principles. He served on the party's National Board of Supervision
in Detroit until fall 1884. But little by little his faith in socialism's economic
salvation of the world was being undermined. He publicly confessed that
he might be “undergoing a kind of mental evolution ... and where I will be
next I don't know.” He also admitted that he was increasingly attracted by
the idea of “voluntary association taking the place of the present coercive
State.” It would not be long before he would horrify his socialist comrades
by defecting to the anti-statist camp, an enthusiastic convert to anarchism.
The progression was one duplicated by others who took their places in the
emerging anarchist movement in both its evolutionary and revolutionary
versions. 37
As he raised his eyes to the dawn of a new anarchistic society, Labadie
imagined that all would work out for the best because it was in the nature
of completely free human beings, interacting with each other, to make it so.
But he was a practical man as well as a utopian. For the next few years he
concentrated on both creating a potent labor movement and keeping it from
relying on the government to help.


71
~k 6 ~k
What Labor makes Labor should own.
And nothing his who has not sown—
The fish to him who wields the hook.
And naught to either drone or crook.
—from "Presumption’s Wreck,”
Songs of the Spoiled
Before the age of thirty, Labadie was well pruned to launch
salvos in the war against social and economic injustice. The necessary
ammunition was at his command: outrage, fervor, grit, and perseverance.
All he lacked was an effective battlefield. The Order of the Knights of Labor
was still camouflaged, the SLP was in disarray, and the typographical union
was lackluster and battle-shy.
A romantic, a utopian, a millenarian, even (as social historians call
those who envision a future like the religious millennium, when righteous
ness will prevail)—Labadie was all of these. But his were not just head-in-
the-clouds dreams. Unlike many idealists, he had a strong pragmatic streak
and the ability to achieve practical goals. He recognized that most workers
were more attuned to the cries of “more, now” than “better, eventually.” He
knew it was easier for the rank and file to grasp the theory of “bread-and-
butter” unionism—and obtain higher wages, shorter hours, and better work
ing conditions within the existing economic system—than to contemplate
a radical restructuring of the social order in some vague future. His strat
egy was to organize all the workers ostensibly for iimnediate gains, then to
consolidate the various organizations into one grand whole for refonning
the social order. Along the way, the workers could be enlightened about


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All-American Anarchist
the evils of monopolistic capitalism. Thus a peaceful, instead of a bloody,
revolution would ensue. 1
For the next few years, Labadie focused his efforts on unifying the
various labor bodies into the Knights of Labor. He aimed to prevent labor's
energies from being diverted and watered down through a proliferation of
unions. The ineffectual Greenback-Labor effort had shown that creating a
new, labor-oriented political party would be no easy task. Nor did socialist
candidates generate much enthusiasm at the ballot box. Labadie tried to stir
up the wage earners to mobilize by means of a profusion of pamphlets, labor
papers, discussions, and speeches, but the response was often lukewann,
especially now that times were less harsh. Despite the failure of so many of
their enterprises, Labadie and his fellow Detroit labor pioneers did not get
discouraged. If one project failed, they tried another; if one publication was
entombed in the newspaper graveyard, they eagerly gave birth to a new one.
Not long after becoming a socialist, Labadie took the lead in a practical
venture, an attempt to unite all Detroit trade unions into a city-wide assembly,
or federation, called the Labor League, that would achieve strength by mass
ing forces. Cigannaker and self-described “Karl Marx socialist’’ Charles Erb,
and printer Charles Bell, another socialist, joined Labadie in this endeavor. 2
The concept did not originate with Labadie, nor in Detroit. Municipal
trades assemblies had their genesis during the Civil War. By that tune, it
was clear that most local unions, acting alone, had neither the funds nor
the influence to challenge the power of employers' associations then being
fonned to destroy the budding trade union movement. Blacklists, lock
outs, and “yellow dog’’ contracts (agreements employees were forced to
sign, stating they would not join a union) were favored weapons of these
employers. Against them, unionists in individual trades had little recourse.
To counterattack successfully with strikes, boycotts, and intense organizing,
the trade unionists realized, they had to band together and reinforce each
other's actions with financial and moral support. These early federations of
craft unions emerged simultaneously in every major industrial city. They
represented a leap forward in the evolution of the American labor move
ment, then in its infancy. They were, on a municipal level, the forerunners
of the American Federation of Labor.
A trades assembly organized in Detroit in 1864 by Thomas Dolan and
Richard Trevellick had been a potent force for a few years. At one tune, it
had nearly five thousand members from fourteen unions, an astounding 10
percent of the city's entire population. But like most other union activity, it
languished during the depression of the mid 1870s, when daily economic


Toward One Big Union
73
survival seemed more important to the average wage earner than fighting
for labor's cause. 3
Some fourteen years later, when Labadie attempted to revive the
trades assembly around 1878, labor was again hungering to stand up to
the boss. Only a handful of national trade unions had withstood the hard
times; they were in no position to offer much support to their members. To
strengthen their position, federation of the crafts on a city-wide basis was
the logical first step. But Labadie and his socialist comrades had more in
mind than just achieving tangible gains for the city's craft workers when
they organized this Labor League. They envisioned it as a funnel through
which socialism could “permeate all the trades.’’ If all unions were united
into one gigantic body, they could be “used as is an army by a skillful gen
eral’’ against the enemy ranks, as The Socialist put it. Then “shoulder to
shoulder ... let us stonn the citadels of oppression and march to victory.’’ 4
With talk of “The recent alarming development and aggression of
aggregate wealth,’’ and the necessity to “secure to the laborer the fruits of
his toil,’’ the Labor League's platfonn appeared to copy the principles and
demands of the Knights of Labor, which Labadie joined around this tune,
even using identical phrases. Actually, both platfonns were copied from a
version set forth by a precursor, the Industrial Brotherhood, a secret labor
federation of the mid 1870s. 5
Like so many of Labadie's ventures, the Labor League's lifespan was
short. Initially, representatives from the unions agreed to the controversial
proposal of an emergency fund for strikes, layoff relief, and the like of
member unions. But some unionists balked at the obligatory contributions
and refused to pay up. Matters deteriorated further, and less than a year after
its birth, the League expired, only a few dollars remaining in its treasury. 6
Undaunted, Labadie and carpenter E. W. Simpson, another ardent
socialist, began agitating for the same cause a few months later. This tune,
the effort caught on with the creation of a city-wide trades council in March
1880. Finally, Labadie's new paper, the Labor Review, exulted, the city's
unions, which for over five years had led a “half-dead existence,’’ were
“awakening ... to the fact that the ill or good fortune of one trade affects
all other trades; and . . . where employers are tacitly united to keep down
wages, employes must combine to keep them up.’’ 7
With the new Detroit Trades Council, Labadie was not aiming for
an enduring organization. By then, he had joined the Knights of Labor, a
tempting rival to socialism in the hierarchy of his affections. As an organizer
for the Knights, his charge was to enlist all the workers of the world into


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a grand labor army to end “wage slavery” through cooperative production
and land reform, although not to overthrow capitalism. His enthusiasm for
a trades assembly was related less to its narrow goal of federating craft
unions than to luring new recruits into the more all-encompassing Knights,
an organization that would not limit its ranks to skilled craftsmen, but would
welcome all workers. Since he could scarcely build up that still-secret body
except by whispers to the trusted, he would attempt to entice workers by
boring from within another group. The Trades Council became his recruit
ing ground; from there he aimed to tunnel the elect into the inner sanctum
of the Knights. It is ironic that the Trades Council, to Labadie merely a
stepping-stone toward the one big union of his dreams, still prospers as the
Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO, while his beloved Knights of Labor has
long since been relegated to the dustbin of lost causes.
Labadie was one of fifteen delegates from six unions—the carpen
ters, cigannakers, shoemakers, painters, ship carpenters and caulkers, and
printers—who met in March 1880, at Kittleberger's Hall, to form the new
Trades Council. Representing fewer than 350 unionists, they declared,
“Single-handed we can accomplish nothing, but united there is no power
of wrong we may not openly defy.” Former Labor League treasurer John
Strigel, an idealistic German-bom shoemaker who died penniless after a
lifetime of fighting for labor's cause, contributed the $5.60 he had been
guarding since the Labor League breathed its last. Printer Francis B. Egan
was elected president, to be replaced by Labadie a few months later. 8
Egan, a Republican who was to be elected to the state legislature in
1884, was considered a conservative, but most of the leading lights in the
first years—such men as Philip Van Patten, E. W. Simpson, Adam Stuer-
mer, E. A. Stevens, Lyman Brant, Hugh McClellan, Strigel, Erb, Bell, and
Grenell—were not just trade unionists, but socialists or Knights, often both.
Possibly to allay the fears of workers leery of radicals, the body's preamble
proclaimed: “We are no theorists; this is no visionary plan, but one emi
nently practicable.” A year later, the Detroit Council of Trades and Labor
Unions, as the new federation was formally called, could boast 31 member
unions, representing over 4,000 workers out of a population of 116,000. It
was soon to become and to remain the “life blood of the labor movement of
Detroit,” chronicler David Boyd wrote in 1938. 9
Seven months after its founding in October 1880, the Trades Council
was sufficiently confident to hold a giant, torchlight parade to display its
strength publicly. Fifteen hundred workers marched through the city center
for nearly two hours to the beat of five bands in what the Labor Review


Toward One Big Union
75
incorrectly headlined, “The Biggest Thing of the Kind Ever Seen in Detroit.”
(At least four thousand had taken part in a parade on July 4,1865, organized
by the first trades assembly.) Marchers held aloft banners with such mot
tos as “Stop the robbery; labor must have all its products,” and “Each for
himself is the bosses' plea; union of all will make you free.” The printers,
illuminated from behind by a strong calcium light were at the head of the
procession. Their slogans advised, “The Trades Council is the Working
men's Legislature,” “Mutual Aid,” and “Amalgamate.” The painters swung
Chinese lanterns under the demand, “Down with monopolies.” “Children
belong in schools, not in factories,” asserted the banner of the Knights of
St. Crispin. Embellished with a coiled serpent, it cautioned, “Don't tread on
me,” an amusing warning from this shoemakers' union. 10
A grand ball at the Music Hall followed. Flags and banners were lav
ishly draped across the stage and around hissing gas lamps and balcony
pillars. Jo and Sophie, she likely wearing the new earrings that had cost
Jo nearly two days' wages from the print shop, danced to the music of the
Great Western Band. The Labor Review recorded that stones were thrown
at the cigannakers and that “politicians attacked the demonstration and ball
like a pack of wolves,” but thousands of spectators lined the streets for the
event. 11
Reckoned a huge success, the parade also created dissension in the
ranks. The Trades Council, in its caution, had excluded the SLP from the
procession to avoid any taint of radicalism. Although party members were
allowed to march with their unions, they were incensed at the “narrow and
illiberal spirit” shown by a body that owed its very existence to ranking SLP
members like Labadie but refused to let the party banner be held aloft. 12
From its inception, the Trades Council endeavored to please all its broad-
based constituency, from revolutionaries to defenders of the status quo, to
avoid rash moves, to stay away from political endorsements, and to achieve
a balance between practical action and theoretical discussion.
Shortly after the parade, the Labor Review folded. With the defeat of
the Greenback-Labor party in the November election, it no longer enjoyed
financial support from that quarter. Labadie and Grenell, however, were still
keen to establish a self-supporting labor journal that would compare favor
ably with the city's coimnercial press and mirror the rising success of the
Trades Council. In April 1881, they put out the first issue of the Detroit
Times, with the help of Charles Bell, a fellow Knight, socialist, and printer. 13
A sophisticated effort, the four-page, six-column weekly had pages as
large as those of a modem daily. It was the most ambitious labor paper


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All-American Anarchist
yet attempted in Detroit, already exhibiting the high standard of journalistic
skill Labadie and Grenell were to demonstrate and refine in years to come.
Labadie and Grenell launched their new paper with two big interlock
ing stories: a mass meeting of the Trades Council at the new Central Mar
ket Hall on Campus Martius (where tightrope walkers and patent medicine
vendors also drew crowds) and plans for a major boycott against the Detroit
Free Press for maintaining a non-union shop. Surprisingly, the Detroit
Common Council had given permission for several thousand unionists to
dedicate the new public gathering place and hear German socialist agitator
F. W. Fritsche, who was on a speaking tour of the United States. His mission
was to denounce Bismarck's attempts to crush the Social Democratic party,
and to raise funds for the approaching election of the German Diet. Also
on the program was the eloquent eminence grise of Michigan labor, Rich
ard Trevellick, who spoke for over an hour (as was his wont), interrupted
only by the entrance of a contingent of 250 striking iron molders, to great
applause. Their union's leader had just been arrested in Pennsylvania for
conspiracy on the grounds that men who combined to resist a wage cut were
conspiring against their employers. The Times lauded the “manly bearing’’
of these boisterous arrivals, which it claimed refuted the contentions of the
Free Press that they were “a bloodthirsty and ugly gang’’ of communists. 14
Labadie was another featured speaker. He urged the audience to
join the typographical union's boycott (a term that had just come into use)
against the Free Press for its twelve-year refusal to employ union printers
and pay union wages. “Just as long as it ‘boycotts' us, we will boycott
them,’’ he roared out. Fifteen hundred copies of a “Black List’’ circular were
distributed, listing Free Press advertisers who should also be boycotted. 15
The Times was greeted enthusiastically, and immediately became
the official organ of the Trades Council. Early Sunday morning, newsboys
gathered at John Eby's printing office at 48 Lamed Street, where Labadie
sometimes worked, to get copies of the first issue of the five-cent paper. By
7:00 A.M., all fifteen hundred copies had been sold, indicating that about
10 percent of the city's industrial work force had bought one. The jubilant
editors announced they would increase the run, double the number of pages,
and form a stock company to increase their capital. This, all within the first
month of publication. They were able to attract advertisers like J. L. Hud
son, offering heavy Kentucky jean pants for eleven dollars; W. H. Elliot,
with summer silks at fifty cents a yard; and W. C. Coup's New United Mon
ster Show, admission fifty cents, featuring the “Great Paris Hippodrome’’
with some two hundred chariots and horses. 16


Toward One Big Union
77
Labadie was ebullient about the paper's future. He recorded that
Sophie spent an astounding $15.75 on silk for a dress (Victorian gowns
were voluminous). He bought a suit for $35, although he was earning no
more than $64 per month. Looking good meant a great deal to him. He
considered the “saving theory” fallacious, the idea that “to prosper in this
world we must save our wages; live within our means; wear poorer clothes;
eat cheaper food and enjoy less of the luxuries which labor produces.” He
believed that the rate of wages kept pace with the standard of living work
ers required; those who were content with little, like the Chinese, were the
poorest paid. “Consume all you produce,” was his motto, spend a lot, and
you will be forced to demand a lot. 17
Once more, Labadie's confidence in his enterprise was unwarranted,
this tune monumentally so. The Times publishers soon realized their beau
tiful typography was too expensive. Again they learned by “trial and error,
especially error,” as Grenell remembered ruefully, the perils of putting out
a workers' publication. Their wives expressed resentment over the money
and tune they spent to improve life for the workers instead of their own
families. 18 Added to Labadie's financial burdens were expenses for his and
Sophie's mutual grandmother, Marie Victoire Berthiaume Labadie, widow
of Louis Descomptes dit Labadie, who had been living in their Porter Street
home for several years. Marie Victoire left a staggering one hundred fifty
living direct descendants, including ten children, when she finally died at
age eighty-six, but somehow only Jo and Sophie were assigned to her care
during her last years.
A mere six weeks after the Times' inauguration, lack of capital forced
Grenell, Labadie, and company to sell out to promoter J. F. Burnham, who
published the Sunday Herald, a society paper. Soon afterward, the Trades
Council withdrew its support from the new ownership, “owing to political
intrigues of its editor, who thought to sell the labor vote.” 19
But the war on monopoly capitalism still had to be waged, and Laba
die's urge to publish was inexorable. Almost immediately after the Times’
death, Henry Poole again came forward to help Labadie revive its anteced
ent, the Labor Review, as a monthly organ of the SLP. The two mustered
sufficient funds to breathe life into a socialist-oriented Labor Review for
four issues in 1881, and then for two more in 1882 before they were forced
to give it up for good. 20
One issue honored “the great philosopher” Karl Marx, who, in the
admiring words of the editors, “has cast into the boundless ocean of human
thought pebbles of logic that stirred it to the very depths and promise soon


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All-American Anarchist
to raise a storm.” It was followed by one profiling John Swinton, a foremost
social crusader of the era. Swinton, a great admirer of Marx, had walked
with him along the beach at Ramsgate, England, and heard the old man sum
up the nature of existence: “Struggle!” 21
Fifty-two-year-old managing editor of the New York Sun, Swinton
was one of those who “love humanity better than themselves,” as Phila
delphia printer William H. Foster commented to Fabadie. A bushy-browed
man of “stalwart frame, massive head and striking features,” the crusad
ing editor was a former abolitionist who had risked his life to teach Negro
slaves to read and write in an underground chamber. He had presided at the
mass demonstration of the unemployed in New York's Tompkins Square
in 1874, where unarmed men, women, and children were clubbed down
by platoons of police. He had organized a subscription for John Brown's
widow, defended Walt Whitman against charges of immorality, and led pro
tests against a wide array of injustices.
After telling a gathering of fellow New York journalists that they were
“intellectual prostitutes ... the tools and vassals of rich men behind the
scenes,” Swinton quit his $8,000-a-year job at the Sun in 1883, and poured
his life savings of $40,000 into a four-page weekly he called John Swin
ton 's Paper: The paper was full of vigorous denunciations of social wrongs,
“pithy, cutting, . . . keen, striking things” that Fabadie applauded. During
the four years it lasted, it was the most influential labor journal of its time.
Fabadie was a frequent contributor. 22
Putting out a labor paper was a heartbreaking proposition, as Fabadie
was learning only too well. The time, energy, and money contributed by a
few dedicated individuals might have seemed amply rewarded, had they
found a wide readership of enthusiastic supporters. But the average worker
had limited interest in discussions of economic and social wrongs or long-
range projections for some nebulous, rosy future, and was reluctant to use
hard-earned wages to subscribe. Swinton had to abandon his noble effort
after it “destroyed all my means and my health,” he told Fabadie. Workers
and trade unionists throughout the country lamented the loss, but their sup
port had been expressed more in words than in cash. 23
By the early 1880s, Fabadie was developing into a lively, lucid, and
persuasive writer, tempering his outrage at injustice with witty and sarcastic
commentary. Hampered by a paucity of formal education, he had originally
lacked the facility to express his wealth of ideas. Some elements of style he
absorbed from a printer's daily exposure to the written word, but much of
his writing ability he credited to Sophie. As a professional teacher, she took


Toward One Big Union
19
pains to correct his work without discouraging him, then had him write the
corrected text over and over until it seemed natural. 24
Women activists were not unknown in the labor movement of the day.
But Sophie saw her role as a helpmate, not a participant. Jo was grateful that
she “entered largely into the spirit of my studies,” and their friend, Agnes
Inglis, counted her an ideological ally, who “felt deeply the wrongs of soci
ety.” Sophie remained behind the scenes, yet even in the cramped house
holds of their early married life she always found a place for the mounting
pile of Jo's labor materials, campaign ribbons, and the Beecher “bread-and-
water banquet” menu.
Sometimes Jo would blue pencil an item, “Save this,” and she did,
even when she disapproved of the contents. Why had she saved the writ
ings of atheists, Labadie Collection curator Inglis once asked her. Sophie
replied simply, “They thought it was true.” As a Catholic, she must have
been troubled by her husband's freethinking. Yet she compared Jo to Abou
Ben Adhem in Leigh Hunt's celebrated poem, who, finding that his name
was not written with those who love the Lord, asked the angel to “write
me as one that loves his fellow-men.” The next night the angel came again:
“And showed the names whom love of God had blessed, / —And, lo! Ben
Adhem's name led all the rest!” 25
The early 1880s were busy tunes for Labadie. His evenings were a
round of meetings, rallies, debates, lectures, and related social events as
well as writing, editing, and printing his successive publications. He served
as Trades Council president, Master Worker of L.A. 901, and member of
the Board of Supervision of the SLP National Executive Coimnittee, then
located in Detroit where leader Van Patten was living. In addition to his reg
ular job and work for the Detroit labor press, he contributed articles to other
Michigan newspapers, and was widely published in many of the thirty-odd
labor papers in the country. 26
On Sunday afternoons he and other Trades Council members held
educational debates at 222 Randolph Street in the city center near the river
at what they called “The Free Public Lyceum.” They argued over protec
tionism versus free trade, the land question in Ireland, the relation of social
ism to the trades unions and to the church, whether strikes did more harm
than good, and the March 1881, assassination of Russian Czar Alexander II,
which fed the fires of public alarm about radicals—both transplanted and
homegrown. Apprehension mounted when only four months later, the newly
elected President James Garfield was shot by Charles Guiteau. Members of
the Detroit Coimnon Council seized on the shooting as a chance to denounce


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socialists, nihilists, and communists. All this, despite the fact that the assas
sin was no revolutionary, but a stalwart Republican, embittered because he
had not been appointed American consul in Paris. Labadie protested to the
Evening News that socialists especially deplored the attack on the president
because it gave “blatant demagogues ... an opportunity of riding upon the
wave of ignorant prejudice.’’ 27
Labadie's many and varied activities had not helped him do much to
further the fortunes of the Knights of Labor in Michigan. After the first burst
of enthusiasm for Detroit's Pioneer Assembly 901, interest languished. A
hard core of the committed reformers and labor activists that Labadie had
rounded up in its Washington Literary Society incarnation stayed on, but it
was nearly impossible to entice new members, even by luring them from the
newly formed Trades Council. Obligatory secrecy was still the great handi
cap. There was no way Labadie could publicize the clandestine organization
and its aims. As a commissioned organizer, he was supposed to inveigle
prospective recruits to the meeting place of a group unknown to them, for
which they had been chosen without their knowledge. There were no prac
tical accomplishments he could point to; once the esoteric, mumbo-jumbo
involving invisible “Inner’’ and “Outer Veils,’’ “Globes,” Lances,” rapping,
and hand and body signs were attended to, the assembly would turn to “the
discussion of labor in all its interests.” Understandably, only a small band of
workers welcomed evenings spent in such vague ideological debate. Even
some of the original members were losing interest. In 1880, two years after
the Knights came to Michigan, only twenty-four remained. Counting fifty
coal miners Labadie had organized in Jackson, this made a grand total of
seventy-four Knights in the entire state. 28
Nationwide as well, secrecy was taking a severe toll on the Knights.
For more than ten years, subterfuge had been used as a survival tactic to
protect members from the blacklist and other victimization by employers.
Intended as a safeguard, the policy had backfired, rousing public suspicions
of another sinister organization like the Molly Maguires, ten of whose mem
bers were hung in the late 1870s, accused of terrorism, sabotage, and mur
der, and suspected of plotting to overthrow the government. The Knights'
secrecy also fueled the antagonism of the Catholic Church. The church took
special exception to the scriptural passages in the Knights' ritual and the can
didates' oath—sworn on a Bible—to reveal nothing of the persons or objects
of the order, nor its “signs, mysteries, arts, privileges or benefits,” a vow
which appeared to interfere with confession. 29 There was a large Catholic


Toward One Big Union
81
population in Detroit, and Catholics were often faced with abandoning the
Knights or the church.
It seemed that the Knights' were withering away when they held their
fifth annual convention in Detroit in September 1881. Numbering fewer
than 20,000 nationwide, the Order had lost one-third of its members in the
preceding year. Survival, it was clear, required getting rid of the religious
overtones and some of the secrecy so dear to the heart of founder Uriah S.
Stephens. Terence V. Powderly, the new grand master workman, was eager
to do exactly that. Delegates agreed to discard the “five stars” ruse, and to
make the name of the Order public, minus its “Noble and Holy” prefix. A
simple promise would hereafter replace the oath in the initiation pledge, and
use of the Bible would disappear. The signs, grips, and passwords would
remain veiled, but Labadie scoffed at these cherished secrets as “of no
consequence.” 30
Once the Order's grand mission could be revealed—of enlisting all
workers, including the unskilled, into one big labor organization with the
motto: “An injury to one is the concern of all”—membership jumped rap
idly. Reveling in its newfound popularity, Powderly chuckled in a letter to
Labadie, “I don't think God is in any way offended at us” for leaving His
name out. In an effort to improve the Knights' reputation, Labadie invited
“broad, liberalminded clergymen” to meetings “to see for themselves
whether we are the bad men we are generally supposed to be.” He hoped the
ministers could “lend us the influence which surrounds men of education
and refinement.” 31
In a comparatively short time, Labadie recalled, he and the other orga
nizers “spread out over the State, and honeycombed it with assemblies”
of Knights. Detroit's L.A. 901 added 131 recruits in 1882. Fifty-seven,
however, just as quickly dropped out, some doubtless exasperated with the
emphasis on classroom-like discussions in what historian Nonnan Ware
called “the first bona fide experiment in adult education in America.” Laba
die acknowledged it was also a lot to expect those who were already paying
dues to a craft union to duplicate the time and money for the Knights. 32
It was a period of hope and experiment. In Detroit, Knights' assem
blies of shoemakers, trunkmakers, painters, and bootmakers were organized
in rapid succession, followed by tailors, brass workers, ship carpenters and
caulkers, telegraphers, plasterers, coopers, and an assembly of mixed trades.
Any ten workers who wanted to fonn a local assembly were invited to contact
Labadie at 44 Canfield Street, where he and Sophie were now residing. They
could be of any color, creed, or nationality. Women were not only admitted,


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All-American Anarchist
but encouraged to join at a half-price (fifty-cent) initiation fee. Manu
facturers and employers were welcomed, as well as farmers. Only those
associated with idleness (bankers and speculators) or corruption (lawyers,
gamblers, and liquor dealers) were shunned. 33
Soon the Knights had sufficient following in Detroit to form a central
body—District Assembly (D.A.) 50—to which each local assembly in the
city sent delegates. Matters prospered to the extent that its master workman,
Francis B. Egan, could be paid a salary and devote full tune to the office.
By 1887, D.A. 50 represented around 10,000 Detroit wage earners of both
sexes, more than one-third of the work force. Other cities were experienc
ing similar membership explosions. During the first years, there were only
occasional squabbles between the Knights and the Detroit Trades Council,
no charges of “dual unionism” (two unions competing for the same work
ers) or the type of jurisdictional disputes that caused trouble later. The two
organizations even shared many of the same people as officers. They dif
fered to the extent that the Trades Council sought more immediate gains,
while D.A. 50 was emphasizing class solidarity and long-range social and
economic reforms. 34
In early 1883, having loosely concluded that “the objects of both bod
ies are identical,” D.A. 50 joined in the publication of the Trades Council's
new official organ, The Unionist, which had replaced the Labor Review the
year before. The publication was edited by Grenell, with Labadie as a con
tributor. The eight-page paper was rife with virulent attacks on what was
commonly referred to as the “Yellow Peril.” Like ahnost all labor leaders
of the day, Grenell's compassion for the underdog did not extend to Chi
nese immigrant workers, who were branded unfair competition because they
were willing to work more cheaply and tolerate poorer living conditions than
white workers. In a sorry chapter of American labor history, Knights' leader
Powderly ruled that its acceptance of workers regardless of race, color,
creed, or sex did not extend to Asians. He not only rejected them as mem
bers but indicated they were unfit even to live in the United States. He was
not alone. The SLP also supported a ban on coolie labor. Samuel Gompers,
president of the American Federation of Labor, declared that the Chinese
were filthy, immoral, vice-ridden and racially inferior. John Swinton's Paper
called them “human locust[s],” “alien pagans,” “men who live like vermin.”
Prominent Western labor agitator Joseph Buchanan, who claimed to believe
in “the international brotherhood of man,” wrote that Chinese workers could
not be assimilated, and admitted that he should probably amend his fraternal
spirit to “The Brotherhood of Man, Limited.” 35


Toward One Big Union
83
Readers of The Unionist were warned they might contact leprosy if they
smoked non-union cigars made by “Chinamen and scabs.” Despite counting
only seventeen Chinese in Detroit, the paper harped on the threat of cheap
coolie labor and compared “Ye Chinaman” to fleas, hogs, lice, convicts,
thieves, and slaves. When Michigan Congressman H. W. Lord voted against
the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the paper successfully dedicated itself to
his defeat in the next election. “Hip hulah!” it caricatured an Asian as disdain
ing the American voter—“Mellican man damme foole! He vote for Lorde!...
Chinaman comee and takee jobbe away flom daimne Mellican man. Damme
Mellican man starvee. Me no caree. Lorde no caree. Hip-hulah.” 36
As millions of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe began
streaming into American industry in the late 1880s, craft unionists piled
racist scorn on them as well. Samuel Gompers, one of the “old” immigrants
from northern and western Europe, proposed a literacy test to keep out
“new” iimnigrants from such places as Italy, Bohemia, Hungary, Poland,
and Russia, whom AFL leaders considered “servile and degraded hordes”
with “a slavish willingness to work for almost nothing and live on less.” 37
Such ranting against these helpless unskilled immigrants appalled
Labadie. He felt that race prejudice played into the hands of the monopo
lists by dividing the working class. Almost alone in the labor movement,
he maintained that it was the right of every human being to live wherever
he chose in the world, that America had room for a hundred tunes its pop
ulation, and that “No one who is willing to work . . . can be the cause of
another's poverty.” 38
For the Knights' leadership, educating the working people was its
“holiest mission.” Higher wages and shorter hours, the focus of the trade
unions, were “petty questions” compared to the eradication of monop
oly capitalism and wage slavery. Even President Grover Cleveland was to
declare that trusts, combinations, and monopolies were trampling the citizen
“to death beneath an iron heel.” When it appeared that some of Detroit's new
assemblies were floundering in their discussion periods, Labadie and Grenell
volunteered as lecturers to liven the meetings. Almost nightly they could be
found at halls and meeting places, trying to inflame workers with visions of
a future that transcended a few cents more per hour, better ventilation of the
workplace, or a longer dinner break. Labadie was reckoned a “good fellow”
and well liked, according to a labor paper, so the fledgling Knights probably
listened respectfully even if they found his sermonizing a trifle boring. 39


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The message was doubtless the same one hammered home in his col
umns. Workers must study political economy. “Its laws are as rigorous as
the laws of health. ... If we violate an economic law, the inevitable con
sequence is industrial disease.” The economic system was at fault. Often
unions “resisted a reduction of wages, when a reduction of wages was inev
itable. They have blamed their employers, when their employers were not to
blame. . . . There is a time to raise wages, and a tune to reduce wages, and
these proper times ought to be known.” 40
In addressing the means of production, so much a part of socialist
doctrine, Labadie stressed land as the crucial issue. So long as land was
subject to private ownership, “just so long will Labor eat the crumbs that fall
from the landlord's table.” Echoing Henry George's doctrine, he exhorted
the workers: “Let us abolish all taxes except the tax on land values—in
other words, let us make the government the landlord.” He viewed the real
object of the labor movement “to wipe out interest, profit and rent [on land]
by the application of the co-operative principle under control of the State.” 41
Surprisingly, Labadie argued that there was an identity of interest
between capital and labor. The idea that the prosperity of the worker was
linked to the prosperity of his boss sounds especially strange coming from a
socialist, appearing to reject the Marxian thesis of class struggle, of antag
onism between the proletarians and the bourgeoisie. Yet this talk of natural
law and the right of employers to reap a fair return on their investment,
spoken in the same breath with demands for the abolition of wage slav
ery, was typical of Gilded Age radicals. Labadie reasoned that management
gained when it paid good wages, because well-paid employees made good
consumers. Their mutual enemy was the landlord—“the curse of nations .
. . thief of the world,” who was robbing both labor and capital of their just
reward. He gave this thought a socialist shading by maintaining that it was
only when the world's workers had finally become their own employers that
the interests of the two could be identical. 42
Even before he began flirting with anarchism, Labadie put little faith
in political action. Economic justice would come from economic pres
sure—strikes and boycotts—that could be mobilized by a well-organized
labor force. Action in the workplace, not legislation, would bring change
and preserve it. He saw the pro-labor laws or labor bureaus demanded by
many of his labor comrades as merely “soap,” or froth. 43
By his early thirties, Labadie was recognized nationwide as a dynamic
and influential labor leader. He was a compelling and effective public
speaker, much in demand for his oratorical style and attractive presence.


Toward One Big Union
85
Short and inclined to pudginess, Labadie was nevertheless a dapper figure
on the podium. He combed his thick black hair in a kind of pompadour,
curled his mustache into a handlebar and sported the narrowest of goatees
on his handsome, slightly fleshy face. “An elegant talker, somewhat original
and radical, ... but always forcible, pleasant, entertaining, smooth, easy
and graceful,” the editor of the Bay City, Michigan, Globe wrote after his
appearances in that city. 44
After an 1882 pre-election rally in Cleveland, the Labor Star found
him “one of the soundest and foremost thinkers on the Labor question in the
country.” Despite his doubts about the power of the ballot to right wrongs,
he had exhorted five thousand workers gathered in the public square to stick
by their friends and vote for candidates who were Knights of Labor. He
again sounded the theme that it was not new laws the country needed; there
was too much legislation, much of it bad. He was now shifting from pae
ans to state control to an attack on government surprisingly at odds with
the socialist line. He told the throng, which reportedly was shouting “Hear,
hear!” and “Bully!” that “Tom Paine said that government, even in its best
state, was an evil . . . organized to restrain our evil propensities.” He was
looking to the day when American workers would have very little govern
ment interference. It appears his “mental evolution” from socialism to anar
chism had begun.
He went on to say that law-making bodies were relics of a paternal
istic system, set up for “those not big enough to take care of [themselves].”
Political parties were unnecessary. In the place of presidents, governors,
or senates, “the will of the people ought to be the law of the land.” Every
important bill should be submitted directly to the people for their confirma
tion or rejection. 45
A few weeks later Labadie made another startling proposal in Cleve
land to a one-year-old organization that seemed to be faltering and of little
future promise. He came to its convention not as a supporter of the fledgling
organization, but to urge it to disband and merge with the Knights of Labor.
Bearing the cumbersome title, Federation of Organized Trades and Labor
Unions of the United States and Canada (FOTLU), it aimed to unite all labor
bodies into one association. But unlike the Knights of Labor, it sought a fed
eration of craft unions only rather than the entire working class; it was bent
on achieving immediate gains, not reforming the economic system. “We
must walk before we can fly,” the organization's thinking ran, for it made
no sense to ignore present problems “in pursuit of some will-o'-the wisp
millennium.” 46 Its title was the most impressive thing about the FOTLU.


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All-American Anarchist
It had not lured many of the important national unions into its fold, nor
generated much in the way of funds. It was dwarfed by the Knights. It laid
great stress on getting laws to benefit workers, but even with a powerhouse
like Samuel Gompers at the head of its legislative committee, it could point
to few achievements.
Labadie found a mere nineteen delegates at this 1882 convention,
compared to the first year's hundred and seven in Pittsburgh. No one could
have imagined that this meager and disspirited bunch represented the seed of
the future mighty American Federation of Labor. He was received warmly
despite an open letter to the convention, published in the Cleveland Labor-
Star:; criticizing the long list of labor laws the group sought. “Remember,”
he counseled, “that over-legislation has brought the people to the deplorable
condition in which they now are.” What the delegates should do instead was
simplify their platform to two demands: free land and free trade. That these
ideas might be characterized as revolutionary should not “deter those who
really mean to better the condition of the proletarian class.” 47
Foreshadowing his coming conversion to anarchism, Labadie told
the convention he believed that when humans were free from governmental
restraint, they would naturally find a solution to their problems. He assured
the delegates that it was enough simply to declare these two demands; there
was no need to discuss how they could be brought about. When the aboli
tionists declared that slavery should be abolished, he pointed out, they were
not expected to outline how it could be accomplished. Once the nation had
free land and free trade, he maintained, effective labor unions could achieve
any needed social and economic reforms.
After adopting these two planks on land and trade, Labadie advised,
the FOTLU should dissolve itself and merge with the Knights of Labor.
There were already too many labor groups, each struggling ineffectually.
At one tune he had belonged to five, and “the difference between them was
about as much as is the difference between tweedledee and tweedledum.”
If all the groups consolidated, their effectiveness could be augmented “a
hundred fold.” 48
The Labor Star found Labadie's suggestions “well chosen and well
timed.” Though the FOTLU did not decide to disband, Labadie's recom
mendations were well received. The delegates voted to strike out the section
of their platform favoring high tariffs, which were supposed to protect the
worker from cheap foreign labor. “Protection does not protect the laborer,”
they agreed. 49 Grenell, who was there representing the Detroit Trades Coun
cil, spoke in favor of free land. The FOTLU was not prepared to advocate


Toward One Big Union
87
such a radical concept, but recommended that labor organizations study
“this great subject” further. 50
Following his perfonnance, Labadie—though not a delegate—was
welcomed into the fold at the post-convention banquet. Toasts were plenti
ful, beginning with Gompers's “To the Federation of Trades,” and including
Labadie's tribute to self-sufficiency, “To Our Self-Made Men.” Gompers
and Labadie, both hearty, outgoing, and convivial, apparently took a liking
to each other from the start. Gompers, the future leader of the AFL, was an
eminently practical man who devoted his life to getting “more and more,
here and now,” for the craft unions. Labadie, free spirit and founding mem
ber of the doomed Knights of Labor, was a visionary, who hoped to erad
icate injustice for all mankind. Their ideals of unionism differed, but their
outlooks converged in a number of ways and they became lifelong friends. 51
Labadie next carried his pitch for labor consolidation to a much more
powerful group, the International Typographical Union. “Let us turn our
whole international body into a district assembly of the Knights of Labor,”
he proposed in an ITU journal in December, 1882. So what if it would
destroy the ITU? he challenged. “When a mechanic takes a rough plank and
makes out of it a beautiful piece of furniture, he certainly destroys the plank,
but he has something more useful in its stead.” 52
As one of labor's avant garde, Labadie was convinced that amalga
mation of labor was an idea whose time was ripe; he knew that in unity
lay strength, in numbers, power. Workers must stand together to withstand
the increasingly concentrated power of “government, corporations, monop
olists and a moneyed aristocracy.” The tune was over, he insisted, when
printers could feel insulted to attend a trades assembly where “a smutty
blacksmith” might be present. Fie castigated unionists who were trapped in
“a little narrow groove of selfishness.” They should be mingling with other
working people to break down trade, national, religious, and political prej
udices. The “one grand whole” they should be fonning, in his view, was the
Knights of Labor, a step forward from strictly trade union organization to a
grand union of all labor. 53
It was one thing to ask an apparently moribund FOTLU to disband, but
it was quite another to make the same suggestion to the oldest trade union
in the country. The subject was not even raised at the ITU's June 1883 con
vention in Cincinnati. To Labadie's exasperation, President George Clark
suggested instead a merging of the two organizations that Labadie was hop
ing to lure into the Knights—the ITU and the FOTLU. Still, Labadie was
in no mood to drop his scheme to convert the ITU into a district assembly


All-American Anarchist
of the Knights of Labor, a scheme that became known as his “hobby,” but
was more like a grand passion. For months after the convention, he argued
his case in ITU publications, provoking hot debate and abusive letters.
Labadie was accused of sowing dissension in the labor movement, of being
opposed to trades unions, and of wanting to strip the ITU of its powers. He
proudly pleaded guilty to the first charge. “Human progress is the result of
dissension,” he responded. It was better to break the bonds of harmony, he
wrote, “than be tied with them to a dead and decaying corpse.” At the same
time, he attempted to placate his antagonists: “I am not going to fight any
body about it, and therefore no one need get their mad up. Keep cool, and
tell us what we would lose by the change proposed.” 54
The topic of labor consolidation was becoming hot. The FOTLU had
appointed a coimnittee to discuss with the Knights of Labor a “thorough
unification and consolidation of the working people throughout the coun
try.” By the tune the ITU held its 1884 convention, the rival Knights boasted
over 70,000 members, including many printers. Pressure was mounting to
join with the Knights. But President Mark L. Crawford, himself a Knight,
was eager to stamp out any enthusiasm for merging the ITU, “an organiza
tion that has battled for almost half a century in prosperity and adversity”
with one “that has not yet passed through the fire.” Such a move, he warned,
would be “suicidal in the extreme,” and would turn the ITU's 15,000 mem
bers into an “army of demoralized men, whose coimnanders would be
unable to hold them.” In the end, Labadie came away pleased that the con
vention did not “sit on” his scheme, as some of the “ ‘craft pride' dudes”
had anticipated, but rather had instructed the incoming president to discuss
the subject with Powderly. He asked Powderly to support the venture, giv
ing him seven reasons why. 55
His proposal continued to gain momentum. Two years later, when
Labadie brought up the subject again at its 1886 convention, the majority
of ITU delegates favored merging into the Knights of Labor, provided
Powderly would make some concessions. But conflict between the two
organizations was growing. The Knights were now being accused of inter
fering in the affairs of trades unions, of organizing their own assemblies
of printers and of accepting “rats” (scabs or non-union members) into the
Order. Many felt that the Knights wanted to “gobble up the unions.” Laba
die still was singing the song of consolidation, but Powderly's autocratic
methods and duplicitous blunders had sowed the seeds of the Knights'
demise, and the time for the realization of Labadie's cherished big union
had nearly run out. 56


89
~k 7 ~k
But don't bully me, even for my own good.
As I'd rather be wrong and free.
Responsible for my own deeds.
Than subject to your will.
Like a bull led about with a ring in his nose.
From "To You, My Comrades,” Songs of the Spoiled
In mid 1883 a legendary and fearsome figure arrived in Detroit
on an agitation tour. The mission of fiery German revolutionary Johann
Most was “to terrorize capital. . . upheave the social fabric, and bring into
contempt the forms of law and organized government,’' according to the
Detroit Evening News. Most's inflammatory utterances could well lead to
that conclusion. 1
Recently released from a British prison for extolling the assassination
of Russian Czar Alexander II and urging more of the same, Most was the
leading apostle of terrorist acts—“propaganda by the deed.” He became one
of the most feared and vilified men of his tune. His single-minded crusade
for extermination of the “reptile brood” included capitalists, the state, and
all repressive institutions. “War to the throne, war to the altar, war to the
money bags,” was his cry. 2
Like many revolutionaries through the ages, Most considered himself
a humanitarian but believed that the end justified the means, even if some
innocent blood were shed. Temperamentally attuned to violence, he advised
socialists to equip themselves with an arsenal of dynamite (“the good
stuff'), fuhninating mercury, petroleum, and Indian arrow poison, which
could be carried in a walking stick. “A little grease, a little acid, as cheap
as blackberries . . . [produce] nitroglycerine,” he instructed. “This mixed


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All-American Anarchist
with sawdust and put in a hollow vessel and thrown under a barracks
explodes and the devil receives the workmen's foes.” It was enough to make
Detroiters quake. 3
Labadie, then one of the city's most prominent socialists, was chosen
to introduce the revolutionary orator when he spoke at Arbeiter Hall. The
thirty-three-year-old labor spokesman was intrigued to meet this prophet of
violence, caricatured in countless cartoons as a bushy-bearded, wild-eyed
fanatic, with a bomb in one hand and pistol in the other. What he found was
a small, slender, thirty-seven-year-old with a high forehead and intelligent
face. Most was dressed, as usual, in a fonnal dark suit. His manners have
been described as “refined” and “courtly.” Only the bushy whiskers cover
ing his face confonned to the stereotype. Their purpose, however, was to
conceal a defonnity that caused the agitator much tonnent—a disfigured
jawbone left from a childhood operation. 4
A bookbinder by trade and fonner member of the Gennan Reich
stag, Most had been forced to flee to England after the passage of Bis
marck's anti-socialist laws in 1878. Now he was hailed as a hero by the
revolutionary dissidents who had broken with the SLR Thousands of rad
icals packed the halls in New York City, Chicago, and other cities of the
East and Midwest to hear his electrifying advocacy of the joy of destruc
tion. No philosopher, but seething with passion, he preached an imminent
revolution, which an anny of the proletariat would forge with “blood and
iron.” His journal, Freiheit, espoused the doctrine of Mikhail Bakunin,
who had been expelled from the First International by the Marxists
because he advocated the violent overthrow of existing states to achieve a
free anarchist society. 5
But Detroit was a relatively conservative city. Most of its socialists
were leery of violence and looked to a peaceful social reordering. The sev
eral hundred people who turned out to hear this Bakuninist were primarily
“intelligent and thrifty Germans,” who came out of curiosity, according to
the Evening News. Labadie, who believed in non-violent methods, was not
himself a fan of Most. But he asked the audience to abandon preconceived
notions and its fear of agitation, for “where there is agitation there is always
hope for a better future.” The truly dangerous members of the community,
he warned, were those seeking to prohibit Most's speech.
The afternoon went off cahnly. Most's eloquence could rouse the rab
ble elsewhere, but apparently left Detroiters lukewann. The paper found a
large majority “agin” him. Unlike newspapers in other cities, which were
heaping abuse on the firebrand, it smugly pronounced him “not nearly


Epiphany
91
as alarming as the shadow he has cast before him . .. religion, society, law
and order, capital and enterprise are none the worse off for his raid upon
Detroit.” 6
Although the Gennan revolutionary left Detroit unscathed, his arrival
in the United States triggered a new and more ominous stage of labor mil
itancy. For the next three years, historian Paul Avrich notes, “virtually the
whole social revolutionary movement was the expression of the ideas and
vision of this one man.” He became the leader of the extremists—most
of them Gennans—who had seceded or been expelled from the SLP and
fonned the rival Revolutionary Socialistic party. Most not only galvanized
them into action with his “cult of dynamite,” but produced a practical man
ual of guerilla warfare. His motto: “Kill or be killed.” 7
Those who knew Most personally, like Samuel Gompers, claimed that
he “talked violence but practiced prudence.” 8 Understandably, however, his
passionate excesses of language produced public alarm that the terrorist
tactics of the dread Russian Nihilists and Bakuninist anarchists were about
to invade American shores. Most's glorification of European-inspired ter
rorist anarchism brought a new dimension of horror to the word anarchist,
confirming Americans' worst suspicions.
Most and his followers did not originally call themselves anarchists.
They considered themselves revolutionary socialists, whose first priority was
destroying the established order. It was the remaining members of the SLP,
eager to distance themselves from the dissident group, who originally derided
its members as “anarchists.” When the revolutionaries adopted the name for
their own, it was ahnost in defiance of its stigma. Yet their doctrine went far
beyond the classic opposition to capitalism and private property by which
socialism is usually characterized. They considered the state an instrument of
oppression, thought the ballot futile, and believed that humanity's salvation
would come about through some sort of decentralized collectivist system with
no institutionalized government after its overthrow. As one member of the
group explained it, “politically we are anarchists, and economically we are
communists or socialists.” Long-range ideology was vague; specifics could
be worked out after the revolution. The common note was a belief in a brave
new world, colored by a romantic infatuation with violence. 9
By the time Labadie met Most, he was intensely interested in anar
chism as a philosophy. In the process of a profound intellectual metamor
phosis, he was gradually sloughing off the skin of a state socialist, in which
he had enfolded himself for the past five years, emerging as a proponent of
extreme individual freedom in a stateless society. It was clearly a daunting


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All-American Anarchist
moment for a peace-loving man to begin identifying himself with such a
vilified doctrine as anarchism.
Although the economic and social revolution advocated by the socialists
was still dear to Labadie's heart, he was abandoning hope that government—
whatever its nature—could create the ideal society. The strong sense of indi
vidualism forged during his childhood in the backwoods frontier was coming
to the fore. His change of heart was not occasioned because Chester A.
Arthur, who assumed the presidency in 1881 after Garfield's assassination,
was a reprehensible leader. That year Arthur supported a civil service refonn
act, vetoed a Chinese exclusion bill, and attempted to reduce tariff rates—all
actions in line with Labadie's thinking.
Yet Labadie believed that “politics today is synonymous with corrup
tion, rascality and thievery.’’ The “grand old parties’’ were “rotten to their
very cores . . . alive with vermin.’’ Greenback and SLP election campaign
failures had convinced him that hopes for an effective labor party were
doomed. In coimnon with many socialists of the time, he concluded that
political action in the existing system was a waste of time. 10
Could workers achieve their desires through the ballot box? he asked
Most at their Detroit meeting, probably rhetorically. Should they begin to
succeed, they would be crushed by the capitalists, was Most's reply. Repres
sive measures would be enacted by the government and brutally enforced
by the militia and the anny, as was done against strikers. “Social refonns do
not come about by voting,’’ Most assured him. 11
But the doctrine that attracted Labadie had little in coimnon with
Most's brand of collectivist, or communist, anarchism, nor was it of foreign
origin. The philosophical, or individualist, anarchism of America came to
life, not in some dingy underground cell in Europe, but in the clear, ratified
air of Massachusetts. Its seed was the rebellion against authority and cry for
liberty of the American revolutionists. It received nourishment from the Bill
of Rights, a document that enunciates the actions government may not take,
and protects the individual from the will of the majority.
Individualist anarchism was rooted in the same Enlightenment spirit
that motivated the founding fathers—a belief that individuals have natural
rights and that by the use of reason they can discover and live in harmony
with natural laws. (“The best laws, the safest laws... the only laws necessary
for the guidance of human action are natural laws,’’ Labadie wrote.) It envi
sioned a utopia where each individual was sovereign, free to live in any man
ner that did not infringe on the rights of others, so long as others were granted
that right equally. The bedrock of this anarchism, as Labadie later expressed


Epiphany
93
it in a maxim, was: “Mind your own business and leave your neighbor's
business alone.’’ 12
Anarchist ideas have been promulgated through the ages. They were
uttered by the Chinese sage, Lao-tse, by Zeno, and other Greek philosphers,
by William Godwin, and by Leo Tolstoy. But it is logical that the concept of
individualist anarchism reached its fullest expression in the United States,
where individual rights and liberty were valued as never before. Developing
from these values came a pervasive suspicion, even hostility toward cen
tralized authority, an anti-statism of an intensity found nowhere else in the
world. 13
As “no dam foreign Amikist,’’ Labadie pointed proudly to the
anti-government sentiments of individualist anarchism's illustrious fore
bears: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Bronson Alcott,
who questioned: “Why should I employ ... a state to govern me? . .. Why
not govern myself?’’ He detected strong anarchistic leanings in Thomas Jef
ferson, Thomas Paine, the Free Soil party, and the abolitionists. 14
Individualist anarchists saw all government as oppressive and major
ity rule as a tyranny. They provided no blueprint for the stateless utopia; to
do so would be, logically, authoritarian, the antithesis of their belief that
individuals should be free to work out any system they liked and change it
at will. In the ideal libertarian society, people could organize any voluntary
associations they saw fit, so long as they did not force others to join them.
A few weeks before Labadie's encounter with Most, he had written
to Benjamin Tucker, the leading American propagandist of the doctrine of
individualist anarchism, to say he was “much pleased’’ with it. He admitted
that he had been losing the enthusiasm for state control, “which I had when
my mind was more a stranger to the study of social philosophy.’’ (He later
was said to have claimed, stretching for humor, that his “Marxmanship was
never very keen.’’) But, he told Tucker, he was confused and full of ques
tions. How could anarchism work in practice? How could railroads be con
structed? Thousands of problems troubled his mind. They seemed soluable
only if the majority could force the minority to conform to its will, which
was anathema to the creed. 15
Tucker printed the letter in his Boston journal Liberty in June 1883,
along with a confident response. The important question was whether it was
true that individual rights transcended those of the majority. “If he finds
that it is,’’ Tucker wrote of Labadie, “then let him advocate it through thick
and thin and apply it where he can, trusting to human ingenuity to provide
for its universal application eventually.’’ What was true was workable, in


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All-American Anarchist
other words. Tucker admitted that he could foresee difficulties, especially
regarding construction of railroads and highways. But he had faith that
“when Anarchism prevails, individuals will be much readier than now to
make sacrifices for the public good,” since “nothing stifles public spirit like
compulsion and nothing inspires it like freedom.” 16
As foremost advocate for the cause, the twenty-nine-year-old Boston
publisher was eager to encourage a potential convert, four years older than
himself, especially one who was an influential activist in the labor move
ment. He flattered Labadie by saying that he “never dreamed of making
any impression upon men like yourself,” and referring to him as one of “the
most intelligent of the State Socialists.” He was happy to fill Labadie's order
for two anarchist classics, Josiah Warren's True Civilization and Colonel
William B. Greene's Mutual Banking. Encounters with Warren and Greene
had brought about Tucker's own conversion a decade before. As an eigh-
teen-year-old engineering student at Massachusetts Institute of Technol
ogy, Tucker had heard both Warren and Greene speak at the New England
Labor Refonn League, a birthplace of individualist anarchism. Now keen to
shape Labadie's thinking, Tucker temptingly offered at half price a “slightly
mouse-gnawed copy” of What Is Property? by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon,
the first to proclaim himself an anarchist. Tucker himself had translated it
from the French. Warren's book was advertised in Liberty as “explaining the
basic principles of Labor Refonn,” and this may have been its attraction for
Labadie. But Tucker told him these were also the principles of “Anarchy,” a
word Warren himself never used. 17
Although a belief that the less government the better was not a new
one, Warren was the first to put together a coherent libertarian philosophy.
He was fonnulating his doctrine of “the sovereignty of the individual”
in the 1830s, decades before Bakunin and Most were agitating for their
conflicting version of a stateless society based on a communist structure.
A quarter century before Karl Marx was poring over books in the domed
reading room of the British Museum, analyzing the evils of capitalism for
Das Kapital, Warren was trying to correct those evils in experiments with
anarchistic coimnunities. He was testing his theories even before Marx's
adversary, Proudhon, laid out a similar individualist philosophy which he
named “Anarchy” in 1840 in What Is Property?
After studying their works, Labadie pointed out that Warren, Marx, and
Proudhon were nearly in agreement in their critique of the existing capitalist
society. Each sought to abolish “usury,” defined as interest on money, rent for
land, and profit on labor—money not earned by working for it. But, according


Epiphany
95
to Labadie, where Warren and Proudhon agreed the ideal society could be
attained only if each individual enjoyed the maximum possible freedom,
Marx envisioned an authoritarian system in which individual desires would
be subservient to the collective good. Under this form of state socialism,
private property would be abolished. In contrast, both Warren and Proudhon
believed in the right to own what one produced. Unlike Marx, they put their
complete trust in evolutionary methods. 18
At the time all three were working out their tenets, the air was heavy
with the zeal for social refonn. The study of economic processes as they
related to industrial capitalism was in its infancy; theorists were groping
for solutions to society's problems. In the spirit of an age still reeling from
the startling evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer,
social philosophers were confident that society likewise could be analyzed
and re-fonnulated using scientific methods.
As the originator of American anarchism, Warren and his extraor
dinary social experiments merit examination. Bom in Boston in 1798, a
descendant of Puritans, Warren was no ivory-tower philosopher. A true
American-style pragmatist, he was always asking, “Can it work?” In 1826,
a musician and band conductor, he moved his wife and baby daughter to
Robert Owen's experimental coimnunity in New Harmony, Indiana, to
observe socialism in practice. When Owen's scheme collapsed after two
years, Warren blamed it on a stifling of individual initiative and a demand
for conformity that conflicted with “nature's own inherent law of diversity”
and the instinct of self-preservation. 19
He then undertook what historian James J. Martin has called “the
first scientific experiment in cooperative economics in modem history.” 20
At Warren's “Time Store” in Cincinnati, he carried out a fascinating prac
tical application of the classic labor theory of value, expounded by Adam
Smith and others, which held that the value of a coimnodity depended on
the amount of labor expended in its production. Warren felt that the price
of an item should not fluctuate in response to speculation or supply and
demand, but only reflect the “cost” of making it.
He bought $300 worth of groceries and dry goods, then posted the
bills of purchase for all to see. Customers were to pay the cost price, plus a
percentage for shipping and overhead. Warren added no profit. The customer
owed an equivalent amount of tune, payable by his own labor. Payment was
made using promissory “labor notes” instead of money, an idea Warren had
picked up from Owen. Warren's price as proprietor was calculated on the
basis of the time it took to sell the item. A clock in plain sight measured the


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All-American Anarchist
minutes. Since time was money, customers did not waste it haggling over
their purchases; Warren soon reported selling as much in an hour as nor
mally in a day.
A bom inventor, Warren also developed an advanced stereotyping
process, a high-speed printing press, a new method of musical notation,
and a lamp that burned lard instead of oil. In his Time Store he was testing
an economic invention. He next tested a new social hypothesis, a model
village. In 1835, on four hundred acres along the Tuscarora River in Ohio,
he set up the first anarchist community in America, with the aim of achiev
ing the greatest practicable amount of liberty for each resident. In the Vil
lage of Equity there were no laws, no rules, and no one had more authority
than anyone else. Its six families were successfully running a sawmill when
malaria spread through the settlement and it had to be abandoned.
Warren returned to New Harmony to refine his idea of “equitable
commerce'' in the work-a-day laboratory of another Time Store. This time
labor was not valued simply on a hour-for-hour basis but according to how
“disagreeable” or “intense” the task was or how efficient the worker. Each
person was free to set the value of his own labor notes, but no one was
obliged to accept them if they seemed overrated. In 1847, Warren published
a summary of his philosophy and social experiments in Equitable Com
merce, later re-published as True Civilization.
Seeking new challenges, Warren established two long-lasting com
munities, “Utopia,” in 1847, along the Ohio River south of Cincinnati, and,
in 1851, “Modem Times” in Brentwood, Long Island. These were proving
grounds for his theory that “enlightened self-interest” and free competition
would eventually produce an equitable society where humans would prac
tice the laws of social harmony because it was in their interest to do so. He
believed that human nature became evil only when corrupted by authority
or forced conformity.
“Mind your own business” and “Do not harm your neighbor” were
the colonies' only laws. Modem Tunes was a pleasant, well-kept fanning
town of attractive cottages constructed on the labor-exchange principle. Life
there was reportedly hannonious, with no crime or violence. Undesirables
left when colonists refused to buy from them, sell to them, or speak to them.
A poor public speaker, the stocky, shy Wanen lacked personal magne
tism, and initially his efforts received little notice. When they did, however,
he was faced with notoriety. Free to live as they liked, the two hundred
ardent individualists at Modem Times felt no need to confonn to the nonns
of the society outside. Curiosity seekers reported that the coimnunity was a


Epiphany
91
hotbed of “free love” and promiscuity, with women wearing bloomers and
masculine attire. This shocking state of affairs got heavy newspaper play
and attracted both disapproving gawkers and those eager to join the group.
Warren, personally leery of marital experimentation, cringed at the atten
tion. He pointed out that in his community those preferring a conventional
marriage were equally free to have one. Weathering the scandal, Modem
Tunes survived until the 1870s and a few of the coimnunity people still
lived there after the turn of the century.
Though today Warren's ideas may seem simplistic and his experi
ments primitive, they were not so preposterous at a tune when much of the
country was frontier or near-frontier. In that semi-anarchist condition there
were few taxes or licenses, and only local law enforcement. With govern
ment far less pervasive than it is today, any sort of society seemed possible
to utopian romantics.
Warren's theories were carried forward by three associates, all Mas-
sachusetts-bom, of old New England stock, with a ministerial background.
Stephen Pearl Andrews (1812-1886), the son of a Baptist clergyman, was
a lawyer, a pioneer in shorthand methods, and a brilliant scholar and lin
guist. He became a disciple of Warren's after fleeing from a Texas mob
because of his abolitionist agitation. He elaborated on Warren's principles
in The Science of Society (1852). 21 William B. Greene (1819-1878) was
educated at West Point, and served in the Army campaign against Florida
Seminoles before attending Harvard Divinity School. In Mutual Banking,
published in 1850, he outlined a system of cooperative banking similar to
Proudhon's “Bank of the People” (where no-interest loans were provided
at cost), using its own currency as a medium of exchange among members.
Co-organizer with Greene of the anarchist-oriented New England Labor
Refonn League, Ezra Heywood (1829-1893) was another abolitionist who
studied for the ministry. Like Greene, he was an ardent fighter for women's
rights. An advocate of birth control and free love (he called married women
“prostitutes for life”), he was arrested and jailed several tunes for mail
ing “obscene” literature. A fourth significant figure was Lysander Spooner
(1808-1887), a Constitutional lawyer. He rejected the validity of the Con
stitution in a series of pamphlets titled No Treason published after the Civil
War when Northerners were charging that the South had acted treasonously.
He claimed the Constitution was a contract drawn up among persons now
dead and was not binding on later generations.
Benjamin Tucker, the last of the great voices of the American indi
vidualist anarchist tradition, became its chief exponent in the nineteenth


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century. Bom in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, in 1854, the son of “radical
Unitarians,” he possessed a brilliant, logical mind. He read Charles Darwin,
Thomas Huxley, Herbert Spencer, and John Stuart Mill in his teens, but it
was Warren whom he described as “my first source of light.” By the time
he was twenty-one, he had translated Proudhon's What Is Property? He had
also become an editor of Heywood's anarchist monthly, The Word, had been
jailed for refusing to pay the poll tax (a la Thoreau), and had been seduced
by the notorious suffragist and free love proponent Victoria Woodhull, who
was twice his age. 22
Despite his radical reputation, Tucker remained an editorial writer for
the Boston Daily Globe for years after he founded the anarchist period
ical Liberty in August 1881, just as interest in anarchism was beginning
to grow. He was a skilled journalist, admired for an incisive, lucid, and
elegant style, which he seasoned with generous sprinklings of vitriol. War
ren's followers were among his contributors. It was heady for Labadie, a
self-taught workingman, to be welcomed into this erudite, intellectual com
pany. He remained almost reverential toward the aloof, aristocratic Tucker,
who reciprocated by exempting Labadie from his frequent caustic outbursts
against almost everyone else.
As “pope” of the movement, Tucker possessed the charisma and lead
ership qualities Warren lacked. They were sufficient to create hundreds,
if not thousands, of adherents or sympathizers in the United States and
abroad. Liberty lasted until 1908, becoming the longest-lived of any Amer
ican radical periodical. The motto decorating its masthead was Proudhon's
provocative declaration: “Liberty: not the daughter but the mother of order.”
Less metaphorically stated: liberty should come first; order would naturally
result. Its supporters liked to refer to themselves as “unterrified Jeffersonian
democrats,” prepared to carry the philosopher/president's supposed asser
tion that “that government governs best that governs least,” to its logical
ultimate by substituting “governs not at all.” Where the founding fathers
had regarded the federal government as a necessary evil, the individualists
proposed that it was not necessary at all.
Labadie was a reader of Liberty from its first issue. Firmly entrenched
in what he called the “communist” (SLP) camp at the time, he nevertheless
admired the journal's “consistency and bold and aggressive attitude,” he
wrote in Labor Review in 1882. He was also studying Spencer, who upheld
“the man against the state”; Mill, champion of individual liberty; the lais
sez-faire theories of Adam Smith; andMarx, reading a little at a tune in orderto
avoid “mental dyspepsia.” As he began delving into anarchist philosophy, he


Epiphany
99
became increasingly leery of “the infallibility of the majority.” Individuals
should be allowed to “do their own business at their own cost.” Within three
years of his first exposure to anarchism, he converted from advocacy of an
all-powerful state to the conviction that, once unfettered, humans would
choose to harmonize with the great natural laws, as the Indians of his child
hood had done. His revelation came like a religious epiphany; once the
anarchist creed was revealed to him, he believed he had found humanity's
salvation. In defense of his flip-flop, he liked to say that “only dead men and
fools never change their minds. 23
Labadie's shifting philosophical affections appear to have had no
bearing on his effectiveness as a labor leader or organizer for the Knights of
Labor. Radicals of all colorations were plentiful in the labor movement of
the early 1880s and their sentiments were listened to respectfully. Labadie's
sudden abandonment of socialism coincided with the exit of most of the
SLP's membership. Many were now harking to Johann Most's exhortations.
The party's fortunes were not improved by the sudden disappearance of
its disheartened leader, the brilliant but erratic Philip Van Patten, who left
behind a note intimating suicide, only to re-surface some years later as a
prosperous architect in Hot Springs, Arkansas. One of his last acts before
vanishing was to complain to Friedrich Engels about the damage Most
was doing to the SLP and asking if Marx had supported anarchism. Engels
responded that Marx had opposed the philosophy “from the first day it was
put forward in its present form by Bakunin.” 24
SLP loyalists did not look kindly on Labadie's musings in Liberty
about a possible change of heart. Anarchism was “a cheap bait for dupes
to swallow,” a party publication lashed out. It snidely questioned Labadie's
“reasoning faculties,” in not recognizing that anarchism was contrary to the
laws of nature. In time, the majority would discover those laws and “compel
the unreasoning, illogical minority to obey” them, the diatribe concluded
(precisely what Labadie feared). 25
Labadie's resignation from the party and from his position as sec
retary of the Detroit-based National Board of Supervision was expected
imminently. Yet he did not sever his connection at once. Always sympa
thetic to the downtrodden, he may have been reluctant to desert a sinking
ship, especially one he had helped launch with such high hopes. Possibly
hoping for his change of heart, the SLP issued Labadie credentials as dele
gate to its convention in Baltimore in December 1883, as representative of
the cash-strapped San Francisco section. He was told that the rapidly disin
tegrating party wanted “all classes of radicals to unite to fight the common


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foe.” Only sixteen disspirited delegates attended. Labadie was not one of
them. 26
Meanwhile, he was approached by Burnette G. Haskell, an enterpris
ing young comrade in San Francisco, who had concocted a grand scheme
for merging all the nation's bitterly divided socialist and anarchist factions
into one harmonious whole. He wanted Labadie to promote the plan at a
congress in Pittsburgh in October 1883 that Most was organizing to create a
unified, international revolutionary party. 27
Haskell was founder of the International Workmen's Association, a
Marxian socialist workers' movement based in the Far West and Rocky
Mountain regions. As representative of this “Red International” (to dis
tinguish it from the Bakunin-inspired “Black International”), Haskell had
been invited to the Pittsburgh Congress. Unable to attend, he delegated Ger-
man-bom August Spies of Chicago, who was working closely with Most, to
present the plan in his stead. He named Labadie his alternate delegate, and
requested him also “to urge its adoption.” 28
Labadie knew Haskell as the twenty-six-year-old editor of Truth, “A
Journal for the Poor,” which trumpeted the cause of “scientific socialism”
while raging against the “mongolian curse” of cheap Chinese labor, a popu
lar bugaboo of West Coast workers. Violence held singular appeal for Has
kell, as it did for Johann Most. Truth announced matter-of-factly that the
paper cost five cents a copy “and dynamite forty cents a pound.” Readers
could learn about “Dynamite: the Plain Directions for Making It.” Haskell
once planned to solve the problem of land monopolies by digging a tunnel
to San Francisco's Hall of Records and blowing up the place so there would
be “an inextricable confusion in land titles.” 29
Haskell was “of brilliant parts but erratic temperament and habits,”
as Joseph R. Buchanan, a close associate, described him. He possessed a
strong romantic infatuation with conspiratorial schemes. Ideological dis
tinctions did not concern him unduly; he published excerpts from Marx,
Proudhon, Bakunin, Henry George and Patrick Henry with equal enthusi
asm. When he assured Labadie that “our minds so run in the same channel
that you know exactly how I feel,” the Detroiter was probably dismayed. 30
Labadie sent his copy of Haskell's plan to his anarchist mentor Tucker
for a reaction. In an attempt to reconcile the tastes of revolutionary socialists,
coimnunist (collectivist) anarchists, individualist anarchists, and ordinary
American workers, Haskell had stirred together a confusing stew. “Tremble!
Oppressors of the World!” the document concluded grandiloquently. “Not


Epiphany
101
far beyond your purblind sight there dawns the rose scarlet and sable lights
of the JUDGMENT DAY.” 31
“A hodge-podge of sense and nonsense,” Tucker sneered in Liberty,
“perhaps the most foolishly inconsistent piece of work that ever came to
our notice.” In what can be read as a cautionary message to Labadie, he
wrote: “Every friend of Liberty who may go to Pittsburgh is hereby urged
to examine this document carefully before giving it his adhesion.” 32 Why
Haskell chose Labadie as his representative is mysterious. Possibly he was
seeking the blessing of the individualist anarchists, since by then Labadie
was assumed to be in their camp. Or perhaps he saw Labadie as a persuasive
and well-liked figure who would be listened to respectfully by all factions.
Whatever the case, Labadie seems to have stayed home.
When Spies presented Haskell's plan at a secret session of the Pitts
burgh Congress, it reportedly precipitated a hsthght. Aiming to please
everyone, Haskell had pleased almost no one. The twenty-six delegates then
drafted a declaration of principles known as the Pittsburgh Manifesto. It
decisively rejected the ballot as futile and called for “energetic, relentless,
revolutionary and international action” to overthrow the “unjust, insane and
murderous” capitalistic system. 33
The delegates from New York and the East Coast, led by Most,
objected to any role for labor unions. But they were outvoted by the Mid-
westerners who had broken with the SLP and envisioned unions not only as
agents of the coming revolution but as the nucleus of the new social order.
Led by Spies and Albert Parsons, this group endorsed a combination of
anarchism and revolutionary unionism, which became known as the “Chi
cago idea” and anticipated by two decades the anarcho-syndicalism of the
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the so-called Wobblies.
Lor the sake of unity, the two groups of anarchists buried their dis
agreements. They dedicated themselves to a new organization of proletar
ian revolt, the International Working People's Association (IWPA). Known
as the “Black International,” it was considered a direct descendant of the
Bakuninist breakaway factions of the Lirst International. It called for a
future system of collective ownership of property in a decentralized society.
Direct action—force and violence—would be the tactic used to achieve this.
In Labadie's and Tucker's lexicon, its members were not anarchists at all,
but revolutionary coimnunists, false figures “sailing under the flag of anar
chism.” 34 Lor the individualist anarchist, outside both groups, their dogma
would result in coercion as surely as under state socialism.


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Though hundreds of thousands of copies of the Pittsburgh Manifesto
were distributed in the United States alone, Most failed in his attempt to
end the war among the radicals. On the contrary, the Pittsburgh Congress
produced a sharp division between the “Reds” (Marxian socialists) and
the “Blacks” (Bakuninists). Haskell's group remained aloof from the new
organization. 35
The Pittsburgh conference also drove a wedge between the various
revolutionaries (mostly Gennan-bom) who attended, and the evolution-
ary-minded American individualists (like Labadie) who did not take part.
As for the remnants of the SLP, they wanted no part of the new movement
and sent no delegates. Not only were they staunchly opposed to the use of
arms, but, unlike all the others, put their faith in the ballot. 36
Led by such dynamic agitators as Spies and Parsons, the IWPA soon
attracted thousands of unionists in Chicago alone and gained considerable
influence in the labor movement of the Midwest. Like the SLP before it, its
main following was among Gennan immigrants; Parsons was one of the few
American-born adherents. The fonner assistant editor of the SLP's Socialist
in Chicago, he now edited the IWPA English-language paper, The Alarm.
Spies put out the Gennan-language Arbeiter Zeitung until they both were
arrested for the Haymarket bombing two-and-a-half years later.
Over time, Labadie became increasingly confident that he had been
cured of his “fever of govemmentalism.” A sharp deviation in his march
for labor's cause lay ahead, as he recognized Powderly's monumental
inadequacies as head of the Knights of Labor, but he strode hnnly on the
anarchist path the remainder of his life. Through an outpouring of writing,
speeches, and debates he became an enonnously effective propagandist for
what he saw as the “grandest of human aspirations.” There were tunes when
he doubted that mankind would ever see the complete realization of his
vision. He did not expect it to come in his lifetime. But, “come it will,” he
predicted, “in obedience to the law of necessity.” 37


k 8 k
103
And Nature says the under dog in the fight may bark,
bite, bruise, damage, hurt, tear, growl, injure, lacerate,
aye, even kill if necessary!
The end indeed justifies the means, and the cause of the
workers is defensible indeed.
From I Welcome Disorder, i 9 i i
Wne wintry day early in 1884, Labadie boarded a train bound
for Lansing, the state capital. We can imagine him carefully clad, as usual,
pompadour slicked back, goatee neatly trimmed. In a move scorned by some
as unprincipled for an anarchist, he had accepted a government appoint
ment as clerk in the newly created Michigan Bureau of Labor and Industrial
Statistics. Offering financial security and stimulating work, the assigmnent
marked an unusually happy period in Labadie's life, as well as affording
him an opportunity to study his archenemy—the state—up close.
The unsolicited job offer was a surprise for one who had loudly scoffed
at labor bureaus as “soap,” whose pleasing suds camouflaged the underlying
economic evils. He had even opposed the choice of John McGrath, his new
boss, as first commissioner of labor. 1 As Detroit's foremost labor leader,
he was a logical choice, but not, however, one government officials would
likely embrace. Although Labadie was now openly advocating the wither
ing away of the state, he had no compunctions about working for one so
long as it existed.
It was the first, but not the last, time he was in the government's
employ. Anarchism was a philosophy he hoped would eventually come to
pass, whose evolution he might hasten by propaganda. Meanwhile, he lived
in the real world and was ready to grab what opportunities it presented.


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Thoreau, another pragmatic anarchist, stated it unapologetically: “I quietly
declare war with the State, though I will still make what use and get what
advantage of her as I can, as is usual in such cases.” 2
Detroit labor circles by no means shared Labadie's disdain for the
new agency. A state labor bureau had ranked high in their long-standing
demands for pro-labor legislation. They especially liked its “industrial sta
tistics” role, which could document abuses in the workplace and inspire
reform laws. The Knights of Labor, the Trades Council, and the SLP had
agitated long and hard for the bureau, had formed a third party, the Inde
pendent Labor party, to further labor's cause and nominated painter John
Devlin and printer Lyman Brant, both prominent Detroit Knights, to the
state legislature. Elected with the help of Democratic Party endorsement,
the two helped push through the bill creating a labor bureau in mid 1883,
making Michigan the eleventh state to have one. 3 (A federal labor bureau
was still two years away.)
The clerkship was a financial godsend for Labadie. At $70 a month,
it more than doubled his sparse earnings of the previous year. The boom
of 1878-82 was over. The nation again was suffering one of the business
recessions that characterized the late nineteenth century. Detroit printers
could not find steady work. Labadie had been employed for a few months
as columnist for Henry George enthusiast Robert W. Oakman, who started
up the The Spectator as successor to The Unionist in June 1883. Grenell was
labor page editor. Oakman, eager to make the new weekly a paying proposi
tion, incongruously interspersed such articles as “How to Get Hitched in 20
Languages” with John Francis Bray's “Hints to Agitators,” and long arcane
arguments by Labadie against classifying labor as a commodity. 4
Oakman went on to become Detroit Mayor Hazen Pingree's chief
lieutenant in the 1890s and a prosperous real-estate developer. (He laid out
the twelve-mile-long Detroit boulevard named after him.) His career as a
publisher, however, flopped after only six months and Labadie was out of
a job. At the time of his Lansing appointment Labadie had no income and
monthly expenses of ahnost $40. 5
Sophie temporarily stayed in Detroit, where she took over Jo's duties
as treasurer of the Trevellick Home Fund, a fund-raiser to buy a home for
fifty-four-year-old Richard Trevellick, Michigan's veteran labor activist.
Labadie was soliciting donations from Knights' assemblies, trade unions,
and individuals across the country to build their beloved “Dick” a house
and save him from the fate of all the “labor heroes who have fought against
insurmountable odds and fell headlong, worn and weary and despised into


Tempestuous Times
105
a pauper's grave.” More than $2,000 was eventually raised and Trevellick
was able to enjoy his last ten years in his own home. 6
Working relationships at the new four-member bureau turned out
to be exceedingly harmonious. Governor Josiah Begole had named state
legislator John Devlin, one of Labadie's Detroit labor colleagues, deputy
coimnissioner. John McGrath was far from the disaster labor groups had
predicted. As a lawyer (a profession much reviled by labor) and chainnan of
the Wayne County Democratic Coimnittee, he was initially looked on with
suspicion. But after the bureau's first two annual reports, the whiskered for-
ty-four-year-old coimnissioner was lauded by the Labor Leaf as one “who
feels strongly the wrongs under which the working people suffer” as well as
being “one of the best statisticians in the country.” 7
The first report, for example, was poignant in its documentation of
the poverty and squalid life of the brickyard laborers at Springwells on the
outskirts of Detroit. Polish and Gennan workers, as young as ten, toiled
there from sunrise to sundown. Families of six lived in wretched hovels ten
feet square, situated on mud banks alongside stagnant pools. The bureau's
staff found their rooms “sieves for the chilling blasts of winter,” their food
mainly “unsavory messes” of boiled pork blood, entrails, heads, lungs, and
liver. “The inmates of our houses of correction and our prisons are better
fed, more comfortably clad and housed than these people are,” the report
concluded. “What wonder is it, then, that these men sometimes become
desperate and resort to rash measures?” 8
Labadie's assignment was a fourteen-page overview of the labor
movement. He constructed a diagram of the “economic” and “socialistic”
groups. In the fonner category, he placed trade unions, cooperative unions,
and mutual benefit unions. The socialist group consisted of social refonn-
ers, identified as social democrats, coimnunists, and anarchists. These
refonners all “agree as to the wrongs which should be righted,” he wrote,
“but they differ widely as to the remedy to be applied.” In outlining their
aims and methods, he noted generously that all “seem to be the expression
of the more intelligent class of wage workers.” Liberty publisher Benjamin
Tucker objected to Labadie's separation of anarchists and communists, not
ing, “Some Anarchists, I regret to say, are coimnunists.” 9
Proud of the first report, “the best volume of statistics ever published,”
Labadie nonetheless remained ideologically unshaken in his opposition to
government-run labor bureaus. He felt unions could do a better job by them
selves, and pointed to the data compiled by New York City's Progressive
Cigannakers' Union No. 1. Hoping to lure the Knights of Labor into this


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All-American Anarchist
field, he prepared a sample statistical account book. “If we cannot do our
own statistical work, let us shut up shop and not keep up the cry for statis
tics,” he wrote Powderly. He deplored “calling upon ‘the state' to do for us
what we can do much better for ourselves.” 10
Another lucky appointment came Labadie's way. While working for
the labor bureau, he functioned as labor-page editor for the Lansing Sen
tinel, a paper known for trumpeting social causes. When a Detroit paper
contended that a “Communist” had joined the Sentinel’s staff, Labadie
refuted the claim by praising competition as “that laudable ambition inher
ent in the human breast to outstrip your neighbor in a fair held.” Not com
petition, but government-supported monopoly and privilege, were the real
evils, he wrote. Where, as a socialist in 1882, he had deplored the “crushing
effects” of competition, as an anarchist he now fingered central planning
and imposed equality for the crushing of ambition and individuality. 11
The Sentinel’s editor, Mr. Fogg, gave him free rein and Labadie took
full advantage of it. He introduced his first column, on November 20, 1884,
with a bombshell: “The goal of human civilization is philosophical anar
chy.” This and future columns were sprinkled liberally with quotes from
such champions of liberty as Adam Smith, John Ruskin, John Stuart Mill,
Pierre Proudhon, and Josiah Warren. Labadie's conversion to non-violent,
individualist anarchism was much like adopting a religious creed. There
was little he could do except publicize and proselytize, actions he undertook
with gusto. Since anarchism was a negative philosophy, which sought to
eliminate the state without substituting another structure in its place, he did
his utmost to prevent his readers from relying on the government to solve
society's problems.
Scarcely an issue of the paper went by in which Labadie did not
denounce the legislators busying themselves at the nearby state capitol. He
told them the only good they could do would be “clipping the claws of the
State,” repealing “useless and vicious” laws that granted privileges to banks,
railroad syndicates, and coal monopolists, and made possible the enonnous
concentrations of capital popularly called “trusts.” 12
He did not expect the lawmakers to do this. Even if they started out
honest, he expected their heads to be turned by “the temptations that sur
round them”; any principles they held would “go to the devil.” The next
batch of legislators appeared to justify his mistrust. Francis Egan and Hugh
McClellan, both elected on the labor party slate and warned to stay true
to their labor roots, supported a Republican for house speaker instead
of the labor caucus candidate. “Political suicide,” the labor press called


Tempestuous Times
107
this “betrayal.” The prediction was dead wrong; the two prospered. Egan
replaced Devlin in the $l,500-a-year deputy labor commissioner's job, after
which he worked in the secretary of state's office. Despite much grumbling,
the Independent Labor party did not throw him out. McClellan was later
appointed city assessor, yet garnered an official position in the Knights'
district assembly. 13
Contemptuous of most of the 130-member state legislature, Labadie
complained that “there is much trash written that is called political economy,
yet these people never even read the trash.” He was convinced that human
nature as well as economic and social processes conformed to a universal
natural order that could be revealed through rational analysis. When the
laws of social harmony were violated—as, in his view, they often were by
man-made laws—social ills like poverty, prostitution and crime resulted. 14
This scorn of the political process seems a curious message for a
Michigan labor leader employed in the state labor bureau to be hammer
ing home at a moment when workers were clamoring to have their say in
government. Hopes were high for safety legislation, maximum-hours laws,
child labor restrictions, and the repeal of conspiracy statutes against unions.
Wage earners talked eagerly of a truly independent labor party that would
free them from forced coalitions with the major parties. But with the labor
movement in the process of organizing itself, there was enormous tolerance
for divergent points of view. Labadie had proved himself an effective and
trustworthy soldier and his views were respected. His philosophical spout
ings may have baffled his readers, but as a pioneer Knight of Labor, the
state's first commissioned organizer, first master workman, and a founder
of the first district assembly, he possessed impressive credentials and was
listened to. 15
In Lansing, Labadie continued agitating for the one big union that
would unite all workers to protect them from exploitation by big business.
After snail-like progress in its first years, the Knights of Labor was gradu
ally picking up steam. In Michigan, there were around 3,300 members in 72
assemblies in early 1883. The membership doubled within the year. Labadie
had been pushing for a statewide body, and in January 1884 he presided at the
first state convention of Knights. Lifty-three delegates, assembled in Detroit,
expressed “unanimity of sentiment and purpose” although they represented,
by his account, an exceedingly diverse group: gray-haired veterans who had
fought with the abolitionists, “moss-back” fanners, hot young agitators,
millworkers, miners, doctors, merchants, manufacturers, one black man,
and “even those [like Labadie himself] in whose veins coursed the blood


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of the red race.” One delegate reported the distribution of 250 copies of
George's Progress and Poverty in his town, indicating keen interest in land
reform. Others told of building their own labor halls, with amusement and
reading rooms. 16
After organizing a state assembly, delegates passed a high-blown
and ineffectual resolution, much approved by Labadie, seeking to abolish
“any law or custom” that curtailed the equal right of all to cultivate the
soil and work the mines. Labadie also futilely pushed his favorite goal of
consolidation, already tried out unsuccessfully on the ITU and the FOTLU,
forerunner of the AFL. Fie suggested to the delegates the creation of a cen
tral labor union representing all industrial organizations within Michigan,
including the fanners' Grange. The delegates turned it down, prefening to
remain exclusively Knights of Labor. Their most practical step was to sup
port a boycott against the Detroit Free Press and Detroit Post and Tribune
until they employed union men and Knights of Labor. Proposals to allow
political action through a labor party, lobbying and campaigning for labor
candidates, got nowhere, much to Labadie's satisfaction. As an anarchist, he
was adamant that the Order stay out of politics and confine itself to the role
of “working people's college.” Labadie's labor department colleague, John
Devlin, was elected state master workman.
In Lansing, Labadie spent his free hours as master workman of a three
hundred-strong assembly. He also busied himself seeking out new recruits
and confidently predicted that the labor movement would double in two
years, which turned out to be a gross underestimate. One Saturday in June
1886, he and Devlin rounded up seventy Knights and chartered a train to
Eaton Rapids, a town of four thousand, prepared to organize an assembly
there. Their reception was enthusiastic. Thirty-seven signed up on the spot.
But names on a sheet did not satisfy Labadie. He kept the recruits on pro
bationary status until they had “intelligent notions of what the movement is
all about.” On the return trip, the Knights amused themselves with a straw
vote on presidential candidates. Greenback-Labor candidate Benjamin F.
Butler, a Union general in the Civil War, was the great favorite, gamering
sixty-eight votes to Republican James Blaine's two. No one voted for the
victor, Grover Cleveland. 17
Sentiments were also running high against a challenger to Governor
Begole in the November 1884, election. Begole had won labor's heart by
such acts as vetoing a bill that would permit only landowners to hold public
office. His opponent, Republican Russell A. Alger, was heartily disliked.
Alger, who had risen from private to major general in the Civil War, was


Tempestuous Times
109
a principal stockholder and director of the Detroit Post (formerly Post and
Tribune), which denied employment to any union member. After failing to
get Alger to change these “rat” (scab) conditions, the Detroit printers' union
extended its boycott of the paper to the candidate, a man guilty of what
Labadie called “aristocratic apings.” 18
To promote the fight, the printers authorized a campaign paper, the
Labor Leaf with the aim of burying Alger in his political grave. It failed
in its mission, and the victorious Alger ousted Democrat McGrath as
labor commissioner just as the bureau was completing its second report.
McGrath's replacement, C. V. R. Pond, gave notice to Labadie; Devlin also
was replaced as deputy commissioner by Egan, a Republican, amid charges
that it was a political payoff for supporting a Republican for house speaker. 19
As the new pro-business labor coimnissioner was turning out a report highly
antagonistic to labor agitation, his predecessor, radicalized by his exposure
to labor's woes, was publicly castigating “a system of white slavery which
was worse than the black slavery of thirty years ago.” Appearing with Laba
die, his ex-clerk, at a Knights of Labor meeting, ex-commissioner McGrath
acknowledged that the present-day wage slaves were free, “but their free
dom only allows them to starve.” 20
Despite the disheartening political developments, the Knights in Lan
sing were elated to welcome eighteen members of the Order to the 1885
legislature, including Thomas Barry of Saginaw, one of the Knights' rank
ing national officers. All five Detroit labor party nominees who had run on
a fusion ticket with either of the major parties had been elected with more
votes than any legislative candidate running only as a Republican or Demo
crat. But cigannaker Charles Erb and Labadie's good friend Judson Grenell,
who ran solely on the labor party slate, were roundly defeated. Their con
nection with socialism may also have tainted them in voters' eyes. 21
After his ouster from the labor bureau, Labadie and Sophie returned
to Detroit in May 1885, to find a dismal labor situation. More than one-third
of the workers were unemployed. The printing business was sluggish, and,
as a union man, Labadie was banned from both the News and the Free Press.
For the next few months, they struggled along with barely enough money
for food. 22
The city was full of destitution and despair. Able-bodied men filled
the office of the “poor commissioner,” waiting for charity. Labadie wrote in
the Denver Labor Enquirer of a little girl whose father had starved and been
left unburied for five days. Her mother lay helpless in bed with a newborn
baby; there was no food or fire. He knew of a cigannaker's family living two


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All-American Anarchist
weeks on com meal and water, and a painter who became demented from
lack of food. It made Labadie “bitter, very bitter, against the upholders of
the present monstrously unjust system of distributing wealth.’’ 23
At the Pingree and Smith boot and shoe factory two hundred workers
went on strike in mid 1885 because the owners rejected a union shop and
had discharged prominent union members. At the same time, the employer
proposed a reduction in wages. When negotiations broke down, scabs were
hired. Previously such a strike would have been doomed to failure, but the
widespread network of Knights assemblies now made it possible to orga
nize an effective nationwide boycott of the firm's boots and shoes. “Boycott
Scab Goods!’’ the Labor Leaf implored unionists' wives, worried that the
boycott might fail because women were less likely to observe it than their
husbands. Their role as shoppers and consumers made them essential to
the success of boycotts, then the Order's most effective weapon. Children
were admonished: “Don't forget to tell your parents to BOYCOTT SCAB
GOODS.’’ 24
The strike, like numerous others taking place that year, got little
encouragement from the Order's national leaders. Powderly adamantly
opposed strikes, although he did not forbid them. His goals were loftier,
focusing on land reform. Instead of setting up strike funds, he told Laba
die, Knights should be buying “good healthy literature that will teach you
your rights without making fools of yourself by striking for them.’’ When
the Detroit strikers began planning a producers' cooperative, however, they
were in harmony with one of the Order's grand ideals. Within a month, they
had organized and incorporated the Boot and Shoe Cooperative Associa
tion of Detroit, the only cooperative shoe factory in what was then called
“the West.’’ Labadie, along with several hundred others, bought a hve-dollar
stock certificate in the fledgling company. Sophie bought a pair of its foot
wear for $3.25, Labadie's account book shows. 25
The early labor movement was “cooperative crazy,’’ Detroit labor
leader David Boyd later recalled. Co-ops were seen as a possible cure-all for
the evils of capitalism. Detroit, however, had been in no hurry to hop on the
bandwagon. Indeed, with successful cooperatives well established in many
other cities, Detroit was accused of being backward. Labadie's influence
may have been partly responsible for the foot-dragging. Cooperatives did
not conflict with anarchist tenets, but Labadie counseled caution. He cited
the inability of workers to save enough capital to compete with established
profit-making businesses, as well as expected pressure tactics by competing
merchants. Of the thousands of cooperative experiments begun nationwide


Tempestuous Times
111
years before the formation of the Knights of Labor (and during its lifespan
as well), he warned, “not one in a hundred have succeeded.’’ 26
He complained to economist Richard T. Ely that the cooperative
endeavor “smacks too much of joint-stockism to be a healthy movement in
the direction of equitable distribution.’’ Although it might benefit the coop
erators financially in the short run, as a way out of wage slavery, it was
“futile.’’ He believed it would throw the middleman out of work and into
competition with labor in other occupations; it would not raise wages; it
was a labor-saving institution and “have labor-saving institutions benehtted
the wage class?’’ 27
But the new Detroit co-op was ready to fly. Indeed, for a tune, co-ops
flourished throughout Michigan, supported by local Knights' assemblies,
although not by the trade unions. By the end of the decade, however, Laba
die's negative prediction was proving correct. Most of the labor coopera
tives had succumbed due to lack of funds, inefficiency, or mismanagement,
including Detroit's example. They also suffered from bitter opposition by
competing businesses, per Labadie's forecast. The co-op era of the 1880s
was the last time the American labor movement seriously involved itself in
this panacea for industrial ills.
Strike fever began inflaming the nation's wage earners. The Knights'
national leaders under Powderly, despite their hostility to strikes, had to
pay heed. The growing militancy was fed by recent victories in local strikes
endorsed by Knights' assemblies, which previously would have been sav
agely smashed. The first show of strength by railway shopmen had shut
down the Union Pacific railroad in 1884. The following year, nearly 5,000
striking railway workers, led by Joseph R. Buchanan representing Knights
of Labor assemblies on the western railroads, had threatened to paralyze
Jay Gould's entire Southwest railroad system, involving 10,000 miles of
tracks. Only after the railroad tycoon was forced to cancel wage cuts and
layoffs and to end all discrimination against the Knights of Labor was the
strike called off.
Organized labor was jubilant over Gould's capitulation. The railroad
magnate was one of the most powerful of the tum-of-the century “robber
barons.’’ He had bragged contemptuously, “I can hire one-half of the working
class to kill the other half.’’ In the wake of this sensational success, workers
swarmed into the ranks of the Knights. Tens of thousands were unskilled
or foreign-bom. Membership spurted to around 100,000 by mid 1885, five
tunes the enrollment four years before. A year later, with over 700,000 mem
bers, it was so huge the general officers began to refuse charters to new locals.


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All-American Anarchist
Spurred on by this growing sense of power, the unorganized lum
ber-mill workers of the Saginaw Valley in July 1885 mounted the greatest
strike in Michigan in the nineteenth century. For the first tune, a massive
labor rebellion raised public fears of the kind of bloody clashes in other
states. Pinkerton agents arrived carrying Winchester rifles with bayonets.
Armed companies of state militia were dispatched to the scene by Gover
nor Alger, himself a wealthy lumberman. Demonstrators were forbidden to
assemble. Police shot some; others were clubbed.
But despite the shutdown of ninety sawmills and fifty salt mines with
six thousand men idled, violence was contained. Credit for averting major
bloodshed went to Thomas B. Barry, a thirty-three-year-old state legislator
from the Saginaw Valley and member of the Knights' general executive
board, who took over the strike leadership. The men were rushing to buy
guns by that time, but Barry successfully counseled them to remain peaceful
and obey the law despite the presence of “armed hirelings of capitalism.’’ 28
The “Great Strike in the Valley’’ was based on demands for a ten-hour
day with no cut in pay. Millworkers complained that there was no work
as exhausting as keeping up with the whirling machinery of a sawmill six
days a week, “driven eleven and a half hours per day, handling heavy logs,
boards and planks, without a moment's rest, like a prisoner in a treadmill.’’
For this toil, most received less than a dollar and a half a day, had no work
in winter when the mills were closed, and often were crippled and broken
in health after ten years. Barry understood their plight well. He himself had
begun work at the age of eight in a knitting mill, putting in eighty-one hours
a week. He never attended school. As an axemaker bent on unionizing his
fellow workers, he had repeatedly been fired and blacklisted.
Barry, who rivaled Labadie as the most charismatic Michigan labor
figure of the era, had sponsored a bill setting ten hours as a legal day's work.
It had passed the state legislature, but would not become law until September
1885. The millworkers naively expected it to take effect immediately and
were in no mood to wait. “Ten Hours or No Sawdust,’’ they demanded. When
Barry—a compelling figure with a mass of dark, wavy hair, a reddish handle
bar mustache, gaunt cheeks, and an intense gaze—attempted to address the
strikers he was arrested, bailed out, and repeatedly arrested again, five tunes
in all. He was charged with violating the Baker Conspiracy Law, which in
effect prohibited organized strikes by making it illegal to conspire “willfully
and maliciously’’ to interfere with the operation of a business.
Although the Knights' national organization did not sponsor the strike,
Powderly decided to visit the scene, where he effectively undercut Barry's


Tempestuous Times
113
efforts by privately urging workers to accept a cut in wages to gain the
shorter day. He engaged in a similar betrayal in 1886, when Barry was nego
tiating the Chicago packing-house strike. As a result, the two became sworn
enemies. It was characteristic of the autocratic grand master workman, who
abhorred strikes, to try to settle one on almost any tenns, even if it meant
undennining his own lieutenants.
The millowners, as it happened, were much better positioned to with
stand the two-month strike than the strikers. A local Knights assembly began
pleading nationally for relief aid, reporting that it had fed four thousand per
sons and nearly exhausted its resources. By the tune the strike petered out
in September 1885, the workers had lost some $385,000 in wages. Equally
dismaying, many were still working eleven hours or more, since the ten-
hour-law now in effect had a loophole allowing employers to contract with
their workers for a longer day and thereby waive the limitation.
Despite the unsatisfactory outcome, Labadie and other labor activ
ists saw the strike as a triumph of labor solidarity. They were heartened
that thousands of unorganized men of different nationalities—Gennans,
Poles, Irish, French Canadians—the minority American-born, had been
able to improvise such a vigorous, nationally recognized campaign without
mayhem or destruction of property. Barry was acclaimed a hero. Images of
this “Joan of Arc in timber” with “the face of a dreamer,” as one admirer
described him, were carried in the fall labor parade alongside those of icons
Powderly, Henry George, and Trevellick. 29
Barry was put on trial for conspiracy. Labadie began organizing a
fund-raising drive for the legal defense of “one of our most self-sacrificing
leaders,” who had prevented the Saginaw Valley from being “deluged with
blood.” Barry was acquitted, but for Labadie the verdict resolved nothing.
He was shaken by the violent suppression of the strike by government troops
and warned that capitalists were blithely preparing for their own destruc
tion. By their “hoggishness and their tyrannies and their brutalities,” they
were driving the laboring people to desperation. He predicted ominously
that in some future strike, when troops and Pinkertons were called in, “the
soldiers and thugs will be annihilated, the strikers will confiscate the capital
of the corporations as contraband of war .. . and when this has taken place
in ... several industries the Revolution will have been accomplished.” 30 He
was beginning to believe, as he expressed in the lines of verse that introduce
this chapter, that “the end indeed justifies the means.”
Loose talk of violence was rife as conditions during the industrial
depression of 1884-86 bred desperate thoughts. The period was characterized


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All-American Anarchist
by wage cuts, lockouts, and miserable working conditions. The worker was
regarded as nothing but “a pin to a machine.” 31 Radical ideas were spreading
through the country and not only fanatics were mouthing threats of revolu
tion and dynamite.
Labadie noted with approval the fonnation of the Detroit Rifles, a
workers' paramilitary group. Recruits began drilling with .44-caliber,
sixteen-shot Winchester repeating rifles on the outskirts of the city, under
cover of darkness. A strong believer in the right of the citizenry to bear
arms, Labadie thought it wise for labor organizations to have well-armed
police, detective, and military forces. Like the American revolutionists, they
might need to defend themselves against an oppressive regime and “the
brutalities of the capitalistic Hessians.” 32
Labadie now was working as both columnist and printer for Labor-
Leaf (later Advance and Labor Leaf) publisher John R. Burton, who ran a
little printshop on the third floor of 50 Lamed Street West, next to the old
Tribune Building. The one-time campaign paper had survived its failure to
defeat Alger and proved remarkably durable, as labor papers went. In five
years of weekly publication, from 1884 to 1889, it gained a reputation as
one of the country's great nineteenth-century labor publications and came
to serve as Labadie's principal forum. He was especially fond of its motto,
borrowed from Tom Paine: “The world is my country; to do good my reli
gion.” He used the phrase frequently, and his children later recalled it as
epitomizing his philosophy. It tallied with his view that patriotism was “a
humbug” that kept the world's working people divided and that the church
was “in the hands of Mammon.” 33 He also liked to quote Paine's sentiment
that government, “even in its best state, is but a necessary evil.”
Although Burton leaned toward socialism, he was at one with Labadie
in objecting to the class consciousness intrinsic to Marxist philosophy. He
announced that the Labor Leaf was not the organ of a class, “for I hold class
distinctions and those of nationality as the worst enemies the country has to
contend with.” It was also not the mouthpiece of any dogma. Burton wel
comed “all shades of liberal thought,” resulting in a spirited publication. He
and Labadie were often at odds, but his columnist was allowed to say what
he liked in his column, “Cranky Notions.” Labadie thought its apologetic
name appropriate for his “stray thoughts ... crude and ‘jerky’ because they
come from an unlearned mechanic [craftsman] who has not had the time
from the ‘demnition grind' to polish them up.” There were those like John
S winton, who reproved Labadie for pennitting himself to be called a crank. 34
But his good-natured, self-imposed identification with the lunatic fringe


Tempestuous Times
115
helped protect Labadie from being lumped with zealots and extremists.
Unfortunately, it also encouraged some to conclude he was not serious, that
he was playing the revolutionary for theatrical effect.
The new columnist was predictably rambunctious. He ridiculed read
ers who believed governments protected them as “wooden headed scrubs.”
He was tom “between pity and hate” for labor reformers who disparaged
radicals, although Burton had just called on unionists to “join hands to crush
out anarchists” lest they discredit the labor movement. Burton let Labadie
rant. When questioned if it was proper to allow “a rabid Anarchist to fulmi
nate his traitorous schemes,” Burton responded calmly that he should have
“the same right of free speech as a rabid Republican.” 35
One of Labadie's readers was Richard T. Ely, a pioneer chronicler of
the burgeoning labor movement, who became one of America's most influ
ential economists. Then a thirty-one-year-old professor at Johns Hopkins
University in Baltimore, Ely had written two books on socialism and in 1885
was preparing one of the earliest studies of American labor. He responded
enthusiastically when Labadie sent him a note, although it accused Ely of
misrepresenting Proudhon's ideas in the professor's French and German
Socialism. Ely even conceded that he “may have fallen into slight error in
regard to Proudhon.” Although admitting he was opposed to anarchism's
“policy of destruction,” Ely professed “great faith” in labor organizations,
and asked Labadie to help him obtain research materials for his new book.
What he wanted were labor pamphlets, convention reports, constitutions,
manifestos, and other documents. 36
Labadie generally viewed professional scholars with a contradictory
mixture of awe and disdain, but was flattered to be solicited by a college
professor and began requesting materials through the labor press as well as
sending along documents in his own collection. At the same tune, he was
dubious about Ely's credentials. How could this academic, working in his
ivory tower, accurately portray the plight of those who were starving? To
really understand, he chided, Ely would have to “experience the feelings of
being out of work through no fault of your own, with a family to support
and no money nor credit” and “know the abuse and insults heaped upon the
workers by brutal employers and bosses.” 37 Clearly stung, Ely responded
defensively that he had once wandered the streets of New York, jobless and
penniless, “in a most wretched desperate state.” It was then that he had
vowed “to write in behalf of the laboring classes.” 38
Ely especially wanted information on the Knights of Labor. Powderly
did not reply to his letters, and the staff refused to supply official publications


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All-American Anarchist
on grounds of secrecy. Labadie agreed that the so-called secrets were “of
no consequence,” and agreed to solicit Powderly on Ely's behalf. “I never
met a more pleasant man than Powderly,” he effused, and “I am seldom
deceived in the character of men.” Labadie's self-congratulation was vastly
misplaced. However laudable his humanitarian motives, Powderly was also
arrogant, vain, vengeful, and plotting. His actions in undennining Barry in
the Saginaw strike seem to have escaped Labadie's notice. Perhaps Laba
die's emotional investment in the success of the Knights and his cordial six-
year conespondence with its leader blinded him to Powderly's many flaws.
By 1887, his assessment had so altered that he was publicly denouncing
Powderly as conupt, “autocratic, opinionated and unfair.” 39
Labadie cooperated with Ely despite the unalloyed suspicion and con
tempt of Benjamin Tucker, Labadie's anarchist mentor. “Quack,” “arrant
humbug,” and “charlatan” were among the epithets Tucker used. Ely was
“trying to make literary capital by a pretended and half-hearted friendliness
to labor,” Tucker charged. When Ely's ground-breaking The Labor Move
ment in America was published in 1886, it incorrectly represented Tucker as
an advocate of forcible revolution without, acccording to Tucker, “giving so
much as a hint of my constant insistence on peaceful methods.” 40
Ely acknowledged Labadie's help in the preface to his book, describ
ing him as “a poor mechanic in Detroit” who had amassed a library of three
hundred volumes by depriving himself of “bodily comforts.” Try as he
could, Labadie was unable to disabuse Ely of the conviction that “Plague,
pestilence, and famine combined are mild evils compared with widespread
anarchy.” 41 Ely was a Christian socialist who was looking to the church, not
an economic revolution, to bring about social redemption.
In the aftermath of the Saginaw strike, Labadie's writings became
increasingly unrestrained. He was obsessed by visions of a coming Arrnged-
don and saw every avenue of escape from wage-slavedom cut off by the
industrial oligarchy. If the workers tried cooperatives, they were crushed by
unfair competition. If they tried strikes, “assassins and murderers” were paid
to suppress them. If they tried political action, their efforts were nullified
by “the unscrupulousness of political harpies.” Yet governments, customs,
and laws were “but ropes of sand when an angry and outraged people throw
themselves against them.” A little dynamite was a convincing argument to
use against “a monster when he has his fangs in your vitals.”
He saw the “avalanche of the revolution” poised to crash. Then “the
scenes of the French Revolution will be re-enacted, with the heads of the
industrial tyrants held aloft on pike poles in the market places so the populace


Tempestuous Times
117
may see what tyranny produces.” Labor agitation was too timid; it was
unlikely to bring about a peaceful revolution before this terrible catastrophe
occurred. Peaceable means should be tried, of course, but it was likely the
force of arms that would grant the people their rights. 42
Labadie's alarming outbursts were uncharacteristic in their violence.
Like many at the time, these sentiments were to a large extent empty rheto
ric. But Labadie was by no means the only one in Detroit engaging in such
wild talk. At one mass meeting in February 1885, a resolution that dyna
mite was a justifiable means of political warfare was barely turned down,
100-95. August Spies, the militant Chicago revolutionary, came to preach
the doctrine of destruction to local gatherings of the International Work
ing People's Association. “Don't keep dynamite in your pocket,” the Labor
Leaf warned, not that there is evidence any Detroiter did. By fall 1885, even
Judson Grenell, normally a voice of moderation, was crying out: “When
will the masses become aroused? . . . When there is a robber class and a
robbed class, what else should be expected but revolution?” 43
As labor's army swelled, so did the inevitable cries to use its might.
Labor agitation surged, with the dramatically expanding Knights of Labor
leading the movement. President Cleveland was sufficiently troubled by
labor problems to propose a permanent government arbitration board, but
nothing came of it. As a wave of boycotts and strikes hit the nation, a nota
ble harmony seemed to bond working people of varying outlooks. The years
of 1885 and 1886 were “stupendous,” as Agnes Inglis described them in
the retrospect of many decades. She marveled that nearly the whole labor
movement was clasped to the bosom of the Knights of Labor, including
“anarchist, socialist, trades and labor unions,—political and non-politi
cal—autocracy versus rank-and-file ideas, saviours and the to-be-saved.” 44
Events were building to a crescendo. In just a few months, the drum roll
culminated in a catastrophic explosion.



119
-k 9 -k
ABotW
.^thrown
The people wake.
When their mighty force is spent in wreck and ruin
They ope their eyes in sodden wonderment they'd done so much
(As a drunken giant sobered, red-eyed, spent. Realizes his mad
destruction of home and kin)
And wearily, in sullen sorrow.
Go back to sleep again.
"Progress?” From the Red Flag and Other Verses
The year 1886—perhaps the most pivotal in American labor
history—dawned bright and full of hope. A torrent of workers was flood
ing the Knights of Labor, its membership reaching 700,000 by summer. An
unprecedented wave of successful strikes and boycotts in the mid 1880s
gave promise that labor was soon to realize its explosive power. An effective
third party seemed possible, as labor candidates campaigned in more than
two hundred cities and towns. In Chicago, and New York—where Henry
George was the candidate—the labor party received nearly one-third of
the votes in the November mayoral election. Passions were fired by hopes
that the long-awaited eight-hour workday was just around the comer; since
before the Civil War, no single issue had infused the nation's workers with
more fervor nor more frustration in failing to see their goal achieved. 1
Michigan had marched in the forefront of the movement, spurred by
Richard Trevellick. As president of Detroit's first Trades Assembly in 1864,
he began agitating for shorter hours. He was the catalyst for the organiza
tion of some twenty-five eight-hour leagues which, by 1866, joined forces
in the statewide Grand Eight-Hour League of Michigan. The British-born


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All-American Anarchist
Trevellick had quit his job as ship's carpenter at a Detroit dry dock com
pany to serve as chief Washington lobbyist for the National Labor Union,
which claimed to represent more than a half million working people and
whose primary goal was passage of laws establishing eight hours as a legal
day's work nationwide. 2 Victory had seemed at hand in 1868 when Presi
dent Andrew Johnson signed into law an eight-hour day for federal employ
ees shortly after he was acquitted in impeachment proceedings.
But celebrations were short-lived. “As is usually the case when we pin
our faith on government,'' Labadie reflected retrospectively, “disappoint
ment followed . . . every president since, excepting Gen. Grant, has failed
to enforce [the law], notwithstanding each was sworn to uphold and execute
the laws of the United States.’’ 3
Labadie had been intrigued by a rather far-fetched call to arms in
1884 from the insignificant and impotent Federation of Organized Trades
and Labor Unions (FOTLU), the embryonic AFL. Having ignored Laba
die's pleas to disband and merge with the Knights of Labor, the FOTLU,
in what seemed a last, defiant gasp, issued a half-hearted resolution that
simply asserted that eight hours should constitute a legal day's work. An
arbitrary deadline was set for May 1, 1886; no provisions for enforcing this
schedule were proposed.
The growing labor movement was now flexing its muscles, yearning
to achieve its long-nurtured dream. The idea of a mammoth eight-hour-day
campaign triggered unexpected enthusiasm among radicals and rank-and-
file trade unionists alike. No more relying on statutes; unified labor would
take action itself. As it became clear that there must be a means for enforc
ing the demand, support grew for a nationwide mass strike on May 1, a day
that at the time had no wider significance. 4
The Detroit Trades Council immediately pledged its strength to the
crusade, and the eight-hour campaign went to the top of its agenda. Laba
die stressed the urgency of vigorous agitation. “No time should be lost. . .
to prepare everyone for the occasion,’’ he counseled. Employers should be
notified, public sympathy aroused, the country flooded with tracts, bills
posted on walls, meetings called, articles written. If there were a chance of
failure, he warned prophetically, the strike should be called off because a
failure would retard the short work day movement for years. 5
By early 1886, agitation meetings were held almost nightly throughout
the city. Prominent Knights and SLP leaders addressed large and enthusiastic
audiences in both English and Gennan. August Spies came from Chicago to
exhort the local social revolutionary group—which until then had disparaged


A Bomb Is Thrown
121
the shorter day as a compromise with the capitalistic system—to join the
struggle. The indefatigable Trevellick went on a three-month campaigning
trip, speaking an average of ten times a week. 6
In mid February, Labadie pushed for the cause three evenings in a
row—for the SLP (with which he was apparently still on good terms), the
Knights, and the Trades Council. The next month, he encouraged an audi
ence in Buck's Opera House in Lansing to “get a bag of com meal and some
pork ahead, and get into shape to stand off [the] landlords for a few weeks.”
If the bosses refused to grant the shorter day, they should just quit work
“and it would then be seen whether capital employs labor or labor employs
capital.” 7
Employers responded to the agitation with understandable alarm.
Some voluntarily capitulated. The Pingree and Smith shoe works and the
Free Press—a “rat” office for twenty years—decided to settle with the
unions. Across the nation, tens of thousands of workers swarmed into the
Knights of Labor, believing it sponsored the movement. One Detroit assem
bly initiated 135 new members in a single night in April. 8
Labadie and others, intoxicated with labor's burgeoning power,
wanned to ominous rhetoric. The cry from the capitalists, Labadie exulted
in the Labor Leaf was “Go slow! But the cry comes too late.... The blind
Sampson [sic] of Labor ... is at this moment tugging at the pillars of the
Temple of Capitalism, and its destruction is as sure as that tomonow will
come.... It is useless now to try to escape the revolution.” 9
As the fateful day approached, wage earners were poised for the his
toric leap forward. In the midst of a severe depression, they saw themselves
on the verge of a new era when labor would assert its rights and capitalists
would bow to its amassed force. Newspapers published hysterical predic
tions of honors to come.
The nation steeled itself for a cataclysmic upheaval. But Saturday,
May 1, 1886, was an anticlimax. A spirit of bravado abounded, accompa
nied by a great deal of enthusiastic marching, but there was no revolution or
bloodshed. More than 300,000 workers across the country took the day off.
Pinkertons and police were poised with rifles at the ready, but the demon
strating workers only paraded peacefully and listened to eloquent speeches. 10
In Detroit, the weekend passed quietly. But by midday Monday, an
estimated 1,500 strikers and supporters were massed before the Michigan
Car Works, which had fired a Knights of Labor organizer. The crowd began
advancing from factory to factory, gathering up workers and shutting down
one plant after another.


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All-American Anarchist
The militancy was infectious. The following evening, three thou
sand workers assembled for a solidarity meeting that spilled into the streets
because the hall was too small. The police were ready with an emergency
strategy, and some employers were threatening to shoot. But the Detroit
police force was considered relatively “humane,” and strike leaders were
advocating peaceful means. 11
Not so Labadie. He chose that moment to issue an inflammatory col
umn chastising those who had “not yet learned to hate the law.” Humanity
had “never gained any great good except by taking the law and trampling
it underfoot,” he wrote. Jesus Christ, the American revolutionists, John
Brown, and the abolitionists were all well-known law-breakers. “Curse the
law,” he thundered. “What the deuce are we organized for if it is not to
overturn the law?” 12 Labadie's sentiments were extreme at any moment;
their outrageousness was magnified by their timing one day after the infa
mous bombing in Chicago's Haymarket Square let loose a wave of terror of
anarchism and all things radical. A bomb had been thrown into the midst of
police attempting to break up a labor gathering. Police opened fire, causing
a riot. Scores of police and workers had been injured or killed.
Headlines in the coimnercial press on May 5 reported “Riot and
Death” in Chicago, “Dynamite Bombs Fired at the Police Officers.” The
Detroit News blamed the “labor revolution” for the “terrible scenes of riot
and bloodshed—The anarchists have turned the weapons of dynamite and
powder upon the constituted authorities with awful results.” Like the rest
of America, Labadie must have read the papers with horror. Although he
himself had recklessly called for violence, he was shocked at its realization.
Two of the accused men he knew and respected, despite vast ideological dif
ferences. Police had arrested August Spies at his offices at the Arbeiter Zei-
tung, a German-language publication of the International Working People's
Association (IWPA). Only a few weeks earlier Spies had dropped by the
Labor Leaf offices to chat. He was a handsome thirty-year-old immigrant,
cultured and erudite, with wavy brown hair sweeping back from a high
forehead and an air of intense conviction and sincerity. As he toured the
country's industrial cities preaching a program of destruction, he echoed the
threats of his New York associate, Johann Most. Capitalism was doomed;
the IWPA planned to hasten its demise. 13
An intensive search was underway for Albert Parsons, who, with his
wife Lucy, had been Labadie's fellow socialist delegates at the contentious
1880 Greenback-Labor presidential convention. They were among the dissi
dents who had broken with the SLP to launch the Bakuninist-inspired IWPA.


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Parsons, now thirty-eight, had unlikely beginnings for an IWPA leader. A
former Confederate soldier from a prominent Texas family, he repudiated
his upbringing, then fought for Negro rights and married a woman of Afri
can American ancestry. The misery of the unemployed after the Panic of
1873 had radicalized him, as it had Labadie.
Of those indicted for the Haymarket bombing, only Parsons was a
Knight. Editor of the IWPA's English-language weekly, The Alarm, he was
reckoned one of Chicago's most dangerous radicals, a charismatic orator
and agitator for revolutionary anarchism. Labadie thought Parsons's mind
“all befogged’’ and claimed he had “mixed up in an unrecognizable mass the
theories of Anarchism, State Socialism, and Communism.'' Nevertheless, he
considered Parsons and Spies “brave men’’ who were willing to “suffer and
die for justice.’’ 14
Repercussions from the Haymarket explosion convulsed the nation
into a frenzy of fury and vengeance against anarchists. Left-wingers of every
hue were denounced as subversives. Wild tales of conspiracies and dyna
mite plots abounded. A hysterical populace was caught up in the nation's
first “Red Scare.’’ hnages of the anarchist as a bearded, crazed fanatic armed
with a bomb were etched in the public consciousness. Threats of dynamite
could no longer be dismissed as radical bluster, editors warned. It had been
used, and blood had flowed in the streets. Many pointed to the bombing as
the culmination of ten years of labor violence, proof that the labor move
ment itself was a menace to society, law, order, and government. 15
The Haymarket affair is perhaps the most oft-told tale in labor history.
It is a tragic story of how the unpredictable act of one hothead and the vio
lence that ensued set back the eight-hour crusade and the dearly held hopes
that a social millenium was just around the comer. That one deed demol
ished years of labor advances, throwing the whole movement into confusion
and chaos. In its aftermath, eight men were found guilty of conspiracy to
commit murder and four hanged in what is now acknowledged as a gross
miscarriage of justice.
In the feverish months before the Haymarket bombing, Chicago had
become the vortex of the eight-hour struggle, largely due to the energetic agi
tation of Parsons, Spies, and the other militants in the IWPA. The Knights'
leader, Powderly, had done all he could to undermine the campaign for the
May 1 general strike. Believing all strikes to be futile and detrimental to
labor's interests, he had issued a secret circular warning against the planned
demonstrations, disavowing any official support, and suggesting that, instead
of demonstrating, Knights could write essays on the eight-hour day. Stepping


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into the void, IWPA agitators infused the plan with their revolutionary ardor.
They roused thousands at lakefront rallies where the red flag of revolution
and the black flag of anarchism were both displayed. Some forty thousand
workers took part in the eight-hour strike on May 1 in Chicago, the nation's
largest turnout. 16
As in Detroit, trouble did not begin in Chicago until two days after
the May 1 strike date. At the McCormick Reaper Works, workers had been
locked out for months in an effort to break the union. As scabs were leav
ing for the day, strikers began heckling and hurling stones. The Chicago
police, notorious for brutality, attacked, leaving several workers dead and
many injured. August Spies, in fury at the carnage, rushed to his Arbeiter
Zeitung offices and scribbled out a fiery call for retaliation, the so-called
Revenge Circular: “Workingmen, to Arms!!! ... Destroy the hideous mon
ster that seeks to destroy you.’’ The typesetter added the inflammatory word
“Revenge!” 17
The following night, May 4, a mass protest meeting was held in
Haymarket Square. The weather was raw, and only around three thousand
people showed up. They were addressed in turn by Spies, Parsons, and Brit-
ish-bom Samuel Fielden, a one-time Methodist lay preacher. The speeches
were reasonably moderate; Parsons even brought Lucy and his two children
along. Mayor Carter H. Harrison rode up on his white horse, then left, con
vinced the gathering was harmless. He stopped at a nearby police station
where a riot squad was on alert and recoimnended that the precinct captain,
John Bonheld, dismiss them.
Instead, Bonheld marched the contingent of 180 officers to Haymar
ket Square. It was raining. Parsons and most of the crowd had left; Fielden
was winding up the last speech. The police coimnanded Fielden to halt the
meeting. “But we are peaceable,” he protested, then grudgingly agreed.
Fielden and Spies began climbing down from the speakers' wagon. At that
moment, someone threw a bomb. There was a terrific explosion. Police shot
back wildly. After five minutes of violence, seven policemen were dead or
dying and sixty were injured, most, as it turned out, shot by their fellow
officers. An unknown number of dead or injured citizens were carried away
and cared for secretly.
Who was the bomb-thrower? What did he hope to accomplish? If he
was an anarchist, why did he hurl dynamite with such total disregard for the
safety of his comrades? Was he possibly an agent provocateur? To this day,
his identity remains a mystery. He was almost certainly none of the eight
Chicago anarchists who were convicted of murder in the trial that followed.


A Bomb Is Thrown
125
Labadie disbelieved newspaper accounts from the start. He observed
that reporters had “worked themselves up into a terrible state of frenzy,
and lies and ignorance come from their pens as slime from a mad dog's
mouth.’’ He pleaded with readers of Labor Leaf to suspend judgment until
the nation's daily press cooled off. Editor Burton backed him wholeheart
edly. The May 12 issue accused news reports of being “thoroughly one
sided’’ and using “the most intemperate language,’’ and insisted that “it is
nowhere shown that the anarchists coimnitted any overt act to justify inter
ference with them.’’ 18 This was an audacious stance. The Labor Leaf was
one of only a handful of labor papers that repudiated the hysterical press
reports. Sickened at the eagerness of most of the labor press to dissociate
itself from the reviled anarchists, Labadie lashed out: “I do wish the labor
papers would stop distributing the nasty puke the capitalist papers have seen
fit to cover their dirty sheets with.’’ Fears of a backlash did not moderate his
outpourings; they may even have fanned the flames. “If it is necessary to use
dynamite to protect the right of free meetings, free press, and free speech,
then the sooner we leam its manufacture and use the better it will be for
the toilers of the world,’’ he proclaimed recklessly in mid June. Yet despite
these seething words, he foresaw a future when the “stupid public learns
the warmth of the Anarchist's heart for Man, then will it honor and applaud
those who were fearless enough to brave public scorn and the vilification of
a vicious and ignorant press for an idea.’’ 19
Labadie was monumentally out of touch with public sentiment. Hay-
market intensified a horror of anarchism that scarcely dissipated in his
lifetime. What stung him most was the reaction of Terence Powderly. The
Knights' leader did not pause a moment to determine the facts. The day
after the bombing, frantic to protect the Knights of Labor (and possibly
himself), Powderly insisted that every American labor organization con
demn the “outrage’’ in Chicago. “Honest labor,’’ he asserted, “is not to be
found in the ranks of those who march under the red flag of anarchy, which
is the emblem of blood and destruction.’’ 20
Labadie must have been aghast to read those words. What had hap
pened to the vaunted motto of the Knights—“An injury to one is the con
cern of all’’? Whence had come this sudden condemnation of anarchism?
Powderly knew Labadie was an anarchist, yet had worked closely with him
for years. Their relationship had been warm and confiding, with photos
exchanged and expressions of mutual trust and admiration. 21
Powderly, as Labadie knew him, had always seemed sympathetic to
radical ideas. He had encouraged the Order's monthly journal to publish an


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article by his Detroit ally likening communism to “civilized” institutions.
He had asked Labadie to speak out with him at the 1883 General Assembly
on his favorite ideal, land reform, as well as to help defeat efforts to return
“God's name” to the Order's ritual. The grand master workman needed
“level heads” at the convention, he had told Labadie. 22
In the slight, balding man with a pince-nez and enormous blond han
dlebar mustache, Labadie thought he recognized a fellow idealist, moti
vated by unselfish and high-minded humanitarianism. He was aware, of
course, that Powderly, a one-time machinist, was no earthy labor agitator.
Of scholarly demeanor, exuding an air of good breeding, Powderly was a
most unlikely looking leader “of a million of the homy-hsted sons of toil,”
in John Swinton's words. 23 Manual labor had scarcely callused his hands
before he was elected mayor of Scranton, began the study of law, then gave
it up to lead the Knights of Labor.
What particularly pleased Labadie was that they agreed they did not
“go much on politics” and opposed the creation of a labor party. Both also
were passionately committed to educating the working people. It would be
better to have “5,000 men who will read and think in the Order,” Labadie
wrote Powderly, than “a million brutal, unthinking clods” (the somewhat
inflated estimated membership of the Knights at its peak). He proposed that
discussion of “the Labor question” at meetings be made compulsory, and
that those who refused to “study some way out of wage slavery” be ousted
from membership. Powderly seemed enthusiastic, calling the ideas “sound
ones.” He promised to incorporate them in his 1884 convention address in
Philadelphia. 24
But he did not do so; Powderly “always talked big, but his actions ..
. never matched his words.” When Powderly, a teetotaler, stood before the
delegates in 1884 in his double-breasted black broadcloth coat, he men
tioned education only in passing. “Two remedies alone can save us, they are
education and sobriety,” he said, before launching into a diatribe against the
evils of demon ran. Temperance was his greatest passion. 25
Vain, petty, vindictive, vacillating—these were some of the character
flaws of the man who led the Knights of Labor to might and then into insig
nificance. Labadie initially did not perceive them, despite boasting that he
was a good judge of character. Yet a certain mean-spiritedness is obvious in
Powderly's petulant complaints to Labadie of machinations against him, of
those who “walk on me, spit on me and abuse me like a dog,” of the men
who “harass me with their grievances by holding their little sores up for me


A Bomb Is Thrown
111
to look at and refuse to let me put plaster on for fear that they wouldn't have
something to growl about.” 26
By 1886, the Knights of Labor had an army of working people at the
ready. Instead of relishing this force, Powderly was overwhehned by it. He
was not the man to wield it. Alternatively timid, tentative, negative, and
secretive, he was consistently guilty of tactical blunders, and the Haymarket
bombing brought out the worst in him.
In the aftermath of the Haymarket incident, Detroit remained calm,
despite some hysterical moments. At the West Lamed Street labor head
quarters, the Dialectical Union, a weekly discussion group, confirmed its
dedication to free speech and no taboos of “unpopular subjects” by opening
a debate in June 1886, with the dramatic resolution: “The throwing of the
dynamite bomb in Chicago was justifiable.” Labadie, for the affirmative,
asserted that the question was not whether the ideas expressed at Haymarket
Square were harmful, but whether the police had the right to suppress them.
He declared hyperbolically that the right to free speech must be defended
even if it meant killing every policeman in the country. Henry Robinson, an
elected justice of the peace, countered that cool-headed men would refrain
from making inflammatory speeches when people were excited by strikes.
No evil existed that could not be cured by the ballot. 27
Audience response was sharply divided. The vote on the resolution
tied 23-23. Of four reporters sent to cover the sensational discussion,
three reportedly sided with Labadie. Their editors, on the other hand, were
“thrown into a state bordering on frenzy,” over Detroit's “anarchistic” debat
ing forum, the Labor Leaf reported. Labadie's fervor in defending the use
of dynamite in defense of free speech doubtless caused trepidation within
the rather staid group of Detroit printers who had earlier selected him to
represent them at the thirty-fourth annual convention of the ITU. Whatever
their misgivings, they sent him off in June along with a $25 delegate's fee. 28
Labadie had been elected by T.U. 18 on a platform calling for the
publication of a weekly paper, to be furnished to every union printer in
the country and paid for by a per capita tax. Despite their superior literacy,
Labadie considered printers a backward lot when it came to economic mat
ters. “Not one in ten” bothered to consider questions “of graver import than
merely trade regulations,” he complained to his Detroit colleagues. 29
At the convention in Pittsburgh, to Labadie's surprise, the 120 ITU
delegates approved his proposal without a dissenting vote. They agreed that
henceforth each unionist would receive The Craftsman and be billed ten cents


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quarterly for the subscription. But Labadie by now had something more por
tentous in mind—to promote labor consolidation, his leitmotif. Once again,
he lobbied energetically for the ITU to give up its separate identity and join
the Knights of Labor. It became the main question before the delegates, with
many persuaded by his eloquence, according to one account. The new presi
dent, William Amison, was elected after supporting amalgamation.
At this event, the ITU came as close as it ever did to merging with
the Order. But the coimnittee on relations with the Knights was leery of
Powderly. There had been jurisdictional disputes; “rat” printers had been
admitted to Knighthood. The coimnittee claimed that either Powderly was
being untrue to his promises to keep out of the affairs of trades unions or
he was unable to control his own organization. By the following year, the
dissension-racked Knights of Labor was competing with the newly fonned
American Federation of Labor (fonnerly the FOTLU) for the allegiance of
the ITU, a rivalry in which the Order was the loser. 30
Although the Flaymarket bloodshed broke the momentum of the
drive for an eight-hour day, Jo and Sophie Labadie did their small part
to keep the cause alive. On a lot at the comer of Buchanan and Fifteenth
Streets, bought by Sophie with her earnings as a schoolteacher, they built
a frame cottage, paying the workers a full day's current wages for eight
hours of work. Originally Jo had protested that he did not believe in own
ing land. “And I don't believe in paying rent,” Sophie countered firmly.
About two-fifths of Detroit working-class families were buying their own
homes at the time. 31
Sophie was pregnant, and in September 1886, nine years after their
marriage, Laura Euphrosyne was bom, evidently their second child. Sophie
was thirty-five, Jo thirty-six. Cemetery records indicate that an infant, sev
enteen-month-old Leo Donatus, was buried in February 1880. His existence
is puzzling, because Labadie seems never to have referred to him. The
account book gives few clues except the notation of $17.84 for “Funeral
expenses, Leo” and payments of $27.50 to “Dr. Younghusband” over the
next four months, a very large medical bill for the tunes. 32
Except for helping with Knights of Labor social events, Sophie, after
Laura's birth, devoted herself to motherhood and the family. This seems
to have been her choice, not Jo's. He frequently expressed admiration for
dynamic women and heartily supported female Knights, who, by 1887, rep
resented an estimated 10 percent of the membership. Women were attracted
by the Knights' radical vision of equal rights in the workplace. In 1886, a


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former knit goods worker, Leonora M. Barry, was appointed to the Order's
general executive board, an extraordinarily high labor union office even by
today's standards. She was charged with looking into “the abuses to which
our sex is subjected by unscrupulous employers.’’ In Windsor, across the
Detroit River, the Knights D.A. 174 was headed by a woman, Rose Lemay.
Most women were in all-female assemblies, like Detroit's Florence Night
ingale L.A. 3102, which pleased those Knights who resisted women in their
midst. Labadie opposed this division, holding that in the world of work men
and women had identical interests. Besides, he noted, the presence of the
opposite sex made men behave better. 33
In contrast to Jo's dynamically defined outlines, Sophie remains a
shadowy figure. Other than during their courtship, no letters or writings
until her late middle age have survived, although she carefully preserved
every scrap of paper concerning Jo. Like Darwin's wife, she was devoted to
church doctrine but lived in harmony with her agnostic husband, “standing
by his side and not seen,’’ as Agnes Inglis put it. (Sophie once complained
about a photograph of Jo, saying she had been standing right next to him
but “I ain't in the picture.’’) When free-thinkers came to visit and suggested
the Catholic Church was “the greatest menace we have,’’ she told Inglis, she
just smiled and passed the bread. 34
Jo's pleasure in center stage was echoed by his brothers. Francis and
Hubert, whom he helped support in their childhood, were both in their
twenties, professional actors. As the Labadie Theatre Combination, they
performed “Nobody's Child,’’ “Monte Cristo,’’ and “Esmeralda’’ in music
halls and opera houses in Michigan and Canada. Seventeen-year-old Oliver
soon joined the troupe. 35
As children, the three younger boys had frequently visited their itiner
ant woodsman father, Anthony, in the Michigan wilds of Kalkaska County,
while their mother remained in Detroit. Untroubled by his failure as a fam
ily breadwinner, they loved vacationing at his shanty on the banks of the
north branch of the Manistee River, accompanying him on hunting and
fishing expeditions. The former ne'er-do-well and failed paterfamilias had
finally found his niche. As a pioneer settler in the pine and hemlock forests
of the north country, he not only achieved financial success but emerged as
an unlikely pillar of the community. He founded the township of Oliver,
named after his youngest son. With more than five thousand acres of land,
he bragged that he was one of the most prosperous loggers in the area. 36
Lumbering was hard work, one would think, for a Civil War veteran
who had requested a pension increase on the grounds that war-related spinal


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injuries rendered him unable to perform manual labor. But he was in his
element and loving it: “Home is in the forst and the creem off michigan,” he
wrote his brother in an untutored scrawl. Shortly before his death in 1886 he
coimnented that he did not hear from “home” (meaning wife Euphrosyne)
and he did not “give a —,” 37
Jo Labadie no longer had funds to share with his family. With a new
baby at home and a house under construction, he was barely eking out a
subsistence. “Burton and I are trying hard to keep the Labor Leaf alive but
it is hard grubbing” he had told Powderly in early 1886. “We sometimes
get as low as five dollars a week apiece to support ourselves, and we have
never had more than $12.” Some months later, with the country still reel
ing from the Haymarket incident, he was interviewed by a reporter from
the Evening News while standing at the printer's case setting type. The
reporter found him not at all like the “bloodthirsty demon” many imagined
him to be. The paper's surprisingly admiring profile noted that Labadie did
not have protruding teeth, dirty fingers, or bad breath, but was handsome
and well dressed, with “a large, strong-looking head, covered with a good
growth of black hair, dressed a la pompadour ... a neatly-curled black
mustache ... and a just as neat goatee.” It reassuringly described Labadie's
anarchism as grounded in the theory “that all human nature is good, and
that men, if left to themselves without the intervention of statutes, would
obey the great natural laws.” No mention was made of Labadie's some
times fiery rhetoric. 38
The Labor Leaf office was a convivial spot, luring a parade of visitors.
Adjoining two rooms leased by “friends of the labor movement” (including,
surprisingly, the new, supposedly unsympathetic, Coimnissioner of Labor
C. V. R. Pond), it functioned as an impromptu meeting place and social
hall. Visiting radicals gravitated there to discuss and argue. Unorganized
workers came seeking information. At the height of the eight-hour agitation,
more than one hundred meetings had been held there in a one month period.
Labadie remembered them including “every shade of labor reformer, from
the meek and lowly simple trades unionist, the forerunners of the I.W.W.,
the relentless bomb-thrower, the authoritarian socialist to the evolutionary
anarchist.” 39
Henry George, on a lecture tour in April 1886, gave the Labor Leaf
a copy of his new book, Protection or Free Trade, and enlisted Labadie as
agent to sell it. Since Burton was a “single tax” enthusiast and columnists
Judson Grenell and John M. McGregor both avid disciples, George must
have received the wannest of welcomes. Labadie's friend Peter J. McGuire,


A Bomb Is Thrown
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founder of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a comrade-in-
arms of Samuel Gompers, dropped in early that year, “as fat as an aldennan
and quite gray,” although he was only thirty-four. He had apparently veered
from a belief in state socialism toward anarchism at about the same time as
Labadie and the two lamented the introduction of politics and socialism into
union activities. 40
One evening, around midnight, a crowd of husky horsecar drivers
squeezed into the front office so Labadie could organize them into the
Knights of Labor. He was outraged that the drivers were treated worse than
mules or oxen by a “heartless corporation.” Their long and arduous days
were unrelieved by a lunch or dinner break; they were forced to eat while
guiding the horses. He encountered an unruly bunch, compared to which
“a herd of cattle was a highly disciplined body.” He found them baffled by
the Order's ritual, mysticism, high-blown rhetoric, and complex organiza
tional procedures. He set up a street railway assembly but it met an untimely
death. “What could be expected,” Labadie later mused, “of men... who had
no opportunity to meet with their fellows . . . read books or papers ... or
learn the benefits of organization.” 41 More likely, these earthy toilers, new
at unionism and exhausted at the end of a brutal day, were seeking relief
through labor action, not the edification that was the cornerstone of Knights
of Labor strategy.
By early 1886, Labadie was troubled that the Order was growing too
rapidly. He and other leaders were spread too thin. They had no time to
keep in touch with all the assemblies they were founding, and the newly
organized were ill-equipped to function independently. Despite smoldering
public apprehension fed by the Haymarket episode, the Knights of Labor
was now surging to the height of its power and glory. By the suimner of that
year, in a total population of some fifty-eight million, nearly three-quarters
of a million workers nationwide were members, ten times the figure of two
years before. An estimated 13,000 Detroiters of a population of 133,000
belonged to either the Knights, a trade union, or both. Combined, they rep
resented over 20 percent of the city's workforce. 42
Working men and women were sufficiently captivated by the eco
nomic corrections they saw ahead to turn out for a five-act play, Monop
oly, sponsored by the Knights at the Detroit Opera House. The melodrama
depicted a strike for a shorter workday, the attempted bombing of a mill by
a conniving superintendent who blamed it on radical elements, and a happy
denouement, in which the falsely accused labor agitator turns out be be the
kidnapped baby son of the now enlightened industrialist. 43


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Ten thousand ebullient marchers paraded four abreast from Grand
Circus Park to Miller's Gardens on Monday, September 6, in a grand show
of labor's strength and solidarity. Brimming with confidence and daring,
Knights and unionists for the first time scheduled a Labor Day parade
during the day, unilaterally declaring it a holiday seven years before Labor
Day became legal in Michigan. It marked the largest demonstration of orga
nized workers ever held in the state, almost seven times the size of the great
1880 parade. Chief Marshal Judson Grenell led the three-mile-long proces
sion of floats, bands, banners, and carriages carrying the revered Trevellick,
female Knights, and representatives of various trades. “Divided we can beg;
united we can demand’’ read one streamer. On the printers' float, a working
press turned out miniature copies of the Labor Leaf as souvenirs. Labadie
was not enamored of all the hoopla, but he recognized that “these flags and
ribbons and drums are simply the means of reaching the sluggish minds and
stirring them to thought.’’ 44
Labor's ascendancy seemed inevitable. The Knights of Labor
appeared to be riding the crest of a mighty wave. Mixed with the euphoria,
however, were the repercussions of the Haymarket affair. A fear of labor
militancy pervaded the nation's consciousness. Employers attempted to
break the growing power of labor organizations with armed thugs, lockouts,
blacklists, and anti-union oaths. After 1886, membership in the Knights
would dwindle rapidly, undermined by Powderly's opposition to strikes and
the eight-hour movement, his repudiation of the convicted anarchists, and,
not least, his monumentally misguided leadership.


133
~k 10 ~k
Ah, there is a hurrying of feet!
The life-boats are putting off!
The pirate crew have monopolized the boats and floats
and are sailing away!
Men and women and children are struggling in the waters
of despair!
Our anchors are failing us!
Same qui pent!
"Watch the Courts,” Songs of the Spoiled
In 1886, a year of both elation and disillusion for the nation's
working people, all sorts of things started going wrong. On the same day the
Haymarket bombing triggered an anti-radical frenzy, the Knights of Labor
suffered a humiliating defeat, losing a major strike on Jay Gould's South
west railroad system. Only the year before, the Knights thought they had
brought the hated “robber baron’’ to his knees by threatening to halt his
entire system with a massive strike. With that staggering victory hundreds
of thousands of new members had swarmed into their ranks.
But now, backed up by hired strikebreakers and Pinkerton guards, and
supported by state militias, the railroad magnate was determined to stand
tough. Knights' leader Powderly vacillated. He hated strikes. Besides, he
was indecisive by nature. Keen to break the power of the Knights, Gould was
in no mood for negotiations or concessions. Finally, the Knights' executive
council stepped into the void and ordered the men back to work. Labadie, a
strong proponent of the strike, knew its collapse was a turning point, bound to
crush “the spirit of independence and revolt’’ in “our more timid comrades.’’
Had the ruling Knights been made of “sterner stuff,’’ he charged, they would


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not have lost “their grip on the railroad monopoly monster.’’ 1 Whether or
not victory had truly been within their grasp, the fact remains that after this
debacle the Knights never won another major strike.
Another blow to the Knights' prestige occurred at the Chicago stock-
yards that November. Workers who had won an eight-hour day during the
May 1 general strike again went on strike when management reneged on the
agreement and reverted to ten hours. Thomas Barry, the hero of the Saginaw
Valley strike and now a ranking official of the Knights, was sent from Phila
delphia to intervene. He worked out a deal with some of the packing houses,
while others continued to be struck. After Barry left Chicago, Powderly,
erratic as ever, undercut him by ordering all the men back to work at ten
hours. This second betrayal was too much for Barry; he became Powderly's
open enemy. 2
The munnurings of suspicions between the Knights and the trade
unions were escalating into a roar. Samuel Gompers, an official of the
Cigar Makers' International Union (CMIU) and rising national labor leader,
minced no words when he talked to Detroiters one Sunday afternoon in mid
1886 in a speech titled, “Scabs, Knights of Labor and Unions.’’ He was irate
that the Knights were supporting a rival cigannakers' union and attempting
to undermine the CMIU. But in Detroit the local Knights and trade unionists
were living in harmony and the cigannaker factions had worked out a “peace
pact.’’ 3 The audience in Germania Hall did not receive Gompers warmly and
denounced his assertion that every cigannaker not in his union was a scab.
The cigannakers' jurisdictional battle was the result of a long-stand
ing feud in New York City. A dissident group had broken away from the
CMIU to set up the socialist-leaning Progressive Cigar Makers' Union. For
years the two unions engaged in name-calling, intrigue, personal animos
ity, cutthroat competition, and the breaking of each other's strikes. Early in
1886, the Progressives took the places of six thousand striking CMIU work
ers (and were branded “scabs”) and merged with the local district assembly
of the Knights.
Enraged, Adolph Strasser, CMIU president, demanded that the
national officers of the Knights denounce this “unscrupulous attack upon rec
ognized trade union principles.” Powderly, who cared little for trade unions
and was struggling with the faltering Southwest railroad strike, refused to
intervene. Such cavalier treatment hardened the inclination of Gompers and
Strasser to set up a new labor group dedicated to trade union principles. In
December 1886, they disbanded the FOTLU and organized in its stead the
American Federation of Labor (AFL), thereby helping push the Knights of


Open Waif are
135
Labor into the abyss created by the turbulent tunes and Powderly's way
ward leadership, and launching Gompers on his triumphant role as labor
kingpin (with Labadie as his eventual ally). 4
Detroit's 1886 state election campaign also turned out to be an
ugly, divisive affair, although labor managed to get five of its candidates
elected to the state legislature. The Independent Labor party (ILP), which
had successfully sent candidates to Lansing since 1882, held a nominat
ing convention that degenerated into charges of trickery, bribery, and gen
eral dishonesty. Radical socialists stood against moderate reformers. The
SLP wing protested the presence of Greenback-Labor party delegates, who
counter-protested. Bitter charges of a political sellout were hurled. There
was much opposition to the seating of state legislator Francis B. Egan, who
was accused of betraying labor's interest to curry favor with the Republi
cans and get the job of deputy labor commissioner the year before. 5
Mindful that all five party nominees who ran on a fusion ticket with
either Republicans or Democrats had been elected in 1884, delegates were
eager to obtain candidates with major party connections. This infuriated
third-party movement purists, who bolted from the hall to set up a break
away “Strictly Independent Labor Party.’’ They refused to adopt a ticket
with candidates endorsed by the “old, corrupt political parties,’’ and vowed
to work for their defeat at the polls. 6
By compromising principle in favor of vote-getting ability, the ILP
convention produced a motley ticket. Judson Grenell, who at the tune held
office in three Detroit Knights' organizations, was one of the few candidates
who had distinguished himself in labor circles. Labor Leaf editor Burton
was so disturbed by what he viewed as rank opportunism that he attacked
in print two of the candidates, accusing one of involvement in municipal
bribery and graft schemes. 7 This provoked an uproar. The party's campaign
coimnittee denounced the Labor Leaf and threatened a boycott. An acrimo
nious debate in the editorial rooms spilled out into the columns. Candidate
Grenell accused his editor of poor judgment and of injuring the paper's
reputation. Burton countered that it was his own paper and it was “useless
to try to bulldoze me into endorsing men I know to be unworthy.’’ Labadie
stood with him. He defended the Labor Leaf’s “free platform,’’ which was
“not run to suit any party or clique,’’ and insisted there was no room in the
labor movement for “dishonest men and tricksters.’’ 8
Though the boycott idea died, the whole affair left a bad taste in Laba
die's mouth. Watching the splintering of the old labor comradeship into
warring factions convinced him more than ever that labor should stay out


136
All-American Anarchist
of politics. “The more I see of politics, the more disgusted do I become
with it,” he wrote in his October 13 “Cranky Notions” column, while
acknowledging “the excitement that almost irresistibly draws one into its
powerful current, and the opportunities it presents to study human nature.”
The Knights could brag that thirty-nine of their number were elected
that November and sat in the 1887 Michigan legislature, but to Labadie,
dragging the “Labor University” into the “dirty pool of politics is only to
besmirch it with filth.” 9
Labadie's friend Grenell, conversely, was “always for politics,” as
Agnes Inglis observed much later in suimning up his career. Learning from
his defeat as an independent candidate in 1884, he accepted Republican
endorsement this tune, and was elected. More and more, he was letting
expediency be his guide. At the age of thirty-nine, his radicalism was fading
fast. Like many of the labor activists of a decade before, he had managed to
discover some good in the establishment. Temporarily giving up his report
ing job on the Detroit News, he accepted a Republican patronage position
(“a political plum,” he called it in his unpublished autobiography) acquired
through his friend Egan. As deputy oil inspector checking the flammability
of kerosene, he garnered a handsome $1,200 annual salary with plenty of
free time for writing, but found himself accused by his erstwhile comrades
of “selling out.” One historian characterized him as “capable of being all
things to all men at one time ... apt to take the more comfortable way out.” 10
Slender and fair-haired, a few inches taller than Labadie, Grenell was
mild-mannered but nervous; he suffered from a slight stammer. By his own
admission, he had “no personal magnetism or oratorical gifts.” Ironically,
only the year before his election, in his August 5, 1885 “Common Sense”
column, Grenell had scathingly denounced laws as “cunningly devised
schemes to enable the few to rob the many.” In another article two months
later, he echoed Labadie in looking forward to “the gradual abolition of all
law, until finally there is consuimnated the dream of the philosopher . . .
anarchism.” To his credit, on election, he vowed to introduce few bills, and
except for ballot refonn, did in fact propose mainly the repeal of existing
laws. 11
Despite profound disagreements, Labadie and Grenell never faltered in
their close friendship for more than a half century. Grenell's political career
did not estrange them, even though Labadie once castigated politicians as
“the crown of thorns upon the brow of crucified labor.” The two were an
unlikely pair. Cocky, assertive Labadie, with flowing tie and theatrical flair,
trigger-happy for a debate, seemed a mismatch to the moderate, low-keyed,


Jo and Sophie Labadie
after their wedding in St.
Alphonse Catholic Church
in Windsor, Ontario, on
August 14, 1877. (Author's
photo.)
Labadie (seated, far right) with other Michigan labor leaders of the mid 1880s.
(Author's photo.)


Hair was important to both Jo and
Sophie Labadie. In 1883, when she
was thirty-two, Sophie's hair could
touch the ground. (Author's photo.)
German revolutionary and agitator
Johann Most. (Courtesy of the
Labadie Collection.)


Benjamin R. Tucker, publisher of
Liberty, c. 1887. (Courtesy of the
Lsbsdie Collection.)
Terence V. Powderly,
grand master workman
of the Knights of Labor.
(Courtesy of the Labadie
Collection.)


Thomas B. Barry, leader of the great
lumbermen's strike in the Saginaw
Valley in 1885. (Courtesy of the
Labadie Collection.)
Euphrosyne Angelique Labadie, Jo
Labadie's mother. Curiously, although
the Labadies took hundreds of photos,
there seem to be none of Jo's errant
father. (Author's photo.)
Sophie Labadie saved the documents that framed the Labadie Collection at the
University of Michigan in the attic of the Labadies' 1890s home at 2306 Buchanan
Street in Detroit. (Author's photo.)


Composite photograph of the Haymarket martyrs. Louis Lingg committed suicide
in prison; the four others were hanged November 11, 1887. (Courtesy of the
Labadie Collection.)


Lucy Parsons, widow of Albert
Parsons, who was executed for
the 1886 Haymarket bombing.
(Courtesy of the Labadie
Collection.)
Detroit anarchist Robert
Reitzel, publisher of Der
arwe Teufel. (Courtesy of the
Labadie Collection.)


Mr. and Mrs. Samuel
Gompers on their Golden
Wedding Anniversary,
January 28, 1917,
inscribed: "To my dear Pal
Joe Labadie." (Courtesy of
the Labadie Collection.)
Alexander Berkman, would-be
assassin of Henry Clay Frick.
(Courtesy of the Labadie
Collection.)


Emma Goldman, "Anarchist
Queen." (Courtesy of the
Labadie Collection.)
Peter Kropotkin, Russian
anarchist and geographer.
(Courtesy of the Labadie
Collection.)


The Labadie family around 1900. Seated, 1. to r.: Mrs. Hubert Labadie; Mrs. Oliver
Labadie; Sophie Labadie; Laurance Labadie; Jo Labadie; Mrs. Francis Labadie.
Standing, 1. to r„ Jo's brothers, Hubert and Oliver; his daughters, Charlotte and
Laura; brother Francis. (Author's photo.)
"I Welcome Dis
order" from one
of Jo's handmade
manuscript book
lets of poetry.
(Author's photo.)
I LiJelCOMI U
BORDER.
'ImMX
H&N Ctru^v*-*cl to tfa. erf cltltAAA*-
J [fa plaJj <jj iAf
VsAj fttatu., j^au!'thus? m K6 ftotLL
hf. , . w 1 iiaaJIa ifa. ttcU~A d AaA&KjuXji [
UAjul* prr
•^LcLoi^LCj ifa, rf
pru |vmA iiiu,
^AA^iA. tpfa pMbUj erf
npM AlZ&MAX^ yn<A CjAAsj\s 'Usjs&W. /V^y
Co-ix d -M-J' SIM* ■/£-*-([
Ouih c<jj jKxcoitri^ —
"pkjL. -liyKji i e^ol
U -U^ ~aaA a-[Ar\A CAMXJ f
rfrviO} OA o^cmj *fa>rfXuA ytyusi
-rft)


THE UNIQUEST THING IN BOOKS.
THE LABADIE BOO K LETS
NOW READY:
THE RED FLAG, A Little Piece of Paper and Other
Verses. By Joseph A. Labadie. 50c, 75c, and $1,
according to binding.
WHAT IS LOVE? and Other Fancies. By Joseph A.
Labadie. (Verses.) 50c, 75c and $1, according to
binding.
SONG OF SELF. By Jo Labadie. 5 cents.
WHAT THINK YE OF CHRIST? By D. A. Roberts.
Verile verses. 10c a dozen, 50c a 100. Good so-
cialist stuff.
I WELCOME DISORDER, by Jo Labadie. Whitman-
ian verse. A copy for the asking and ic stamp, 5c
apiece, 25c a dozen, Si.50 a 100.
These Booklets are home and hand made, done in
our little nonprofessional Shop, where things with wood,
bark, leather, paper, type, press, and so on, are matle
as a recreation from the “demnition grind” of the capi
talistic system of industry, in which the Clock is a warn
ing witch and the Boss a goad at the treadmill. Unique
leather handbags, baskets, calendars, etc., are produced
principally for love, but some of them are sold to get
stuff to make more with. They will boost who are in
sympathy with this modest little enterprise, in which
the lx>y and the girls and mamma and I, during spare
hours, have lots of enjoyment schooling the hands and
mind, printing our own pieces, binding them into Book
lets, painting chinaware, doing fancy work, sewing, and
singing songs for love and money. Those who can might
furnish the “dough” for those who can’t. Pick out
what you want and send your address anyway; it’ll be
all right. Whoever you are, whatever you arc, where -
ever you are, l wish you well.
THE LABADIE SHOP,
T4 SmcUm* stmt, Dtirtii, Mick. Advertisement for the Labadie
booklets, c. 1911. (Author’s photo.)
Detroit newspapers
ridiculed Water Board
wCommissioner James
Pound in 1908 for trying
to fire Labadie because of
his anarchist views.
(Author's photo.)


Laurance Labadie, his honey
blond cui'ls untrimmed at age
six, in Detroit New’s Tribune
photo, 1904, illustrates one
of Jo's health fads. (Author's
photo.)
Muraacc cteophis. sun of Mr. sad Mr*. Jaaeph A. labadie. of 74 Uuchaaaa street,
Detroit, ha* never been attacked by say of the disease* common to chitdreu. and hi*
parents are Inclined to attribot* the immunity to the " no breakfast " plan, which they
have rigidly adhered to foe several years.
THE BOY WHO HAS NEVER EATEN BREAKFAST.
Call E. Schmidt, millionaire Detroit tanner
and Labadie's benefactor, in 1906. (Author's
photo.)


Charlotte, Jo and Sophie's
middle child and the
author's mother, in front of
the Den. Bubbling Waters,
c. 1924. (Author's photo.)
Judson Grenell and
Jo Labadie in their later
years. (Author's photo.)


Socialist leader Eugene Debs
around the time of the Pullman
strike of 1894. (Author's photo.)
Agnes Inglis with Jo and Sophie Labadie at Bubbling Waters in the late 1920s, after
she began working in the Labadie Collection. (Author's photo.)


Jo Labadie, photographed around 1920, adopted the Buffalo Bill look. (Author's
photo.)


Sophie and Jo in their Buchanan Street home. (Author's photo.)
The author
with her uncle,
Laurance Labadie,
Berkeley, Cal
ifornia, 1949.
(Author's photo.)


Jo Labadie, 1905. (Author's photo.)


Open Waif are
137
carelessly dressed Grenell. Agnes Inglis saw Grenell as “true, but not
intense emotionally.’’ He lacked Labadie's “Dream,’’ she noted, but was “not
so self-centered.’’ 12
Perhaps their puzzling bond endured and strengthened because it was
forged at a time of development when undying loyalties are bred. From
their early days together, the two had fought side by side in the front-line
trenches of labor's battles. They shared a commitment to the pen as their
most effective weapon. Both abandoned advocacy of state socialism about
the same time. But where Labadie saw salvation in the no-state doctrine,
Grenell's ardor was lavished on the concept of a single tax on land to com
pensate for inequalities in land ownership, together with an unwavering
reverence for its proponent, Henry George, whom he esteemed as the most
erudite and clear-thinking man he ever met. 13 Whatever his views of the jus
tice of the Haymarket arrests and trial, Grenell seems to have kept them to
himself. The plight of the defendants clearly aroused in him no indignation
corresponding to Labadie's anguished outbursts.
Nor did Benjamin Tucker, another close associate of Labadie, place
himself in the pantheon of those who championed the cause of the Haymar
ket accused. Indeed, individualist anarchism's high priest appeared nearly
as anxious to dissociate his group from the reviled men as did Powderly.
He branded them coimnunists at every opportunity. These “falsely called
Anarchists’’ could hardly claim that the bomb would not have been thrown if
the meeting had not been attacked, Tucker argued. They had been preaching
“wholesale destruction’’ for years. “Why, then, should they not expect some
ardent follower to act upon their advice?” (He confided to Labadie that he
knew—lie refused to say how—that the package of dynamite police found
in Spies's office at the Arbeiter Zeitung was not manufactured evidence but
“was sent there long ago.”) He thundered against those who used “Anarchy's
name ... to secure one of the most revolting of Archies,—the Archy of com
pulsory Communism.” By “adopting the name of the real friends of Liberty”
they were confusing the public and endangering “true Anarchists.” 14
Even one of Tucker's closest colleagues on Liberty, Victor Yarros,
accused him of trying to make anarchism “respectable” in the aftermath of
Haymarket, of turning the doctrine into “a sort of spiritual amusement for
kid-gloved reformers.” 15 But Labadie, uncharacteristically, did not breathe a
word of reproach. He seemed over-awed by Tucker's haughty erudition and
aristocratic demeanor, an attitude Labadie displayed toward no one else.
The trial of the Haymarket anarchists ended in August 1886. Eight of
the defendants were found guilty as conspirators to murder on the grounds


138
All-American Anarchist
that they advocated the overthrow of law by force, and thus inspired some
unidentified person to throw the bomb. Five were German-bom, one raised
in Germany. Samuel Fielden was a native Englishman. Albert Parsons was
bom in Alabama. No evidence was produced directly connecting them
or their advice with the unknown bombthrower. They were sentenced to
hang. 16 The Labor Leaf proclaimed the verdict “A ‘Legal’ Outrage.” There
was not “a particle of evidence” that any of the accused were armed, it pro
tested, nor proof they had done a single act to justify their conviction. The
paper called for funds for a new trial “even at the risk of losing sympathy for
ourselves.” 17 Burton, Labadie, and their allies were clearly in the minority.
In the first fires of nationwide rejoicing over this triumph of law and order,
theirs was an exceedingly unpopular message.
Labadie's indignation was uncontrolled. By its “oppressive mea
sures,” he raged in Labor Leaf the “ruling class” was “urging on a prema
ture and violent revolution” in hope of crushing the labor movement. “Let
the authorities not lose their reason in this matter, because if they do they
might lose their heads.” An Ontario newspaper called on Detroit to muzzle
“this fanatical villain .. . who eulogizes the Chicago murderers.” From the
Cook County jail August Spies expressed his gratitude to Labadie that “in
the general stampede of cowardly retreat there are at least some voices who
boldly and fearlessly proclaim The Truth.” 18
At the conclusion of the trial, defendant Albert Parsons delivered a
rambling, but passionate, eight-hour address, insisting he had broken no
laws, had never advocated force except in self-defense, and that the convic
tions violated the rights of free speech, free press, and public assemblage.
Judge Joseph E. Gary then sentenced seven of the men to hang on Decem
ber 3, and the eighth, Oscar Neebe, to fifteen years' imprisonment. 19
Lucy Parsons walked to the prisoners' dock after the verdict, took
Albert's hand and proclaimed: “My husband, I give you to the cause of lib
erty. I now go forth to take your place. I will herald abroad to the American
people the foul murder ordered here today at the behest of monopoly.” Two
hours later, she began her campaign to raise funds for an appeal. Since her
husband's arrest, she had attempted to support herself and their two young
children by dressmaking. The children were sent to stay with friends, and
Lucy Parsons embarked on an exhausting sixteen-state tour, resolved to take
the case to a “jury” of the American people. She believed many were sick
ened by the trial, and from the response she received, she was right. 20
After her first appearance in Cincinnati, she wrote Labadie in
unschooled ecstasy that the group of “concervitave Trads Unionest . . .


Open Waif are
139
apploded my utterances to the echo, and excepted me defmation of the red
flag with rapture. ... Ah! I tell you the people ar becoming hungery for the
other side of the late judical farce.” By then sentiment was growing that the
trial had been a travesty of justice, with a packed jury, perjured testimony,
and a hanging judge, and that men were to die for their beliefs, not their
deeds. 21
The tour turned out to be enonnously successful; Lucy was a persua
sive orator. She addressed more than 200,000 people in sixteen states. More
inclined to violence than her husband, she did not hesitate to advocate acts
of terrorism and once suggested setting off dynamite in Westminster Abbey.
A striking, thirty-three-year-old of black or partly black ancestry, she pos
sessed commanding presence, her black hair and eyes dramatized by a long
black dress. She roused audiences by proclaiming that if Parsons should die
a martyr, it would only advance the glorious cause, and expressed readiness
for the gallows herself: “If a petition were placed before me for mercy, and
I knew I could get mercy by the signing of my name, I would say, ‘Spring
your trap.' ” 22
Eight days before the scheduled December 3 hangings, the Chief Jus
tice of the Illinois Supreme Court granted a stay of execution. Lucy Par
sons reached Detroit about a month later, in January 1887. Gennania Hall
was crowded, with many women and Gennans present, as the slender, cop
per-skinned speaker—“impressive and eloquent . . . and deeply and fear
fully in earnest”—began to speak. In a soft, melodious voice with a slight
Texas twang, she argued that her husband and other leaders would not have
brought their wives and children to Haymarket Square if they had known
a bomb would be thrown. She described the atrocities committed by the
police as they rounded up radicals of every hue, of how they ripped up her
house, stole her few valuables, and asked her little boy, “Where's your dad?
We're going to hang him.” She accused the prosecution of rejecting every
Knight or trades unionist in assembling its “packed jury.” 23
Her delivery grew more impassioned as she warned of the revolution
ahead, the “rumblings of a change.” She cried out: “Heed them.” The audi
ence was enraptured, according to Labor Leaf. Resolutions by Labadie con
demning the verdict and demanding justice were approved. Contributions
and the sale of Parsons's photograph and Haymarket Square speech brought
in nearly $80. There were more donations when Lucy spoke to the Henry
George assembly of the Knights of Labor, of which Labadie was master
workman. They were collected in defiance of Powderly's order banning
contributions by Knights for the anarchists' defense. 24


140
All-American Anarchist
By this time, the Knights' national leader had embarked on a cam
paign of anarchist-and radical-baiting calculated to prevent any identifica
tion of his organization with the Haymarket anarchists. He believed, as he
later wrote, that the bomb “did more injury to the good name of labor than
all the strikes of that year.” Initially, Labadie chose to disbelieve newspaper
accounts of what the general master workman was doing. He ridiculed the
idea that “Mr. Powderly is teetotally and fanatically opposed to socialism”
and recollected publicly the tune when Powderly was an SLP member and
held a card “as red as the reddest card . . . and ... he made no bones
about it either.” Labadie later claimed he revealed this information “never
for a moment thinking Mr. Powderly cared to deny his connection with the
socialist party.” 25
Labadie's charges created a nationwide scandal. They were so widely
reported that a year later, in September 1887, Powderly finally felt called
on to repudiate them. Obsessed with washing away all traces of red taint,
he instructed his Detroit confidante John Devlin to publicize a twelve-page
letter, characteristically self-serving and self-pitying, which began: “For the
past two years every utterance of mine has been garbled and misconstrued.
... The arguments of selfish politicians, weak-hearted friends or the threats
of sniveling Anarchists have had and will have no effect on me.” Socialists
had “crowded into [our order] and attempted to force their opinions down
our throats.” He stated emphatically, “I am not and never was a Socialist.”
Indeed, he prided himself with never having performed “a single act that
brings a blush to my cheek.” 26
By then, Labadie had realized the full extent of Powderly's red-bait
ing and repudiation of the Haymarket men. He turned into Powderly's bitter
foe. Doubtless with relish, he blazoned across Advance and Labor Leaf (the
paper's new name) a refutation of Powderly's anti-socialist claim based on
the recollections of Grenell, E. W. Simpson, and other former SLP officials
in Detroit. They recalled that Philip Van Patten told them he had issued a
“red card” to Powderly after the 1880 Greenback-Labor convention, and
received his dues for the next two years. Labadie snidely claimed he wanted
to “refresh Mr. Powderly's memory” and was sure the Knights' leader “will
not hesitate a moment in acknowledging their correctness.” Although the
new revelations by no means convicted Powderly of radicalism, they served
to uphold Labadie's veracity. 27
At the Knights' Richmond convention in October 1886, five months
after the Haymarket affair, Powderly had angrily opposed aresolution express
ing sympathy and requesting mercy for the doomed men. Not “morbid”


Open Waif are
141
sympathy, but “a debt of hatred” was due them, he asserted, for “cashing] a
stain upon the name of labor which will take years to wipe out.” The Order
should do nothing that could “even by implication be interpreted as identi
fication with the Anarchist element.” 28
An even more significant dispute erupted that fed Labadie's misgiv
ings about Knights' leadership and its chance of fulfilling the promise of
one big union. The battle with the trade unions came to a head when the del
egates voted to expel all members of the Cigar Makers' International Union,
with which it had a long-standing antagonism. The anti-unionists were
“jubilant,” but by forcing workers to choose between membership in their
trade union or the Knights, they inflicted a “mortal wound” on the Order, as
one observer recalled. 29 This wound became increasingly deadly in a swirl
of charges of malfeasance, as well as the controversy over Haymarket.
Labadie initially tried to minimize the seriousness of the rift. He
fulminated against the “capitalist” press and its “feigned concern” for dif
ferences between labor organizations, which it exploited in an attempt to
destroy them. 30 Like many, he was slow to pit himself against Powderly in
this tempestuous period, only a few months after Haymarket. Even Thomas
Barry (whom Powderly hated and privately called “canine or bovine”)
wrote Labadie from the Order's Philadelphia headquarters, where he served
on the General Executive Board, that he believed Powderly would declare
the cigannaker expulsion order unconstitutional. A few months later, Barry
was still waiting, confused by the inaction of “Bro Powderly.” Wherever he
traveled, Barry found dissension rife among the Knights. He lamented to
Labadie that “Kicking in Labor circles seems to be the order of the day . .
. if we would kick against Capitalistic oppression we would have kicking
enough.” 31
Labadie's tune changed dramatically when officials of the Knights
ordered an enforcement of the cigar union expulsion order in early 1887.
He spoke out vehemently in “Cranky Notions” against this “great injus
tice” to his cigannaker comrades. The mandate of the Richmond conven
tion was unconstitutional, he charged. Nowhere in the Knights' constitution
was there a clause denying membership to anyone for belonging to a trade
union. The resolution retroactively targeted those who had done no wrong.
He called on the Executive Board to nullify the ruling. 32
Never before had Labadie spoken out against Knights' policies with
such passion. He did not relish the thought of undennining the organization
he had worked so hard to build, but was indignant at those who suggested
that “if I did not like the way things were done, I could get out of the Order.”


142
All-American Anarchist
As one of the pioneer Michigan Knights, he felt it his duty to protest “the
usurpation of power ... that has now grown unbearable.’’ 33
Liberty publisher Benjamin Tucker, meanwhile, did not share Laba
die's concerns. He was gloating over “the ashes of the Knights of Labor.’’
Liberty proclaimed—somewhat prematurely—that the organization had
“subsided like a penny candle and is seized in its final flickerings.“ After
Powderly's annual salary was raised from $2,000 to $5,000, Tucker glee
fully detailed the contents of the $50,000 Philadelphia “mansion’’ bought
for the Order's “high-salaried officials,” which was “so elegantly fitted out
with Wilton carpets, stained-glass windows, mirror-lined walls, old gold
satin hangings, plate-glass windows, solid marble wainscoting, etc. that
John Swinton calls it ‘a palace for the rulers of the order.' ” 34
Tucker had never had any use for the Knights of Labor. He scoffed at
its Declaration of Principles, full of demands for taxation, labor laws, and
other “tyrannical measures” from the state. “Think of an Anarchist demand
ing anything of the State except its death!” Although he never confronted
Labadie directly, his reproach was clear. If any “real Anarchist” belonged
to the Order, he had written in Liberty in February 1886, he either did not
know what anarchism meant or was false to his principles. Stung, Labadie
twice inquired of Powderly just before Haymarket if one could be a consci
entious Knight and not accept every plank in the organization's platform. 35
But after the bomb exploded that day in May, Powderly abruptly terminated
their once-lively correspondence and never gave an answer.
The cigannakers' expulsion order the following October shattered
whatever harmony remained among Detroit Knights. This national reso
lution forced them to take sides, to choose between trade union or Knights
membership, where previously they had lived comfortably with both. They
divided into clear-cut factions: the pro-administration group, unsympathetic
to union grievances, and those increasingly hostile to Powderly and his tac
tics. Nearly a decade of coimadeship ended. “That unfortunate order” cre
ated “bad blood—miserably bad,” John Devlin wrote Powderly. 36
Everyone felt strongly about the issue. Thomas Dolan, former min
ute-taker of the Knights in its guise as the “Washington Literary Society,”
and a cigannaker facing expulsion, protested that he had always been a
loyal Knight but was compelled to go with the union: “My living is there.”
Henry Robinson, an official of Detroit's district assembly, asserted that the
directive was unconstitutional. Powderly cohort Devlin, now U.S. consul in
Windsor, proclaimed it legal. Grenell waffled. He thought Detroiters were


Open Waif are
143
not “proper judges of its constitutionality,” but suggested that the district
assembly refrain from enforcing it. 37
Amid the general turmoil, there was a mysterious shakeup at the
Labor Leaf in February 1887. Burton inexplicably relinquished the edi
torship and was replaced by occasional columnist and former lake vessel
captain John Murray McGregor. The suspicion that this was a power play
by the pro-Powderly forces in the district assembly is borne out by the com
plete turnaround thereafter in editorial position. McGregor compared the
cigannaker expulsion order favorably with Lincoln's Civil War emancipa
tion proclamation. “The Captain,” who had turned to journalism in his for
ties after being blacklisted for organizing Great Lakes pilots into the Order,
announced his intention of supporting the principles of “the grandest labor
organization yet known to history ... the Noble Order of the Knights of
Labor of the World.” 38 He renamed the paper Advance and Labor Leaf and,
to Labadie's dismay, took off the Thomas Paine slogan, “The world is my
country; to do good my religion.”
“Let the Labor Leaf die or even go to the enemy, but let Joe Labadie
and all his work be Anarchistic and be known as Anarchistic first, last and
all the time,” Tucker advised Labadie cryptically in a letter from Boston.
Labadie stayed on, but he and McGregor were at loggerheads. The new
editor accused Labadie of endeavoring to tear down the Knights because, as
an anarchist, it was his nature to tear down constitutional bodies, although
it was the directive's unconstitutionality Labadie was protesting. In a May
article, McGregor called Labadie “selfish” for charging that using tax
money to provide free school books for the poor would constitute “high
way robbery under cover of ‘law.’ ” (Labadie considered compulsory taxes
government robbery regardless of what they were used for, and believed
poverty was largely caused by government-supported monopoly). They
clashed over Henry George's single tax, a cause McGregor—like nearly all
Labadie's associates except the anarchists—delighted in. 39
But McGregor's wrath was editorial, not personal. “Like Jo, he gives
all the right to think as they like,” Grenell said. Indeed, the new editor went
so far as to include Tucker's Liberty among labor papers readers could sub
scribe to jointly with the Advance. Forty years later, McGregor and Labadie
were still friends, still lamenting economic injustice together. 40 Here, as in
other cases of personal friendship, a vehement argument never stood in the
way of Labadie's affections.
If Burton had been ousted from the paper by the pro-Powderly forces in
February, the tables were turned by July. A group calling itself the Michigan


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Cooperative Publishing Company bought the paper, offered stock for sale,
and appointed Labadie editor. 41 They could not have been oblivious to what
a bombshell they were getting. Clearly, the opposing faction had gained con
trol. Labadie immediately announced an aggressive new policy—to “drag
before the bar of public opinion every industrial tyrant... to lash unmer
cifully those . . . who seek to use the voting laborers to advance their own
political schemes... to expose the political corruption that rots and stinks in
the heart of the town .. . and to criticize fairly and fearlessly the actions of
labor leaders.” He castigated Knights' national officers for remaining silent
when their organizer H. F. Hoover was “shot like a dog by the ‘best citizens
of South Carolina' because he was organizing the laborers, negroes as well
as whites.” It was tune for the rank and hie to step in, he wrote, when their
leaders allowed organizers to be “butchered in cold blood.” 42
Labadie assailed Powderly for weakness, lack of leadership, autoc
racy, and susceptibility to capitalist flattery. He enumerated his blunders
as Knights' leader: undennining the eight-hour movement, sanctioning the
cigannaker expulsion order, interfering with the Southwest strike, and con
demning the Haymarket men. The “scramble for power” in the organization
“should bring heartaches to those who strive for the good and the true,”
Labadie wrote. 43
Temperamentally a man of action, Labadie was not satisfied just to
attack the ruling clique editorially. Amid seething dissension in the Detroit
Knights, he decided to run for delegate to the October 1887 general assem
bly, the Knights' highest tribunal, on a strong anti-Powderly slate. For
District Assembly 50 to elect such a ferocious opponent (“the most anti
anti-Powderly candidate possible,” as Richard Oestreicher has pointed out)
would be widely viewed as a severe condemnation of the Knights' leader
ship, having significance far beyond Detroit. Labadie was both the most
controversial and most influential labor leader in Michigan, well known in
labor circles nationwide. D. A. 50—despite the opposition of pro-Powderly
officials J. D. Long, its master workman, Devlin, and MacGregor—elected
Labadie by an astonishing two-thirds majority. The vote reinforced its pub
lic image as a maverick in the Knights' herd, a reputation largely due to
Labadie's rebellious influence. His victory was sweetened when a proposal
to direct his vote on key issues at the coming convention in Minneapolis was
defeated and he was given free rein. 44 By this move, Detroit clearly stated its
position in the coming battle over the future of the Knights of Labor.


11
145
When men refuse to war with men.
When men will not their fellows rule.
When men decline to yield to reign.
When men give up the role of fool—
Then will the world have justice.
—From "When,” Doggerel for the Underdog
Terence Powderly was worried about the hell-raising delegate
from Detroit as the Knights' national convention approached in 1887. His
informant, John Devlin, tried to be reassuring. Admitting that “Bro. Labadie
of late has manifested a disposition of opposition to you and your policy”
and might “fall in and act with the extremists” in Minneapolis, Devlin none
theless considered Labadie “a fair-minded man” who would not knowingly
do the Knights' leader an injustice, he wrote in September.
He surmised that Labadie was listening to false tales of impropriety
at the Philadelphia headquarters from Thomas Barry, whom Powderly had
denounced to Devlin for going about the country “breeding discord,” doing
“the work of the Anarchist,” engaging in “TREASON.” Devlin advised that
Labadie planned to investigate the charges himself, but assured Powderly
that “if you greet him cordially and kindly and . . . personally explain any
matter on which he desires light in a friendly way ... he will return from
the G[eneral] Assembly] your friend.” Then, “the disgruntled element in
this district would be forever silenced so far as you are concerned.” 1 Labadie
was scarcely recognizable in the amenable portrait sketched by Devlin, his
former bureau of labor associate. Rather, triggered for an explosion, he set
off for Minneapolis, determined to challenge Powderly's autocratic policies


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head on. Nearly a decade ago, he had introduced the Order to Michigan; he
now found himself a leader of the demolition crew.
In Chicago, he visited the Haymarket prisoners in the Cook County
jail. Their appeal had just been denied. Execution was re-scheduled for
November 11, five weeks hence. In a section known as “murderer's row,”
Labadie found the seven men condemned to death in stone cells, side by
side—Albert Parsons, Adolph Fischer, Samuel Fielden, Michael Schwab,
August Spies, George Engel and Louis Lingg. Proceeding down the narrow
footway, he shook hands with each by putting his little finger through the
iron grating. Despite their imminent deaths, they were in good spirits, with
no signs of weakening, although the caged canary in Spies's cell had died. 2
Several of the wives visited daily, bringing wurst, herring, and cigars.
Labadie arranged to dine with Nina Van Zandt, who had fallen in love with
Spies while a spectator at the trial. The genteel, twenty-four-year-old Vassar
graduate was convinced of the men's innocence and had taken up their cause
with a passion, especially that of the handsome and dashing Spies. Denied
visits because she was not a family member, she and Spies got married
by proxy on January 29, 1887. This symbolic merging of a socially prom
inent young American girl with the fiery German revolutionary offended
nearly everyone. She and her father, a well-to-do Chicago pharmaceuticals
manufacturer, complained bitterly to Labadie that they were hounded by
sensation-seeking reporters, who besieged them at all hours, hungry for
scurrilous tidbits. The press impugned Spies as an opportunist, wangling
for a reprieve and Nina's inheritance. Nina was ridiculed as a silly, mentally
unstable publicity-seeker. A hostile mob attacked the Van Zandt home while
Nina and her mother cowered within. Even on the defense side, Nina was
denounced by some as a tool of the prosecution.
It was probably the competitiveness of yellow journalism rather than
personal antipathy that drove most of the reporters. Labadie had the impres
sion that these aggressive journalists were in sympathy with the condemned
men, but had to please their publishers. Public feeling in the past seventeen
months had shifted dramatically away from the hysteria-driven antagonism
surrounding the affair. It was now widely accepted that the anarchists had
not had a fair trial. Even those who once loudly clamored for blood were
signing clemency petitions. Hundreds of rallies and processions worldwide
protested the upcoming “judicial murder.’’ 3
Once in Minneapolis, Labadie turned his attention to the immediate
business at hand—the battle over leadership of the Knights. He found the
225 delegates to the general assembly anticipating sensational developments


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147
and geared for what the Chicago Tribune called “a life and death struggle.”
The lines between the “administrationists” and the “antis” were so sharply
drawn that they stayed in different hotels. Battle strategy reportedly had been
worked out in advance at secret caucuses. The “Kickers” were said to have
made their plans in Chicago; if so, Labadie was no doubt among them. 4
During October 3 opening ceremonies at the Washington Rink, del
egates whispered rumors among themselves of misappropriation of funds
and political machinations, while Knights' officials, including Michigan's
eminent eight-hour activist Richard Trevellick, uttered platitudes about
peace and harmony. They stood before a backdrop displaying the Knight
hood's inspirational motto, “An Injury to One Is the Concern of All,” and
portraits of founder Uriah Stevens and Powderly. At an evening reception
for the Irish revolutionist and Land League leader Michael Davitt, members
rose to express support for the Irish cause on behalf of their ethnic groups.
Labadie rather fancifully stood to join them as a representative of “the orig
inal Americans,” who once roamed the country “bedecked in war-paint . .
. and emitted blood-curdling war whoops.” “And they are whooping yet,”
Powderly joked amiably, possibly hoping that Devlin's recoimnended cor
diality toward the rogue Knight from Detroit could save the day. 5
Instead, discord prevailed from the start. Most of the first two days
were consumed in heated debate over credentials, centering around the seat
ing of Joseph R. Buchanan. The volatile and pugnacious “Kicker from the
Rockies,” who rivaled his friend Labadie as one of the nation's most radical
labor journalists, had led the Knights to victory in great railroad strikes and
served as one of the high-ranking officers on its general executive board.
Buchanan's developing hostility to Powderly's blundering policies, how
ever, had caused him to be branded a traitor by the administrationists. As an
associate of Burnette Haskell (Powderly's bete noire) in the International
Workmen's Association, the Marxian-socialist “Red International,” as well
as a leading champion of the Haymarket prisoners, Buchanan was regarded
by the Powderly forces as a formidable foe. He had even moved from Den
ver to Chicago to assist the Haymarket prisoners, selling his Denver Labor-
Enquirer and starting up a new version in Chicago, where he published
articles that Parsons and Spies sent from their cells.
Buchanan was barred from the convention on grounds that his local
assembly had been suspended for non-payment of dues. He and Labadie
were convinced this was a scheme engineered by Powderly and his machine
to keep a known enemy away. 6 The fight continued as Thomas Barry and
William Bailey, the “antis” on the seven-member executive board, accused


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Powderly and other officers of circumventing it, of using the Order's money
illegally and extravagantly for political campaigns and personal expenses,
and of hiring staffers who were not Knights. The Powderly faction retaliated
by trying to get all general officers to resign, confident that the convention,
packed as it was with pro-administration delegates, would not re-elect the
two. 7
Amid reports that Labadie and others planned to raise the embarrass
ing “red card” issue (the claim that Powderly became an SLP member in
1880 and paid dues for two years), the distressed Powderly attempted to
clear his name of socialist taint by claiming that Philip Van Patten had sent
him only a complimentary membership, with dues paid up, which he had
accepted as a “memento’’ of their work together as Knights' officers. Since
the over-stressed former SLP leader had faked suicide in 1883 and disap
peared, he was not available to dispute Powderly's claim. 8
The convention comprised sixteen corrosive days of shouting matches,
fist-shaking, and claims of lying and slander. Delegates plotted in secret
meetings; rumors abounded. As charges of dishonesty, incompetence, mal
ice, and conniving disrupted the gathering, “the endearing term ‘brother’
sounded strange and out of place,’’ Labadie later observed. 9 The bitterest dis
sent arose over the issue of clemency for the seven Haymarket men awaiting
the gallows. James E. Quinn of New York asked the assembly to go on record
as believing that capital punishment was “a relic of barbarism,’’ expressing
sorrow over the death sentences, and endeavoring to secure coimnutation.
This provoked an uproar. Powderly, who had warned Quinn not to introduce
the resolution, ruled it out of order. He was sustained on appeal by a vote of
121 to 53. A motion to reconsider was followed by a half-day's impassioned
debate. Labadie was one of fourteen delegates rising to oppose Powderly. In
arguing for the clemency resolutions, he had available a detailed thirty-five
page account of the travesty of the Haymarket trial and an exoneration of the
defendants, prepared for him by William Hohnes, who had hidden Parsons
after the bombing. Hohnes told Labadie he was counting on “the very best
results of your effort in Minneapolis to save our comrades,’’ expecting his
presentation at least to “raise a great hue and cry among the enemy.’’ 10
As his antagonists spoke out, Powderly was beside himself with anger.
He launched into a spluttering tirade. The day had come to stamp anarchism
out of the Knighthood “root and branch,’’ he thundered. It was a “festering,
putrid sore,’’ a “hell-infected association that stands as a foe of the most
malignant stamp to the honest laborer of this land.’’ Anarchists, “blatant,
shallow-pated men . . . snivelling . . . pretending to be advanced thinkers,’’


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were driving men from the labor movement “by their wild and foolish
mouthings wherever they congregate, and they usually congregate where
beer flows freely. . . . They shout for the blood of the aristocracy but will
turn from blood to beer in a twinkling.’’ 11
Labadie could not have been prepared for the vindictiveness of the
outburst: “I hate the name of anarchy,’’ Powderly shouted. “If I could, I
would wipe from the face of the earth the last vestige of its double-damned
presence ... I have no use for any of the brood ... no act of the anarchists
ever laid a stone upon a stone in the building of this order.’’ As for the con
demned men, “it were better that seven tunes seven men hang than to hang
the millstone of odium around the standard of this order in affiliating in any
way with this element of destruction.’’
He threatened that passing the clemency resolution would destroy the
Order. Whatever the vote, he would not feel bound to carry out any deci
sion harmful to the Knights. Carried away with what sounded like paranoid
delusions, he described diabolical schemes to do away with the general (for
merly grand) master workman. A man had tried to shove him off a ferryboat
between New York City and Hoboken; someone resembling the first “assas
sin” had attempted to push him off a train platform; a bomb was concealed
in the pocket of the man seated next to him at a secret meeting in Denver
he was lured to by Burnette Haskell. The accounts reminded Labadie of “a
dime novel.” 12
Powderly was not always so hysterical. He was an intelligent man,
who, in calmer moments, was able to outline the philosophy underlying
anarchism well enough. But he seemed suffused with a fatherly protec
tiveness over his organization, seeing anarchists only as those injuring his
“child.” Those seeking coimnutation should have the “manhood” to sign a
petition as individuals “instead of sneaking behind the reputation and char
acter of this great order,” he proclaimed. 13
Thus the Knighthood's vaunted principles of the solidarity of all
workers degenerated into an orgy of anarchist-and red-bashing. In the eyes
of the hard-core administrationists, the assembly was riddled with an anar
chist clique, including Barry and Buchanan, although Labadie was prob
ably the only declared anarchist present. As Labadie sat there, with a red
flag reportedly perched on his table, Powderly delivered the final drastic
blow: every anarchist should be obliged to withdraw from the Order or be
expelled. 14
The fervid pleas that the convention go on record favoring clem
ency for the Haymarket condemned had been to no avail. On a final vote,


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All-American Anarchist
Powderly's position was sustained. It was a cruel disappointment for those
who believed an appeal by the nation's foremost labor organization might
induce Illinois Governor Richard Oglesby to coimnute the sentences to life
imprisonment. After the final roll call on the Haymarket resolution, Powder
ly's opponents stormed from the hall. Nearly fifty delegates then signed a
petition to the governor; Spies had sent word that no one should be solicited
who had voted against the resolution. 15
Vowing open warfare, the outraged dissenters met in Chicago two
days later with the intention of reorganizing the Order or even overthrowing
it and setting up a replacement. By this tune, carpenters were at work on
the sevenfold scaffold in the courtyard of the Cook County jail as thirty-five
rebels, including Labadie, organized a provisional coimnittee. They issued
a manifesto charging that the Order was no longer “the Jerusalem of the
humble and honest Knight’’ but “a machine to fill the coffers of designing
and unscrupulous men.’’ Local assemblies were asked to stop paying dues. 16
The “kickers” were seceding, Labadie reported in Advance and Labor
Leaf to arouse the membership against “incompetent management” and
“autocratic methods,” against the extravagance of a labor leader who paid
himself $5,000 a year when there were women earning a meager $1 to $3
a week. “Think of Garrison, Phillips, John Brown taking a salary of $5,000
a year to abolish slavery!” he wrote in a December 17 “Cranky Notions”
column. He predicted the defection of 100,000 members. Although the
provisional coimnittee plans fizzled out, in the next months the Order,
which had lost tens of thousands of members in the previous crisis-rid
den year, suffered even more disastrous losses. The administration chose
to view the secessionist movement in a positive light as “the last expiring
gasp of the anarchistic element,” and a “boon” if it drained off anarchistic
sympathizers. 17
Before leaving Chicago, Labadie visited the prisoners once more. By
now, the execution was less than three weeks away. Returning to Detroit
around October 22 in a fury, he hastened to organize mass meetings, raise
funds, and distribute pamphlets denouncing the impending executions.
Other long-time comrades joined him in an anarchists' defense coimnit
tee—John Burton, E. W. Simpson, Henry Robinson, Charles Erb, Gustav
Herzig, and Samuel Goldwater. Similar efforts were underway throughout
the nation and the world. Governor Oglesby was swamped with clemency
petitions from ordinary citizens and from prominent lawyers, businessmen,
politicians, and literary figures, including William Dean Howells, Oscar
Wilde, and George Bernard Shaw. 18


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151
It did not escape Labadie's notice that one of the most ardent workers
in this cause was Samuel Gompers, president of the newly bom ALL and a
person much reviled by Knights' officials. (Powderly even stooped to jeer
ing at the Jewish labor leader as one of “those Christ sluggers.’’) His shaky,
year-old organization was willing to risk the public denunciation that the
Knights of Labor dodged and adopted a resolution appealing for leniency.
Gompers declared that labor must “stand for a fair trial for the underdog,’’
no matter how radical he be. His hope “to maintain the dignity and honor of
our organization, and withal to be manly and uncringing,’’ impelled him to
join several hundred petitioners at the State House in Springfield two days
before the execution, seeking a last-minute reprieve. He warned Oglesby
that if the men were hanged, they would be viewed by labor as martyrs who
stood up for free speech and free assemblage.
Buchanan presented Oglesby with the petition from the dissident Min
neapolis convention delegates. He read a letter from Spies requesting that he
alone be executed to satisfy public anger and that his comrades be spared.
He also read a letter from Parsons, ironically suggesting that since he was to
be hanged simply for being present at the Haymarket rally, his wife and two
children, who had been there as well, ought to be hanged with him. 19
On November 10, two hours after Lingg blew himself up with a dyna
mite capsule concealed in his mouth, the governor commuted the sentences
of Fielden and Schwab (the only ones who had requested mercy) to life
imprisonment. Oglesby stated that he was prevented from considering com
mutation for the others because they had not asked for it, as required by
law. Whatever his personal feeling, he believed, possibly correctly, that the
majority of Americans felt the prisoners deserved to be hanged. The fol
lowing morning, November 11, 1887, with the city under heavy guard in
anticipation of a rescue attempt, Spies, Parsons, Engel and Fischer were led
to the gallows. Their ankles were bound, ropes slipped around their throats
and white caps fastened over their heads. From under his hood, Spies cried
out the prophetic words: “The time will come when our silence will be more
powerful than the voices you strangle today.’’ The trap was sprung, the bodies
plunged downward, the nooses tightened, and the men writhed in agony for
several minutes as they slowly strangled, the Chicago Tribune reported. 20
It was over. In an act condemned to the present day as “judicial murder’’—
to Labadie, “the crime preeminent of the century’’—four men were hanged
because a bomb was thrown by an unknown person for an unknown rea
son at an otherwise peaceful protest meeting. Labadie was heavy with
rage, bitterness, and sorrow. He had never believed the authorities would


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be so foolish as to carry out the execution. He had warned that “These men
dead are a hundred tunes more dangerous than living to the existing order of
things.” His grief was assuaged only by his consuming hatred of Powderly
and a vow made to Barry “to drive him [Powderly] out of the labor movement
in disgrace.” 21
Four days later, he delivered a scathing indictment in the fonn of a
delegate's report to the Detroit district assembly of the Knights of Labor.
D. A. 50 officials were understandably uneasy about its explosive poten
tial and tried to keep it quiet by barring the public. Exasperated with such
timidity, L.A. 901 (the original Detroit assembly Labadie had founded eight
years before) advertised a mass meeting to circulate the charges. Labadie
also passed a copy of the incendiary message to the Detroit Evening News,
which published it practically verbatim, thereby gaining the report wide
readership and national prominence. 22
He did not mince words. He accused the Knights' leaders of gross
abuse of power and recounted in detail the convention infighting and time
spent “washing dirty linen.” He said he had been persuaded that Barry and
Bailey's charges of extravagance and misuse of funds were accurate. He
cited a treasurer's report that showed total expenses in 1886, when the Order
gained nearly 600,000 members, of $106,000, and four times as much the
following year, when the Knights' fortunes were reversed, with a loss of
over 217,000 members. “And these are the men who talk of refonning the
financial and tax systems of the governments of the world,” he sneered.
He was incensed by the delegates who seemed to agree that the Hay
market men had not had a fair trial, yet refused to “raise their voices” as
representatives of the Knights of Labor. But the “most illogical, cowardly,
brutal and violent speeches” were made by Powderly himself, Labadie
charged. His denunciation was scathing: “I hold him as much responsible
for the murder committed in Chicago last Friday as anyone connected
with that most unfortunate affair. ... He can now take what consolation
he can in knowing that he helped to hang better men than he ever was or
ever can be.”
Money and power had corrupted the Knights' officers; they had to go.
They were developing a strong centralized system, “and the labor movement
cannot develop on that line.” Powderly had become “autocratic, opinionated
and unfair... spoiled by the flattery of sycophants and overzealous friends.”
These men could not lead a labor movement successfully; the decline of the
Order was certain. As for himself, Powderly had said that an anarchist could
not be a Knight of Labor. So, Labadie concluded, “whether I shall quietly take


The Showdown
153
my leave of you or put you to the test of expelling me ... I will determine
before long.” 23
Labadie's indictment provoked heated controversy in D.A. 50.
Alanned administration supporters struggled to have it rejected, but they
were overruled, and it was ordered printed and distributed among the Mich
igan assemblies. Repercussions were swift. Powderly vowed to “get even.”
He infonned Devlin he intended to “tear off every veil of hypocrisy, deceit,
false assumption of virtue and friendship for me personally” of the “knave”
(Labadie) he once thought “honest, though radical.” He even made the
implausible claim that Labadie had come to him in Minneapolis after what
Powderly euphemistically tenned “the discussion on Anarchy” and begged
him not to resign. 24
A trusted Powderly minion in Detroit, Adelbert M. Dewey, launched
the attack. In Minneapolis, he had apparently been Powderly's lobby
ist, assigned to spread slurs against Barry and Bailey and suggest they be
removed from office. Powderly now asked him to get the “good men” in
Detroit who disapproved of Labadie's actions to “bestir themselves and ...
demonstrate their power in the coming year.” Dewey was also reportedly
directed to travel around Michigan, impugning Labadie's report. 25 Dewey
began by castigating it in a letter to the Detroit News. He bragged to Pow
derly on November 25 that “hundreds of people . .. have congratulated me
upon my defence of yourself and the Order from the attack of that blood
thirsty element.” Devlin, who was on the Executive Board of D.A. 50, urged
Powderly to come to Detroit to defend himself. “Something must be done
and that soon to counteract the influence of Bro Labadie,” he wrote. 26
Within days of launching his attack, Dewey was forced to leave
town, complaining to Powderly that the “Labadie gang” had made it “hot”
for him and he could not get work as a printer in local shops. In search of
a job, he suggested he had “some claim to consideration” as future man
ager of the Journal of United Labor official publication of the Knights of
Labor. Powderly rewarded his loyalty the following May by appointing
him editor, although Dewey was a printer with no previous connection to
labor papers. 27
Dewey was the sort of man that “antis” in the provisional committee
had in mind when they accused officers of using “secret channels and funds of
the order to manufacture sentiment for certain members and against others.”
Powderly had appointed Dewey a Michigan organizer against the wishes of
the state assemblies because he was satisfied, as he told Dewey, “that you
will do good work and that it will be all K. of L. work and not Anarchistic


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or International Workingmen's work.” Powderly then directed him to stay
on the job despite opposition. 28
Soon John M. Decker, the Minneapolis convention delegate from the
Michigan State Assembly, issued his own vituperative, pro-administration
report. Decker, reputedly “A Powderly man first, last and all the time,”
accused Labadie of “a disgraceful and untruthful fabrication of the facts.”
He suggested Labadie was gloating over the loss of members and engaging
in “nasty kicking” in an effort to destroy the Order. As for Buchanan, who
ran an “anarchist hotbed” in Denver, he was “one of the vilest and worst
falsifiers in the Order for his own personal aggrandizement.” Barry was
part of a “band of conspirators ... an anarchistic element” who had made
Powderly's life “a perfect hell” for the last year. Decker's report concluded
that Powderly had “fully explained away” all the charges made against him
at the convention. 29
The once-noble Knighthood was quickly disintegrating in an atmo
sphere of back-stabbing and intrigue. Both emotionally and professionally,
Labadie's life was in turmoil. He lost his position as editor of Advance and
Labor Leaf soon after his return from Minneapolis. Perhaps his notoriety at
the convention and Powderly's tirade against anarchists made the paper's
board of directors question the value of this divisive firebrand. Grenell, who
replaced him, did his best to cahn the waters by giving all factions access
to its pages. 30
The ousted Labadie got a job setting type at the Sunday Detroit Sun.
Dyer Lum tried to lure him to Chicago for a “permanent ‘sit’ ” on The
Alarm, Parsons's paper, which Lum had revived after Parsons's imprison
ment. 31 Apart from the fact that “permanent” had a certain nebulous quality
when applied to a radical publication, this was not a very tempting proposal,
and Labadie did not accept it. The journal and its editor were certainly too
extreme for Labadie. Not only would he have had to uproot his family and
leave his beloved Detroit, but he also knew Lum was hardly a secure port
in a storm. Although the activities of this New York-born anarchist and
abolitionist outwardly paralleled Labadie's more closely than that of any
other labor radical of the time, Lum was captivated by visions of the violent
drama in which he might play a heroic role.
A comparison of the careers of Lum and Labadie reveals a certain
logical progression in an assortment of sometimes contradictory causes. A
bookbinder of Puritan descent eleven years older than Labadie, Lum had been
a ranking official of the Greenback-Labor party at its 1880 convention and
fought hard to have the SLP delegates—Labadie among them—admitted.


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Seeking a more radical course of action, he joined the SLP. Like Labadie, he
then lost his faith in legislation and state control, and, along with his friend
Parsons, formed the revolutionary anarchist IWPA, the group with which
the Haymarket defendants identified. At the same tune, Lum was attracted
to the opposing individualist anarchist camp and began contributing to Ben
jamin Tucker's Liberty. He hoped, like Burnette Haskell, to unify all anar
chist and socialist groups into one movement. He also joined the Knights
of Labor, until, disenchanted, he allied himself with Samuel Gompers and
the ALL. There, like Labadie, he was influential in forming its anti-political
strategies. 32
But underneath his cahn exterior smoldered a revolutionary infatu
ation with dynamite plots and secret codes, with the use of terrorism as a
weapon against tyranny, and with the yearning to die in the cause of human
emancipation. Five days before the Haymarket executions, Lum had smug
gled four pipe bombs into Lingg's cell concealed in cigar casings. Meant
for self-destruction, they were discovered the next day. “Only terrorism ...
will now save them,” he informed Labadie at the time. He began plotting
to dynamite the jail and free the prisoners on the eve of the hangings. The
condemned men, however, squelched the plan, preferring to die as martyrs
and thereby immortalize their ideals. 33
The agony of the executions combined with the continuing discord in
the Knights of Labor left Labadie deeply dispirited. He was worn out psy
chically by his efforts and never fully recovered. After delivering his report
on the turbulent Minneapolis convention, he could scarcely rouse himself
to make decisions, to write, speak in public, or take part in labor activities.
None of his letters from the weeks after the executions survive, but those
written by others betray their concern. “I worry the Chicago tradgedy [sic]
is disqualifying you for solid work,” wrote his good friend, Chicago labor
agitator George Schilling. Lum wrote to Labadie, “I am very sorry you take
their deaths so hard—can't you realize that it was nothing but an episode in
our work? I do.’’ 34
Intensifying his depression was the questionable behavior of Henry
George, whom Labadie had greatly admired despite his objections to the
single tax solution to economic woes. George believed the Haymarket
defendants were guilty and justly sentenced. Although he tried to convince
Labadie later that he had sought to prevent their hanging, George had refused
to sign petitions for executive clemency. His claim that he was motivated
“solely by conscience’’ would have been more plausible had he not been
energetically campaigning for secretary of state of New York. The suspicion


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All-American Anarchist
of political expediency crossed many minds. Considered a turncoat by
workers and radicals, he was humiliatingly defeated in the November 1887
state elections. 35
In Detroit, as the turmoil continued, Labadie was tom about his
next move. His first impulse was to resign from the Knights as soon as
his report was circulated, but Schilling advised him to “compel the gang
to prefer charges against you and try to expell [sic] you.” If he forced a
showdown, Schilling argued, his influence would be far greater than if he
simply faded away: “[It] will be but a short tune when the revolt will begin
on the inside.” Tucker also advised him to stay, but used the opportunity to
point out loftily that “for my own part, I never at any tune would have had
anything to do with the K. of L.” Buchanan was taking the opposing view.
He assailed those who stayed in the order believing that “the assassin has a
better chance to use the knife when on the inside.” The “honest protestor,”
in contrast, “comes right out with his protest and takes the consequences,
even if expulsion results,” Buchanan maintained. 36
Labadie contemplated the possibility of decisively establishing the
Knights in Detroit as an anti-administration camp by becoming master
workman of D.A. 50 himself. The Order's highest post in Detroit, it now
represented some 2,500 workers (down from over 4,600 eighteen months
previously). Schilling, Lum, and Charles Seib, the Chicago leader of the
provisional coimnittee, all recommended that he gain control by that route.
Labadie had good reason to believe he could win. D.A. 50 had just been
applauded by the Evening News (where Grenell was a staffer) as a group
that refused to give “servile acquiescence to every beck and nod” of the
ruling faction, and whose “crowning act” had been sending Labadie to the
Minneapolis assembly. 37 By now, however, his heart was not in it. His vision
of a new age of labor solidarity lay shattered in an mess of power struggles,
plotting, and bitter strife.
Health problems, which were to plague Labadie for the rest of his
life, also began. His report on the Minneapolis general assembly had been
delayed two weeks because of illness; for three months afterward he claimed
he suffered “all of the known and a few of the unknown diseases,” includ
ing “bilious fever” and boils. He referred later to having endured a siege of
“nervous prostration” lasting more than two years; it may have begun at this
time. It did not help that he worked fifty-seven hours a week as a printer
in a poorly ventilated room, alternately enduring hot, polluted air and cold
draughts, not to mention possible poisoning from the lead type. Conditions
such as those helped explain printers' high rate of tuberculosis. 38


The Showdown
157
Ironically, his nemesis Powderly also was ill for weeks after the Min
neapolis convention. Powderly moaned, in a typically self-dramatizing
fashion to John W. Hayes, his closest associate: “I fear the worst and must
prepare for it.” His mercurial emotions are reflected in letters to his asso
ciates. On the day of the executions, Powderly claimed that he had “never
felt so stirred” as when “the poor fellows walked the plank.” Yet a few days
later, furious at Labadie's report, he poured out his wrath to his secretary;
“He charges me with hanging the Anarchists ... I am sorry I cannot hang
them all for they are susceptible to no other argument. I was sorry for them
but do not feel so now.” Labadie was “no different from any other anarchist
and will lie when it suits his convenience.” 39
Meanwhile, his energy sapped, Labadie decided not to run for mas
ter workman. It seems he had no heart for the politicking and scheming
it would entail. Instead, he nominated the dedicated Thomas Dolan, who
had begun organizing cigannakers before the Civil War, and was known
for giving “freely of his tune and effort” in every attempt to benefit labor
while earning small wages for a local cigar company. Dolan, “for count
less years always among those present and always forgotten when rewards
were handed out,” as a fellow cigannaker later observed, was well liked. 40
Despite his many years as an unsung lieutenant in labor's assaults, he was
apparently not yet battle-weary.
Dolan was pitted against A. W. Vicars, also British bom, a thirty-seven-
year-old cracker baker nominated by Devlin as the pro-Powderly choice. The
forces were ahnost evenly divided in the January 1888, contest; tension was
high. Dolan was ahead on the first ballot, but with the candidates narrowed
to two, Vicars was elected 45—43. Devlin, who became treasurer, wrote Pow
derly triumphantly that “Labadie & Co. were completely routed.” He crowed
that notwithstanding “the cry that this D.A. belong to the ‘throttle the Law'
Element... it is a Powderly District and is likely to remain so.” Powderly
confided to Devlin a bizarre-sounding plan to keep the Order under control.
With a baby, you “just daub its hand with molasses, and give it... a feather;
the tune consumed in picking ... the feather from one hand to the other ...
will keep [it] out of mischief.” His enigmatic intention, he wrote, was to give
“the babies in the order . . . lots of feathers and molasses for the next few
months.” 41 Devlin did not tell Powderly that the sole oppositionist among the
newly elected chief officers was the most formidable “anti” himself. Labadie
was chosen statistician in what seems a kind of consolation prize. Perhaps to
show he harbored no ill will, he accepted the post.


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All-American Anarchist
But almost simultaneously, Labadie finally lashed out at Decker's
report defending Powderly with a brutality that betrayed his anguished state
of mind. The geniality for which he was so often commended disappeared
in an ad hominem barrage against the state assembly delegate from Flint.
He had heard that Decker was elected as a “representative ‘day laborer,' ’’ he
commented sarcastically. If the characteristics of that class were “ignorance,
illiteracy and boorishness,’' he continued contemptuously, then Decker was
“a representative par excellence.’’ As a delegate, he had been “presumptuous
and officious,’’just the kind of man who would be a “blind supporter of men
in power.’’ Where Decker's report was “intelligible at all,’’ Labadie charged,
it was written by others. 42
It appeared to be his final volley in the battle. After this cathartic
outburst, Labadie was scarcely heard from for months. He had vowed in
his column that “The men who are in the labor movement for place and
power and money must be unmasked and I shall not shrink from the duty of
unmasking them when I find them out.’’ Yet the fire had gone out of him. He
transferred “Cranky Notions’’ to Tucker's Liberty, and no longer wrote for
Advance and Labor Leaf. He was replaced as master workman of the ideo
logically oriented Henry George local assembly. He faithfully carried out
his duties as statistician of D.A. 50 by documenting the working conditions
of Detroit printers, but otherwise was little heard from in Knights of Labor
circles. There was no dramatic expulsion from the Order, nor did he resign
in protest. Yet that was only a fonnality. His prominent role in the organiza
tion ended. As one of the most influential labor organizations in American
history disintegrated, Labadie quietly dropped out. 43
Powderly retained his position as Knights leader until finally driven
from office in 1893. By then, the membership had fallen to 75,000; in 1900
the organization was barely a memory to most American workers. It is inter
esting to speculate on whether the Knights of Labor, under better leadership
and minus the Haymarket bombing, might have evolved and endured. Or
did its type of structure and vague but grand goals doom it from the start?
In any case, an all-inclusive, non-trade-based fonn of unionization was not
successfully put in place again until the Congress of Industrial Organiza
tions (CIO) was fonned in 1938, five years after Labadie's death.


159
-k 12 -k
Working
:-^G°mP crs
me ^ xv SB?
You cannot freedom win alone.
You cannot wrongs alight:
Together we must each defend
Or wage a losing fight!
From "Freedom Thru Organization,”
Doggerel for the Underdog
When Samuel Gompers arrived in Detroit in February 1888,
he was greeted with considerably more enthusiasm than he had been two
years before. Local Knights then had “painted Mr. Gompers in the most
hideous colors,” disparaging both his intellect and personal appearance, the
Evening News recalled. It found that “he is not so black as he is painted.”
The paper thought he “evinced the gentleman,” that his dark eyes “flash
with intelligence,” and concluded that “he is one of the great labor leaders
of this country.” 1
Gompers visited Detroit during an arduous 20,000-mile, thirty-three-
city tour. Its purpose was to convince workers that only through trade union
ism and the AFL would they gain their fair share of the nation's wealth.
Fie stressed that unions that joined his fledgling organization would not be
dictated to by some central authority, as the Knights' assemblies were. They
would be allowed to run their own affairs. They would band together to
solve their common problems without asking for government help. So loose
was the federation he outlined that Bolshevik leader Lenin later scoffed at
it as “a rope of sand.” Gompers retorted that that rope would prove more
powerful than chains of steel. 2
His stirring address in Foresters' Temple, sponsored by the Detroit
Trades Council, was well attended. Eloquently, and with a flair for the


160
All-American Anarchist
dramatic metaphor, he disparaged the industrialists—“bees,” who “are
sucking the honey, but producing none.” Dressed in fancy garments, they
“care not that in every stitch and bead . .. there is a drop of blood from the
heart of some poor workgirl.” He spoke of children dragged into factories
and mines by “monster greed.” Only organization could oppose this tyr
anny, he proclaimed; the “natural organization” of labor was trade unions.
All should join under the banner of the AFL. 3
Gompers's plan for worker unification was far from the “noble and
holy” aspirations of the evangelical Knights of Labor. He dismissed the
Order as an organization “with high ideals but purely sentimental and bereft
of all practical thought and action.” If one were to place Gompers in the
categories of reformers set out by John Stuart Mill, this rising labor leader
would be the type who focused on the “immediately useful and practically
attainable,” rather than one of those who hoped to attain “the highest ideals
of human life.” The AFL was not to be one big union of the downtrodden,
but a businesslike amalgamation of trade unionists for mutual protection. It
represented practical-minded “bread-and-butter” unionism, seeking higher
wages, shorter hours, and other tangible improvements of the craft worker's
lot. 4
Gompers's visit may have been the catalyst that shook Labadie out of
the doldrums he had fallen into after the bitter losing fight over leadership
of the Knights. Now thirty-eight, he appears to have decided to abandon
his search for labor's Holy Grail and to join the more narrowly focused
pragmatists. Trade unionism was not the stuff of his dreams; he had scorned
its limitations in the past. But the Knighthood was in shambles. At least the
new labor concept offered a held of agitation for his grander mission of fur
thering a stateless society. He was convinced that by “hammer[ing] away”
at the doctrine of anarchism and the laissez faire principle while involved
in the labor movement, he already had weakened the faith of many Detroit
workers in government control. 5
In those early days of the AFL, Gompers pretty much was the orga
nization. He had little staff apart from the occasional services of his young
son. He wrote official letters by hand. Sometimes there were no funds avail
able to pay his $1,000 annual salary (less than he could earn as a cigar-
maker); he returned from some of his lengthy speaking tours out of pocket.
His large family—which eventually included a dozen children—suffered
many privations. Throughout the formidable task of building the AFL and
fighting the Knights of Labor, however, he mustered astounding vigor and
tenacity of purpose. 6


Working with Gompers
161
Gompers's custom, after his appearances, was to gather with labor
figures in a tavern, black cigar between his teeth, discussing local problems
over a beer or whiskey. His fellow unionists found him a jovial extrovert.
Short and stocky, his large craggy head was covered with a thick growth of
black hair, his large, drooping mustache overshadowing a small “imperial"
goatee. Labadie enjoyed an occasional drink, and it may have been in such a
locale that Gompers and Labadie renewed the acquaintance begun six years
earlier, when Labadie had tried to persuade the FOTLU, precursor of the
AFL, to merge with the Knights of Labor.
The two men seem to have liked each other from the start. It may
be that Gompers's character, rather than his brand of “business unionism,"
most appealed to Labadie. The AFL leader's friendly and easy-going man
ner was in sharp contrast to the prim, puritanical Powderly, who condemned
drink as the workingman's poison, and once sniffed that the Knights' execu
tive board had “never had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Gompers sober." 7
Probably none of the AFL president's policies was so impressive to
Labadie at that troubled moment in his life as Gompers's spirited and coura
geous defense of the now-executed anarchists. Although often denounced as
an opportunist, Gompers had rushed to Governor Oglesby's office to plead
for clemency, seemingly without heed for the unfavorable impact this stand
might have on his newly fonned organization.
Gompers and Labadie had much in coimnon. The same age, with little
fonnal schooling, both had entered a trade as children (Gompers was inden
tured to a cigannaker in his native England at age ten). Both had devel
oped into self-educated worker-intellectuals and strong individualists. They
both had flirted with socialism as young men, Gompers going so far as to
learn Gennan so he could read Das Kapital in the original. Like Labadie,
Gompers later clashed with the socialists, but he acknowledged Marx as the
father of trade unionism and greatly admired Engels. He called the socialist
comrades of his early days “as high-minded a group of idealists as could
be found." Both he and Labadie distrusted churches and considered their
“religion" to be the brotherhood of man. Coincidentally, both had loyal,
devoted wives named Sophie (Mrs. Gompers was “Sophia"), whom they
lovingly called “Mamma," pillars of support waiting uncomplainingly in
the background. 8
They discovered they shared a passion for liberty, an abhorrence of
compulsion, and an abiding distrust of government. When Gompers wrote
“I believe that restrictions dwarf personality, and that the largest usefulness
comes through the greatest personal freedom," it could have been Labadie


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All-American Anarchist
speaking. Voluntary methods were the core of Gompers's credo. Even in the
cause of improved working conditions, he feared government intervention.
No minimum wage or hour laws, no compulsory arbitration, no state-run
unemployment or health insurance, no social security (so favored by orga
nized labor in later years). Workers had to be self-reliant. They should look
after their own interests, not give up their freedom for the sake of govern
ment guardianship. A mighty labor movement could achieve the eight-hour
day, fair wages, pensions, and all the benefits, through collective bargaining.
Labadie could not have expressed his aversion to government more strongly
than Gompers did: “There never was a government in the history of the
world . .. that when a critical moment came, did not exercise tyranny over
the people.” His successor as AFL president, William Green, went so far as
to call Gompers a philosophical anarchist. 9
Four years before Gompers's 1888 arrival in Detroit, Labadie had
hoped to consolidate all Michigan labor organizations into one central
body, to include fanners, trade unionists, and “industrial societies” like the
Knights. Now he was willing to pare down his vision. A state federation—
even one restricted to trade unions—could be a powerful force. He began
planning to fonn one with another Detroit labor leader of an anarchist bent,
Samuel Goldwater, who often shared the stage with Labadie at radical
gatherings.
Goldwater, a Polish-bom Jewish cigannaker, had been a close asso
ciate of the executed Parsons and Spies, and other anarchists in their circle.
Fearing anest himself, he fled Chicago after the Haymarket bombing and
eventually opened a cigar business in Detroit. He joined Labadie as a fierce
opponent of the Knights and an activist on the anarchists' defense coimnittee.
After pleading for clemency before Governor Oglesby, Goldwater had wan
dered the streets of Chicago with his close friend Gompers, “depressed ...
beyond words” at the impending executions, Gompers recalled. 10
Goldwater quickly made a name for himself in Detroit labor circles,
and was lauded as a man of principle. Honesty, selflessness, and identifi
cation with the workers' plight were enough to ensure widespread support
for labor radicals in those days and gain them election to positions of trust,
as Richard Oestreicher has pointed out, in coimnenting on Tom Barry. The
Trades Council chose Goldwater as its delegate to the AFL convention in
Baltimore at the end of 1887; he was elected Trades Council president a few
months later. Soon the “two heavy-weight anarchists,” as the mainstream
Detroit Tribune called Goldwater and Labadie in apparent admiration, per
suaded the Trades Council to call a convention for the purpose of setting


Working with Gompers
163
up a state labor federation. 11 There was no plan initially to affiliate with the
AFL.
Thirty-five delegates from twenty-seven Michigan trade unions and
citywide labor bodies met at Pioneer Flail in Lansing in February 1889.
Labadie represented Detroit's typographical union. One delegate recalled
it fifty years later as a disparate group, representing “all the ‘isms',’’ includ
ing “straight-out trades unionists, Knights of Labor, Socialists, dynamite
anarchists . . single taxers on every hand,’’ and a “nihilist’’ who shouted
down the Lansing mayor during his welcoming address. Labadie was
apparently in a restrained mood, since the chronicler remembered him as
“so gentle that I'm sure he wouldn't have stepped on a fly or slapped a
mosquito.’’ 12
Goldwater counseled the delegates, as they had been told by many
labor leaders before, that to counteract the gigantic monopolies and trusts
of the capitalists, labor must set up larger combinations of its own. Echoing
Gompers, he maintained that the only “natural’’ fonn of labor union was one
organized by trades. Mixed organizations, like the Knights, failed because
decisions were made by those unfamiliar with each trade. Fie noted pictur
esquely that a horse-shoer would be as ill-equipped to negotiate a printers'
strike “as would be the devil as an appraiser of the influence of holy mass
on an expired souk’’ 13
Organized as the Michigan Federation of Labor (MFL), this motley
assemblage came up with resolutions that ranged far and wide. Labadie,
who was elected its first president, predictably wanted to fight for a shorter
day so workers would have time to study the “sound principles of social life
and industry.’’ One delegate opposed a Sunday rest bill then before the state
legislature because it would establish a national religion. Proposals were
made for vegetables to be sold by weight instead of measure, for wages to
be paid weekly, for a two-cent per mile train fare, for children under four
teen to be obliged to attend school full time and for the anti-union Baker
Conspiracy Law to be repealed. The Gennan-bom unionists wanted the
federation's constitution printed in Gennan. Demands that Oklahoma and
Indian Territory lands be opened to homesteaders, that the only tax be on
land, and that MFL officers be prohibited from holding political appoint
ments were voted down. 14
The Declaration of Principles, written by Labadie and adopted unan
imously, was an ethereal mix of socialist, anarchist, and single-tax tenets. It
stated that labor is the producer of all wealth, that “right and justice demand
that the product shall belong to the producer,’’ that only what labor produces


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All-American Anarchist
should rightfully be owned, and that “personal occupancy and use” is the
only rightful title to land. Labadie could not get the delegates to oppose the
patenting of inventions, although they did agree that “the present patent
laws are unjust.” 15
This declaration of high-blown principles was not much vaguer
than those put forth by other labor organizations of the day. The editor of
the typographical union journal The Craftsman pronounced it “a step in
advance of any labor platform yet adopted.” Labadie crowed over its anar
chistic elements. “What do you think of Michigan trades unions that will
pass such a declaration of principles?” he gloated to Reverend Hugh O.
Pentecost, anarchist publisher of Twentieth Century, and one-time Congre
gational minister. He had to concede that no methods of bringing about
these impressive objectives had been agreed on due to “the wide difference
of opinion as to the best method.” Michigan Deputy Commissioner of Labor
Charles E. Barnes sternly reminded Labadie that the problem was “how can
the working masses be ... made to realise what these principles mean.” 16
That Michigan's unions went along with these head-in-the-clouds
dreams reveals their lack of understanding of the revolutionary implications
of Labadie's goals as well as a trustfulness that would not be sustained
over time. (His cherished declaration of principles was watered down at
an annual convention six years later, and after 1911, MFL conventions dis
pensed altogether with a statement of visionary refonns.) Labadie inaugu
rated his presidency by seeking to put into practice grand, but unworkable,
ideas for expanding the Michigan federation. Gompers was appalled to learn
that he planned to stimulate the fonnation of new unions in Michigan that
would join the MFL and be issued charters, thereby putting it in competition
with AFL organizing efforts. That was the AFL's job, Gompers protested;
new unions should affiliate directly with his organization. “You assume the
generally conceded functions of the AFL . .. and then assure me that there
will be no conflict between the MFL and the AFL unless, of course, the
latter body attempts to abridge the fonner's right. If the above does not
constitute an assumption of prerogatives calculated to provoke a conflict I
am at a loss to understand what would,” he admonished Labadie. Gompers
wrote in exasperation to Michigan organizer Robert Ogg: “It seems to me
that our friend Labadie holds very peculiar views of the relations between
the MFL and the AFL.” 17
By the time of the MFL's second convention in February 1890,
Labadie's fervor was dampened. He had reluctantly agreed not to “usurp”
the AFL and only to encourage existing Michigan unions to join the new


Working with Gompers
165
state federation. He wanted it to focus on education and proposed that con
ventions spend a half day reading essays and discussing workers' rights.
Now that the public generally supported the wage-earning class, he told
delegates, it was tune to abandon the “crude methods ... of force and
intimidation” (presumably strikes and violence) that had been used in trade
unionism's early days and study how to replace them with “hnn, dignified
and reasonable” ones. He did not suggest what those might be. 18
A few months before, he and Gompers had forged their friendship
at the AFL's December 1889, convention in Boston, where Labadie repre
sented the Detroit Trades Council. Gompers developed a fondness for the
Detroit delegate, who may have been somewhat fuzzy-minded compared to
the pragmatic Gompers, but was equally self-sacrificing in his endeavors to
create a powerful labor force. He later called Labadie one of the “gentlest,
most spiritual men” he had known. Labadie took seriously Gompers's flat
tering suggestion that they write frequently to “make suggestions to each
other.” When Labadie complained that he heard from Gompers only when
the AFL president wanted to make use of him, Gompers curtly reminded
him of the “difference in the opportunities for [correspondence] between
Joe. Labadie and Sam. Gompers . . . who has certain responsibilities . . .
to the world of labor, and must fulfill them.” At the convention, Gompers
showed he understood Labadie by letting him preside during the half-hour
devoted to discussion. 19
Held at Well's Memorial Hall, the Boston convention was a historic
one. Excitement was generated by a massive new campaign to achieve the
eight-hour day. Three years after the Haymarket catastrophe had nearly
demolished the eight-hour movement, Gompers was breathing new life into
the fight. May 1, 1890, was fixed as the date for a great general strike.
Gompers was unanimously re-elected AFL president. Labadie was nomi
nated for first vice-president, but declined. His suggestion of Detroit as the
site for the next annual convention was approved. At the convention ban
quet, replete with toasts, Labadie raised his glass, appropriately, to “Labor
Cranks.” 20
In preparation for the mighty May 1 strike, the AFL planned nation
wide mass meetings and began issuing more than a half million circulars,
pamphlets, and proclamations. The Second Labor and Socialist International
had agreed at its founding meeting in Paris in July 1889, to help organize
a great international demonstration in sympathy. Gompers then concluded
that instead of a general strike for the eight-hour day it would be better
strategy for one strong union to lead the way. The United Brotherhood of


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All-American Anarchist
Carpenters and Joiners, which had amassed a large strike fund and was the
most successful AFL union, was chosen to go first.
On the appointed day, a massive, worldwide workers demonstration—
the greatest ever seen—encouraged Gompers to foresee “The Federation
of the World.” The chosen union struck as arranged. Tens of thousands of
unionists marched in solidarity in Chicago, New York, and other American
industrial centers, as well as throughout the industrialized world. The suc
cess achieved by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners was far
greater than even the most optimistic estimates. The union claimed it had
won an eight-or nine-hour day for over 76,000 of its members. Hundreds
of thousands of other workers gained pay raises or shorter days. The AFL's
well-organized militancy reaped enormous esteem for that organization; at
the same time, the rival Knights of Labor, which had tried to torpedo the
eight-hour movement, continued to lose ground. 21 Henceforth, May Day
was celebrated as a workers' holiday in most of the world. Ironically, the
United States, where the effort was conceived, kept Labor Day in Septem
ber, a date with no socialist overtones.
Meanwhile, the MFL had not made much of a stir in its first year.
Labadie pleaded frequent illnesses. He admitted to a lack of the “hustling”
qualities essential to the presidency. Many of the unions that did join failed
to pay their dues of one-half cent per month per member. There was no
money to carry out the founding convention's resolution to print the consti
tution in Gennan or the fonns for the collection of statistics. 22
Labadie was more successful in counteracting rustlings toward lob
bying, a position that put him philosophically in tune with Gompers. He
had managed to keep all mention of pro-labor legislation out of the original
MFL constitution (although by 1912 it was listed as a primary objective).
Even though at its 1886 founding, the AFL had expressed an intention to
secure laws favorable to labor, Gompers's own conviction was “that which
we do for ourselves, individually and collectively, is done best.” His distrust
of state action and stress on workers' looking to their own organizations to
defend their interests was called “voluntarism.” This anti-political stance
resonated well with Labadie's anarchism. Labadie was adamant that the
MFL not “wander from the paths of trades unionism after the political will
o' the wisps that have so often led the working people into the mire of disap
pointment and destruction.” Even discussing questions of a political nature
would bring “discord and disunion,” he maintained, preventing unionists
with differing political allegiances from concentrating on mutually advan
tageous actions involving conciliation, arbitration, boycotts, and strikes. 23


Working with Gompers
167
Labor historians are fond of questioning why the United States,
uniquely among Western industrialized nations, failed to develop a suc
cessful labor or socialist party. This absence of an influential working-class
political movement is often explained as part of America's “exceptionalism.”
Socialist and other third-party reform movements have never been able to
loosen the hold of the two major parties for long. One historian suggests that
after the collapse of the Knights of Labor and its replacement by the more
conservative, craft-based AFL, the opportunity for the broad working-class
solidarity that might have resulted in a European-style labor party was lost. 24
In explaining American “exceptionalism,” however, Gompers's dis
trust of the state along with that of others in his midst played a significant
role. There were a number of anarchists active in the early AFL who were
eager to keep it out of politics and with whom his “voluntarism” resonated.
These included, in addition to Labadie, Dyer Lum, once Gompers's speech-
writer and possibly his secretary; August McCraith, AFL secretary for a
time; Flenry Weismann; and others, like Peter J. McGuire and Frank K.
Foster, who seemed to have anarchist leanings. 25
Labadie's resistance to MFL involvement in politics was quickly
attacked, and it was conservatism, not radicalism, he was accused of pur
suing. Old buddies Flenry Robinson and John Burton took him to task in
a back-and-forth that consumed an exhausting twenty columns over two
months in The Workman, the MFL's official organ. What should delegates
talk about during the half-day's discussion if politics were taboo, asked
Robinson, Michigan's future state commissioner of labor. Obviously they
could not grapple with a solution of the land problem, “the real remedy,”
since that was certainly a political question. Robinson jeered that “our pro
tean friend” had always been a champion of free discussion; why was he
ready to suppress it now for the sake of peace and “nostrums” like strikes
and boycotts?
“How the mighty have fallen!” Burton chimed in. “Ten years ago Joe
Labadie was one of the radical men in Detroit.” Now, he implied, Labadie
was echoing “the parrot cry ‘organize’ ” (Gompers's clarion call), the cry
of men with “no idea of progress.” There was “not a single question which
affects the condition of the worker but is political,” Burton wrote. 26
The two well knew Labadie's anti-government stance, the basis of
his antipathy toward politics. What seemed to be agitating them was the
suspicion that in joining Gompers's camp, Labadie had sold out, that he was
abandoning great schemes for social reform and a “brotherhood of toil” in
favor of more bread and butter for the tables of skilled craft unionists alone.


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All-American Anarchist
Indeed, there was truth to their accusations. Ten years earlier Labadie
had disparaged the trade union as “nothing but a monopoly of labor formed
to counteract a monopoly of capital, and the sooner both are swept away
the better it will be for all." “The Genial Frenchman," as The Workman\s
editor called him, acknowledged that “it is no secret that I have changed my
mind several tunes ... as to the best methods to be pursued by the trades
unions." He had scaled down his vision. At age forty and seasoned by years
of struggle, he now believed that “more people can be organized for the
accomplishment of one or two things in a well defined ... way than can be
organized for the accomplishment of a dozen or more objects in a dozen or
more ways." Furthermore, how could a “heterogenous mass" of Democrats,
Republicans, socialists, anarchists, free traders, protectionists, prohibition
ists, woman suffragists, and more, find a coimnon political position with
out committing the minority to principles they opposed? He argued that he
was following the “law of progress" outlined by Herbert Spencer (one of
his favorite authors), which describes evolution as moving from simplic
ity to complexity. Applying it to the labor movement, he concluded that
unions had evolved to the point where they had to specialize. By attempting
to reform the whole society, he maintained, they would violate the law of
progress and bring about their downfall. It was certainly a sharp about-face
from the broad goals of his younger days. 27
Despite what many unionists must have viewed as the vagueness of its
leader and founding delegates, by the tune of its second annual convention
in February 1890, the MFL had eclipsed the waning Knights of Labor in
Michigan. Delegates of “the strongest labor organization in the State" were
warmly received by the mayor of East Saginaw and the town offered the
municipal council chambers as a convention site.
Soon after the seating of delegates, Thomas Barry, hero of the Sagi
naw Valley strike and declared enemy of Powderly, unexpectedly appeared
in the chambers. He asked to be admitted as a delegate, presenting cre
dentials from a new movement he had formed, the Brotherhood of United
Labor. He had embarked on a strange, quixotic venture. His brotherhood—
with its socialist principles and vague organizational structure—was hardly
a trade union. Solely on that basis, the delegates had every reason to reject
Barry. More significant, the brotherhood was a bitter rival of the Knights of
Labor, and Barry and Powderly were engaged in a personal feud. The MFL
would reap no benefit from antagonizing the Knights' leadership. Admis
sion of the brotherhood into the new federation would bring it nothing but
trouble. 28


Working with Gompers
169
After the tumultuous Minneapolis convention of the Knights, Barry
had vowed “to fight the gang . . . regardless of consiquences |.v/r|." Where
Labadie gradually dropped out of the fray, Barry, a man of fiery intensity,
planned to challenge the general master workman and his cronies at the next
general assembly in Indianapolis in 1888. He confided to Labadie that there
was a “dark plot” to keep him away, although he was still a member of the
Knights' general executive board. 29
Powderly forces contrived to force him out of office, then suimnarily
expelled Barry from membership in the organization in apparent violation
of its constitution. Ignoring the edict, Barry tried to take a seat in Indianap
olis that fall. Efforts to have his expulsion declared unconstitutional failed.
Powderly refused to begin the proceedings until Barry left. Like the previ
ous convention, this one was tom by clashes, “not that Barry was loved but
that Powderly was hated with a venomous hate bom of jealousy and nursed
in wrath,” as even a Powderly man recognized. 30
The Order had lost 300,000 members in 1888, but Powderly gloated
over burying an enemy, especially one who, in his words, “was wannly
associated with the anarchistic element.” He told his lieutenant, John W.
Hayes, “We have slipped off the snake's skin—its other name is Barry.” 31
“Poor Tom,” as Barry was sympathetically viewed, then launched a vitri
olic attack on Powderly and the “gang in the palace.” Blazoned in leading
labor papers, it charged misappropriation of funds, deceit, favoritism, and
extravagance. “I have got that Deception gang on the ran and I want to
Drive the band wagon over them it has been a big fight with the odds against
me but being right I had the courage to go ahead,” Barry wrote Labadie in
his unschooled scrawl. He claimed to have more than three hundred letters
asking him to start a new movement. In fonning his brotherhood, he aimed
to place the labor movement on a decentralized basis, “which will make it
forever almost impossible for cliques and rings to be formed.” Open to all,
skilled and unskilled, it planned to remove power from the “usurers,” “shy-
locks,” “stock gamblers,” and “speculators,” and make its primary objec
tives “Land, Currency and Transportation reform.” 32
Widely respected for his courage, honesty, and steadfast devotion to
labor's cause, Barry was able to attract some dissident Knights of Labor
assemblies; in Michigan, the brotherhood had a brief local success. Laba
die, however, did not join the ranks. Perhaps he was leery of another grand,
amorphous scheme to solve all society's problems. “Gee,” Barry pleaded,
“cant you give me the Name of some good kicker in detroit that I could get
to organize a branch of the Brotherhood.” 33 Barry did not try to conceal


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All-American Anarchist
his disappointment with Labadie's inaction in the continuing battle against
Powderly. He reminded his old friend that after the Haymarket executions
Labadie had sworn to drive the Knights' leader out of the labor movement
in disgrace. “Joe,” he remonstrated, “what are you doing to keep that swar
[swear].” 34
At the MFL convention, Labadie could do little to help Barry. Sev
eral unions threatened to secede if he were admitted as a representative of
the brotherhood, although they would accept him as a representative of his
ax-and toolmakers' union. It was a sad moment for many when this lone
warrior was sent away. The brotherhood failed to recover from its founder's
rejection. The victim of well-organized obstructionism by pro-Powderly
forces, its only hope for becoming an organization of national importance
was affiliation with an established body, in this case, the MFL. Unable to
compete with a rising AFL, the Brotherhood of United Labor expired after
only two years of existence. 35
Although the founding members of the MFL may have represented
a range of extremists, delegates at its second convention were the voice of
moderation. Strikes were to be avoided, conciliation encouraged, and the
boycott to be exercised “only in a quiet way.” They were in favor of such
reasonable reforms as free textbooks and secret ballots, and opposed pris
on-made cigars and cigar vending machines. They advocated “mild but ear
nest means” for the great eight-hour day effort to be launched the following
May 1, including “respectfully” asking employers to join in. In his annual
report, Labadie pointed out that the shorter day might not raise the wages of
all workers, that it would not change the industrial system, and ominously
suggested that it was possible “that some of us will suffer persecution, and
maybe death, at the hands of that class who are responsible for the judicial
murders that occurred at Chicago.” His reference to Haymarket was not
well received and delegates voted to dissociate the convention from it. A
resolution to affiliate with the AFL lost by a vote of 14 to 18. 36
Given this direction of the MFL, Labadie was tom over whether he
should try to hold onto the presidency. Gompers had encouraged him to
remain another year. Perhaps too trustingly, the AFL leader wrote that a
“level-headed man” should be at the head of the MFL, “and I have great
confidence in your judgment.” A puzzling letter from Goldwater suggests
that Labadie himself, in addition to suffering ill health, was besieged by
self-doubt, stung by criticism from former comrades, and considered resign
ing, possibly asking Goldwater to replace him. “Your reasons are shallow,”
Goldwater declared; Labadie should ignore the criticism of “our enemies.” 37


Working with Gompers
171
For whatever reason, Labadie did not run again. Almost as soon as he
was replaced as president by L. E. Tossy, the MFL appeared to repudiate his
advice by moving “to besiege the legislature in the interest of labor laws” and
took credit for many victories. Soon ten hours was declared a legal day's work
in Michigan (although many employees were forced to sign away this right),
the Baker Conspiracy Law was abolished, free textbooks were provided, and
the secret ballot was instituted. By 1893, the MFL represented an estimated
14,000 workers. Meanwhile, the last Michigan assemblies of the Knights of
Labor shut down and Powderly was ousted from the organization's hehn.
Soon, all that remained of what was once the most potent organization of
workers in America was a shell holding a few thousand hangers-on. 38
Though out of office and not actively involved, Labadie continued
his interest in the fortunes of the Michigan federation he had helped found.
When the MFL and Detroit Trades Council jointly started a new labor paper
in 1894, he was invited to contribute his “Cranky Notions’’ column. The edi
tors of the Industrial Gazette clearly knew what they were bargaining for.
Labadie remained his old provocative self. Even in the eyes of conservative
forces, his unquestioned dedication to labor's cause and his personal charm
often seemed to outweigh objections to his radicalism. In the five months
the paper lasted, Labadie generated a predictable surge of apopletic rebuttal,
answered by testimonials from admirers. He opposed a law to close the
aters on Sundays because theaters provided “more humanity and good sense
than ... the majority of churches.’’ He reflected on the Post Office deficit
(government inefficiency); self-help (the best kind); smoking in public (no
one has a right to pollute others' air); labor bills (none has benehtted the
masses); and free trade (anarchism in commerce). 39
Such polemics were what he excelled at. He was not cut out to head
a large organization. Personal power did not drive him and he lacked the
requisite inclination to mediate, compromise, and politic. His forte was as
a catalyst, a gadfly, a controversialist. “I guess the machine was too much
for you,’’ Agnes Inglis speculated many years later. “One sees . . . that you
kept pushing the movement every way you could, but you never cared for
‘power’ for yourself.’’ 40
Labadie had undertaken the creation of the MFL with verve and
energy, but soon lost interest in the mundane task of running it and in its
prosaic objectives. Although as late as 1910 he called the AFL “the greatest
force in society today for the social and economic betterment of the masses,’’
he was emotionally uncomfortable in the camp of “business unionism.’’
Sticking to specific, concrete gains for the skilled might be a “scientific’’


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All-American Anarchist
tactic, per Spencer, but it did not excite him. The trouble with Gompers's
brand of unionism, in Labadie's view, was what it did not address—the vast
humanitarian goals, revolutionary ideals, abstract theories, utopian visions.
It offered bread and butter while he craved champagne. He tried to embrace
the cause, but the spark was not there and his attentions cooled. He had
lost his true love. In his last years, it was the early Knights of Labor that he
spoke of longingly and of his poignant wish that it could be resurrected. 41


173
~k 13 ~k
In the regal realm of Me
I am rightful sovereign there;
None should question my decree.
None my wishes justly dare.
—"The True Sovereign,” Workshop Rimes
l^abadie always believed that if people could only see how thor
oughly home-grown his kind of anarchism was, their terrors would be allayed.
He thought if he could show that it sprouted from native soil and that its seed
was the American love of liberty, he could persuade others to tolerate or even
welcome it. Sometimes, to make the doctrine more palatable, he called it “phil
osophical” anarchism (to his mind, as silly as saying “philosophical philoso
phy”) just so the word would not “strike the puny mind with so much force as
to knock it out in the first round.” 1 Labadie could, of course, have called his
philosophy “libertarianism,” as many did (and do) and avoided the commotion.
Perhaps he saw that as being dishonest, or perhaps he enjoyed the coimnotion.
Partly because its best-known anarchist was considered to be
peace-loving and law-abiding, Detroit had escaped much of the frenzy
that convulsed other cities after the Haymarket bombing. The influence of
the large and well-respected Gennan socialist community probably also
played a role. Detroit's radicals generally were tolerated as well-meaning
refonners or impractical dreamers, no threat to the good burghers. But the
affection Labadie enjoyed personally did not lessen his distress at the pop
ular view of anarchists as “an ignorant, vicious, whisky-drinking gang,
dirty in personal habits, careless of the rights of others, and ever ready
to kill and bum,” the portrayal Powderly hysterically painted at the 1887
Minneapolis convention. 2


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All-American Anarchist
Labadie felt driven to tell the nation about its anarchists—who they
were, what they looked like, what they thought and why. For most of his
life, he operated on a naive faith that once people were presented with the
logic of a case, their innate rationality would lead them to fair-minded con
clusions. If interested persons could be shown that anarchists were well-be
haved, honest, and just, “a good deal like other folks,” they would be likely
to examine the philosophy without prejudice. 3
He first proposed that a conference of anarchists be held in Detroit
in the summer of 1888, where they would issue to the world a clarifying
“anarchistic manifesto.” Anarchists of all stripes could become acquainted
and possibly reach harmony between the individualist and the collectiv
ist branches. He expected it to be well covered by the press and attract
widespread attention. His anarchist mentor Tucker scoffed at the idea as
an excuse for an expensive junket with no clear purpose. He thought Laba
die “surprisingly ignorant of the nature of the beast known as a capitalistic
newspaper” if he thought a declaration of principles would stop malicious
reporting. 4
Rebuffed by American anarchism's guru, Labadie shifted his attention
to a book. No outline of the views of America's anarchists had ever been
published. In late 1888 and early 1889, he sent out forty or fifty letters to
leading anarchists, asking them to define the philosophy, why it was desir
able, and how it should be attained. They were to include a biographical
sketch and picture. Labadie hoped that Tucker would publish the study, add
ing it to the long list of works offered by “Liberty's Library.” But seeking
a consensus was never one of Tucker's priorities, nor was he prone to help
others in their enterprises. He replied only that “I really cannot” publish it,
a curt dismissal for one of the few of his circle with whom Tucker was on
friendly terms. 5
Labadie's grand scheme ran into other problems. The anarchists he
approached proved very individualistic, indeed. Many found something to
complain or quibble about in the proposed project. One female anarchist
felt the plan was not worth the trouble. “Do you care for the opinions of the
average man and woman? I do not,” she sniffed. Another recipient grum
bled that no one would be impressed by “the testimonials of good behavior
that we may be pleased to give ourselves.” 6 In the end, only fifteen of those
approached appear to have sent useful material.
Charles Fowler, publisher of a Kansas City, Missouri, anarchist peri
odical, was serene in the belief that publicity was unnecessary because
anarchism would come about naturally. E. W. Barber, former supervisor of


Pet Radical
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internal revenue and assistant postmaster general, objected that he “most
thoroughly dislike[d] the word Anarchists” to describe those who believed
in “Individualism as against Socialism.” Chicago labor organizer George A.
Schilling, who had worked closely with the Haymarket anarchists, declined
to say if he was an anarchist. He thought it misguided to use such a “con
fusing” term, and later scoffed that Tucker was foolish to insist on a name
that to the average citizen meant “hell and damnation.” Archibald H. Simp
son, a Boston printer, refused to participate because he thought the cause of
anarchy was hopeless. Maurice A. Bachman thought it impossible to make
anarchism “fashionable, or at least not objectionable” without excluding
Johann Most and those who advocated “propaganda of the deed,” and he
questioned how Labadie proposed to do this. 7
Labadie did contact one exponent of the Kropotkin/Most doctrine,
which looked to a society of decentralized communes. William Hohnes,
who had hidden Parsons after the Haymarket explosion and been a pall
bearer at his funeral, assured Labadie that while their collectivist anarchist
ideology foresaw possible violence during the overthrow of the existing
system, they expected the resulting anarchy to bring peace, order, and
local self-government—without force of any kind. Labadie had met with
Hohnes in 1887 while visiting the Haymarket prisoners in Chicago and they
reached a meeting of the minds. The two agreed that anarchism did not deny
the right of free contract, and thus the right to contract with others to live
together communistically or by any other arrangement. Labadie thereafter
emphasized that anarchism was totally planless, except for insisting on “a
fair held and no favors.” It permitted any kind of organization, including
government, so long as membership was not compulsory. 8
Those who responded to Labadie's appeal ranged from Buffalo day
laborer Augustine Leroy Ballou, who had never met a single soul who sym
pathized with his belief, to prominent New York City architect John Bev
erley Robinson, later a professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
Most were from the East Coast and several could trace their lineage back to
the Puritans or colonists. Joshua K. Ingalls, bom in Massachusetts in 1816,
had already devoted some forty-five years to the cause of land reform and
was weary. He confessed that he had been identified with so many “soci
eties, orders, sects and parties, and to so little purpose, that I am tired of
organizations.... Have we not enough of isms?” 9
The contributions omitted any discussion of how anarchism could
work in practice. Radicals of that era were roused by theories, not demand
ing the specifics of a later, more pragmatic age. The tomes of Karl Marx, for


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All-American Anarchist
example, presented no clear strategy for realizing the classless society he
forecast emerging through class struggle. Furthermore, mapping out an
anarchistic society was a contradiction in terms. To systematize it would be
to impose structure, when the idea was to let society develop freely. Without
government interjecting itself to disturb the natural process, people would
work out whatever society seemed best. They would choose to live together
harmoniously because it would be in their self-interest to do so. These radi
cals were “abolitionists, not institution-builders, prophets, not priests; anar
chists, not administrators.’’ 10
The material Labadie collected was never published. Perhaps the
results seemed too sparse and inconsistent. Yet his desire to distill the
essence of anarchist doctrine for public consumption kept nagging him.
Bearing in mind the vast area of disagreement documented in the responses,
he figured that by throwing out all disputed statements among the anar
chists, he could arrive at the essence of the philosophy. His eventual syn
thesis of the beliefs of “anarchists everywhere’’ was simplicity itself, with
many salient questions left unanswered. Although composed before 1900,
it exists only in a 1908 leaflet, “Anarchism, What It Is and What It Is Not,’’
printed and distributed in the thousands by Labadie's “Jewish comrades’’ in
the International Anarchist Group of Detroit. 11
Labadie postulated that anarchism was not a utopian chimera, but
“a practical philosophy’’ and did not seek to establish the impossible—
absolute freedom. Its aim was equal rights for all to land and natural
resources. With anarchism, what was produced would belong to the pro
ducer, to be exchanged in any manner desired. Occupancy and use would
be the sole claim to land. Anyone could issue money. Patents, copyrights,
and other monopolies would be abolished. All taxation would be voluntary.
There would be no restrictions on personal behavior that did not interfere
with the rights of others. Crime would be eliminated, with crime defined as
doing injury to another by aggression. There would be no killing, except
in self-defense, because that would be an invasion of another's equal right
to live. Happiness was the goal; freedom in every walk of life was the best
way to achieve it. 12
The pamphlet made no mention of morality, natural law, or natural
rights, which Labadie had previously cited as the bases for his philosophy.
Going along with Tucker, he now rejected such quasi-religious “myths,’’
replacing them with the concept of “egoism.’’ This shift to “egotistical anar
chism’’ was derived from the views of Gennan philosopher Max Stimer,
who stated: “I am neither good nor evil. Neither has any meaning for me


Pet Radical
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For me there is nothing above myself.” 13 As Labadie expressed it in the
opening verse to this chapter, “In the regal realm of Me, I am rightful sov
ereign there.”
Self-interest was the only motivating force in human conduct—so
went the argument accepted by Labadie and Tucker. There was no absolute
“right” or “wrong.” Individuals were free to seek happiness however they
liked, but since they would bear the social consequences of their acts, they
were likely to find it useful to live in harmony with others and enter into con
tracts or cooperative arrangements to safeguard their own interests. Labadie
declared: “To me there is no such thing as altruism—that is, the doing of
anything wholly for the good of others. We do things for self-satisfaction.” 14
Although this point of view does not differ markedly from the cen
tral assumptions of classical laissez-faire economics, Tucker's deviation to
egoism sent shock waves through the individualist anarchist coimnunity. In
this rarefied intellectual world, where disputes could turn bitter over whether
“anarchism” had its root in the Greek archos (leader) or arche (to be first, to
rule), the new value-free dogma provoked widespread defections. Charging
that abandoning a morality based on natural principles fumed anarchism into
a selfish, might-is-right philosophy, not unlike that of rapacious capitalism,
many of Tucker's earlier associates deserted his camp and transferred their
allegiance to radical movements that concentrated on practical social reform. 15
Meanwhile, back in Detroit, while Labadie was employing sweet
reasonableness to plead anarchism's case to the masses, a far more fanat
ical anarchist was lashing out at the world's injustices from a tiny, littered
loft on Champlain Street. Little noticed by English speakers, but famous in
Gennan communities worldwide, editor Robert Reitzel was a violent revo
lutionist at heart, despairing of the moderation of American refonners. His
weekly, Der arme Teufel (The Poor Devil), which he began in December
1884, expressed his pessimistic view that people were all poor devils in
the end. Reitzel was the consuimnate iconoclast, negligent in dress, with
a large head of tousled blond hair and small piercing eyes. His incendiary
zeal often alienated those who had befriended him. The city's bourgeois
Gennans reviled him as a “blasphemer.” Yet, a friend observed, he had “a
quality sweet and mild, and sometimes he dipped his pen in gall and worm
wood, and again he wrote with an Easter lily.”
A one-time Lutheran minister who had become an agnostic, Reitzel
never worked for wages. His improvidence caused his wife and eight children
to suffer intense privation. When he was not fighting inhumanity and injus
tice, he penned essays on Shakespeare, Heine, Goethe, Thoreau, Whitman,


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All-American Anarchist
and others. His paper, with a circulation of perhaps four thousand, was read
by Gennan radicals throughout the world and many cities had Anne Teufel
Klubs. Reitzel occasionally printed translations of excerpts from Labadie's
columns. Labadie, who believed that inside most Gennan radicals “was that
fox of the insuperable and infallible state eating out their vitals,” valued
Reitzel as one of the few Gennans who had “any tolerably clear notion of
freedom.” 16
A close friend of August Spies, Reitzel had yearned to play a noble
role in the Haymarket drama. He was shocked that most of his fellow jour
nalists refused to support the condemned men. After reading one of Laba
die's “Cranky Notions” columns defending them, he wrote, “I despair no
more about the Americans.” As the fateful day of the executions approached
in 1887, he met in Chicago with Dyer Lum. Together, they hatched a scheme
to blow up the jail and free the doomed men on the eve of their execution.
But the plot had been foiled by the prisoners themselves. They believed it
would result in violent and bloody reprisals that would set back the cause of
liberty and workers' rights for years to come. Reitzel and Lum had vainly
awaited the signal to set off their bomb. 17
At the burial of the four in Chicago's Waldheim Cemetery, Reitzel
gave an impassioned eulogy in Gennan. He called for vengeance, blood
for blood. “We have loved long enough; now we are going to hate.” But his
hatred did not find release in action. Until his death of spinal tuberculosis
in 1898 at fifty, his bitterness was confined to vitriolic writings and emo
tional memorial meetings honoring the “Chicago Martyrs,” as they were
now called. 18
On the first anniversary of the executions, Reitzel and George Schil
ling arranged for Labadie to give the English-language memorial address
at Waldheim Cemetery. Three thousand people stood by the resting place
of the hanged men as crowds attended similar ceremonies throughout the
United States and Europe. At the last minute, illness prevented Labadie from
making the trip. But the following year and years afterward, when Novem
ber 11 was observed as a revolutionary milepost throughout the world, he
and Reitzel shared the podium at Detroit memorials for the “martyrs.” 19
As Detroit entered the 1890s, it was not an opportune time to be “agin
the government.” One of the nation's great reform mayors was running the
city. A group of influential Republicans had picked Hazen S. Pingree as can
didate in the 1889 election because they wanted a malleable, conservative
businessman who could oust the Democrats. To their horror, Pingree used the


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mayoral position to embark on all sorts of crusades against civic abuses. He
exposed widespread political graft, cracked down on election fraud, fought
for city ownership of the overpriced and badly run streetcar monopoly, and
cut the excessive gas, light, and tax rates. He even wanted the city to pro
vide free water to promote cleanliness. He boasted that he had the support
of “all classes, except what are called the best citizens.’’ For refusing to call
out the militia during the 1891 streetcar strike and advocating arbitration
to settle the dispute, he was denounced as an “anarchist’’ by the company's
officers—the most scurrilous accusation they could think up. 20
When he took office in 1890 at the age of fifty, Pingree was a political
novice. He was known as a harsh boss at his prosperous boot and shoe fac
tory. Its repressive practices had caused the Knights of Labor to target it for
a national boycott five years earlier. The hnn of Pingree and Smith, the larg
est shoe factory west of New York City, had hired Pinkertons as spies and
fired the employees they fingered as Knights. But Pingree was transformed
after reading Richard Ely's books on the labor movement in the late 1880s.
He became convinced of the justice and benefits in business negotiating
contracts with trade unions. 21
Once in office, Pingree began repaving the city's rutted streets,
maintaining that well-paved roads were the key to a city's prosperity.
He threatened to revoke a ferry company's license if it refused to lower
its rates from ten to five cents. He reconstructed the sewer system, set
up a free public bath, and forced the street railways to abandon horse
cars and adopt an electrified rapid-transit system. There was little that
escaped Pingree's attention as he established the first significant social-
reform administration of any large city in the United States. 22 . Pingree's
late-blooming compassion for the poor and suffering endeared him to the
people. It ensured his election to four terms as mayor (1890-97) and two
as governor (1897-1901), although he was viewed by Theodore Roos
evelt and other Republicans as a traitor to his party. He chose as chief
lieutenant and taxation expert the avid “single taxer’’ and labor sympa
thizer Robert Oakman, publisher of The Spectator when Labadie and
Grenell wrote for it. 23
By 1890 Detroit, considered one of the most beautiful cities of the
“West,” had catapulted from 116,000 residents ten years earlier to over
200,000. More than a third were foreign-bom, nearly half of those Gerrnan-
Americans, who could choose from eight German-language newspapers,
including three dailies. Its nationally known industries—stoves, tobacco,
drugs and paint—were prospering. In 1896, both Henry Ford, a machinist


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All-American Anarchist
with the Edison Company, and Ransom Eli Olds created the first gaso
line-powered cars. Within a decade, both had founded automotive compa
nies that made Detroit the center of the nation's automobile industry.
On Sundays, workers from all over Detroit flocked to the many beau
tiful parks, especially the 700-acre Belle Isle in the Detroit River, designed
by the great landscape artist Frederick Law Olmstead. In summer, outdoor
band concerts were plentiful. There were all sorts of amusements to choose
from: vaudeville acts at the Wonderland, melodrama at the Whitney Opera
House, and traveling stock companies at the Lyceum; the Detroit Symphony
Orchestra was well established. Detroiters saw their first electric advertis
ing signs. Like the rest of America, they were reading Edward Bellamy's
1888 novel, Looking Backward, which told them that by the year 2000 there
would be no rich, no poor, no social divisions, and no war anywhere in the
world. 24
Modem bicycles replaced the precarious high-wheelers. Horse-drawn
streetcars became a thing of the past as trolleys powered by copper wires
strung down the middle of the streets were put into service. But strolling
remained a sociable mode of transport; the city was still small enough that
many recognized Labadie as he sauntered down the wide avenues, a strik
ing figure in black and flowing tie, his wide felt hat slouched jauntily over
his collar-length dark hair. The city's pet anarchist was sufficiently legend
ary that mail from Gompers addressed only to “Joseph A. Labadie, Detroit,
Mich.,’’ was promptly delivered. 25
As the decade of the 1890s dawned, things were looking up for the
Labadies. A stroke of enormous good fortune had befallen them. Jo and
his sister-in-law, Mary June, had been struggling with the bureaucracy for
years to obtain a government disability pension for Sophie's father. Once
again, he saw no conflict between agitating for an ideal anarchist future
and reaping government benefits in the here and now. Blinded by a mine
explosion at Vicksburg during the Civil War, Joseph Archambeau was liv
ing in the Government Insane Asylum in Washington, D.C. Shortly before
dying in 1890, he was granted the astonishing sum of more than $11,000 as
back pension. Sophie and her two sisters each received over $2,500 from
his estate. Their mother, divorced for thirty-four years, was not a legal heir
according to court documents. 26
Jo and Sophie paid off a $880 mortgage on the cottage they built in
1886 using the eight-hour day system. They were living there in cramped
quarters with four-year-old Laura Euphrosyne, one-year-old Charlotte Antoi
nette, Sophie's mother, and an elderly aunt. They began plans for building


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181
a two-story house on the front part of the lot at 74 (later 2306) Buchanan
Street, near Fourteenth Street, in the northwest section of the city populated
mainly by Americans and British Americans. Its design provided for six
small bedrooms, thought necessary by Labadie in order to be “sufficiently
coimnodious to accoimnodate any of the family whom misfortune might
overtake.” Predictably, many needy relatives were lured by this provision.
Sophie's mother, a demanding and domineering woman, was ensconced for
ten years. “All my little spare time that I want to myself I must spend running
my legs off to gratify her whims,” Sophie sighed. 27 In planning the house,
Labadie followed his exhortation to workers, “The best the world affords is
none too good for you” (the motto was on cards he passed out). It was an
impressive abode for a working-class family, costing more than $1,500. The
Labadies had to borrow money to complete it. Over subsequent years, the
large parlor with sliding dividing doors resounded to lively debate by a long
procession of the nation's radicals. Perhaps the most significant space for
the purposes of history was the attic, where Sophie conscientiously stored
all the labor or radical materials that came into Jo's hands.
Joseph Archambeau had died at a most convenient tune for his daugh
ter and son-in-law. Now forty, with a household of six to support, Labadie
lost his job at the Sun. Joseph Buchanan, working for the American Press
Association in New York City in 1890, tried to get him a job as news editor
in Buffalo. This once-militant Knights' official and labor publisher had been
forced to give up the Chicago Labor Enquirer for lack of funds. He, too,
had been profoundly shaken by the Haymarket executions and continuing
disintegration of the Order. As with Labadie, these upheavals had knocked
much of the fight out of him. He now declared himself an “opportunist”
and, asking the impossible, solicited articles from Jo which would “give
offense to none—save, probably, the ultra monopolist.” In time, Buchanan
and Powderly, once bitter enemies, reconciled and Powderly dismissed the
ugly showdown that had shaken the Minneapolis convention as the result of
a “misunderstanding.” 28
Sometime around 1890, Labadie was hired by the Detroit News, where
he worked his way up from typesetter to labor news and general assignment
reporter. He called it the “most congenial” job he ever had. The News, which
treated labor and radical movements with commendable objectivity, not only
allowed him an occasional editorial, but even let him loose with “Cranky
Notions” columns, which, as always, he did not tone down for the market. 29
Increasingly, Detroiters were coming to regard Labadie as a sort of
charming eccentric, cantankerous and irreverent, but venerable. Commonly


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All-American Anarchist
referred to as “The Gentle Anarchist,” he favored calling himself “Injun
Jo” or the “Ole Ojibway” and was slow to correct those who mistook him
for a genuine half-breed. He enjoyed his status as a town character, one
of Detroit's municipal attractions. He liked to be liked. It was “getting to
be a fad here to have me at fashionable churches and clubs to talk radical
social questions,” he glowed to George Schilling in 1895. One of the first
invitations came in 1892 from his friend, Robert Y. Ogg, an AFL activist
and former state legislator, who asked him to give a speech titled “No Gov
ernment” to the Civic Club of the Plymouth Congregational Church, which
was involved in the Social Gospel movement of the era. It was intended
to balance a previous lecture on “The Science of Government.” But when
some “pillars of the church” protested against an anarchist speaking in the
chapel, the young pastor, Reverend L. Morgan Wood, got cold feet. Laba
die showed up anyway to say he had no hard feelings, and all three Detroit
papers thought that was nice. 30
The church-goers reaction was extraordinarily mild, considering the
unfortunate timing of the invitation. Only four months before, on July 23,
1892, anarchist Alexander Berkman had attempted to assassinate Henry
Clay Frick, chairman of the Carnegie Steel Company, and ignited another
Red Scare. The twenty-two-year-old Russian-born revolutionary planned
the deed in revenge for Frick's brutal crushing of a massive strike that month
at the company's Homestead, Pennsylvania, plant. Berkman's accomplice
and lover was Eimna Goldman, a young seamstress from Lithuania and a
protegee of the infamous Johann Most. In one of the nation's most fero
cious confrontations between capital and labor, Frick had hired three hun-
dered Pinkerton agents to protect non-union strikebreakers. Both workers
and Pinkertons were killed in a raging riverfront battle. As a result, Frick
persuaded the governor to send in eight thousand National Guardsmen to
impose martial law so he could re-open the factory.
Frick's use of the Pinkertons and his determination to smash the union
at any cost evoked much public support for the strikers. Berkman's attempt to
kill Frick was, however, nearly universally condemned, even by the Home
stead strikers. Johann Most, of all people, repudiated Berkman's violent
tactics and even suggested the would-be assassin might have been Frick's
man, staging the attack to win sympathy. But Most's motives themselves
were suspect. He not only fancied himself Berkman's rival for the affections
of Emma Goldman, who was half his age (Most was forty-six), but was
himself in danger of being arrested as Berkman's accomplice. Outraged by
the perfidy of her one-time mentor, the volatile Goldman challenged Most


Pet Radical
183
at one of his lectures to prove his accusations. When he mumbled some
coimnent about a “hysterical woman,’’ she pulled a horsewhip from under
her long, gray cloak, lashed him repeatedly across the face and neck, then
broke the lash over her knee and threw the pieces at him. The incident,
understandably, created a huge sensation. 31
Labadie, iconoclastic as ever, challenged the public sympathy in sup
port of the strikers. In a Detroit News “Cranky Notions’’ column on July 17,
he condemned the strikers who greeted Pinkertons with a volley of shots,
poured oil around their barges and set them ablaze, then stoned and clubbed
the agents after their surrender. He saw the violence as a simple riot. It did
not challenge the great monopolies, the special privileges, tariffs, patent
system, or property in land that enriched Andrew Carnegie and his lieu
tenant, Frick. The violence represented no protest against injustice such as
that mounted by the Haymarket anarchists. Its origin was a demand for
higher wages by the unionized workers at the plant, an already well-paid
minority. The Chicago anarchists had been within their legal rights in orga
nizing a demonstration in support of the eight-hour day, yet were hanged.
The Homestead strikers were being glorified for defying the law. Yet “Have
not men the right to hire whomever they can as watchmen? Is not one cit
izen as much entitled as another to employment whether he be non-union
or Pinkerton?’’ he remonstrated—a view that must have horrified many of
Labadie's labor comrades. 32
Berkman, on the other hand, who was widely condemned for his
assassination attempt, Labadie saw as the prototypical idealistic revolution
ary: “the likes of him are the John Browns of the proletarian class.’’ His
rash act was a futile reaction against the laws that benehtted “czar Frick.’’
“To kill off the Fricks will no more prevent the robbery of the masses than
the killing of the Berkmans will prevent violence and assassination. . . .
Where there are Fricks there will be Berkmans,’’ he wrote in a second News
column. Gompers also spoke up on Berkman's behalf, campaigning for his
pardon as he had campaigned on behalf of the Haymarket anarchists. 33
Even though by then most American anarchists, like Labadie, had
repudiated acts of violence, the public's well-established dread of anarchism
was escalating. Berkman's attack lit a fuse of public indignation. Then alarm
ing news from Europe brought anti-anarchist rhetoric to an explosion. A
series of terrorist attacks attributed to anarchists began with a bomb thrown
in a Barcelona theater in 1893 which killed thirty people. French President
Sadi Carnot was assassinated in 1894 after a wave of bombings in Paris.
The premier of Spain, Canovas del Castillo, was murdered in 1897, and


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Empress Elizabeth of Austria the following year. Italian King Humbert I
was assassinated in 1900 by an Italian anarchist who hatched the plot in Pat
erson, New Jersey. That same year, anarchists fired on the Prince of Wales
and the Shah of Persia. Attempting to justify public revulsion with scien
tific “fact,” Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso lumped anarchists with
other “bom” criminals, who could be recognized by such “atavistic” traits
as large ears and jaws, thin upper lips and “a ferocious look.” 34
The tide of blood-letting reached America when Detroit-bom Leon
Czolgosz, an avowed anarchist, shot President William McKinley in 1901,
just six months after his second inauguration. By now, few doubted that anar
chists were by nature murderous monsters—not at all, as Labadie wanted
them to think, “like other folks.” The individualist anarchists, who shunned
dramatic acts, had no way to distinguish themselves from the assassins and
terrorists. Their still, small voices, rarely raised except in cerebral debates,
were utterly drowned out by practitioners of the “propaganda of the deed.”
While Labadie and his colleagues argued in ivory towers about egoism ver
sus natural rights, their action-prone competitors, mostly Europeans, were
making headlines and history. Public outrage prodded Congress to pass its
first anti-anarchist law, prohibiting anyone “who disbelieves in or who is
opposed to all organized governments” from entering the United States.
Republican Senator Joseph Roswell Hawley offered a thousand dollars for a
“good shot at an anarchist.” Senators George Graham Vest, a Democrat, and
George Frisbee Hoar, a Republican, proposed that all anarchists be impris
oned on some island. 35
Despite the nation's continuing alarm, Detroit accepted Labadie,
Robert Reitzel, Sam Goldwater (Democratic mayoral candidate in 1895)
and other declared anarchists in its midst with no hint of physical threat
against them. When the Evening News approached “Detroit's Representa
tive Anarchist” for coimnent on Senator Hoar's bill, Labadie jocularly sug
gested Belle Isle, Detroit's playground, for the anarchist penal colony. Witty
retorts, however, could not squelch public dismay. Labadie had carved a
niche in the city's heart, but his sweet reasonableness exacted a price. Audi
ences in respectable venues might listen cahnly to his expositions, nod a
few times in assent, and then coimnent that, of course, Jo Labadie was not
a real anarchist. Gompers, in his autobiography, tells of one listener, who
coimnented, after Labadie opposed overthrow of the government by force
in a speech at New York's Cooper Union, “You are a hell of an anarchist.”
“Yes, that's the kind of an anarchist I am,” Labadie cahnly replied. 36


Pet Radical
185
Reporters may have thought they were doing Labadie a favor by
describing him as a “mild-mannered parlor anarchist,” “not a practicing
anarchist,” or “an imposter,” but being thought quaint and quirky made the
middle-aged rebel uneasy. When his friends John Burton and Henry Robin
son questioned his degree of radicalism, he asked plaintively, “What in the
world am I anyway? It is generally supposed that an anarchist is a radical
among radicals.” 37



187
k 14 k
Try to learn, my comrade true.
Hear the other side.
There're lots that may be new to you.
There "re lots that's good you may taboo.
There're lots you may now misconstrue
Or not discern, my comrade true;
Hear the other side.
From "Hear the Other Side,” Doggerel for the
Underdog
The prosperity of the early 1890s was short-lived. Grover
Cleveland's election on a progressive Democratic ticket in 1892 seemed to
promise better tunes ahead, but the stock market crash the following year
plunged the nation into a long and terrible depression, worse than those of
1873 and 1882. The series of panics, crashes, and depressions was begin
ning to seem as inevitable as natural disasters like floods or tornadoes.
Millions were jobless. On Easter Sunday 1894, Jacob Coxey's ragtag
“army” of the unemployed began a march from Ohio to Washington, D.C.,
to demand that the federal government create work building roads. Most of
Detroit's big industries shut down. The city's poor fund was exhausted. One-
third of the workers were unemployed, many roaming the streets carrying
their own picks and shovels in a desperate search for jobs. 1 Alarmed by the
misery and suffering, Mayor Hazen Pingree begged owners of vacant land
to allow the jobless to grow food crops there. He set up a charity fund for
seed and plows, with Labadie's pal Judson Grenell as treasurer. He even auc
tioned off his favorite Kentucky driving horse to raise money. The mayor's
“potato patch” crusade was a huge success, hailed throughout the nation for its


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All-American Anarchist
originality, and imitated by other hard-hit cities. Becoming increasingly
radical, Pingree attacked those with vast accumulations of wealth as “more
dangerous to the liberties of our republic than if all the Anarchists, Social
ists, and Nihilists of Europe were let loose on our shores.’’ 2
In the midst of this severe depression, Labadie, now forty-four, suf
fered another setback in his long battle with illness and lost his job at the
News. He believed the foul air in printing plants played a role in his poor
health. “Tunes are very hard and I cannot make enough money to keep
myself going,’’ he lamented to George Schilling. All of Sophie's legacy, and
more, had been spent on the house. 3
Unemployed and pressured by precarious financial straits, Labadie
accepted what he could get—a job as foreman over a gang of men laying
pipe for the water coimnission, a civil service position. This tidbit of secu
rity was probably wangled by friends in the city administration like Grenell
and Robert Oakman. Although desperate for cash, Labadie had hesitated.
He was already squirming in the role of pet radical, and loath “to put myself
in any way subject to petty politicians who would presume to tie a little
red ribbon about my neck and lead me around like a Lrench poodle,’’ he
later maintained. He foresaw that working for the government would be a
serious embarrassment for an anarchist. Anarchist leader Benjamin Tucker,
however, saw no harm in it and noted that “I make it a point to get all that
I can out of my oppressors, provided I do not thereby too seriously impair
my power of struggle against them.’’ 4 The job, which Labadie accepted in
1893, lacked prestige and stimulation, but it was steady, not too hard, and
relatively healthy. He ended up being employed by the water department for
the next thirty years, never again working full-time as a printer or reporter.
Being accused of compromising his convictions was only part of the
humiliation Labadie endured while working for the water board into his
seventies. The Detroit typographical union withdrew his membership on
the grounds that he was no longer working in the trade. 5 Although the action
was logical, it was a sad blow for Labadie to have his twenty-six-year for
mal affiliation with unions so abruptly severed.
A bloody labor confrontation involving Polish ditch diggers in the
spring of 1894 compounded the ambiguity of Labadie's water board employ
ment. Three hundred strikers, mostly Poles, tried to prevent excavation for
a water main because they believed a new piece-rate system would provide
them less than half their previous wages. Some strikers attacked the project
foreman with a shovel and, in the melee that ensued, three laborers were
fatally shot by police and a score of persons were seriously injured, including


A Humbling Job
189
the foreman and the sheriff. The Detroit press castigated these often-scorned
new immigrants as “riotous Poles” for their attack on law and order. It was
alleged that they had been incited to riot by anarchist agitators. At mass
meetings of sympathy by the Trades Council and Gennan Central Labor
Union the piece-rate system was denounced, but the digging continued with
non-Polish workers protected by two hundred armed guards until the job
was completed, after which the water coimnission voted to revert to the old
pay policy. 6
As Labadie was supervising a gang of Polish ditch diggers on Monroe
Avenue that suimner, trousers splashed with clay, shirt collar unbuttoned, hat
disreputably askew, a roving reporter from the News took the opportunity
to taunt him. Remarking on the change from Labadie's once-immaculate
appearance in the newsroom, he inquired how an anarchist could recon
cile his convictions with becoming “a minion of the government.” With a
“genial smile” and the disingenuous reply that “government has nothing
to do with digging a ditch,” Labadie tenninated the discussion by jumping
into the excavation and demonstrating the proper way to pound sand. But
he still had to deal with those who accused him of selling out. A socialist
candidate for mayor, Meiko Meyer, sneered that this “fake labor leader” had
been bought up by Pingree. 7
By the 1890s, most of the old guard of radical activists, including
Grenell, had dropped out of the labor movement. The discord leading to the
slow disintegration of the Knights of Labor had disillusioned many. Strike
failures and the long depression begun in 1893 further discouraged work
ers from looking to unions for social remedies. A declining proportion of
Detroit workers held union membership. Those who remained active were
looking for the kind of tangible economic gains the AFL offered, not the
visionary transfonnation of society its predecessors had sought. 8
Although he regretted the loss of his old labor comradeship in Detroit,
Labadie was heartened that he remained highly respected in national labor
circles. Neither the involuntary divorce from his union nor his self-appointed
role as controversialist of the first order stopped labor editors from seeking
him out; it may even have increased his attractiveness as a colorful and
provocative contributor. P. J. McGuire, the rabble-rousing head of the United
Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, a power in the AFL and
quite a radical himself, asked Labadie to write for The Carpenter on “cranky
carpenters,” “the danger of too much state power,” and why unions should
stay away from politics. Labadie's long-time verbal sparring partner Henry
Robinson, now Michigan Commissioner of Labor, had him contribute a


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All-American Anarchist
nine-page section for the Bureau of Labor's 1893 annual report outlining
“the different ‘isms' in sociology’’—Georgeism (the single tax), socialism,
communism, and anarchism. As a frequent columnist for Frank K. Fos
ter's influential Labor Leader Labadie inveighed against the powers of the
state and blamed the poor for supporting a system that allowed the rich to
rob them. He continued to urge workers to cultivate the selfish principle
of life—“When every individual is so selfish that he will not let any one
impose upon him, the laboring man will be respected.’’ 9
When Gompers began publishing the American Federationist in 1894,
he coimnissioned an article from Labadie, “Trades Unionism as I Under
stand It.’’ As Gompers knew he would, Labadie expressed complete harmony
with the AFL principle that unions should stick to matters peculiar to their
own trade—especially how to increase wages—and not involve themselves
in the problems of other trades or political issues. At the time, many unionists
were panting to officially support the Populist party or create an independent
party. Gompers confided to Labadie that he considered the pressure, which
was dividing the labor movement, “not an umnixed evil.’’ He hoped the polit
ical squabbling would bring matters to a head and finally be resolved to his
liking, thereby saving the AFL from future involvement in partisan politics. 10
The following year, the American Federationist was the forum for a
lively debate on political action and socialism, in which Labadie had his
say. It came just after an upheaval in the organization in which Gompers
ended up both winner and loser. Daniel De Leon, who had assumed leader
ship of the fading SLP in 1890 and brought it new vigor, launched an all-out
attack against the AFL, which he called “at best a cross between a windbag
and a rope of sand.’’ Any labor organization that did not struggle exclu
sively for the overthrow of capitalism was, in De Leon's view, reactionary.
At union meetings, flare-ups between AFL loyalists and De Leon followers
who wanted to break away were frequent. Tempers were running hot. 11
The radical mood prevalent during the economic crisis of 1893 was
pervasive enough to enable the socialists to score a tremendous victory at the
AFL convention in Chicago that year and gain acceptance of a plank calling
for “collective ownership by the people of all means of production and dis
tribution.’’ Gompers was clever enough not to oppose publicly the so-called
Plank 10, but by a series of cunning maneuvers the AFL leadership man
aged to get it repealed at the following year's convention. It was replaced
in 1894 by a resolution offered by Labadie's friend and fellow anarchist,
August McCraith, calling for the abolition of monopoly land ownership and
for property title to be based entirely on “occupancy and use.’’ The term


A Humbling Job
191
was straight out of an anarchist textbook. Convinced that the AFL leader
had plotted to defeat Plank 10, infuriated socialists exacted their revenge by
persuading delegates to oust Gompers from the presidency for the only time
in thirty-nine years (he was reelected in 1895). McCraith was appointed
AFL secretary, a high official position, and made sure Labadie's thoughts
continued to be aired in its journal. 12
Though not directly engaged in union activities, Labadie had no short
age of vehicles for his views. Fie expounded them in a parade of Detroit
labor papers that sprang up and blossomed briefly before withering when
cash nourishment ran out: the Industrial Gazette, Citizen, Sentinel, Printer;
and Street Railway Employee's Gazette. Outdoor work and exercise had
reduced his weight, improved his sleep, and restored his health. During the
cold months, he worked inside as clerk of the leak and storage yard section
of the water commission. Fie earned a modest but dependable $900 a year. 13
One day in August 1897, the daily routine at the water works was
interrupted by a visit from Prince Peter Kropotkin, the legendary Russian
geographer and revolutionary anarchist. The fifty-five-year-old Kropotkin,
in Detroit to attend the annual meeting of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, wanted to meet the forty-seven-year-old author of
“Cranky Notions,” which he had read in Liberty. Speaking in fluent English,
he told Labadie about his special mission in North America—to gather data
for a great papier-mache globe of the world, one hundred twenty feet in
diameter, with rivers, lakes, oceans, mountains, and cities, on a scale of five
miles to the inch, which he and fellow geographer/anarchist Elisee Reclus
were constructing for the Paris Exposition of 1900.
As Labadie conducted Kropotkin through the engine room, he noted
that his visitor—“a most engaging man”—was small, but had “a large head,
big whiskers, smiling eyes.” Kropotkin seemed nervous, making jerky, sur
prised movements, “as is an animal that is always hunted.” The behavior was
consistent with his hounded life. As a young man, Kropotkin had advocated
the fonnation of armed peasant bands, been arrested in 1874 for “nihilis
tic” activities, and imprisoned in the fortress of Ss. Peter and Paul in St.
Petersburg. Russian prison officials nevertheless pennitted him to complete
a scientific work on the glaciers of Finland. Fie made a dramatic escape
from a military hospital, fled to England, then Switzerland, was expelled,
and then was imprisoned by the French. By the tune of his release in 1886,
he had turned into a respectable and scholarly theorist, who believed that
he could further the revolution more effectively with the printed word than
by violent acts. 14


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All-American Anarchist
As the foremost anarchist philosopher of his time, Kropotkin was
keenly interested in how the doctrine was developing in America. He called
himself an anarcho-communist, but read and had written for libertarian jour
nals of all persuasions, including Tucker's Liberty, Albert Parsons's Alarm,
and Johann Most's Freiheit. He was eager to meet his fellow contributors.
Soon after chatting with Labadie, he called on Most in Buffalo. Tucker, who
disparaged the coimnunist anarchists as authoritarians, and contended that
Kropotkin had no business calling himself an anarchist, nevertheless visited
the Russian nobleman in New York. 15
Like Labadie, Kropotkin had sought to base his philosophy on the
principles of natural science. His observations of animal life and village
coimnunities, however, led him to the conclusion that mutual aid, not the
Darwinian struggle for existence, had the greatest impact on the survival of
the species and its evolution. Where Labadie saw egoism and competitive
ness as the driving forces in the natural world, Kropotkin found solidarity
and cooperation. Humankind would recognize that it was through helping
each other that all would survive and prosper. In his idealized society of the
future, there would be no private property or poverty; no one would be com
pelled to work but nearly everyone would choose to; and goods and services
would be distributed freely by self-governing coimnunes according to need,
even to those who had contributed no share of the labor. Kropotkin himself
was so ethical, benevolent, and unegotistical that it was said that if all were
like him, no government or restraint would be necessary and anarchism
would be the only possible system. 16
Kropotkin's first visit to the United States and Canada was a huge
success. He delivered papers at the Toronto meeting of the British Associa
tion for the Advancement of Science and the National Geographic Society
in Washington, D.C., and spoke on both science and anarchism in crowded
halls seating thousands. The coimnunist anarchist movement was growing,
due largely to his influence, and prominent liberals flocked to meet him, as
well as such unlikely candidates as Andrew Carnegie (Kropotkin declined
the opportunity) and the widow of Confederate leader Jefferson Davis. As
he traveled from coast to coast during his four-month trip, the anarchist
prince was everywhere lauded as a mild and gentle man, with the manners
of a “polished gentleman.'' Predictably, he was described as “anything but
the typical anarchist.’’ 17
As the century came to a close, even the well-to-do and well connected
began to involve themselves in “constant discussion’’ of the ills of society,
as Jane Addams chronicled in Twenty Years at Hull House. She recalled the


A Humbling Job
193
many Chicago clubs of the 1890s whose members enthusiastically debated
the “new social science,” rejecting as unworthy all discussion except that
which “went to the root of things.” 18 Their membership included many
prominent citizens, who, shaken by fears of worker unrest engendered by
the 1886 Haymarket riot and 1892 Homestead strike, had concluded that
the way to avert revolution was to exchange views openly with all shades
of radicals.
Detroit was lively with similar gatherings. Labadie, always keen to
study, debate, and propagandize, was in his element. With no other outlet
for his leadership qualities, he threw himself into promoting a profusion of
these discussion groups that arose in the late 1890s—the Social Science
Club, Qui Vive Club, Fellowcraft Club, Mohawk Bimetallic Club (advocat
ing both gold and silver as a monetary standard), and the Labor Exchange
Association. 19
Although Labadie always identified himself with the working people,
he rejected the concept of class struggle so essential to Marxist ideology.
Because a man was an industrialist did not necessarily make him an enemy.
Labadie could even bring himself to refer to “our capitalistic brothers,” as he
did when defending the participation of Gompers, John Mitchell, and other
labor leaders in the controversial National Civic Federation. Organized in
1900, it sought to settle industrial disputes by means of discussions among
prominent labor, business, and public figures, a previously untried cooper
ative policy. Some workers were outraged that their leaders would consort
with the likes of Cyrus McConnick, J. Ogden Armour or Louis F. Swift,
capitalists whose companies were notoriously anti-union. They saw the fed
eration as collaborating with the enemy. Labadie, with his unshakable faith
in the power of discussion to bring about a just consensus, responded that
the labor movement should be represented “in every possible place where
delegates can get a foothold.... If we have words of justice and mercy and
humanity don't our capitalistic brothers need them as much as our brothers
and sisters of toil?” 20
Many Detroit businessmen, politicians, and clergymen, too, began
grappling with the questions of social injustice and the legitimacy of work
ing-class grievances by means of discussion groups. With the progressive
Mayor Pingree in the vanguard, they now saw the advantage of negotiating
with union leaders and backing liberal refonns. Meanwhile, few of the old
guard still held office in any of the local unions. A loyal core of craft unionists
retained their membership even through the severe mid 1890s depression,
but they represented an ever-decreasing percentage of the work force. One-


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fifth of Detroit's workers had been members of either the Knights of Labor or
craft unions, or both, in the peak year of 1886. Six years later, the hgure had
dropped to 8.2 percent, and was to continue its decline in subsequent years. 21
The labor activists of the 1880s who had turned away from the
labor movement in disillusionment, joined by many of the rank and hie,
increasingly put their hopes for social reconstruction in the new coterie of
enlightened civic leaders. In late 1895, Labadie's parlor resounded with
the give-and-take of one such discussion group, assembled for the earnest
purpose of collecting facts on economic matters. Members divided them
selves into three sections—assigned to land, machinery, or money. From this
informal get-together, Labadie soon founded the Social Science Club, so
successful that it began with a membership of more than one hundred and
met weekly at the St. James Hotel on the comer of Bates Street and Cadillac
Square, with The People as its official organ. He promoted joining it as a
matter of self-interest for all who wanted to avert “a social cataclysm.” At a
time when “the hungry social outcast and the rich glare with hatred into each
others' faces” and “violence of every description” abounded, businessmen,
professionals, civic leaders, and workers would hnd it useful to study the
laws of social harmony and economic equity, club president Labadie urged. 22
With social problems newly fashionable, Labadie was able to enlist
for his board of managers such prominent personages as Levi Barbour, a
regent of the University of Michigan, and Homer Warren, later United States
poshnaster general. Debates at club meetings were so animated that hotel
residents complained of the noise. Members heard such speeches as “How
Would You Uplift the Masses?” “The Main Error of the State Socialists,”
“What Can We Do for the Criminal?” “Free Water: Is It Just and Equitable?”
and “Should Women Be Allowed to Vote?” Ten women attended the latter
event; to Labadie's disappointment, none spoke up. Some working-class
members complained about the “dilettante” aspect of the club, peopled as
it was with lawyers, ministers, and the occasional “dress suit and display of
diamonds.” There was muttering when the elegantly attired Homer Warren
stopped by on his way to a charity ball to read a paper, “How to Procure
Work for the Unemployed.” Disputing that there were in fact 25,000 jobless
at the moment in Detroit, he noted smugly that possessions were in any case
a burden and the rich were no happier than the poor. 23
Labadie was joined in the endeavor by Judson Grenell, Captain John
M. McGregor, and other former labor activists. By 1897, he initiated intrigu
ing proposals to set up a labor exchange system as a substitute for money
and a voluntary court where disputes could be settled without recourse to the


A Humbling Job
195
government courts. But it was a tame comedown from the grander endeav
ors of his past. Middle age had found his youthful idealism severely tested
by reality. Nearing fifty, Labadie was no longer willing to be thought “a
kind of mild lunatic.” He had come to the conclusion, as he told club mem
bers, that “You cannot reach people's reason except by mild manners, ear
nestness and a clear presentation of your own case.” 24
He intended to be pragmatic and proclaimed himself ready to join any
group striving for greater freedom. He had supported Cleveland in 1888, as
he wrote in Liberty, because Cleveland ran on a program of tariff reduction,
and free trade was “anarchy in the exchange of products.” He joined Rich
ard Trevellick and Social Gospel preacher Reverend L. Morgan Wood in
speaking on behalf of Mayor Pingree in his 1893 campaign. When William
Jennings Bryan fought an anti-imperialism campaign against McKinley in
1900, Labadie considered stumping for him. Tucker and Liberty's “plumb
line” anarchists were horrified at his compromise with the ballot. Tucker
caustically pointed out that with Labadie campaigning for him, Bryan's
chance of election would be diminished. 25
Faced with heavy topics and the requirement to study them, some
Social Science Club members lost interest and stopped paying their dues.
The group disbanded in 1897 and was quickly replaced by the Qui Vive
Club, featuring judges, doctors, professors, and legislators as speakers.
Meeting in Bamlet Hall at Grand River and Rowland Street every Mon
day evening, its objectives were to discuss questions of the day, promote
truth, justice, and liberty, encourage tolerance for the opinions of others,
and “cement members in bonds of fellowship.” Dues were four dollars a
year. Chainnan Labadie advertised the club as “no ritual, no flummery; no
flapdoodleism.. .. Just trying to get at the truth.” At his insistence, women
were now eligible and could “talk and smoke and swear and put their feet
upon the chairs” just like the men. 26
Even at the classier clubs, attended by society ladies and the elite, it
became fashionable to invite Labadie and other radicals to speak. He told
Liberty readers his reception was always “most respectful. .. and cordial.”
By 1895, trustees of the progressive Plymouth Congregational Church had a
change of heart and invited Labadie to give the lecture on anarchism they had
canceled three years before. Although the Detroit Evening Press suggested
the church be draped with red bunting while it aired “this poisonous mental
disease,” sixty parishioners showed up on December 23 to hear Labadie
deliver an hour-long disquisition on the ideas of Spencer, Warren, Tucker,
Proudhon, Kropotkin, and, of course, Labadie. He explained that anarchism


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was “a purely negative philosophy,” with “no cut and dried rules for the
guidance of society outside of that embraced in the word liberty.” He com
pared the Christian ideal to the anarchistic ideal; both envisioned a perfect
society where prisons and other restrictive institutions would wither away.
The audience listened attentively and Labadie recorded that his address
received “hearty applause.” 27
Working closely with Labadie in several of his discussion club ven
tures was John Shillady, a traveling salesman in millinery, then in his early
twenties. He became a protege of sorts and was elected Qui Vive president
in 1897. Over the next twenty years, he aimed a barrage of letters at his
Detroit friend, some two hundred in all, from various hotels. As a New York
social worker in 1918, he was hired by the ten-year-old National Associ
ation for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as its executive
secretary. Like most of the organization's early officers, Shillady was white.
He participated in an intensive anti-lynching drive in 1918, and the follow
ing year in Texas was attacked and severely beaten by what the local deputy
sheriff called “red-blooded white men.” The attack left him psychologically
unable to continue his duties, and he resigned in 1920. 28
Shillady's attraction to the middle-aged Detroit radical was doubtless
deepened by Labadie's outspoken hatred of race prejudice, a not-so-com-
mon phenomenon even in labor and refonn movements. Although blacks
had joined the Knights of Labor nationwide in numbers approximately
equal to their share of the total population, they were commonly organized
into “colored locals,” and Terence Powderly tolerated discriminatory prac
tices in fear of alienating Southern Knights. By the late 1890s, Gompers,
too, refused to fight Jim Crow unionism because trade unions might shun
the AFL if forced to eliminate discrimination. 29
By his own testimony, Labadie challenged segregated unionism,
organized black workers, fought to get their jobs back when they were
discharged for racial reasons, served as pallbearer for a black shoemaker,
and considered a black “Mammy” one of his best friends. He was unusual
in his frequency of association with blacks, who in 1894 represented less
than 1 percent of the state's inhabitants. Wayne County, which included
Detroit, had only 4,150 blacks, most of them descendants of escaped slaves.
Excluded from most industrial jobs, they had been denied schooling with
white children until 1869 and only pennitted to vote since 1870. 30
By the standards of the period, Labadie was devoid of bigotry. Yet
he held the view that blacks were “down on organized labor,” a common
belief among unionists, especially because they were often recruited as


A Humbling Job
197
strikebreakers. He also betrayed a certain patronizing quality, reflective of
the times, in a story he told of coining upon a black teamster, overcome
by the heat, sitting on the curb. A crowd of people had collected, gawking,
yet no one moved to help. Labadie rubbed alcohol on his head, washed his
face with cold water, and, when the man had recovered, helped him on his
wagon. A classic Good Samaritan act, one would conclude, until his con
cluding remark: “I felt no humiliation.” 31
Soon after Michigan troops left for Cuba after the outbreak of the
“splendid little” Spanish-American War in 1898, which ushered in the era
of American imperialism, the Labadies finally had their third child, a son.
Sophie was forty-seven; Jo, forty-eight. They named him Laurance Cleop-
his, after Sophie's mother and Jo's father. Sophie wanted to consecrate him
“to the service of God” and asked her childhood priest to pray that Laurance
would become “A worker in God's vineyard.” Consistent with Jo's beliefs,
however, Laurance was allowed the utmost freedom. His parents never told
him “do this” or “do that.” 32 As a result, he did pretty much what he liked
throughout life and bitterly disappointed both parents. Yet it was Laurance
Labadie who, after his father's death, harbored the flickering flame of indi
vidualist anarchism and carried it into the modem age.



199
k 15 k
You who pretended friendship and hurt my heart with
insult;
You who loved me with a wealth of words and hated me
in your heart; . . .
Think you I clutter my heart with trashy hate and gloat in
it? . . .
Think you I do not know that more than ever you need
the good that I can do? . . .
Unload yourselves, beloved ones! . . .
I'm wistfully waiting word from you that all is well.
From "To Those Who Have Done Me Hurt,”
Sing Songs and Some That Don't
In 1897, the infamous Emma Goldman, co-conspirator
and lover of would-be assassin Alexander Berkman, arrived in Detroit.
Denounced in the press as a monster and a menace, the “Anarchist Queen”
was on a cross-country lecture tour preaching Kropotkin-style coimnunist
anarchism and “free love.” Her tour was hugely successful. The sensation
alism surrounding her, the sarcastic, “sledgehammer” speaking style and
inflammatory topics, plus the exciting possibility that police would break
up the meeting, guaranteed large audiences. 1
Berkman was now incarcerated in a Pennsylvania prison, serving
fourteen years for his attempt to assassinate Henry Clay Frick. Goldman
had not been implicated as his accomplice. In the intervening five years, she
had developed into a skilled agitator and orator, an organizer of mass meet
ings and hunger demonstrations, and had served a year in the penitentiary
for “inciting to riot.” 2 In a few years, she was to become the leading figure in


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the American anarchist movement. Robert Reitzel, the Gennan anarchist
and editor in Detroit, bedridden with spinal tuberculosis and near death, had
invited his dear friend Goldman to appear before the city's Central Labor
Union. She would speak to this organization of Gennan-bom workers at its
annual November 11 Haymarket memorial meeting.
Although the young Goldman was a Johann Most protege, Labadie
must have greeted the arrival of America's most renowned anarchist with as
much anticipation as he had the visit of Most fourteen years before. Rever
end H. S. McCowan, the young pastor of the Plymouth Tabernacle, where
Labadie had lectured on anarchism two years before, told Labadie and Rob
ert Ogg that he was eager to “take in the spirit of the whole affair.’’ The three
agreed to attend together. Like his predecessor, Reverend L. Morgan Wood,
McGowan was caught up in the Social Gospel movement, detennined to
keep abreast of all manner of social-refonn efforts. New in the post, he
already had invited trade unionists to discuss social and economic questions
at the Friday evening prayer meetings. Only the week before, the prominent
Christian Socialist George D. Herron had spoken to the congregation. 3
When the three arrived, they were disappointed to learn that Goldman
was going to speak in Gennan, which she had learned in her childhood as
a Lithuanian Jew, and which none of them understood. Turner Hall was
packed, the audience soon intent on the dramatic oratory of the fiery twen
ty-eight-year-old revolutionist. Small of stature, she looked ahnost girlish
in her shirtwaist, except for hair severely knotted in back, penetrating blue
eyes, and her signature pince-nez hanging on a cord. The Socialist Maenner-
chor (men's singing group) had refused to perfonn for an anarchist, but it
was replaced by a children's chorus and the reading of a revolutionary poem
honoring the Chicago martyrs. 4
When Goldman learned the forty-seven-year-old Labadie, a comrade
of sorts, was in the audience, she had him sent for and asked him to arrange
a Detroit appearance for her in English. McCowan wanted to have her at
the Tabernacle. Labadie took him to meet Goldman. Surprised to learn that
she would be speaking from a pulpit, Goldman joked that she might “roast’’
McCowan in his own church. He said he could take it, she was free to say
what she liked. He expected his parishioners, as good Christians, to be char
itable to her. 5
When word got out of this invitation, the papers reacted with sen
sational headlines, as Goldman remembered it: free lover in a Detroit
PULPIT—CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH TO BE TURNED INTO HOTBED OF ANAR
CHY and free love. There were warnings of a revolt by church members.


Jabs from Right and Left
201
Although Goldman delighted in mocking religion, she offered McCowan
a chance to renege. He said he was detennined to uphold free expression.
The meeting duly took place on November 19, 1897. Initially, the audi
ence of 1,500 listened respectfully while Goldman explained the “economic
side of anarchism,” avoiding religious and sexual matters out of concern
for the pastor. But once the questions began, she pulled no punches. If God
existed, he had botched the job. It was commendable to kill the Russian czar
although not an “ineffectual” American president. The right to love whom
ever one pleased should replace the coercion of marriage laws. 6
The congregation erupted in shocked outrage, Goldman recorded.
Press accounts tenned it a “lurid spectacle.” The resulting uproar became
national news. Famous agnostic orator Robert G. Ingersoll proclaimed all
anarchists insane and called McCowan foolish for letting one share his pul
pit. Some parishioners complained that the sanctity of the church had been
violated. Three deacons resigned and church trustees censured McCowan.
Goldman, in her autobiography written many years later, claimed McCowan
resigned and ended up preaching in a mining town; for his part, Labadie
reported at the time that only eleven people left the church and the pastor
was expecting an increase in membership. 7
An admirer of forceful and outspoken women, Labadie found Gold
man's frankness refreshing, as he wrote in the Detroit Sentinel. He com
mended her audacity in denouncing “usurers . . . land grabbers . . . profit
mongers face to face,” for exposing hypocrisy and bringing bigots out into
the open. He credited her with staying away from “the marriage question”
until asked by a parishioner, and having only good words to say of Christ. 8
A “very interesting person indeed,” Labadie pronounced her, gener
ous, knowledgeable, and engaged in valuable work. But he disagreed with
her philosophically and probably squinned in the face of her enthusiasm for
sexual liberation and view of marriage as a fonn of prostitution. Labadie
objected to coercion in all human relationships, but as a devoted husband
and family man, he chose not to embroil himself in the “free love” crusade.
He also acknowledged that Goldman was not his “ideal woman,” and that he
found her “as naive as a child.” It is amusing to note that Goldman criticized
Kropotkin for his naivete, and that many made the same comment about
Labadie himself. 9
Goldman soon proved the accuracy of Labadie's judgment of naivete.
After self-professed anarchist Leon Czolgosz shot President McKinley in
Buffalo on September 6, 1901, she passionately rushed to the assassin's
defense. The country was hysterical over the murder, yet she idealized the


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All-American Anarchist
unstable twenty-eight-year-old as a hero with a “beautiful soul.” By then
opposed to violence, she did not uphold his act, yet said she sympathized
with “the poor unfortunate”—as she did also with the dying McKinley,
whom she offered to nurse. Goldman was enraged when the majority of
American anarchists, who now deplored such acts of violence, insisted that
Czolgosz was simply mentally ill and totally ignorant of their philosophy.
Even Johann Most and Lucy Parsons, Albert Parsons's widow, condemned
the assassination. When Berkman wrote Goldman from prison that the
deed lacked “social necessity” compared to his own attempt against a true
“enemy of the people,” Goldman broke down in sobs. 10
Labadie, who joined in condemning the killing, was certain Czol
gosz was not an anarchist. Indeed, the assassin, bom in Detroit of Polish
immigrant parents, seemed to know little of anarchism except that one of
Goldman's lectures in Cleveland had thrilled him. He had followed her to
Chicago, but behaved so strangely there that her comrades put out word that
he was a spy. Doctors later concluded he was delusional, if not insane. But
Goldman, like her fonner teacher Most, was a romantic rebel, tuned to the
voice of feeling, not of reason. That she was damaging the entire anarchist
movement by expressing sympathy for a terrorist, that radicals everywhere
were in danger of being arrested or set upon by mobs, that she herself might
be imprisoned did not deter her. Perhaps her emotional reaction was a fonn
of misplaced matemalism. The “poor boy, condemned and deserted by all”
must be taken under her protective wing. The “poor boy,” in fact, was only
four years her junior. 11
The public, still reeling from the inflammatory publicity generated by
the series of violent acts involving anarchists—the 1886 Haymarket bomb
ing, the attack on Prick in 1892, and the wave of European assassinations at
the end of the century—was once again plagued with fear and wrath, more
convinced than ever that anarchism and terrorism went hand-in-hand. The
assassin was thought to be the harbinger of a widespread anarchist conspir
acy. The courageous, but impolitic, stand of anarchism's self-styled high
priestess reinforced the apprehension. There were rumors that Czolgosz had
acted as an agent of Kropotkin and Goldman. The new president, Theodore
Roosevelt, dealt with the peril in his first message to Congress. He called
for a war “not only against anarchists, but against all active and passive
sympathizers with anarchists,” all of whom were “morally accessory to
murder before the fact.” The anti-anarchist immigration legislation enacted
in 1903, the first statute in United States history to exclude persons from
entering the country because of their political beliefs, would not, however,


Jabs from Right and Left
203
have applied to the Detroit-born Czolgosz. It also did not distinguish
between the philosophical anarchists like Labadie and those who advo
cated terrorism. Goldman and Berkman were deported in 1919 under this
legislation. 12
Despite Labadie's doubts about Goldman's modus operandi, he con
tinued to support and defend her and to praise her self-sacrifice and courage
in protesting social wrongs. He even compared her to Christ as “the butt
for the ridicule, vituperation and brutality of every upholder of things as
they are’’ in a letter to the Windsor Record. During the nearly three decades
that she outraged the nation, no woman was more hounded and vilified. As
antagonism to Goldman's message grew, police increasingly suppressed her
lectures and were in turn denounced by free-speech advocates throughout
the nation. 13
When police prevented her from addressing Detroit's Central Labor
Union in 1907, Labadie protested in the Detroit News that the police action
not only deprived Goldman of her right to speak, but also violated the rights
of hundreds of citizens who wanted to hear her. What especially shamed
him, he wrote, was that he had bragged to comrades in more repressive cit
ies that Detroit's police force was humane and liberal. Following Labadie's
lead, the Detroit Federation of Labor declared the police conduct a men
ace to free speech. To the conservative Windsor Evening Record, however,
Labadie was a “paradox,” seemingly mild-mannered, yet ready to listen
“with infantile enjoyment to the murderous fulminations of this hyena.” 14
As the century came to a close, the labor movement in Detroit con
tinued losing ground. The depression of the 1890s was over and prosperity
shone on the horizon. The new generation of labor leaders was increas
ingly leery of anything that smacked of radicalism and did not attend labor
reform discussions by such speakers as Christian socialist George D. Her
ron, not to mention radicals like Goldman. With most union organizers
confining themselves to the narrowest of economic aims, and little worker
enthusiasm for the movement, the daily press stopped regular coverage of
labor news. 15
A last attempt was made to revive the labor press. The Building
Trades Council, undeterred by the failure of other labor papers, started up
the Detroit Sentinel as its official organ in May 1897, with Labadie as edi
tor. Naturally, he welcomed the new weekly as a bully pulpit, a stimulating
counterpoise to the water department ledgers of his workplace. Front-page
articles by American anarchists ran alongside science, fashion, and cooking
news. Department store ads jostled tributes to Thomas Jefferson (“Greatest of


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All-American Anarchist
all Democrats; Enemy of Centralized Power”), Herbert Spencer, and John
Stuart Mill. Labor news was augmented by columns promoting currency
and land reform, the single tax, and enfranchisement of the Chinese, as well
as Detroit's new Labor Exchange, where shirt collars, lamps, meal tickets,
honey, and salmon were being exchanged for other goods with no money
involved. 16
“Cranky Notions” again had a temporary home. Labadie lost no time
in hammering out his libertarian credo of untrammeled individual rights:
the right to enough of the earth's bounties to make a living, to own what one
produced, to exchange it without tariffs or the need for legal currency, to be
free from taxes, patent fees, compulsory schooling, and laws concerning
moral, physical, or intellectual behavior. He still believed that as civiliza
tion progressed, greater individual freedom would come about by orderly,
peaceable means. He made clear, however, that he was not a Tolstoyan
non-resister and “there is a tune when a smash in the jaw is the most con
vincing of arguments.” 17
Complaints about the editorial slant were curiously ahnost nonexis
tent; the professional-looking paper lasted until May 1899. Labadie was
looked on as a good fellow, “not an Anarchist of the Anarchists, but an
Anarchist of his own kind.” 18 He was easy to tolerate now that his activ
ism was confined to the pen or groups like the Qui Vive Club, where civic
leaders grappled only conversationally with unemployment, state socialism,
municipal reform, taxation, and the boycott. He was not lumped in with the
Goldman-Most contingent.
Public expression of anti-anarchist vitriol was markedly lower in
Detroit than in most of the nation. Among the handful of journals that
rejected the popular hysteria was the Detroit News, not surprisingly, since
Labadie was its former reporter and had many friends among its staffers. 19
Nevertheless, Labadie did not entirely escape the long-lasting McKinley
assassination backlash that had driven many anarchists underground.
Detroit's first attempt to repress Labadie's right of free speech occurred
in April 1908, when he began adorning his letters with little anarchist stick
ers purchased from Tucker. Quotations he pasted on the envelopes included
sentiments by George Bernard Shaw (“Liberty means responsibility. That
is why most men dread it.”), Lao-Tze (“The more mandates and laws are
enacted the more there will be thieves and robbers.”), and Spencer (“The
ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world
with fools.”). When this new mode of anarchist advertising came to the
attention of Post Office Inspector J. J. Lannour, he pronounced the thoughts


Jabs from Right and Left
205
“bloodthirsty,” and unmailable. Labadie was told he could complain to
Washington if he liked. 20
The inspector vastly underestimated public support for “harmless
Joe.” Newspapers rallied to his defense and ridiculed “sleuth Lannour.” “are
we to have a press censorship?” the Detroit Journal challenged, accus
ing postal authorities of “seeking despotic power” and “some new bogey
to scare ourselves with.” Labadie reveled in the attention. He wrote Tucker
that nearly all the townspeople were “in a glorious state of excitement.”
Confidently, he continued gluing the slogans on his letters. He gloated that
the papers were printing excerpts from his pamphlet, “Anarchism, What It
Is and What It Is Not,” because it was contained in the envelopes. “They are
doing more to disseminate Anarchy than we are,” he crowed. Labadie also
got support from his friend Eugene Debs, leader of the Socialist party, then
numbering 41,000 dues-paying members. Debs wrote Labadie he could
count on him to join the fight if things became serious, but he viewed the
flap in a positive light because it gave Labadie “fresh credentials.” 21
Response to the stickers incident was mild compared to the sensa
tion in Detroit in May when another unwitting bureaucrat, Water Board
Commissioner James Pound, a former trade unionist and supposed friend,
insisted that Labadie be fired from his $70-a-month job at the water board.
“I am teetotally opposed to an employee of this department, enjoying
municipal pap, who attacks the government,” Pound declared with what
the Detroit News described as “a red, white and blue glare.” He argued that
it brought the water board notoriety to have an employee whose mail was
being stopped and who did not believe in property rights. Labadie (a hnn
supporter of property rights) expressed surprise at Pound's remarks, but he
told the reporter playfully he welcomed the “advertising .. . just when this
post office trouble was being forgotten.... Persecution keeps us going.” 22
Two weeks later, water board officials had to reinstate Labadie after
being swamped with a deluge of letters, petitions, telephone calls, and per
sonal visits on his behalf. The case was the talk of the town; the papers
were full of the affair for weeks. Pound was widely labeled an “ass” and
lampooned in newspaper cartoons. Some called for his resignation. Labadie
found he had powerful friends in town. Clothing store magnate J. L. Hud
son, phannaceutical manufacturer J. F. Ingram, leather factory owner Carl
E. Schmidt, and the Bishop of Michigan, Charles D. Williams, signed peti
tions for his reinstatement. “One would think this was a question of national
importance by the way they're coming at us,” complained one water board
coimnissioner. In the decision to rehire Labadie, the three Republicans on


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All-American Anarchist
the board overrode the two Democrats who wanted him out. Years later the
Detroit News reminisced that “to hear the conversations on the streets, a
stranger might have thought Detroit the world capital of anarchism.’’ 23
Labadie chose not to say a word in his own defense. Touched by the
outpouring of indignation over his discharge, he wanted to convince himself
that he was admired as a prophetic voice, not merely an engaging person
ality. “May it not be that my tactics have won the day?’’ he suggested to
Tucker. “I have not been asleep in this community ... everywhere ... I have
been persistently, kindly, and practically trying to show what Anarchy is and
its practicability here and now.... Maybe it DID do good.’’ 24 He could not,
or preferred not to, recognize that he was regarded mainly as a harmless fif
ty-eight-year-old “parlor anarchist’’ of eccentric ideas, a charming character
who strolled picturesquely through town in flowing necktie, goatee, and
Buffalo Bill slouch hat and disturbed no one's peace of mind.
Ironically, the affair was for him the most gratifying of his life. His
finest moment, when he courageously denounced Powderly and defended
the Haymarket martyrs two decades earlier had brought him bitter denunci
ation. This time, he could sit back cahnly and relish his admiring support
ers. It was delicious to have one's persecutors publicly proclaimed fools. It
was “glorious,’’ this “Anarchist war.’’ 25
Tucker told Labadie he was holding up publication of Liberty to await
newspaper clippings of the controversy, but his own fortunes were in peril.
Fire had wiped out his printing office and storeroom in New York City,
destroying an estimated $10,000 worth of anarchist literature and nearly all
his publishing plates. He had no insurance, an omission Labadie tactlessly
termed “inexcusable carelessness.’’ Tucker was eager to make contact with
a wealthy friend of Labadie's, since he astutely perceived that “a few rich
men will come in handy.’’ Further jeopardizing his financial status was the
fact that his “sweetheart,’’ Pearl Johnson, twenty-five years his junior, the
daughter of a free-thought lecturer and the manager of Tucker's book shop,
was expecting their baby. After the birth, they were going to pull up stakes
and move to Paris. 26
In advising Labadie of his devastating loss, Tucker was unemotional,
even casual. It was not like him to betray whatever anguish he felt. An aristo-
cratic-like reticence that came across as coldness of spirit was the image he
habitually cloaked himself in. A friend of Labadie's who dropped in at Benj.
R. Tucker's Unique Book-Shop on Sixth Avenue after the fire described its
proprietor as repellently self-absorbed and “cold-blooded,” with a hollow
“candy-apple smile.” 27


Jabs from Right and Left
207
Labadie was appalled by Tucker's impending departure. How could
he abandon the movement he had dominated for nearly thirty years? Who
was competent to take his place? Tucker assured him he was not giving up.
Another copy of Liberty was iimninent; thereafter he would issue it from
Europe. Water would be no barrier to furthering the cause. Labadie, how
ever, was becoming disenchanted with his hero, especially after Tucker lost
one of Sophie's precious scrapbooks of clippings and then tried to squirm
out of responsibility. When Labadie wrote that he was sick over Tucker's
carelessness, Tucker argued that if his memory was deteriorating with age,
he should be pitied, not blamed. “Yet you are ‘genial Joe' and I am ‘that
brute of a Tucker',’’ he complained. 28
Tucker, Pearl Johnson, and their baby daughter, Oriole, moved to
France at the end of 1908 as planned, never to return. Along with the scrap
book, Tucker also had misplaced the newspaper clippings concerning the
anarchist stickers. He never published the promised issue of Liberty, which
was to expose the attempt to censor Labadie's envelopes, nor, indeed, any
further issues. He simply abdicated his post as chief promoter of individualist
anarchism. Perhaps, at the age of fifty-four, Tucker was exhausted by his long
effort. Government was, if anything, bigger than ever. Gripped by pessimism,
the once-aggressive anarchist advocate no longer believed the anarchist solu
tion of free competition could destroy the might of the huge monopolies that
had developed. Like so many others, he seemed to have lost faith in a move
ment that had become sterile and hide-bound and was going nowhere. 29
Without the “pope's’’ dogma (and dogmatism) as stimulus, the lit
tle band of anarchist disciples who had not already fallen out with Tucker
looked elsewhere for salvation. There had never been much they could do to
hasten the hoped-for non-violent evolution to anarchism except disseminate
its precepts. Those who were action-oriented now turned to other, more
practical movements. “How dead the movement seems now,’’ Labadie wrote
Tucker soon after he arrived in Europe. Three years earlier, in 1906, he had
reported forty “Russians, Jews, and Germans’’ claiming to be anarchists
in Detroit's Liberty Club. Only Labadie still called himself one. By 1910,
Carl Nold, a Detroit anarchist who had been imprisoned for complicity with
Berkman in the attack on Frick, considered Emma Goldman and Ben Reit-
man, her then comrade-lover, the only two remaining anarchists of any sig
nificance. (He ignored Berkman, released from prison in 1906 after serving
fourteen years, who had taken over editorship of Goldman's Mother Earth.)
“We are no longer in it,’’ he lamented to Labadie. Johann Most had died in
1906, a bitter sixty-year-old, overtaken by Goldman, his fonner protege. 30


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All-American Anarchist
The damage Czolgosz had done the anarchist cause forever rankled
Labadie. Years after the assassin was executed in the electric chair—his
head then sliced open to look for signs of insanity, his body dissolved in a
bath of sulfuric acid—the argument over him raged on. Annoyed that some
persisted in adulating a “common murderer,” Labadie determined to settle
the matter once and for all. He recalled that former Illinois Governor John
Peter Altgeld, who in 1893 earned the reverence of radicals (and commit
ted political suicide) by pardoning the remaining Haymarket prisoners, had
maintained Czolgosz was not an anarchist and had never subscribed to the
cause. He asked Altgeld the source of his information and was referred to
Clarence Darrow, who had represented the first anarchist deported under the
new iimnigration law. Through Darrow, Labadie got in touch with the city
clerk in Cleveland, who verified that Czolgosz was a registered Republican
and had voted in the Republican primaries for years. Labadie offered this
as “proof' that Czolgosz could not have been an anarchist, conveniently
forgetting that he himself had supported Cleveland and Bryan, although
perhaps not actually voting for them. 31
Goldman erupted in fury when she read Labadie's “ravings” in the
Firebrand, an anarchist periodical, in 1909. Her contempt was unbounded.
She sneered that he was “stupid,” “superficial,” and “getting old.” She dis
missed him as one of those in “snug, bourgeois positions, making of our
propaganda, not a life issue, but a mere pleasant pastime that costs noth
ing.” Czolgosz may have voted the Republican ticket, but she knew that he
belonged to the SLP. Even if he was not an anarchist, he had the right to
resist invasion, and McKinley “was the father of American invasion against
all liberty.” Moreover, Czolgosz was “the most pathetic and dramatic figure
in revolutionary history. . . . Not since the death of Christ was a man so
absolutely forsaken by foe and friend.” 32
It was Goldman's habit to vilify and belittle others and quickly forget
about it. She had a “genius for hurting people,” Berkman said. A year later,
the attack was out of mind and she did not hesitate to approach Labadie to
sell tickets for her 1911 Detroit lecture series and raise money for an ailing
comrade. Labadie took the opportunity to accuse her of being “boorish,,
discourteous, and unjust.” He questioned why it was necessary “to spit fire
at every one one meets, especially at those who have grown gray in the
movement and... stood faithfully by their guns, even long before you knew
there was a social movement.” 33 Goldman was not in the least dismayed.
She purported to be baffled as to why her brutal frankness had wounded
Labadie. Since he believed in free speech, why should he be angry with her


Jabs from Right and Left
209
for expressing her opinions? “I am so glad i [sic] gave you an opportunity to
get rid of your gall.. . Old Man,” she twitted, then shamelessly asked him
to arrange another lecture. 34
Others' opinions of her mattered little to Goldman; she had no use for
social diplomacy. “I do not consider myself at fault when people speak ill of
me,” she once told Labadie, “nor do I think myself virtues [sic] if they say
kind things. In either case they are following their own desires, why should I
then express thanks, or sorrow.” 35 As the front-line general, she felt justified
in riding roughshod over all who did not meet her standards of activism and
purity of principles.
But “Red Emma” brought dynamism and glamour to an otherwise fal
tering movement. Her controversial persona was ever in the public eye, ral
lying both American and foreign-bom leftists to her cause. She succeeded
in bringing her own brand of non-violent communist anarchism, strongly
colored by overtones of the individualist anarchist wing espoused by Laba
die, into the mainstream of American life. When she was thrown out of
the country after the world war, the lifeblood was drained from American
anarchism and it was reduced to yesterday's dream. 36
Soon the anarchist press was dead. The repressive anti-anarchist laws
had silenced many old-time radicals. Communism was becoming the new
bogeyman. By 1923, Labadie began to think of himself as America's only
remaining anarchist. “It seems I am pretty well alone in the movement,” he
mused sadly to Tucker, far away on the Riviera. 37 It was close enough to the
truth to dishearten the seventy-three-year-old.



211
~k 16 ~k
A MUVvot^S
Patron
Far from the crazy city's shite.
Away from its wretchedness and woe,
I cogitate for a saner life
And hopefully dream in the ingle's glow.
Introduction to “Songs of the Spoiled," 1922
Frustrated in his other efforts yet still driven by passionate
yearnings to be heard, Labadie turned to verse at age fifty. It was fitting. For
most of his life, his practical side dominated, but by nature he was a roman
tic. From 1900 to 1920, he composed more than five hundred poems. Their
quality was uneven, but they were widely printed in the daily press as well
as in radical journals. 1 Fie attempted all manner of styles. At his most liter
ary, he emulated Walt Whitman's wild and impassioned free verse. Fie also
favored sing-song rhymes like the sentimental and well-known ditties of his
fellow Detroiter and friend, Edgar Guest. In tribute to the “common man,’’
he indulged in homespun vernacular pieces (“An when he got hiz skinny
pay/Fle guv it all fer fambly needs”), a type popularized by Joel Chandler
Harris in his Uncle Remus stories and Mark Twain. His love of alliteration
reminded one critic of the early English “Piers Plowman,” but it could carry
him to such abominations as “The millions of moiling, maudlin men/Mean
in mawkish meekness to a merciless monarch.” 2
The struggle for social justice inspired most of the poems. Labadie
addressed his “doggerel” to the underdog, the wage worker, the hired hand,
the washerwoman. He reviled “the idle rich,” the Russian czar, the coal
baron, and the politician. He implored workers to unite, to strike, and to
buy union-made cigars. His tender side produced love poems, lullabies,
and tributes to friendship. Sometimes he dreamed of the wild woods, of a


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kiss, of “A'Floating Down the Manistee.” Among his paeans to liberty, free
speech, and equal rights was a glorification of the self, the ego, the “I.”
The influence of the champions of individualism—Whitman, Emerson, and
Thoreau—was clear.
Critical judgments were mixed. Benjamin Tucker, admitting to a
prejudice against the “Whitmanian no-fonn,” declined to publish Labadie's
poetry in Liberty or even offer helpful criticism. H. L Mencken, a libertarian
himself, told a friend, “Say what you will, Labadie has the gift. Who has
ever written nobler American?” Proletarian author and editor Jack Conroy
credited Labadie with the ability to “transmute the dross of the workaday
world into the pure gold of poetry.” He compared some poems with “the
best efforts of Whitman.” Another objected that his propaganda poems were
“brutal” and made him sound angry. 3 Although often rough-hewn, his out
put briimned with vitality and sincerity, and included some poetic gems.
Labadie often disparaged his verse as “bum stuff.” Yet he bragged to
Tucker in 1923 that it had brought in more than $3,000. He was keen on
its propaganda value. Poetry had a regular place in the popular press of the
time; printed verses often were clipped and pasted into scrapbooks. Laba
die chose the doggerel style with an eye to reaching a wider audience. He
yearned to be included in an anthology, and he lived to see it happen. 4
In the spirit of British utopian socialist William Morris's nineteenth-
century handicraft movement, Labadie bought an old printing setup like
those he had worked on in his tramp printing days and around 1906 began
publishing unique and artistic booklets of his verse at home. The archaic
Washington Jobber press on which he painstakingly hand-set the type was
older than he was. Many of the hand-sized booklets were printed on statio
nery samples. Sophie bound them in covers made from wallpaper sample
books or scraps that others would find useless—of leather, linen, velvet,
even birch bark. They were hand-sewn and tied with leftover pieces of rib
bon. No two copies were alike. 5
Sales practices at the Labadie Shop at Fifteenth and Buchanan Streets
were as out of touch with the new age of mass production as its manufactur
ing methods. The booklets were made “principally for love,” their advertise
ments announced. They served as recreation from the “demnition grind” of
getting food and shelter. Those who wished to could pay what they chose.
Labadie soon discovered that most of the profit turned out to be in “love and
gratitude” only. To supplement his seventy-dollar monthly wages from the
water commission, Jo used the press for job printing, made leather handbags,
and created baskets from cardboard, old calendars, twigs, and raffia. Sophie


A Millionaire Patron
213
and the girls did their share by painting chinaware and doing fancy sewing. 6
In spirit, Labadie was a throwback to the early nineteenth century. His shop
symbolized his desire to return to the simpler, pre-industrialized world of
his childhood. His love affair with anarchism had a similar origin—a crav
ing to go back to the voluntary coimnunities of the Indians or the Old West,
when the individual seemed unfettered and self-sufficient.
Between 1910 and 1911, the little press was kept busy churning out
collections of his verse: Doggerel for the Under Dog, The Red Flag and
Other Verses, I Welcome Disorder What Is Love ? and Other Fancies, Work
shop Rimes, and a volume called Essays. Labadie also printed Jesus Was an
Anarchist by Elbert Hubbard, whose Roy crofters in East Aurora, New York,
were creating an American version of the British arts and crafts movement
and producing exquisite handmade books and furniture.
Throughout his life, Labadie never lacked prominent supporters in
Detroit's business and civic community. One of the influential leaders who
forced the water board to reinstate him in 1908 was millionaire tanner, civic
leader, and philanthropist, Carl E. Schmidt. Soon afterward, Schmidt began
contributing leather for the handbags and bindings, in tune becoming a lav
ish benefactor. In accepting the leather scraps, Labadie quipped, he salved
Schmidt's conscience and saved him the trouble of disposing of the leather
commercially instead of for love and friendship.
Schmidt, six years Labadie's junior, was a curious patron. A lead
ing Republican, he had served in various positions during Hazen Pingree's
terms as mayor and governor. He fancied himself something of an anar
chist, to the extent that he wanted a hands-off government. Fond of social
rebels, he sought out the friendship of criminal lawyer Clarence Darrow, a
Tolstoyian non-resister and libertarian, and Socialist party leader Eugene
Debs, as well as the iconoclastic Detroit anarchist Robert Reitzel, the most
famous radical in the German community. 7 As tune went by, a strange,
symbiotic relationship developed between this rich and powerful capitalist,
whose every venture prospered, and Labadie, the radical struggling to get
by. Schmidt became Labadie's friend as well as benefactor, and sustained
him in his later years.
Schimdt was no self-made man. He inherited vast wealth and a pros
perous leather-tanning business from his father, Traugott Schmidt. Bom in
Detroit but educated in Germany, the son maintained close ties to Detroit's
German community and its many leftists. Labadie encountered this “Amer
ican Midas’’ at Alt Heidelberg and at Conrad Beutler's famous tavern in
the Randolph Hotel, which was frequented by anarchists Carl Nold, Tobias


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Sigel (a promoter of Esperanto), Reitzel, and, when she was in town, Emma
Goldman. 8
As a staunch defender of civil liberties, Schmidt had taken the lead
in the campaign to protect Labadie from the water commission. The story
as told by Agnes Inglis goes that he told the water board he would have no
objections if they were discharging Labadie because of poor work, but if
it was on account of his opinions, “I shall see to it that the right to do so
is taken away from you, and, gentlemen, I guess you know I can do it.”
Later, when the police threatened to bar Eimna Goldman from speaking in
Detroit in 1910, Labadie persuaded Schmidt to intercede with the police
coimnissioner, although Schmidt was no Goldman enthusiast. This female
firebrand was in character when she reciprocated by attacking the Detroit
radicals as “backsliders” because they did not attend her lectures, reserving
special contempt for Schmidt—“an ordinary exploiter” who pretended to
be a humanitarian. 9
In the first decades of the twentieth century, Detroit was rapidly
exploding into a booming “Motor City” and putting America on wheels.
Ransom E. Olds had begun turning out one or two “horseless carriages” a
day in his “Oldsmobile” factory on East Jefferson Street in 1899. By 1908,
Michigan's burgeoning automotive industry was producing 65,000 cars a
year, including the first Model Ts from Henry Ford's Highland Park assem
bly plant. Reports of the growing need for workers in the new mass produc
tion factories lured the skilled and unskilled from all over the country and
the world. Polish immigrants also came for jobs in cigar-making, the city's
fourth largest industry, eventually replacing Germans as Detroit's single
largest ethnic group. 10 The 1900 population of 285,000 had soared to nearly
a half million a decade later and reached 1,720,000 by 1930. Charming old
boulevards were widened to accoimnodate honking autos. Hordes of new
assembly-line workers jaimned the available housing. Old social patterns
were disrupted. Urban life was crowding Labadie, and he grew eager to
flee it.
As early as 1905, he had toyed with the idea of setting up a sort of
“art-craftsmen” colony like the ones springing up across America in reac
tion to the congestion of the modem metropolis. These utopian coimnunes,
tucked away in lovely sylvan settings, were populated by artists and artisans,
writers, dancers, actors, and leftists of all hues. Inspired by the medievalist
spirit of William Morris and John Ruskin, their denizens sought to escape the
machine age, go back to pre-industrial tunes, and create the perfect society in
microcosm. The settlers lived in rustic cottages and tried to earn their living


A Millionaire Patron
215
making practical and beautiful things by using the simple craftsmanship of
a bygone age.
Labadie saw some of these experimental colonies while visiting his
brother, Francis, in Philadelphia in 1905. He found the single-tax colony of
nearby Rose Valley, then four years old, “quaint and lovely,” bustling with
workshops producing handsome furniture and high-quality pottery. He con
sidered moving his family there, setting up shop, and supplementing their
income through lecture tours his brother, proprietor of the Labadie Lecture
and Amusement Bureau, would arrange. Friend Eugene Debs, who knew
the lecture game well, attempted to dissuade him. Since Labadie was neither
“a quack revivalist, or sensationalist or fantastic humbug,” his chances of
success were minimal, Debs counseled. In nearby Delaware, Labadie visited
Arden, another single-tax coimnunity. In this settlement of twelve unique
and artistic cottages, one could rent up to four acres and “live one's own life
in one's own way” for six dollars a year. He came home via East Aurora,
New York, so he could make the acquaintance of author and publisher Elbert
Hubbard and see his Roycrofters at work in their idyllic setting. 11
Despite the happy outcome of the water board affair, Labadie rec
ognized that an anarchist in a municipal clerkship always faced possible
dismissal. The establishment of the Labadie Shop in 1910 again prompted
him to dream of fonning a colony like Rose Valley. Schmidt decided to play
benefactor. He owned thousands of acres of once-poor land some two hun
dred miles north on Michigan's Lake Huron shore in Iosco County, where
he had developed a prosperous estate and built a vacation villa, Walhalla. He
deeded Labadie eighty acres of it. 12
Labadie's land, however, proved a disappointment to him. He knew
nothing of fanning nor how to start up a colony so far from his home.
Schmidt again came to the rescue. In 1912, he let Labadie choose a site more
suited to his abilities and desires. It turned out to be forty acres of fannland in
Wixom, about thirty-five miles from Detroit, near Kent Lake in Livingstone
County. 13 This bucolic spot, with meadows, rolling fields, brooks, bubbling
springs, lakes, and miles of woods, was a tranquil haven. The nearest neigh
bor was a half-mile away. The Labadies named it Bubbling Waters and began
spending their summers there, moving back to Detroit for the colder months.
Labadie was not embarrassed to accept the capitalist's largesse. Plu
tocrats should be allowed to unload their millions “as a means of squaring
themselves.” He maintained quite generously it was not their fault the system
allowed them to amass riches; they could then make partial restitution by
giving to the needy. For his part, he resolved not to ask Schmidt for favors,


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All-American Anarchist
and showed his appreciation by means of flattering poems and all manner
of testimonials to the nobility of his patron's character. 14
Just as he justified working for the government, since there was one,
he apparently had no quahns about owning two plots of land he could not
“occupy and use” at the same tune in apparent violation of the anarchist
canon. Never an anarchist purist, he excused these anomalies on the grounds
that anarchism represented the ideal society of the future; in the here and
now, it was necessary to accoimnodate oneself to what existed. “None of
us are really anarchists,” he rationalized, “only believers in anarchism,”
because there was no place in the world where its doctrines prevailed. 15
Full of optimism and enthusiasm for the new project, Labadie in 1913
gave up his job at the water works, which he had held through all the ups and
downs of the past two decades. With his teenage son, Laurance, he started
building simple wooden structures at Bubbling Waters—a cabin, bam, hen
house and outhouse. He intended to erect a group of rustic cabins for friends
and poor people who could not afford summer resorts. Sophie, who seems
to have entered enthusiastically into all of Jo's ventures, began cooking such
delights as acom bread, squirrel stew, woodchuck, rabbits, chipmunks, and
frogs, which Laurance caught (a delicacy selling in Detroit for forty to sixty
cents a dozen, with factory wages as little as $2.50 per day). They plowed
and planted seed. They found a plentiful supply of watercress in a spring
brook and drove it to market by horse and wagon.
Labadie's romantic flight from the city symbolized a return to nature.
Now he could work in his own tune and own way, not under an employ
er's thumb. But country life for a city family was harder than anticipated.
Hawks, owls, skunks, foxes, and weasels ate the chickens. A brood sow
Schmidt gave them ran wild. Their crops withered from lack of rain. What
with “poor seed, bugs, worms, varmints and droughts,” Labadie found the
lot of a fanner a frustrating one. 16
He was now in his mid sixties. His health was far from robust.
“Grippe,” pneumonia, rheumatism, lumbago, and other ailments laid him
low, sometimes for weeks at a time. He complained frequently of “disor
dered nerves,” without explaining the symptoms. With medicine as with
society, he turned to a radical remedy, the fasting cure and “no breakfast
plan” of Dr. Edward Hooker Dewey, of Pennsylvania. Labadie believed
most diseases were caused by gluttony, and that long fasts were the cure. On
one thirty-nine-day fast he lost twenty-eight pounds. Sophie and daughter
Laura also took up fasting under the care of Detroit homeopathic physician
and anarchist Dr. Urban Hartung. 17


A Millionaire Patron
217
Labadie's health nostrum involved him in a sensational episode. A
Boston friend, Frank Pickett, was eager to try the Dr. Dewey fasting cure,
and the Labadies invited him to take it in their home. For forty days, Pickett,
who was suffering from “catarrh of the stomach,’’ took nothing but hot dis
tilled water. The Detroit Times, reporting regularly on the regimen with ban
ner headlines, marveled that this appeared to “loosen the foul matter that his
stomach is drawing from all parts of his body’’ and enabled him to vomit it.
Dr. Dewey himself visited on the forty-fifth day, found the patient
“aglow with new life’’ and predicted that he would recover completely.
On the fifty-first day, Pickett inconveniently died, leaving behind a letter
absolving the Labadies of any responsibility for his chosen regimen. The
autopsy surgeons determined that he was suffering from chronic Bright's
disease (a kidney disorder) and that Pickett's stomach was several tunes
the normal size due to overeating. They also stated that he could have lived
another month without starving to death, and without fasting, he would have
died sooner. The Labadies were thus publicly exonerated and the Detroit
Times lauded them for their compassion. Undeterred by Pickett's demise,
they continued engaging in periodic long fasts. 18
Progress in setting up their Bubbling Waters retreat was slow. Money
was tight, but many well-wishers were happy to contribute their discards. The
Labadies, inveterate string savers and nail straighteners, threw nothing away.
The Detroit police coimnissioner “pensioned’’ an old horse, Blanche, to the
farm. Despite this assistance, Labadie was forced to sell a gift from another
wealthy admirer in order to buy lumber. It was a bungalow in Coral Gables,
Florida, which anarchist Flenry Bool, an Ithaca, New York, businessman,
had intended for Labadie's old age. Jo also had to return to his water depart
ment clerkship during the winter months, when the family lived together on
Buchanan Street to escape the unheated quarters at Bubbling Waters. 19
From the outset, however, Labadie's actor brothers were delighted
with Bubbling Waters. They found it an ideal spot to make movies.
Oliver, who had been touring in comedy farces and cabaret acts since
1899, and Hubert, known since the 1880s as an interpreter of Mephisto
in “Faust,’’ bought more than three hundred acres adjoining Jo's prop
erty, called it Labadie Island, and set up a film colony around 1914.
They began with one-reel comedies starring Henry Russell, a popu
lar Detroit comedian. The Three Bad Men, their first feature film in
1915, was produced with established Chicago filmmaker Harry F. Ross
and starred Oliver, Hubert, and scriptwriter L. Andrew Castle, with
Jo as leader of the pioneers and Blanche as his horse. When the wind


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All-American Anarchist
blew fiercely, a fanner's plowed field made a nice desert for the horsemen
to gallop over. They reined in at the “Wells Fargo office” of the Wild West
set erected by the Labadies on the shores of Kent Lake. 20
By 1921, the Labadie-Detroit Motion Picture Company was turning
out hve-and six-reelers and attracting some of the big Hollywood names to
Labadie Island. Such stars as Romaine Fielding, Mabel Taliafeno, Mildred
Harris (recently divorced from Charlie Chaplin), Percy Mannont, Frank
Mayo, and Cullen Landis could be seen lolling in Western apparel in the
picturesque surroundings, where they were housed in quaint log cabins and
fed at the Labadie brothers' BuckHom Hotel. 21
Labadie's dream of creating a utopian coimnunity at Bubbling Waters
never materialized. Of the twelve structures he eventually erected, most
were little huts intended to provide “poor devils” a country vacation. He
anticipated a cooperative enterprise, with everyone helping out in exchange
for free housing. Although this goal reflected Labadie's “beautiful heart and
soul,” commented Nina van Zandt, widow of the executed August Spies,
“you will have a splendid collection of bums, tramps, dead-beats and so on
living with you,” she correctly predicted. Visitors flocked to the locale, some
Sundays as many as forty-five. Woods and fields were filled with campers.
Eventually, Labadie had to admit that not all vacationers were imbued with
the cooperative spirit and began to charge rent for the cabins. 22
The printing press was moved from Detroit to the stone “Den,” where
he could run the Labadie Shop comfortably wanned by a great cobble
stone fireplace. A suitcase full of poems and essays stood ready to be put
into booklets, but fanning chores and the joys of outdoor living continu
ally seduced him. It was nearly ten years before he produced Songs of the
Spoiled, Sing Songs and Some That Don 7, Anarchism: Genuine and Asi
nine, and other 1920s collections of verse and prose. 23
A lavish conespondence with far-flung radicals emanated from Bub
bling Waters, but Labadie found no market for his essays. The last of his
“Cranky Notions” appeared in Ross Winn's Firebrand in 1910. Within a
few years, the nation's English-language anarchist press had virtually dis
appeared. Younger refonners were turning to Eugene Debs and his Socialist
party, the unifying center of Progressive-era leftists. Labadie's views were
too extreme for conservative publications and too out of step with radical
ones—to the extent that radical papers existed after the postmaster general
crushed those that criticized the war or the Allies. 24
He felt alone as an anarchist and isolated from the twentieth-century
labor movement. Only Samuel Gompers still solicited his articles for the


A Millionaire Patron
219
AFL's American Federationist. When labor papers rejected his contribu
tions on the grounds that he was behind the tunes, he responded angrily:
the movement could use more “mossbacks” in place of labor leaders who
exploited the movement for their own financial interests, “who eat the seed
rather than wait for the harvest when all can eat.” At the same time he was
lamenting the anarchist creed as a dying cause, he sadly watched Detroit's
union movement losing ground. The majority of wage earners worked in the
auto industry, automotive industrialists like Henry Ford wanted no part of
unions, and the high wages they paid discouraged unionism. By 1906, less
than 6 percent of the work force belonged to a union. Detroit was the least
unionized major city in America. 25
When Eugene Debs helped form the IWW in 1905, Labadie asked
him for information on the revolutionary new organization that hoped to
unionize whole industries and overthrow capitalism and had just set up a
Detroit local. Its promise of “One Big Union” of all workers—unskilled as
well as skilled—appeared to echo the ideals of the Knights of Labor. But the
IWW soon descended into factionalism, with those advocating “sabotage
and direct action” winning out. It set itself as a rival to the ALL, which the
IWW leadership viewed as elitist traitors to the working class. The IWW
sought to organize the least skilled and worst paid, those it viewed as vic
tims of exploitation by capitalist bosses, but its extremist, ends-justify-the-
means tactics were denounced by Debs himself, who left the group. 26
In 1913, buoyed by successful strikes just conducted among Law
rence, Massachusetts, textile workers and Paterson, New Jersey, silk work
ers, the “Wobblies,” as IWW members were popularly called, launched a
major Detroit autoworkers strike. Leaders mustered a walk-out of 3,500
non-unionized workers at a Studebaker plant and attempted to mobilize the
entire auto industry before being arrested. Henry Lord not only was deter
mined to keep unions out, but also, like other Detroit business and com
munity leaders, saw himself as a reformer. To stave off future organizing
efforts and assuage worker discontent, he quickly made a promise to pay
every worker the staggering sum of five dollars for an eight-hour day, more
than double the salary of his unskilled factory hands. This hve-dollar day
“profit-sharing plan” became the most famous labor-management reform
program in American history and shattered the hope of organizing his auto
workers. The IWW, meanwhile, could not maintain its momentum in the
auto industry. Wobblies continued to run a Detroit soup kitchen and over
night shelter known as the IWW Llop, but never represented more than a
few hundred Detroiters. Labadie did not join them. He was not lured by


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the IWW's rather muddy brand of anarcho-syndicalism, which called for
abolishing government and replacing it with union control of each industry.
Nevertheless, he spoke occasionally at IWW meetings and allowed that “if
these chaps had as much good sense as courage they in tune might do some
worthwhile thing.’’ 27
Nor could he ally himself with his longtime friend Debs, the tall, bald
ing founder of the Socialist party and its perennial presidential candidate.
They were enonnously fond of each other, but ideologically irreconcilable.
Labadie revered the evangelical refonner for “the sweetness of his charac
ter and loyalty to his principles,’’ as he wrote daughter, Charlotte, in 1912,
when she was about to nominate Debs in a mock presidential convention at
the University of Michigan. The election marked the high point of Socialist
party strength. Fifty-six cities had socialist mayors and Debs polled nearly
one million votes. Averring that Debs had “devoted his life to the cause of
his fellows,’’ Labadie nevertheless considered him an authoritarian, like all
socialists. On his side, Debs publicly equated anarchists with lawlessness
and sabotage. Yet he assured Labadie that he wanted no fights with anyone
who was opposed to capitalism, and wished to extend the old anarchist his
friendship “regardless of your philosophy or tactics for I know your great
heart is always dead right.’’ 28
It was unfortunate that Debs was ideologically on the wrong side of
Labadie's fence. Here, finally, was the hero of courage, commitment, and
compassion that Labadie had sought in Powderly and Tucker. Debs's whole
life was a fight for the underdog. Always opposed to force and violence,
he was described by those who knew him as kind, gentle, and brave. First
imprisoned in 1894 for defying a federal court injunction in the Pullman
strike, Debs was convicted under the Espionage Act in 1918 for speaking
out against the war. This draconian act prohibited, during wartime, “any dis
loyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive’’ language about the United States, or
its government, Constitution, anned forces, or flag, with possible imprison
ment of twenty years. He received a ten-year sentence. “Those who hound
you will be remembered only as the hounds who hounded you,’’ Labadie
predicted correctly in a 1920 letter. He assured Debs's brother, Theodore,
that “It is a mark of merit to have been imprisoned for love's sake, even tho
this love does include the whole human family.’’ Debs responded effusively
from prison, asking his brother to tell Labadie that “I have him in my arms
and can feel his great, loving heart beat next to mine.’’ 29
While in prison, Debs polled over a million votes during the 1920
presidential election, the highest level ever attained by a national socialist


A Millionaire Patron
221
candidate (although the electorate was greatly increased due to the enfran
chisement of women). He was released the following year, broken in health.
He died in 1926, aged seventy-one. Labadie kept Debs's picture hung prom
inently in his print shop, surrounded by the images of others who were
vilified and hounded but whom he was sure would be glorified in time. 30
Every year Jo and Sophie sojourned at Bubbling Waters from early
spring until the chill forced them back to the radiators and hot water of their
Detroit home. Sophie occasionally mailed boiled muskrats or other edible
wildlife to the two daughters and their younger brother in Detroit. Laur
ance spent summers helping his father build cabins and amusing himself
shooting rabbits and woodchucks, the girls coming out weekends when they
could get a ride.
Charlotte had graduated and was teaching school in Detroit. Laurance
was an undistinguished student at Cass Technical High School, under the
thumb of the domineering Laura, twelve years his senior. All three children
greatly loved and admired their father, yet none took after him. In contrast
to his hearty gregariousness, dynamism, and flair, they tended to withdraw
from society. They betrayed a certain wariness of the world outside the
parental doors. It was a curious development, inasmuch as Labadie was no
repressive patriarch, but granted his children the utmost freedom. 31
Laura never had a profession, nor married. She developed no liberal
interests and spent her life puttering around her childhood home. Charlotte,
possessed of Sophie's quiet, obliging disposition, also lived at home until
she married in her late thirties. Laurance, the indulged child of his parents'
middle age, fumed into something of a lost soul, constantly changing jobs,
unable to strike out on his own, suffused with a deep pessimism.
“Papa's dearly beloved boy’’ was the apple of his father's eye. Jo Laba
die hoped his only son would attain a high position in the world and exceed
what he considered his own meager accomplishments. At six, Laurance was
a beautiful child, with large dark eyes and foot-long blond corkscrew curls,
not unusual for boys in those days. He was pictured in a Detroit paper in
1904 as “The Boy Who Has Never Eaten Breakfast,” a flourishing example
of Labadie's health fad at the time. Labadie took Laurance along on speak
ing engagements and let him distribute anarchist literature. In 1911, when
the boy was thirteen, and Labadie sixty-one, they spent several glorious
months on a houseboat that his actor-brothers used as their base while giv
ing performances between Wisconsin and Louisiana. 32
Laurance became a machinist at seventeen, finishing high school in
Detroit at night. From his country retreat at Bubbling Waters, Labadie sent a


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Polonius-like barrage of advice and admonition to a son he was uneasy
about. Laurance should be a “manly man . . . fair and square . . . brave
without bravado . . . polite without obsequiousness.” He should be careful
not to lose his job or antagonize his co-workers or boss. It was a pity he did
not want to go into business or agriculture, where he could get away from
wage earning and “the dominion of others.” Yet he confessed that the day
his son left home to “battle with the world” would be for him “a day of
heartache and grief.” Labadie's anarchistic principle of live and let live was
quite overwhelmed by old-fashioned fatherly concern for a son who seemed
troubled and purposeless. 33
When nineteen-year-old Laurance entered the University of Michigan
in early 1918, his father was reassured. He hoped the boy would soon fig
ure out “the line of your endeavors,” but feared he might have to fight the
war first. Although Jo's sleep was disturbed by thoughts of a “murderously
insane” world in conflict, Laurance was thinking of enlisting. He thought
military discipline might be good for him. His father was appalled and
advised that for Laurance to become “a professional murderer... would be
the end of your mother as well as a great grief to us all.” 34 After one semester
of failing grades, Laurance dropped out. His ability to conform to require
ments of the classroom, not his intellect, was deficient. The rebellious spirit
that fired him, unlike his father's, was bitter and self-destructive, and he
lacked his father's impulse to compromise when necessary. When Labadie
received the dean's last warning about his son's failing performance, he
was crushed. “My heart was set on you as it has been on nothing else in
the world,” he reproached Laurance. He did not comprehend why his son
behaved in a way that led to “broken hearts and disaster” or what had dis
torted him and turned him from “the path of rectitude.” 35
Approaching seventy, Jo needed the support of his son, but Laurance
could not provide it. The elder Labadie felt his energies weakening and
his mood darkening. Rheumatism and lumbago made it difficult for him to
struggle with the unending farm chores. His “nerves” prevented him from
sleeping. He was tormented by the horrors of the war in which America was
engaged and the Wilson administration's savage repression of civil liberties
in the name of patriotism. The Federal Espionage Act of June 1917, and the
Sedition Act the following year, made it traitorous to speak for peace. The
“saturnalia” of American-style “Prussianisin'' was wiping out the radical
press, free speech, and individual rights, he wrote Henry Bool in England
in 1917. Letters were censored. Publications were suppressed. The doctrine
of hate was rampant. In such an insane world, he was losing interest in


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223
the future, he wrote. It was breeding in him a “pessimism that is dark and
foreboding, and I don't like to be pessimistic.’’ 36
In the patriotic mania, even Henry Ford was targeted. A bitter anti
war protester, the automotive king was accused of anarchism by the Chi
cago Tribune. He countered with a million-dollar libel suit. When it came
to trial in 1919, the Tribune called Labadie as an expert witness. After being
interrogated by its lawyers for a week, he was never put on the stand. He
also was never paid the promised $500 fee for travel and hotel expenses,
despite his direct appeal to Tribune publisher Robert McConnick to “do the
fair thing.’’ 37
Labadie had not heard from Benjamin Tucker for years, and missed
him acutely. No one else seemed so brilliant, so intellectually stimulating,
so on the mark. He craved Tucker's judgment of the world predicament.
He was told that Tucker “has burnt all his bridges and doesn't care to have
his old American friends to bother him.’’ When he learned that Tucker had
abandoned his pacifist, anti-government stand to become an enthusiastic
supporter of the Allies in the war against Gennany, he was shocked and
disappointed, as were most of the fonner anarchist icon's other old com
rades. Since Tucker did not answer his letters, Labadie asked Henry Bool
in England—where the Tucker family had taken refuge—if he could find
out why. In response to this inquiry, Tucker broke his six-year silence with
a terse note: “I favor the Allies because I pity the Belgian people, because
I admire the British influences that make for liberty, because I feel some
(though I regret to say a declining) concern for the future of the American
people, because I have a considerable sympathy for the people of Russia,
and because I hate and fear the Gennan people as a nation of domineering
brutes bent on turning the whole world into a police-ridden paradise on the
Prussian pattern.’’ When faced with “permanent annihilation of our liber
ties’’ at Gennany's hands, he was even willing to cooperate temporarily with
the state in such an “evil” as conscription, he wrote another friend. 38
Labadie was not. He spoke out against the war, even after peace talk
was deemed treasonous. Although he had always upheld the right of those
invaded to strike back, he viewed war as “a species of insanity’’ that never
brought lasting good to mankind, but served only as a lesson in the fruit
lessness of the rulership of man by man. In 1917, the local civil service
coimnission asked the water board to fire its anarchist clerk because he
refused to sign a loyalty pledge, but it refused to do so. Expecting (possibly
hoping) to be arrested for anti-war talk, Labadie was chagrined that a local
Justice Department official characterized him as ''harmless.'' Had he known


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All-American Anarchist
that an agent from the Bureau of Investigation (later the FBI) made notes
on his speech before the Detroit Labor Forum in 1920 and reported back to
Washington, he would have been pleased. 39
As the war ended and business briefly boomed, consumers could
once more buy goods that had been in short supply. Then prices skyrocketed.
Between 1919 and 1922, a massive strike wave jolted the country, widely
viewed as proof that radical agitators were fomenting social disorder. Then
came a precipitous economic decline. Unemployment soared. Like so many
in those stressful tunes, Labadie was overwhehned by a sense of dread and
foreboding. Government repression intensified. A rash of bombings in the
East and Midwest by Italian-born anarchists, cuhninating in the prosecution
of anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti for killing two men in a
payroll robbery, terrified the public and revived the stereotype of anarchists
as madmen carrying a bomb in one hand and a pistol in the other. Reports of
the “atrocities” of the Russian Revolution contributed to an anti-Red hysteria
unmatched since the Haymarket bombing. Radicals, socialists, foreigners,
and those viewed as “Bolsheviks” were hounded in a tyrannical crackdown.
In his infamous “Palmer Raids” of 1919 and 1920, the new attorney
general A. Mitchell Pahner (assisted by a recent law school graduate, J.
Edgar Hoover) dealt with the “red menace” by jailing thousands of leftists,
dissidents, and foreigners with little regard for their constitutional rights.
Jails were craimned with political prisoners. Aliens were deported en
masse, including Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. Labadie reck
lessly denounced America as the most reactionary place in the world, and
suggested that everyone in labor's ranks carry “a good Colt hanging to his
side” to deter the bullies. 40
In early 1920, Justice Department agents broke into homes and meet
ing halls in thirty-three cities, rounding up everyone they found. In Detroit,
on January 2 and 4, some eight hundred suspected radicals were imprisoned
incommunicado for days in a windowless corridor of the city's antiquated
Federal Building. Agents grabbed several hundred attending meetings at
the House of the Masses on Gratiot and St. Aubin, a socialist and labor
headquarters. Nearly 51,000 other “Bolsheviks” were arrested the same
night in other cities. Many were deported as “undesirable” without criminal
charges or trial. The Wobblies, in particular, were pursued with a merciless
vengeance. Nearly two hundred of the country's IWW leaders were found
guilty of sedition and conspiracy and sentenced to harsh prison terms. With
so many of his comrades denounced, persecuted, and imprisoned, Labadie
wondered to Gompers if he had been “derelict in some duty” for having


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225
escaped jail. He considered starting an anarchist monthly to test if the
authorities would stamp it out. 41
In the labor movement, anti-capitalist militants had clashed with con
servatives, like Gompers, who were eager to prove their patriotism during
the war years. The AFL head had abandoned his lifelong pacifism to become
an enthusiastic supporter of President Wilson and the war. Determined to
dissociate AFL members from Bolshevik sympathizers, he turned into a
rabid red-baiter in a move reminiscent of Powderly's efforts to protect the
Knights of Labor during the Red Scare three decades earlier. Gompers even
expressed willingness to supply the Justice Department with information
on anarchists, IWW members, and other seditious people in labor's ranks. 42
Somehow none of this shook the personal affection Gompers and
Labadie shared. As Gompers, in his later years, became increasingly identi
fied with the respectable and powerful, Labadie took the liberty of notifying
his “dear Old-Time Friend Sam’’ that many in labor's ranks “hooted” when
his name was mentioned. Mentioning that there were few friendly enough
to the AFL leader to tell him his reputation, he wrote in 1919 that he wanted
to guide him “into less stormy environments.” He warned that diatribes
against “frowzy bolshevists and wild-eyed radicals” in the AFL's American
Federationist were giving aid and comfort to the enemy, an enemy with
Machievellian schemes to trap Gompers and his associates and destroy the
labor movement. The “Junkers” wanted labor engaged in violent warfare
“so they can kill the leaders and leave the workers in confusion, the more
easily to subdue them.” It was solidarity that labor needed, Labadie coun
seled, and its most powerful weapon was passive resistance in the form of
the general strike. Gompers quickly acknowledged receipt of the “interest
ing personal letter,” but apparently never coimnented on it further. 43
In those tumultuous years, the one encouraging development Labadie
saw was the Russian Revolution. Exulting over a program that seemed to
promise a more righteous society, he was prepared to suppress any doubts
about Bolshevik tactics. He thought the Russian coimnunists were “making
headway against the hosts of darkness,” and that once Russia got on its eco
nomic feet, its revolution would be repeated worldwide. Calling Lenin and
Trotsky “mere pikers” compared to the Christian coimnunists of the early
church, he told the Detroit Labor Forum that the soviet, or local council,
was simply the logical outcome of the trade union movement. He wanted to
believe the Russian Revolution's anarchist influences would prevail over the
authoritarian govemmentalism of the new “dictatorship of the proletariat.”
Like so many, he saw “the red in the east [giving] hope of a brighter day.” 44



227
~k 17 ~k
If you have flowers for me, dear.
Wait not to place them on my bier.
But let thek fragrance soothe me here.
Oh, if you love me tell me so
In velvet words with accents low.
And do the things that make me know.
—From "Tell Me if You Love Me,” What is Love?
and Other Fancies
Defore the turn of the century, the materials Sophie was so
faithfully storing in the Buchanan Street attic were recognized as a histor
ical treasure trove. Every issue of every publication Jo wrote for or sub
scribed to was piled into its dark comers. Many existed nowhere else; even
their publishers had not saved them. Sophie bundled flyers, tracts, pam
phlets, circulars, handbills, union constitutions and initiation ceremonies,
badges, copies of resolutions, programs, poems, newspaper clippings, even
menus, and toted them upstairs. Thousands of letters from radicals of every
stripe had their niche. It seems that no scrap escaped “Mamma.” Anything
connected with “the struggle of the underdog for a fair held” that had come
into Jo’s hands was stowed away with no idea of who might ever use it or
for what purpose. 1 Preserving them was the only active role Sophie played
in Jo’s refonn efforts, but it was a major one.
In 1897, economist Richard T. Ely wrote Labadie requesting “a favor.”
He had sent the Wisconsin State Historical Society a collection of labor liter
ature and asked Labadie to do the same. He had an idea of the range of Laba
die's materials from having borrowed some for his pioneering study, The
Labor Movement in America, a decade earlier. Now director of the school


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All-American Anarchist
of economics, political science, and history at the University of Wisconsin,
Ely hoped to make Madison the national center for labor scholarship. 2
A few years later, Ely teamed up with his former student, John R.
Commons, and Commons's student, John B. Andrews, to form a power
house of researchers in labor studies. Coimnons and his associates, the
nation's first labor historians, were scouring the country for source mate
rial for their groundbreaking ten-volume Documentary History of American
Industrial Society. During an intense five-year courtship of Labadie begin
ning in 1906, they tried to entice him to sell his collection to the Univer
sity of Wisconsin, “where more work along the line of social movements
is being done than anywhere else in the country.’’ 3 It may be that the value
of Labadie's mass of materials first became apparent to him because of the
steadily intensifying interest of academia.
Commons came to Detroit in mid 1906 to examine the contents of
the attic; Andrews later stayed a week trying to persuade Labadie. They
offered only $500, no more than Labadie's estimate of the original cost.
Loath to part with the treasured hoard, Labadie turned to his mentor, Ben
jamin Tucker for advice. Hold onto them, Tucker urged, unless there was
a “very attractive’’ offer and money was needed. He was convinced their
worth would increase. America's reigning individualist anarchist did not
share the disdain for money matters characteristic of his Detroit comrade. 4
Labadie, nearing sixty, was tom between a sentimental desire to keep
near him the tangible evidence of his life's work and the recognition that
making it available to the public would serve to promulgate it. In making
a preliminary catalog of the papers, he had paused to re-read many. “This
makes me live my life over again,’’ he told Andrews. Observing the devel
opment of his thinking over the years gave him satisfaction. To let the doc
uments go so far away as Wisconsin, where he would probably never see
them again, seemed like burying them. He began to think of offering the
collection to the University of Michigan, where he could “look it over when
the mood prompted.’’ 5
Andrews tried to prevent this train of thought. Wisconsin was amassing
the largest library of such material in America. “Where one student of labor
problems will visit Michigan library . . . fifty will come to Wisconsin,’’ he
argued to Labadie. Ely added his voice. With due respect for Labadie's state
loyalty, and his own “great admiration for Michigan,’’ he wrote, it would be
a mistake to let the collection go where it would be “comparatively isolated,
not forming part of any large collection.’’ Michigan had done so little to
collect such materials that it was impossible that institution could ever cover


A Pack Rat’s Hoard
229
the entire field, Ely maintained. Students doing thorough research would
have to visit both universities. Ely enlisted professors at other universities
to lobby Labadie in favor of Wisconsin. Even some of Labadie's friends
warned that the Michigan faculty was not sufficiently advanced concern
ing the principles of freedom to value the collection and that “it might be
stowed away in some garret and lost, probably forever.’’ 6
Perversely, Labadie approached the University of Michigan in 1907
himself, sending a list of part of his holdings and offering them for sale. The
response was less than enthusiastic. An investigator was sent to cull through
the contents of the attic. He apparently returned to Ann Arbor unimpressed.
When Labadie inquired about the matter two years later, he was told that
the material must be properly cataloged and arranged before the university
could evaluate it. In the meantime, he was approached by two new suitors, a
professor from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the acting com
missioner of the United States Bureau of Labor, who wanted the collection
for their respective institutions. 7
By 1912, however, Labadie had decided to send it “where it was most
needed—old moss-back Michigan,—conservative, reactionary, and posi
tively crass in some things,’’ as he told Commons. He knew “you Wisconsin
folk’’ would have done well with it, but was sure they would recognize what
“a light it will be to the U. of M.’’ 8
Several personal circumstances played a role in convincing him.
Michigan had been the cherished home of his ancestors for five generations;
additionally, his daughter, Charlotte, was at the point of graduation from the
university. He had been pleased at the response by students and professors
there to two speeches he gave on anarchism. A philosophy professor, who
included anarchist writers in his lectures, was enthusiastic about obtain
ing Labadie's collection for the university and had inquired the year before
what price he would put on it. 9
In exchange for what he now recognized as probably the best pri
vate collection of such literature in the country, Labadie asked very little.
He told the board of regents in 1911 all he wanted was a guarantee that
his accumulation of forty years would be put into good shape and placed
where students could get data at first hand “instead of taking their infor
mation from interpreters who might not have entered into the real spirit of
the struggle.’’ He was poor and getting old and could not afford to donate it
outright, he explained. Rather than requesting payment from the university,
he offered to seek the money to recompense him directly from public-spir
ited persons. 10


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All-American Anarchist
University president Harry Bums Hutchins was not keen on the whole
idea. He was “not a very ardent believer in the utility of any radical move
ments,’' a history instructor had confided to Labadie. Also, the university
librarian objected that it would be difficult to preserve the newspapers.
Nevertheless, two faculty members sent to look over the collection gave
Hutchins a glowing report, and on November 17, 1911, four years after it
was offered to them, the board of regents voted to accept Labadie's gift,
which, of course, was going to cost them nothing. 11
Labadie now had the job of finding the requisite public-spirited citi
zens to recompense him; their names were to be memorialized on the book
plate of donors. Admitting that he found personal solicitation distasteful
and knew few people of means, he nevertheless immediately sent a printed
appeal to likely prospects, explaining that once fifteen persons had sent him
$ 100 each, the collection would be forwarded to the university. He sug
gested that in no other way could they have their names commemorated at
the university “in so laudable a purpose and with so little outlay of effort.’’ 12
Carl Schmidt and Henry Bool responded promptly, as did real estate
developer Robert Oakman, whose labor paper, The Spectator, Labadie had
written for thirty years earlier. Six other business or professional men, not all
of whom were sympathetic to the contents of the collection, donated, mak
ing a total of only $900. Schmidt pointed out to Labadie in February 1912,
that if he did not receive $1,500 he could return the monies and call off the
deal. Coimnons made one last plea in April, asking Labadie to name a price.
But money had ceased to be the decisive factor. Labadie had set his heart
on Michigan, while recognizing that it would “have to do some hustling’’ to
compete with Wisconsin in the “sociological literature department.’’ 13
In September, with only the $900 in hand, he sent twenty boxfuls of
the precious documents to Ann Arbor. They were unpacked and the bundles
piled in their shipping wrappers on distant shelves of the library. There they
remained for years, unorganized, uncataloged, unusable, gathering dust.
The university made no effort to fulfill its part of the bargain to arrange the
material, or to make it available to students, although President Hutchins
generously allowed Labadie's son Laurance a free nose operation at the
university hospital. 14
Once again, as often occurred in Labadie's time of need, a sympathetic
figure of wealth and privilege eventually came to the rescue. Agnes Inglis,
a beneficiary of the capitalist system, had spent her inheritance on behalf
of anarchism, atheism, the IWW, and infamous radicals, especially Emma
Goldman. Through her labors, not her money, she became the catalyst that


A Pack Rat’s Hoard
231
enabled the Labadie Collection to expand into one of the best-known and
most important archives of its kind in the world.
The youngest child of a prominent physician who died in 1874 when
she was four, the sister of influential bankers and manufacturers, Inglis was
raised in a rigidly ordered, conservative, socially prominent Detroit fam
ily. She was a shy and introverted “model child,” acutely fearful of seem
ing ridiculous. In adulthood, Inglis regarded herself as “a daughter of Mrs.
Grundy” (a prudish literary figure), scarred by her Scottish Presbyterian
upbringing. “I knew I was bom in sin, and my body was dirty and not to be
looked at or thought about.” Looking back over these early years, she regret
ted that much of her “love life” had gone into loving Jesus. 15
Inglis took refuge in a closely circumscribed home life until 1898,
when she was twenty-eight. Around that tune her sister, whom she had been
nursing, died. Her mother died soon afterwards, leaving her an heiress with
nothing to do and no worldly experience. In her early thirties, in an effort
to “reach out into the world,” Inglis moved to Ann Arbor, began studying
the history of the Middle Ages at the university, and joined the Alpha Phi
sorority. A year later she turned to social work, first in Detroit at the Franklin
Street Settlement House and later at settlement houses in Chicago and East
London, England. Exposed daily to the degradation of the poor, she found
radical ideas edging out the “do-goodism” of the typical social worker. Social
settlements began to seem mere palliatives for poverty in a society divided
into exploiters and the exploited. Initially, she thought socialism the answer.
Inglis still appeared a genteel and proper “maiden lady” of forty-two,
an Ann Arbor Presbyterian Sunday school teacher, when, in March 1912,
a little booklet by Eimna Goldman titled “What I Believe” came into her
hands. “I have to say it burned my fingers to hold the book. I thought Emma
Goldman was a bad, terrible woman,” she relates in her unpublished autobi
ography. But the pamphlet's message—that “this world could be beautiful
and without poverty or hate or cruelty or disease”—along with its author,
transformed her life. At one of Goldman's lectures, she was awed by the
courage of the stocky woman with steely blue eyes who faced a roomful of
boys jeering at her every mention of sex or free love.
After Goldman's next appearance in Ann Arbor, in the suimner of
1913, Inglis dared invite her for dinner, tentatively offering future help
(which she anticipated would be minor). To her surprise, she found her
self enthusiastically embraced as Goldman's Ann Arbor representative and
a major financial supporter. The militant anarchist's forceful style impelled
Inglis to overcome her own natural reserve and face public scorn. She


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All-American Anarchist
arranged lectures for Goldman on Nietzsche and birth control, handed out
anti-war literature, organized a meeting for Alexander Berkman to protest
the arrest of labor organizer Thomas Mooney for the Preparedness Day
parade bombing in San Francisco, and wrote generous checks. She even
risked arrest by passing out explicit information on contraceptive methods.
“I don't suppose there ever was a more audacious deed done in staid Ann
Arbor,” she wrote in her autobiography. “Never once did she fail me,” Gold
man coimnended. Yet in time Inglis harbored a certain resentment, a suspi
cion she was being used. “Being Emma's friend meant never relaxing,” she
noted. If Goldman wanted a thing done, “you had to do it.” She also came
to the realization that Goldman cherished her less in true friendship than
“based on my activity for her work and on money that I gave so willingly.” 16
By 1916, Inglis, now forty-six, was identifying herself as an anarchist
and atheist. That year she met Labadie, although she knew of him already
through her older brother, David, who had been a member of Labadie's old
Social Science Club. He must have complained about the neglect of his
collection at the University of Michigan because she quickly went to have
a look at it and started discussing plans to get it into usable shape. She also
was interested to hear about Sophie, asking with the naivete that never left
her, “Does your wife ever strike? I'm encouraging all women to strike.” 17
Inglis was befriended by the Labadies and, in 1919, invited to Bub
bling Waters, but it was not until 1924 that she began working intermittently
in the library stacks. In the intervening years, she scandalized her family by
agitating for the IWW, holding meetings at her house (duly monitored by
the Bureau of Investigation), putting up bail money for fellow Wobblies and
other political prisoners, and purportedly fomenting a strike. She recounts in
her autobiography how a patriotic ex-sorority sister once kidnapped her and
handed her over to local officials of the Justice Department. Militant radi
cals, however, continued to view her as a rich, bourgeois woman, valuable
because she could solicit money from others. They urged her to raise money
for bail, trials, propaganda, prisoner defense, strike assistance, anti-conscrip
tion efforts, deportations, Sacco and Vanzetti, Alexander Berkman, Tom
Mooney, “Big Bill” Haywood, Union of Russian Workers prisoners, and,
especially, Emma Goldman. She used her two houses in Detroit and Ann
Arbor as security for the bail of IWW activists she had never seen, renting
a room for her own use in someone else's house. This lavish generosity and
self-sacrifice helped dissipate her sense of guilt for living off unearned income
from family investments. She found, however, that “you could be pretty


A Pack Rat’s Hoard
233
sure you would be called counter-revolutionist if you stopped paying out to
a particular revolutionary specialty.”
Although personally frugal, she eventually ran out of money and had
to live off an allowance from another brother, James, a wealthy business
man. She seemed relieved to be rid of the constant appeals for funds. “I did
not like being thought of as a woman who had money,” she admitted. “If
you havent [sic] any money you might as well drop out of the radical move
ment.” 18 About this tune, in the mid 1920s, she removed herself from the
revolutionary fray and began to immerse herself in the Labadie Collection.
In the remotest comer of the library stacks she found it piled neatly, exactly
as Labadie had shipped it twelve years before. She perceived that it needed
“fixing” and volunteered to whip it into shape without charge. What she
anticipated as a job of weeks or months became her life. 19 When she died in
1952, she was still at work.
With boundless enthusiasm and curiosity, but no library skills, Ing
lis concocted an idiosyncratic card cataloging system, without cross ref
erences or call numbers, that only she understood. Items were placed in
boxes, unalphabetized, with no guide or index but her own memory. For
the few researchers who learned of the existence of the materials and con
fronted the disarray, only she could solve the enigma. She delighted in
fitting together the jigsaw of facts that documented the radical past and
scrawled her notes haphazardly on little cards. Anecdotes concerning rad
ical and labor figures were carelessly typed on slips of paper she tucked
away among the manuscripts. She believed in letting researchers browse
in open stacks. Sometimes she let them take items home, not all of which
were returned. 20
Literature that had been stashed away by Labadie's friends and asso
ciates continually arrived to be added to the collection. Labadie himself
added boxfuls in his last years and urged others to do the same. Inglis was
indefatigable in enticing radicals and scholars from all over the world to
send materials.
In lonely silence, Inglis spent her days exploring the labyrinth of mate
rials. At night, she worked on them in the room she shared with a woman
friend a few blocks from campus. She found her solitude alleviated by the
thrill of discovering “this! that! and this!” as she exclaimed to Labadie.
Vicariously, she experienced the revolutionary activities she had cut herself
off from, especially vivid because they often concerned people, events, or
ideas well known to her. But sometimes she was depressed at absorbing
herself so wholly in the past and longed for “present day heart beats.” 21


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All-American Anarchist
The dire predictions of the Wisconsin professors about Michigan's
disregard for labor and radical history proved all too accurate. For the most
part, the university administration neither interfered with Inglis's activities
nor supported them. She was unable to procure even a few hundred dollars
for steel hies. She craved the coming of a prominent researcher who would
demand better facilities. Yet she rationalized that the collection's continu
ing obscurity protected it “until the years sort of relieve it of any danger of
anger on the part of the D.A.R. or such!’’ Labadie also feared it might be
destroyed when the authorities caught on to what it contained. 22
In 1928, Inglis took over more or less officially as curator of the
neglected archives then known as the Labadie Collection of Sociological
Literature. Her new title did not represent either salary or clerical help. For
a brief period, Judson Grenell's second wife, Margaret, volunteered to help
paste clippings in scrapbooks on subjects like the Knights of Labor, the
Saginaw strike, and the Haymarket bombing. 23
Although Labadie had insisted that his collection go to Michigan so it
would not be forever lost to him, he did not visit it once the boxes were sent
off in 1912. Without a car, the aging couple found it too difficult to jour
ney to Ann Arbor from Detroit or Bubbling Waters. An opportunity finally
presented itself in the form of a joint birthday celebration for Labadie and
Judson Grenell in Ann Arbor in April 1926. As Inglis guided Jo and Sophie
past a stack of Benjamin Tucker's Liberty, they saw on the cover page of
the first issue the image of Sophie Perovskaia, who was hanged for the
murder of Czar Alexander II. The sheet was tom, fading and very dusty.
“Gently Mrs. Labadie's hand passed over the picture, stroking it and wiping
off the dust. ‘Ah! Sophie!' said Mrs. Labadie with lingering tenderness.
And she took the sheet and fumed it over so the page would not face the
weathering any more,’’ Inglis recalled. The act endeared Sophie Labadie to
her forevermore. 24
Long after Labadie's death, Inglis, by then a white-haired, frag
ile-looking eighty-one-year-old, was still at work. Adored by the handful of
graduate students who frequented her secluded nook in the bookstack area,
she was a familiar character as she crossed the campus, a stooped old lady
in antiquated clothing, quaint hats, and shapeless shoes. By the tune of her
own death in 1952, she had increased the holdings of the Labadie Collection
perhaps twenty-fold. Many items she donated herself. She coaxed rare and
valuable items from the “trunks and attics’’ of her former comrades and a
wide circle of radicals, rebels, and revolutionaries of her acquaintance. She
sent out mass mailings and put notices in likely publications worldwide


A Pack Rat’s Hoard
235
soliciting contributions. She subscribed to obscure publications with her
own money. 25
Agnes Inglis deserves the most credit for enormously expanding the
nucleus of the collection safeguarded by Sophie Labadie into the invaluable
resource it has become. From a core literature of the early labor movement
and anarchism, the scope and depth of this “library of protest,” as it has been
called, continued to expand to the present day to include a wide array of
out-of-the-mainstream social protest and reform movements and constitute
the most comprehensive collection of radical literature in the United States.
Inglis never married but had many close friends. Labadie was exceed
ingly fond of her, certainly because of her loyalty and zeal on behalf of the
collection, but also due to her warm, supportive nature. She took pains to
reassure the aging rebel that he had played a big part, had stood true to his
ideals, and would live forever through his collection. Her deep affection
and admiration for Labadie was not diminished by her perception that he
was an “egoist.” But she seemed especially to love the quiet, self-effacing
“Mamma” for having preserved the records of a radical golden age with
such meticulous care. 26



237
k 18 k
Looking
Back
0 n It All
When I am dead
Waste not yourself in either grief or joy because of so.
As I'll not know.
And recompense, the spur to all we do.
Will never come to you.
Except as one in sounding glen bewails or sings
And echo brings on airy wings
The messages himself sent out.
Published in Man, November 1933
Driven by automobile manufacturing, Detroit in 1920 was
zooming into the top rank of American cities in both industrial production
and population. It soon outranked all but New York and Chicago in dollar
value of industrial output. As the fourth most populous city, it burst into the
suburbs, expanding from 28 square miles in 1900 to 139 by 1925. Along
with fabulous wealth generated by the assembly lines—soaring skycrapers,
mansions, new factories—came social upheaval, crowded housing, ghettos,
poverty, and disease.
Prohibition was laxly enforced, which encouraged widespread disre
spect for the law. As a “wide open booze town,” Detroit became a magnet for
bootleggers, whose payoffs corrupted the police force. It experienced gang
warfare and a rash of underworld killings. European immigration, reduced
to a trickle during the war and after the 1921 Emergency Immigration Act,
was replaced by the migration of Southern blacks. They began streaming
into the city to fill the ever-increasing number of factory jobs. The 100,000
black migrants who were transported by the trainload to Detroit in the 1920s
encountered resentment and even violence when they moved into a city with


238
All-American Anarchist
scarce housing. By 1924, the Ku Klux Klan, which flourished nationwide
after World War I, claimed a Detroit membership of 32,000.'
The auto industry remained substantially unorganized. Efforts by
industrial unions like the IWW had failed in the face of implacable opposi
tion from the employers; the craft-oriented AFL had little interest in organiz
ing less-skilled workers who held mass production jobs. Indeed, the nation's
strike wave and Red Scare after the war had engendered such anti-labor sen
timent that AFL membership fell to under three million by 1924. Most of the
auto strikes attempted in the 1920s ended in defeat for the workers. 2
Disillusionment and bitterness, those frequent companions of old
age, were coimnon among Labadie and his old comrades as they watched
organized labor going downhill. Throughout the nation, once-militant labor
activists were eager to come to tenns with the existing society. The AFL
had turned into big business unionism. Labadie castigated what remained
of the labor press as timid and worthless, shunning, as it did, mention of
socialism, anarchism, the single tax, or anything tinged with radical ideas.
He sneered to labor historian John B. Andrews that the much fought-for
labor bureaus were “simply places for political henchmen who don't care
a dam [sic] about getting the facts.’’ Labor men elected to political offices
were in his eyes largely “tools of political rascals, and capitalistic crooks.’’ 3
Despite the dejection that often clouded his normally jovial disposition, and
his half-humorous gripe that after all these years of helping the underdog it
was “about time the underdog did something for himself,’’ Labadie kept on
“pushing whenever I get the chance,’’ as he assured Benjamin Tucker in one
of his unanswered coimnunications. By the 1920s, his chances were few.
Manuscripts were returned with a coimnent either that he was thirty years
behind the tunes or three hundred years ahead, he told friend Henry Bool.
The “Dean of Detroit's Bohemia,’’ as the Detroit Free Press dubbed the
seventy-two-year-old, gave the occasional speech, possibly scheduled more
in his role as living legend than because the public was avid for his views.
He continued to publish revolutionary verse, and kept up a voluminous cor
respondence with the handful of libertarians who still absorbed themselves
in splitting hairs over such esoteric matters as the definition of tenns used
in their writings. 4
Labadie often mused “About What It Is All About,’’ as he titled one of
the last of his speeches. Looking back on it all, he wondered: Did we do any
good? Was it all worthwhile? 5 It was a question he frequently pondered with
his old comrades. Some had grown bitter and cynical; others were more
philosophical; some were even upbeat as they approached the end of their


Looking Back on It All
239
lives. In their summings up, they offered contrasting historical assessments of
the causes they strove for and also revealed much about their own characters.
Judson Grenell, Labadie's dearest crony and his associate on the old
labor papers, reviewed his swath of history cheerily. Easy-going, prone to
compromise, Grenell was satisfied to see himself as a drop of water or a
grain of sand, a contributor to the whole. He pointed with satisfaction to the
gains in his lifetime—a shorter working day, equal pay for equal work for
both sexes, improved factory sanitation, an increasing wage rate. He saw
progress toward the curbing of monopolies, ballot reform, women's rights,
and the single tax. “I have had my hour,” he rejoiced. Now editor of the
Washtenaw Post after twenty-five years as labor editor at the Detroit News,
he decided by 1923 that he had outgrown the study of sociology and turned
over to Labadie nearly three hundred books on the subject. 6
John Burton, the former Labor Leaf publisher, stood at the opposite
pole. Seventy-two in 1922, he was disillusioned and cynical. An adventur
ous spirit had taken the tolerant, high-principled, single-tax enthusiast into
many strange byways. Experience had taught him “the fallacies underlying
our pet schemes of reform.” Despondent after the 1890 failure of his paper,
Onward, which promoted the Henry George tax scheme, he had become a
spiritualist and “healing medium” in San Francisco. After a brief sojourn
in a socialist colony in Seattle around 1898, where he was reproved for not
being a socialist, he joined the anarchist Home Colony near Tacoma, Wash
ington, where he was told he was not an anarchist. He found the supposedly
authority-hating settlers of the state's utopian coimnunities to be “cranks”
and “tyrants.” Whether “Free Lovers, Anarchists, Socialists, Communists,
I.W.W.... all wanted their own way ... to do as they please and make oth
ers please likewise,” he informed Labadie.
Wherever Burton journeyed, he discovered as much greed and dis
regard for the rights of others in the “little homesteader” as in the “big
capitalist.” Those who objected to rent, interest, and profit had nothing to
rent or loan, he observed, and desired other people's profits. Only George's
proposal to tax just land still seemed valid. “Enlightened despotism” now
appeared to him the best form of government. Burton did not think death
would end his role as a reformer, however, since he expected to be reincar
nated as a guide “to help others on their way.” 7
Captain J. M. McGregor, one-time Great Lakes boat captain and Bur
ton's successor on Advance and Labor Leaf still had to work for the Detroit
health department to support himself at age eighty-six. He told Laba
die he was overwhelmed with pessimism and saw America inescapably


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All-American Anarchist
headed for the fate of the old Roman Republic. McGregor found the numbers
of the “disinherited” multiplying and the capitalist system “more strongly
enthroned than when we first began protesting more than forty years ago.”
A long-lasting industrial depression lay just ahead, he correctly predicted in
1927, two years before it occurred; he wrongly believed it would cuhninate
in a revolution.
McGregor's feud over Labadie's anarchist writings was long forgot
ten. Instead, he recalled with nostalgia their camaraderie in the old Henry
George assembly of the Knights of Labor back in the mid 1880s. The years
had gone so fast, they had accomplished so little, he mourned two years
before his death in 1929. Yet this old comrade-in-memory of Labadie's
expected they would “keep on protesting because it is a part of us.” 8
Thomas Barry, the charismatic leader of the 1885 Saginaw Valley
strike and Powderly's most influential critic, was loud in the chorus of dis
illusioned one-time labor activists when he pronounced Samuel Gompers
“as big a grafter as Powderly was.” Disgusted with the trade union move
ment, Barry had joined the Socialist party and devoted his spare tune to “the
Socialist work.” When he died in 1909 at age fifty-seven, labor's one-time
hero was largely a forgotten man. Long blacklisted by the National Asso
ciation of Manufacturers for his unionizing efforts, Barry had been unable
to work as an ax maker since 1883. He earned a living running the Lyceum
Specialty Company in his hometown of Saginaw. Its function was “Intro
ducing High Class Specialties with the Latest Illustrated Song Hits.” 9
Samuel Gompers, by contrast, seemed quite pleased with himself at
age seventy, not long before he completed his autobiography, Seventy Years
of Life and Labor. Although widely accused of rank conservatism and rabid
Red-baiting, the AFL leader exulted to Labadie in 1920, four years before
his death, that he had lost none of the “hopes and aspirations that animated
me in youth.” His desire to help others was “an inspiration that keeps me
young both in mind and body.” He felt like a forty-year-old, he maintained,
spent all his time working, often until late at night, and was convinced
“work is the greatest medicine known to man.” He assured Labadie that his
mind was untroubled by thoughts of old age or death. 10
Socialist leader Eugene Debs had returned to his native Terre Haute
in poor health and depressed spirits after his ten year sentence for violation
of the 1918 Espionage Law was coimnuted by President Warren Harding in
1921. His Socialist party was tom by factional disputes and losing ground
rapidly. Tempted to join with the Communist party in a united labor front,
Debs instead endorsed the 1924 presidential bid of U.S. Senator Robert La


Looking Back on It All
241
Follette, the Progressive candidate. The disappointing results of the election
brought the collapse of the entire third-party movement and speeded the dis
integration of the Socialist party. Ailing, no longer able to rouse audiences
with his past fervor, Debs wrote Labadie wistfully soon after the election:
“You and I can do our little utmost and then drop away to make room for
others to do the same, and all the reward, all the honor, all the satisfaction we
ever want is the knowledge that we have given all and done our best without
expecting anything in return.’’ He died two years later, at age seventy. 11
The much-reviled Terence Powderly, of course, did not share any rumi
nations on the meaning of it all with his friend-tumed-foe in Detroit, although
his later career was often remarked on in Labadie's circle. The once grand
master workman had done well for himself after being driven from office in
1893 and expelled from the Knights of Labor. Blackballed because of his
reputation when he sought work as a machinist, Powderly turned to law, then
politics. His energetic efforts in 1896 for the election of President McKinley,
a notorious foe of labor, gained him an appointment as coimnissioner general
of immigration in 1897. Many former labor colleagues denounced him for
supporting McKinley against the liberal William Jennings Bryan. Gompers
protested the appointment as an insult to the labor movement. 12
“You sized Powderly up years ago ... a d—d scoundrel... a soldier
of fortune,’’ Henry Robinson assured Labadie from Washington in 1896.
The former Greenbacker and Detroit Knight had been appointed statistician
of the Department of Agriculture by President Cleveland after his term as
Michigan's labor commissioner. 13 Whatever Powderly's personal shortcom
ings in the eyes of some, he was a survivor, still thriving as a high-ranking
bureaucrat in the iimnigration bureau into his seventies.
Even after the brutal repressions carried out by the new Soviet dicta
torship became well known, Labadie clung to the belief that the Bolsheviks
were making “laudable efforts to at least try some way out of the hell of
industrial slavery.’’ In March 1921, the same month that hundreds of striking
sailors at the Kronstadt naval base were slaughtered by the Soviet military,
Labadie maintained that even a dictatorship dedicated to economic reform
was better than continued exploitation of the workers by the czarist regime.
Speaking at a memorial meeting for Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin, he
condemned the “little dogs barking at the heels of this Bolshevik elephant’’
who were doing nothing to change the system themselves. 14
Labadie soon heard that Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman had
fled Russia in horror and that the admired Kropotkin, an implacable foe of


242
All-American Anarchist
Bolshevism, had died that February “of a broken heart.” Labadie's exhila
ration over the revolution and hope that it would develop a strong anarchist
influence was fast ebbing. Although the aging anarchist was still trying to
keep an open mind, Detroit's Bolshevik sympathizers were denouncing him
as a counter-revolutionary. As Goldman and Berkman embarked on their
long search for a congenial refuge in December 1921, Labadie forgot his
previous differences with the vexatious Emma. He tried to get her address
so he could coimniserate with her and let her know that “she is not forgotten
by the old guard, even tho we did not wholly agree with her.” 15
Labadie also did not forget Benjamin Tucker, nor reconcile himself to
the cleavage from Tucker's intellectual leadership. He finally acknowledged
that America's foremost agitator for individualist anarchism had “cut the
bridges behind him” after leaving the United States in 1908 and settling
in France. Years of futile efforts could not entice Tucker into a correspon
dence. “While I miss him greatly I refrain from intruding upon his privacy
and hug my disappointment and my loss,” he revealed to a friend in 1924. 16
Despite declining health and hearing, and a heart often “tom to shreds
by the awfulness” of the world, the “old injun,” as Labadie fancied himself,
was no pitiable figure in old age. Summers were idylls at Bubbling Waters,
where Jo and Sophie were at one in their delight in the primitive life. Undis
turbed in their rural paradise except by the warbling of birds perched in the
towering oak, white ash, and tamarack trees, and the annual visit of the tax
assessor, they reveled in a panoply of meandering streams, marshes stud
ded with cattails, water lily-filled ponds, spouting bubbling springs, and an
array of rue anemones, marsh marigolds, forget-me-nots, wild phlox, lilies
of the valley, buttercups, and May apples. On hot days, the elderly couple
splashed unclothed in an icy pool, untroubled that “our nakedness . .. ain't
the nicest in the world.” Weekends often brought scores of visitors, friends
of Jo and his brothers, but few rented the rude cabins originally erected for
poor people.
November's chill, the need for cash, and a longing for his comrades
lured Labadie each winter from his Arcadian hideaway back to the “toils and
tribulations of the farting town,” which by 1930 had swollen to a cacopho
nous metropolis of a million and a half souls, more than thirty-five times as
large as the golden city of his youth. Lacking a pension, he spent winters
clerking for the water board for seventy-five dollars a month until he was
discharged in 1920. 17
In his seventies, Labadie delved into the long-ignored suitcase
of manuscripts, set aside a decade before in the den at Bubbling Waters.


Looking Back on It All
243
He began publishing new booklets of verse and essays. He reveled in the
painstaking process of running the century-old press by foot power, pluck
ing the type, letter by letter from a font drawer, setting a single page at a
time because of shortage of type. Valuing the little homemade products of
the Labadie Shop as charmingly archaic, others begged him to publish their
works as well. 18
A proposal in 1927 from a University of Michigan professor to com
pile an anthology of his poems intrigued Labadie for a tune. Lawrence H.
Conrad, a teacher of rhetoric, described himself as a great admirer of Laba
die's for living “fearlessly and without compromise ... a splendid example
for a young man like myself to follow.” He offered to select a group of Laba
die's “literary” works and write an appreciative introduction. His idea was
to omit poems “with hate in them” as well as the doggerel. Confessing that
he found much of the verse “brutal” and “bitter,” he mentioned that it would
have been nicer if Labadie had handled anarchy “sweetly,” in the manner of
Ruskin and Thoreau. Conrad tried for a year to convince Labadie that what
he had done “in the sounder tradition of poetry” would outlive his anarchist
teachings, and for a tune Labadie seemed elated over the anthology idea. But
it never materialized. It seems likely that Labadie eventually realized that
Conrad's judgments, as Grenell noted, were calculated to “please the bour
geoisie],” and that was what the old anarchist had spent his life avoiding. 19
Near-poverty conditions during the cold months in their Buchanan
Street house were relieved by brushes with a millionaire's life for the
elderly Labadies. Carl Schmidt invited them for weeks and even months to
his vacation villa, Walhalla, two hundred miles north of Detroit on the Lake
Huron shore. At this seven-thousand-acre estate romantically named after
the mythological gathering place of dead warriors, they were lavished with
the utmost luxury, waited upon by servants, sometimes joined by fellow
guests like Clarence Darrow, Eugene Debs, or other kindred spirits. Here
Jo and Carl, ignoring their divergent social standings, rode horses, sailed on
a hundred-foot yacht, rambled through the woods, and exchanged off-beat
ideas in front of the fireplace until early morning. Schmidt liked to think of
them as “two contrary, unconventional damn fools.” 20
Sophie also was welcomed warmly at Walhalla, but not for her pro
gressive views. After observing her for a half century, Grenell noted that
she “never utters a think [SIC] that is not built on the most orthodox and
conservative lines.” A lifetime catering to a stormy petrel had not altered
her outlook in the slightest. Her Catholic faith was steadfast. Although Jo
maintained that he did not know if there was a God, or care much, he did


244
All-American Anarchist
believe in a paradise to come. 21 His quasi-religious devotion to the canons
of anarchism remained as unwavering as he approached eighty as at his
conversion nearly fifty years before.
The real pain of his last years was disappointment in his children. Nei
ther Laura nor Laurance achieved worldly success, nor provided an exten
sion of the devotion and harmony he enjoyed with his beloved “Mamma.”
He wanted them to make their mark, while at the same tune, as an elderly
parent, he craved them always around him. They did stick around, unwilling
or unable to forge out on their own, but there was little harmony.
Laura, who spent her entire life in the parental homestead, clashed
constantly with her brother. She complained frequently that the household
chores and burden of caring for her aged parents fell unfairly on her. Laurance
regarded her as a bitter and suspicious nag. Jo could not have been pleased
that Laura chose, as lifelong companion, a businessman of unenlightened
views, with no discernible interest in social reform. After Jo's death, this
Fred Saxby moved into the Labadie house and spent the rest of his life with
Laura, but never married her. Her sister, Charlotte, found him “an all around
reactionary,” who had influenced Laura contrary to her father's teachings,
and unfairly deprived her of children and married life for unknown reasons. 22
Charlotte agreed with her sister that Laurance was rude, lazy, and
failed to do his share of the chores, but she tried to be a peacemaker. A
schoolteacher, like her mother, she was finally married, at thirty-seven, to
Fred Hauser, a Swiss-born engineer and socialist of sorts, whom friends had
brought to Bubbling Waters to meet Jo. Offered a year's assigmnent teach
ing an experimental reading method in a Los Angeles primary school, Char
lotte was sufficiently adventurous to drive across the country in a Model T
Ford in 1926 with her fiance and a fellow teacher, the three of them camping
along the way. But when the couple decided to remain in California, Jo was
disconsolate. He expressed his bitterness to Agnes Inglis: “Our Charlotte
and her man have got as far west as they could without swimming, and then
tell us how much they enjoy our letters!” 23 He saw them only once again,
when they stopped en route to Switzerland in 1931, just before Sophie's
death. (With them was the Labadies' two-year-old grandchild, author of
this biography.)
What troubled Jo most, however, was the aimlessness and despon
dency of Laurance, the child of his middle age, and his favorite. What was
the cause of his son's pessimism, misanthropy, and depression? Perhaps
during his impressionable adolescent years he was infected by the virus
of his father's disillusiomnent bom of the war. If so, he wallowed in that


Looking Back on It All
245
negativism, but lacked his father's ability to bounce back with cheerful
ness, a witty remark, and an abiding faith in the essential good judgment of
humanity, if only it were liberated. Whatever demons tormented Laurance,
he did not blame them on Jo. When he was himself advanced in years, he
described his father as the only person he ever met who was completely
lovable his whole life. 24
After failing engineering studies in his one semester at the Univer
sity of Michigan, Laurance turned to tool making and became expert at it,
but flitted from job to job in the machine and automotive industries, often
remaining only a few weeks. By his early thirties, he could list twenty-five
workplaces where he had held short-term jobs. Jo was never hesitant to
nag Laurance about career moves, but made no attempt to steer him toward
anarchism. The young man turned to economics and philosophy on his own
in his late twenties, beginning with his father's favorites, Herbert Spencer
and Josiah Warren, and proceeding to Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and H. L.
Mencken. He announced to his elderly parents in 1927, at the age of twenty-
nine, that “nothing means anything.’’ He pronounced the “whole cosmic
process .. . utter hopelessness and futility.’’ His father's reproaches, “smug
platitudes,’’ infuriated him. He readily confessed to a lack of ambition and
“hate of everything.’’ 25
But after Sophie's death in 1931, Laurance tended to his father lov
ingly, spending summers with him at Bubbling Waters. In 1932, he took Jo,
then eighty-two, to Ann Arbor for one last nostalgic look at his precious
papers. Although Labadie's memory was nearly gone, curator Agnes Inglis
was cheered to see how attractive he still looked, with his neatly groomed
white mustachio and “imperial’’ goatee. 26
Laurance brought the printing press back from Bubbling Waters to
their Detroit home and, in 1932, helped his father produce a last booklet,
Anarchism, containing an excerpt from an earlier publication. Laurance
organized and shipped some nine thousand items of his father's correspon
dence to the University of Michigan, making copies of those which par
ticularly interested him. Mercifully oblivious to the miseries of the Great
Depression and the family's poverty, Jo spent his last year wandering plain
tively from room to room, searching for his beloved “Mamma.’’ 27
Jo Labadie died in Detroit's Receiving Hospital on October 7, 1933,
at the age of eighty-three. He had instructed that his funeral be as simple as
possible, with no music, sermon, or tears. Those present found it almost joy
ous. A remarkable number of old comrades, and the sons of dead ones, min
gled with young radicals to exchange remembrances and pay last respects


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All-American Anarchist
to this relic of bygone causes. A wreath from the Detroit Russian Anar
chists' Group was placed on his casket. Carl Nold, who had been impris
oned for conspiring with Alexander Berkman in the attack on Henry Frick,
added a paper rose. 28 Labadie was buried next to Sophie in Parkview Memo
rial Cemetery on Five Mile Road near Farmington. Only copper plates mark
their graves.
Obituaries in the Detroit dailies were respectful and affectionate.
“Gentle Anarchist Toiled for the Brotherhood of Man,” the Detroit News
suimned up. Other articles remembered him as “a gentle Red,” “inimitable,’’
and “a picturesque figure’’ of whom it was once said that not to know him
was not to know Detroit.
Except for the enduring legacy of his papers, it had been many years
since Jo Labadie had made much of a difference in the world. The labor
movement had passed him by. While he was longing for a revival of the
early, idealistic Knights of Labor, a new breed of union leaders was crop
ping up. It included such stellar figures as Walter Reuther, soon to begin
organizing Detroit auto workers into the UAW, but also men like Jimmy
Hoffa, future Teamsters Union boss, labor racketeer, and the consort of
mobsters, who around the time of Labadie's death was unionizing workers
at Kroger's grocery warehouse in Detroit. 29
In his last years, as he looked back on a lifetime's endeavors, Labadie
felt that all his moral indignation and tireless activity had accomplished
little. So few of the cherished goals of his youth had been realized. He
saw the bulk of the laboring people still toiling in “wage slavery’’ in ever-
larger industrial conglomerates. Their welfare was still threatened by the
vagaries of monopolistic capitalism. “An injury to one is the concern of
all,’’ the Knights' motto, was as far from a reality as ever. The Michigan
Federation of Labor (MFL), which he had founded, was solidly in place as
an AFL affiliate and provided bargaining power to labor's aristocracy, the
craft unionists, but most of the state's workers remained unorganized. The
AFL was losing ground nationwide.
When Labadie died in 1933, the most devastating depression in the
country's history had left some fifteen million Americans jobless, and many
more with their wages drastically cut. With nearly half of Michigan's work
ers unemployed, more than six hundred thousand of the desperate went on
relief. Barracks were filled with the homeless and an army of unemployed
roamed from place to place seeking work. Starving people were found uncon
scious on Detroit streets. Thousands of families were evicted for non-pay
ment of rent or had their utilities shut off. 30 The New Deal lay just ahead, but


Looking Back on It All
247
its government-run benefit system would not have been Labadie's idea of
the solution.
Stifled by twentieth-century bureaucracy, there was probably less, not
more, individual liberty in the country than when Labadie first began fight
ing for it. Few remained who would insist, as he had, that anarchism was
not a “cloudland” movement. In his valiant uphill battle to convince the
public of the beauty of the anarchist idea, he may have broken down “more
prejudice against the word ‘anarchist’ than can ever be estimated,’’ as Agnes
Inglis insisted, but then, as now, it constituted only a drop in a cascade of
anti-anarchist venom. 31
When he was being honest with himself, Labadie acknowledged that
his life had been “largely spent in the Land of Dreams.’’ Although his accom
plishments fell far short of his goals, he aimed high, straggled mightily, and
risked denunciation for being true to himself. A memorialist commented in
1950 that he kept himself as free as a man ever could: “Many envied him
who did not have his courage.’’ Personal charm, a strong sense of iden
tity, and an irrepressible rebelliousness enabled him to live pretty much as
his fancy dictated. He was, an admirer summed up, “a genial, whimsical
dreamer whom the gods love and to whom they have been kind.’’ 32
Yet the endeavors of Labadie and his comrades were not in vain.
Unions today may be but a shadow of their promise of a century ago, but it
was their demands and the threat of union action that produced improved
working conditions for the majority of American workers today, even the
unorganized. The Knights of Labor, though it failed, showed muscle that
strongly affected industrial relations to come and the AFL/CIO is still a
force to be reckoned with.
What Labadie believed in—from beginning to end—was the value of
the individual. It defined everything he did. He strode through a somewhat
quixotic career fueled by confidence in the ability of the unique individual
standing alone, self-led, self-governed, to make a difference, and convinced
many others that his ideas were worthy of consideration. By understanding
the power of the press, he showed how a popular figure could mold pub
lic opinion. Through his impassioned protests he helped define the limits
of government force and coercion. Indeed, Labadie might be heartened to
know that at the end of the twentieth century disenchantment with govern
ment and its ability to ensure liberty and justice for all is rife in the land.
Like others who fought lost causes, Jo Labadie nonetheless influenced the
outcome of those causes that survived.



249
Epilogue
The Flame Is Passed
Shortly before Jo Labadie died in 1933, his son, Laur
ance, used the Labadie Shop's archaic printing press to publish a
well-received speech Benjamin Tucker had given before the National
Civic Federation conference on trusts in Chicago in 1899. Titled “The
Attitude of Anarchism Toward Industrial Combinations,’’ it opposed
the anti-trust legislation favored by most of the nationally prominent
speakers attending and impressed professor of labor history John
R. Commons as “the most brilliant piece of pure logic’’ heard at the
conference. 1
Laurance, then thirty-five, sent a packet of the booklets to the seventy-
nine-year-old Tucker in Monaco by way of introduction. Tucker pointed out
the proofreading errors but otherwise seemed pleased. Over the next five
years, Laurance wrote several adulatory letters to Tucker, describing himself
as one interested in the propagation of anarchism, “while not an enthusi
ast,’’ although he considered Proudhon the greatest philosopher he had ever
read. He observed that the individualist school of anarchism seemed “quite
dead.’’ Tucker confirmed the observation by dedicating a photo presented to
Laurance to “the only young person that I recall who, being the offspring of


250
Epilogue
an avowed Anarchist, finds his greatest satisfaction in continuing the battle,
even though the cause be lost.” 2
Laurance confided to Tucker that, unlike his father, he was “unsocial,”
egocentric, irritable, and solitary, and that “a despondent pessimism fastened
on me about 15 years ago, when I was emersed [sic] in Schopenhauer.” 3 At
the same tune, he greatly understated to Tucker his commitment to the indi
vidualist doctrine. Laurance devoted the rest of his lifetime to its promul
gation. In 1933, the same year he originally contacted Tucker, he published
an essay, “Anarchism Applied to Economics,” the first of several hundred
pieces he was to write in the next thirty-odd years. Originally concentrating
on what he considered the evils resulting from the monopolization of money
and banking, he went on to examine from the anarchist viewpoint educa
tion, racial problems, and religion—as well as issues unique to the twentieth
century, such as the Vietnam conflict and the threat of nuclear war. Many of
these sometimes brilliant expositions eventually found their way to obscure
radical publications. 4
Laurance thus became Jo's intellectual heir, and equally significant,
Tucker's. He claimed that his father never attempted to convert him to anar
chism; indeed, there is no evidence that, in his old age, Jo was even aware
of his son's growing attachment to the doctrine or would have welcomed
the development if he had. Acknowledged as the “keeper of the flame,”
Laurance, the last of Tucker's circle, carried the sputtering flicker of nine
teenth-century “plumb line” individualist anarchism into the mid twentieth
century. 5 There it was rekindled in a modified form in the early 1970s by
the more mainstream libertarian movement, illustrating that yesterday's left-
wing radicals and today's right-wing libertarians have more in common than
generally thought. Indeed, American individualist anarchists are a puzzle for
those who like to fit ideologies neatly into ready-made right-wing/left-wing,
liberal/conservative, slots. They were “liberals” in their belief in the sanctity
of individual rights, and “conservatives” in their calls for a free marketplace.
Individualist anarchism and the theories of today's libertarians both descend
from the laissez-faire principles of Adam Smith and John Locke, and accept
that free competition does not bring equal outcomes for each individual, but
do not see that as injustice. Although many who profess libertarianism sim
ply resent government regulation of their enterprises, the Labadies focused
on the disparity in wealth and power caused by state-created monopolies of
land, money, trade (tariffs), ideas (patents/copyrights), and natural resources.
In 1937, finding no publication receptive to his writings, Laurance
started his own. In the modest, mimeographed Discussion—A Journal for


Epilogue
251
Free Spirits, he engaged some of Benjamin Tucker's original associates and
a few interested readers in the type of contentious discussion he and Tucker
so much relished. Focused on the desirability of competing money systems
and banking free of government control, the modest journal lasted for eight
issues. 6
Throughout these years, Laurance continued to co-exist discordantly
with his sister, Laura, and her companion, Fred Saxby, in the family home
at Fifteenth and Buchanan Streets, working, when necessary, as a highly
skilled tool and die maker. Fie devoted his lonely hours to studying the old
issues of Liberty and his father's correspondence, and developing his ability
to think and write. Although Laurance adored his father, Tucker was his
great intellectual ideal and model. 7
At about fifty, in 1948, Laurance became interested in the decentralist
School of Living movement founded by Ralph Borsodi. In its homestead
ing coimnunities, far from urban blight, families under Borsodi's guidance
sought security from unemployment and depressions by living communally
and providing their own necessities from the land. Laurance began writ
ing for the school's publications. Though afraid of traveling, he was per
suaded to visit the Lane's End Flomestead of John and Mildred Loomis in
Brookville, Ohio, where a branch of the School of Living was located. 8
By then, this self-taught, worker-intellectual had developed a “fiercely
logical and precise style’’ of writing, clear and direct, that historian James
J. Martin compared to Tucker's. Laurance is considered by some to have
surpassed his father as thinker and essayist. His articles over the next twenty
years and his argumentative and cantankerous presence had a profound
effect on many of the decentralists, who had taken government for granted
until he introduced them to the individualist viewpoint. 9
Of short stature, like his father, with a strong nose and Indian-appear-
ing physiognomy, Laurance also was given to romantically exaggerating the
slight degree of Native American genetic material remaining in the Labadie
blood line. Unlike his father, he dressed neglectfully and often slept in his
clothes.
Whatever money Laurance earned, he saved whenever possible. Mil
dred Loomis remembered him washing socks at Lane's End Homestead in
leftover suds and retrieving half-smoked cigarettes from the ashtray. In 1952,
his frugality enabled him to buy Borsodi's old “Dogwood's Homestead’’
on beautifully wooded acreage in Suffem, New York. He derived income
from renting out the three apartments in the stately stone house and con
verted the tool shed to quarters for himself and his extensive library. Here he


252
Epilogue
worked at Tucker's massive rolltop desk, loaned to him by Tucker's daugh
ter, Oriole Tucker Riche. In the former chicken coop, he ran a little mailing
list business. 10
Despite grossly deficient housekeeping skills, Laurance maintained
precise hies of his prodigious correspondence with still-living members of
his father's circle, with latter-day libertarians, and with those involved in
the Borsodi-Loomis back-to-the-land movement, which advocated Henry
George's single tax on land. He thrived on controversy and his verbal tan
gles with correspondents could be insulting. “He would eat you alive at the
faintest sign of wavering of intelligence,’’ his friend James Martin remem
bered. 11 Many folders full of “Unsent Letters to Mildred Loomis’’ (Borso
di's chief lieutenant), plus copies of the ones Laurance actually sent, testify
to his profound exasperation with what he considered her (and Borsodi's)
muddle-headed thinking. Like his father, he exhibited particular scorn for
most of the academic coimnunity.
Increasingly reclusive as tune went on, Laurance would engage in
intenninable monologues with his few visitors, switching abruptly from
subject to subject in a sort of stream of consciousness style. Sharp-tongued
and irascible to some, slyly sarcastic, he was also often generous and kindly.
He took special delight in children, with whom he felt a kinship; the children
of fonner black neighbors in Detroit spent what must have been a couple of
gloriously unstructured suimner vacations with him in the 1960s in Suffem.
To a few intimates, he revealed a delightfully acerbic wit, often telling jokes
on himself. He claimed, for example, that he followed a well-balanced diet,
eating carrots one year, spinach the next, and so on, a problem arising only
if he did not live long enough to incorporate all the food groups. 12 To those
few friends, he possessed an endearing vulnerability.
Laurance never married. He thought it a humorous irony that when, in
his fifties, he finally asked a woman at the School of Living to marry him,
even though he considered her unattractive because of “bad skin,’’ she turned
him down. He told a friend that he had tried sex a couple times and thought
it highly overrated. Depicting himself as “psychically out of gear,’’ Laurance
felt the emotional side of his nature was undeveloped. “Probably thru fear, I
kept it suppressed and never let my heart out to anyone,’’ he wrote. 13
Bedeviled by feelings of his own worthlessness, Laurance consid
ered most of mankind pretty worthless as well. He concluded, toward the
end of his life, that he had had no influence whatever. He attributed the
destruction of his health and spirit mainly to “the frustration coming from
lack of communication.’’ His outlook became so cataclysmic that “it made


Epilogue
253
even most editors of radical journals flinch and run,” according to James
Martin. In his last published work, What Is Man's Destiny? (1970), Laur
ance foresaw the impending doom of humanity and stated that “it is com
pletely preposterous to expect that the general battle for power between
governments (whose mere existence as mutual threats mutually support
each other) could possibly eventuate in anything other than the mutual
extermination of the human race.” He concluded in his last years that the
practical realization of anarchism was “a pipe dream.” 14
By the time Laurance died on August 12, 1975, at age seventy-six,
of lymphosarcoma, America's present-day libertarian movement was well
underway. Its basic theoretical underpinnings were those he and his father
combined had been preaching for nearly one hundred years, and which in
turn were inspired by the eighteenth-century classical liberalism of Smith,
Locke, and the Founding Fathers. As outlined by libertarian leader Murray
N. Rothbard in 1974, the doctrine holds that no person or government has
the right to aggress against the person or property of another; people have
the right to do whatever they wish so along as they do not invade the rights
of others; war is mass murder; conscription is slavery; taxation is banditry;
and that “throughout history, there has been one central, dominant, and
overriding aggressor upon all of these rights: the State.” 15
Few of today's libertarians are aware of the role Laurance played in
keeping the ideology alive, nor do most know much of Jo Labadie, Benjamin
Tucker, and their circle. Laurance's unprepossessing, rumpled figure would
have been a curious sight alongside these libertarians and “anarcho-capital-
ists” in dapper suits, who put no one in mind of the old-time stereotypical
wild-eyed, bushy-haired anarchist. Although Jo and Laurance's sympathies
lay with the poor and downtrodden, not those at the top of the heap, they
were, nevertheless, philosophical ancestors of the new breed.



255
Afterword
The Labadie Collection Today
Edward C. Weber
Curator of the Labadie Collection
yv lines Inglis's familiarity with even small details of the Laba
die Collection enabled her informal archival arrangement to serve users
very well—better than anyone has since been able to do. To the trained
librarian's eye Inglis's system appeared idiosyncratic. Her death in Febru
ary 1952 removed the easy key to her arrangement, namely, herself.
The graduate (then general) library began official cataloging of the
Labadie Collection that same year but we have no record of the procedures
followed or the reasons advanced for them. Strangely, some periodicals and
monographs, notably IWW materials, were transferred to the library stacks,
and other parts of the collection—labor colleges, cooperatives, and WPA
plays, for example—were judged no longer to be within its proper scope. A
few of these were transferred to the Detroit Public Library; the fate of most
of the others remains unknown.
Throughout the remainder of the 1950s, the collection remained
behind chicken wire in an area on the eighth level of the stacks. Its distant
location meant that those who wanted to use it were handed the key and could
browse unsupervised. Cataloging ceased within a year after its start; the


256
Afterword
rearranged collection of books, serials, pamphlets, and vertical files with
out designation or records was just as bewildering as Inglis's own system.
The general impression of the viewer was of confusion and neglect, aggra
vated by the piles of unshelved materials for whose place in the arrange
ment no clues could be found.
In 1960,1 was assigned as full-tune librarian and head of the Labadie
Collection to create some system to provide ready access. There were thou
sands of uncataloged periodicals and pamphlets, the latter arranged only
by large subject category without other clues. The 20,000 pamphlets were
checked item by item to prepare a card index for personal author, group, sig
nificant title, and related subject entries, with cross references. The vertical
hie cases, containing a wealth of leaflets, flyers, newspaper clippings, and
records of research, received a similar analysis for the necessary card index.
After the periodical records were checked for verification of holdings and
locations, card indexes for place of publication and for date by decade gave
clues for many research questions. Toward the end of the 1960s the copious
manuscript correspondence was examined for making indices of authors
and subjects. Not everything had been in place. After searching for Emma
Goldman's letters to Agnes Inglis, I came upon them in a cabinet of supplies
in a box marked “Folders” that I was preparing to throw away.
Unfortunately, very little could be done with Agnes Inglis's handwrit
ten cards. They had all been dumped into a cardboard box but fortunately not
discarded. Attempting to reconstitute her hies was a laborious, sometimes
vain, task. The cards contain references not found elsewhere, but the location
symbols were useless after the 1950s re-organization. Indeed, the footnotes
of scholars who did their research while Inglis was in charge are tantalizing to
today's historians, since the cited locations of many materials no longer exist.
In 1977, librarian Margaret Berg began to reconstitute the Labadie
manuscript collections by donor and provide inventories, a task carried
on by her successor, Kathryn Beam, from 1983. The work still goes on,
although almost all the older manuscript collections were complete enough
for Beam to edit a guide, Manuscripts in the Labadie Collection, in 1987.
Grave problems remained with the periodicals, whose official cata
loging was piecemeal from 1960 on. It was estimated that of approximately
8,000 serial titles in the Labadie Collection, only 15 percent had been cat
aloged. In 1983, librarian R. Anne Okey secured a two-year grant from the
National Endowment for the Humanities to establish a database for the
periodicals and uncataloged pamphlets. All the serials and three-quarters
of the pamphlets were entered before the funding ran out. A recent grant


Afterword
257
is making possible full cataloging of the periodicals, which are then to be
entered on MIRLYN, the University of Michigan's on-line catalog, and on
national databases.
The Labadie Collection does not have the single catalog, so often
requested. Its holdings must be sought from a variety of sources: MIRLYN,
for all officially cataloged materials, alphabetical card indexes for certain
categories of pamphlets, 25 drawers of vertical hies, 600 reels of microfilm,
and 300 records, cassettes, and tapes, as well as sheet music and photo
graphs. The 225 linear feet of manuscript holdings remain in varying states
of processing. Some parts of the collection, such as posters, are still without
precise guideposts except large subject designations.
As the lives of Jo Labadie and Agnes Inglis would suggest, the out
standing feature of the collection is the in-depth documentation of the anar
chist movement, perhaps the most comprehensive in this hemisphere. Other
notable strengths are in radical social protest and refonn movements of the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries, socialism, communism, early labor his
tory (especially the Knights of Labor and the IWW), civil liberties, coopera
tives, free thought, sexual freedom, colonialism and imperialism, the radical
right, monetary refonn, the single-tax movement, the Spanish Civil War,
and youth and student protest, with the documents sometimes donated by
the organizations concerned. The collection is also known for its ephemera,
which Labadie and his wife, Sophie, were adept at collecting, and includes
flyers, scrapbooks, buttons, badges, annbands, and bumper stickers.
The flood of acquisitions has always been much greater than the cat
aloging. From the 1960s, following Agnes Inglis's earlier example, I began
corresponding with individuals, groups, and organizations active in pub
lishing or disseminating radical literature. This gained the collection sub
stantial holdings in the areas of civil rights, the student protest and anti-war
movements, modem anarchist and socialist literature, gay liberation, radical
feminism, pacifism, environmental concerns, and anti-nuclear movements.
In 1964, the library director decided to add radical right materials to the
radical left.
Since the collection burgeoned greatly in the 1930s and even more so
in the 1960s and after, one may ask how significant today are the contribu
tions by its founder and by its first curator. They are immensely valuable.
Jo Labadie's printed materials are often unique, shedding light on radical
and labor history beyond the Michigan locale, while his immense personal
correspondence over decades serves to give perspective on a wide vari
ety of political and social issues of the tune. Agnes Inglis's bibliographies


258
Afterword
do not correspond to a dictionary definition but are repositories of factual
information, just as her handwritten cards give clues to articles never ana
lyzed elsewhere. Her personal correspondence is another mine of insightful
comment.
It should not be overlooked that both Labadie and Inglis were pio
neers in gathering radical materials when official institutions, among them
libraries, frowned on the idea. They rescued what would otherwise have
been lost, and the gratitude of subsequent researchers cannot be overstated.


259
Notes
AFL:SG
EVD
GS
J.L.
LC
LC/AI
LC/HB
LC/JG
LC/LL
MSBLS
MSUAHC
NYPL
TVP
SHSW
Abbreviations
American Federation of Labor Records, Samuel Gompers Era
Eugene V. Debs Papers
George Schilling Papers
Joseph Labadie
Labadie Collection
Agnes Inglis Papers, Labadie Collection
Henry Bool Papers, Labadie Collection
Judson Grenell Papers, Labadie Collection
Laurance Labadie Papers, Labadie Collection
Michigan State Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics
Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections
New York Public Library
Terence V. Powderly Papers
State Historical Society of Wisconsin
Preface
1. Emile Zola, Germinal (Aylesbury, Bucks., England: Penguin Books, 1984), 499.
2. Carl Nold, "Anarchists: Joseph A. Labadie," Man! 6, no. 69 (November 1933).
3. J.L., "Uncle Sam, the Real Culprit," Liberty, October 3, 1885.
4. Lee J. Smits, "Dean of Detroit's Bohemia," Detroit Free Press, October 29,
1922, J.L. Scrapbook I, 104, LC.
5. J.L. to "Friend Albertus" (Albert G. Wagner), February 8, 1927, LC.
6. Agnes Inglis, "Grenell—Judson," 5, LC/JG.
Chapter 1
1. Noiman Ware, The Labor Movement in the United States (Gloucester: Peter
Smith, 1959), 377, xiv; Foster Rhea Dulles and Melvyn Dubofsky, Labor in
America (Aldington Heights, 111.: Harlan Davidson, Inc., 1984), 121.
2. George E. McNeill, ed„ The Labor Movement: The Problem of Today (Boston
and New York: A. M. Bridgeman, 1887), 147.


260
Notes to Chapter i
3. J.L. to Richard T. Ely, August 8, 1885, Ely Papers, SHSW.
4. Detroit Evening News, October 5, 7, 1878.
5. George W. Stark, City of Destiny (Detroit: Amold-Powers, Inc., 1943), 396, 394.
6. Judson Grenell, "Detroit News and Notes," Die Socialist (Chicago), October
19, 1878; "Labor Day!" Detroit Evening New’s, September 5, 1887; Joseph A.
Labadie, "How the Knights of Labor Came to Michigan," 1926, and two untitled
typescripts dated April 1929, beginnning "Charles Litchman came to Detroit"
and "The first move for the organization of the Knights of Labor," LC.
7. A. M. Dewey, Industrial Leaders of Today (Detroit: A. M. Dewey, 1888), 5;
Gary M. Fink, ed.. Biographical Dictionaiy of American Labor (Westport,
Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1984), 358; Ware, The Labor Movement in the United
States, 20-21.
8 .The Socialist (Detroit), October 19, 1878.
9 .Agnes Inglis, "Charles Joseph Anthony Labadie," three-page biographical
sketch, LC.
10 .Terence V. Powderly, The Path I Trod (New York: Columbia University Press,
1940), 49.
11 .In his 1926 account Labadie identified this man only as "Miller." Contrary to
some speculations, this could not have been Charles E. Miller, who, according
to his profile in Industrial Leaders of Today, did not come to Detroit until 1885,
and would, in any case, only have been seventeen years old at the time of the
initiation.
12 .Ware, The Labor Movement, 377-78; Philip S. Foner, Histoiy of the Labor
Movement in the United States (New York: International Publishers, 1947),
1:434, 436.
13 Adelphon Kruptos, no title page, n.d., 6-7, 28, TVP, reel 67.
14 .Ware, The Labor Movement, 20-21. Except for his fourteen years in the Knights
of Labor, Litchman was active in the Republican party. M. B. Schnapper, Amer
ican Labor: A Pictoral Social Histoiy (Washington, D.C.: Public Affairs Press,
1975), 137-138.
15 .Schnapper, American Labor, 113.
16 .Knights of Labor, Record of Proceedings of the Second Regular Session of the
General Assembly (St. Louis, June 14-17, 1879), 64. Labadie often mistakenly
said he joined the Knights in 1879, probably because his first commission from
Powderly is dated December 13, 1879. He apparently forgot that his original
commission from Uriah S. Stephens was recalled in September 1879, along with
all the Knights of Labor commissions, and replaced with one signed by Pow-
derly, the new grand master workman.
17 .The Haverhill Laborer, clipping of letter from Labadie dated August 16, 1884,
J.L. Scrapbook II, 92-93, LC; Foner, Histoiy of the Labor Movement, 1:509;
Jonathan Gaiiock, Guide to the Local Assemblies of the Knights of Labor (West-
port, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1982), xix.
18 .The references to the first meetings of Local Assembly 901 are based on the
minutes of the Washington Literary Society, December 1, 1878 to March 3,
1879, LC.


Notes to Chapter 2
261
19 .David A. Boyd to A. Inglis, April 10, 1939, LC/AI; J.L. to Ely, December 16,
1885, SHSW; Labor Leaf, February 29, 1886, 2.
20 Adelphon Kruptos, 6-7; Schnapper, American Labor, 136-38; Ware, The Labor
Movement, 26. For an extensive examination of the ritual and religiosity of the
Knights, see Robert E. Weir, Beyond Labor's Veil: The Culture of the Knights of
Labor (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996), 19-66.
21 .Detroit Evening New’s, September 5, 1887; D. Boyd to A. Inglis, April 10, 1939,
LC/AI.
22 .MSBLS, First Annual Report (Lansing), 1884, 68-71. In 1882, there were 659
Detroit children under age fourteen working in factories or as messenger boys,
including one age seven. MSBLS, Second'Annual Report (1885), 63.
23 .Ware, The Labor Movement, xiii-xvi.
24 .Bay City Globe, letter from J.L., n.d. (ca. 1881), J.L. Scrapbook II, 49-50, LC;
J.L. Account Book, March 1879-March 1880, LC.
25 .MSBLS, First Annual Report, 1884, 71; Detroit Evening New’s, July 16, 1884,
J.L. Scrapbook II, 69, LC; Washington Literary Society minutes.
26 .Ware, The Labor Movement, 75, 346^-8; Weir, Beyond Labor's Veil, 46, 51;
Detroit Evening Journal, interview with J.L., n.d., J.L. Scrapbook I, 51, LC.
27 .Detroit Evening New’s, September 5, 1887. McClellan is sometimes spelled
McClelland or McClellend.
28 .Richard Jules Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation: Working People and
Class Consciousness in Detroit, 1875-1900 (Urbana: University of Illinois
Press, 1986), 91-92.
29 .Dewey, Industrial Leaders of Today, 17; The Socialist (Detroit), April 20, 1878;
"Eccentric Characters," J.L. Scrapbook 1882-1929, 13-14, LC/LL.
30 .[Lansing Sentinel], 1884, J.L. Scrapbook 1883-1901, 10, LC/LL.
31 .J.L. to Powderly, December7, 1879, February 24, 1880, TVP; Knights of Labor,
Record of Proceedings of the Fourth Regular Session of the General Assembly,
Pittsburgh, September 7-11, 1880, 213, TVP, reel 67; J.L., untitled typescript,
beginning "The first move," April 1929, LC.
32 .Labor Review, September 25, 1880.
33 .Richard J. Oestreicher, "Terence Powderly, the Knights of Labor and Artisanal
Republicanism," in Labor Leaders of America, ed. Melvyn Dubofsky and War
ren Van Tine (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987), 47^-8; J. Grenell,
untitled typescript, beginning "The order of the Knights of Labor," 1-2, LC/JG.
Chapter 2
1 .Labadie's experiences living in the wilderness among the Indians of south
ern Michigan are described in his letters to A1 G. Wagner, October 23, 1925;
J. Grenell, January 15, 1928, February 27, 1930; A. Inglis, May 25, 1929; C.
H. Engle, July 14, 1913; and in L. Labadie, "Jo Labadie," October 22, 1944,
LC. See also J.L., three-page typescript, beginning "It has been my fate to be a
worker all my life," n.d., LC; J.L. to "Dear Mrs. Bather," n.d., LC.
2. J.L. to Wagner, October 23, 1925, LC.


262
Notes to Chapter 2
3. F. Clever Bald, Michigan in Four Centuries (New York: Harper and Brothers,
1961), 8-19.
4. Information about Anthony C. Labadie is found in J.L., "My Outings," n.d.,
LC; U.S. Army, "Discharge Certificate for Anthony C. Labadie," April 2, 1863,
LC; U.S. Census, Lafayette (later Paw Paw), Michigan, 1840; L. Labadie, "Jo
Labadie."
5. J.L., "The History of the Labadie Family," n.d., LC; J.L. to J. Grenell, February
27, 1930, LC; U.S. Census, Lafayette, August 11, 1850.
6. J.L. to Dr. William E. Gilroy, June 14, 1925, LC.
7. The French settlers often had more than one surname, connected by the word
"dit," meaning "alias" or "also known as." Descomptes is variously spelled Des-
comps, De Combs, Descompte, and Descom. Labadie is also spelled Labodie,
de la Badie, and la Bady in early records. Larry Emery, "The Story of Marie
Sauvagesse and Antoine 'Badichon' Labadie," July 1997, 30p. ts., 2, LC. Laba
die family genealogical data is found in the following: Clarence M. Burton, "The
Labadie Family in Detroit," LC; idem. The City of Detroit, 1701-1922 (Detroit:
Clarke, 1922), 1382-84; Fr. Christian Denissen, Genealogy of the French Fami
lies of the Detroit River Region, 1701-1936 (Detroit: Detroit Society for Genea
logical Research, 1987) 616-23; "The Labadies of Windsor, Ontario," n.d., LC;
A. Philippe E. Panet, "The Labadie Family in the County of Essex, Ontario,"
Essex Historical Society 1 (1905): 12-27, 38-55; Antoine Descomptes dit Laba-
die's will, English translation. May 26, 1806, LC; J.L., Detroit News question
naire, February 20, 1920, Detroit News files; General Friend Palmer, Early Days
in Detroit (Detroit: Hunt and June, 1906), 370-72, 623-25; Border Cities Star
(Windsor, Ont.), December 10, 1932; Francis X. Chauvin, Hiram Walker: His
Life, His Work (Windsor: Hiram Walker Distillery, n.d. [1925]). The earliest
known map of Detroit, dated 1752, reproduced in the Detroit New’s, Decem
ber 7, 1930, shows members of the family settled on both sides of the Detroit
River. An extended account of the early Labadies is found in Carlotta Anderson,
"The Ancestors of Jo Labadie (Charles Joseph Antoine Labadie) Detroit Labor
Leader and Anarchist, 1850-1933," 1995, LC.
8. Chauvin, Hiram Walker, 5, chap. 9; J.L., "Backward Look, Vanishing Vision,"
n.d., LC.
9. J.L. to Clarence Burton, March 18, 1917, LC.
10. J.L. to A. Inglis, May 25, 1929; U.S. Census, Lafayette, 1840; Antoine Des
comptes dit Labadie will, LC. Marie was, more specifically, a Sauteuse. The
home ground of the Ojibway tribe was around the Sault Sainte Marie. The
French called these Indians Saulteurs, which, corrupted a bit and applied to a
female, would be Sauteuse. For an examination of data regarding Marie, see
Emery, "Marie Sauvagesse and Antoine 'Badichon' Labadie," 11-17. Even in
Michigan, some British subjects, but not Americans, were permitted to own
slaves after 1796. Bald, Michigan in Four Centuries, 98. Slavery in Canada con
tinued until it was abolished by the 1833 Imperial Act, and in Michigan until the
state's first constitution came into effect in 1837. David M. Katzman, Before the
Ghetto: Black Detroit in the Nineteenth Century (Urbana: University of Illinois
Press, 1973), 5-6.


Notes to Chapter 3
263
11. The East Sandwich period and the development of Walkerville are described in
J.L. to Burton, March 18, 1917, LC; Chauvin, Hiram Walker; J.L., "Backward
Look, Vanishing Vision"; "The Labadies of Windsor, Ontario"; "Labadie Heirs,"
[Detroit Evening News], January 16, 1886, J.L. Scrapbook I, 65, LC; "Labadies
are Likely to be Millionaires," The Show World, April 10, 1909, LC; "Obituary"
and "An Old Resident Dies," n.s., March 6, 1886, J.L. Scrapbook II, 1, LC; J.L.
to A. Inglis, May 25, 1929, LC; J.L. to J. Grenell, Lebruary 27, 1930, LC; J.L. to
Detroit Nev’s, Lebruary 25, 1924, LC.
12. Obituary of Lelice Montreuil Chapoton, newspaper clipping, n.s., 1899, LC.
13. J.L. to Grenell, Lebruary 27, 1930, LC.
14. The Pottawatomi were Indians of the Algonquian stock, who at one time formed
a confederacy with the Ojibway and the Ottawa. They settled in lower Michigan
and lived chiefly by hunting and fishing. In 1838, the U.S. government moved
most of them West, but the band led by Leopold Pokagen was allowed to remain.
Leopold's son, Simon, the last of the Pottawatomi chiefs, attended Notre Dame
University and Oberlin College, and made several trips to Washington, D.C., to
obtain payments due the tribe and to demand the fulfillment of treaty promises.
E. L. Greenman, "Indian Chiefs of Michigan," Michigan Histoiy 23, no. 3 (sum
mer 1938): 229-32.
15. J.L., "It has been my fate . . . ," LC.
16. J.L., "To the Editor of the Michigan Catholic," LC.
17. The Ledger similar to Harper's Weekly or Vanity Fair was designed for Sunday
reading and featured reports and pictures from the Civil War battlefields, as well
as popular romances and useful information.
18. J.L., "What Is Love?" What Is Love? and Other Fancies (Detroit: The Labadie
Shop, 1910), LC.
19. Information on Anthony Labadie is found in J.L., "My Outings"; Anthony Laba-
die's U.S. Army discharge certificate; Record of Sendee of Michigan Volunteers
in the Civil War 1861-1865 (Kalamazoo: State of Michigan, 1905), 41:110;
"Declaration for the Increase of an Invalid Pension" (Clerk of the Circuit Court,
State of Michigan, County of Kalkaska), September 8, 1877, LC; L. Labadie,
"Jo Labadie," LC.
Chapter 3
1 Michigan Federation of Labor Yearbook, 1896, 16, LC; George Stark, "Letter
to a Lriend," DetroitNev’s, July 21, 1939; J.L. to "Deal-Aunt," Lebruary 7, 1866,
LC.
2. J.L. to Clarence Burton, March 18, 1917, LC.
3. L. Labadie, "Jo Labadie"; Stark, "Letter to a Lriend."
4. Judson Grenell, 'Autobiography" (Clearwater, Lla.: n.p., 1930), 17-19,
MSUAHC.
5. Ibid.
6. Schnapper, American Labor, 88; Loner, Histoiy of the Labor Movement, 1:365.
7. Dulles and Dubofsky, Labor in America, 101-2; Melvyn Dubofsky, Industrialism


264
Notes to Chapter 3
and the American Worker, 1865-1920 (Arlington Heights, 111.: Harlan Davidson,
1985), 121.
8. Stark, "Letter to a Friend"; J.L. to International Typographical Union, August 9,
1925, LC.
9. Typographical Journal, July 15, 1889, Communications Workers of America,
Washington, D.C., 6.
10. Labadie's working cards issued by local typographical unions, LC. For an over
view of tramping in America by both skilled artisans and the wandering poor,
see Eric H. Monkkonen, ed„ Tramping to Work: Tramps in America, 1790-1935
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984).
11. Typographical Journal, July 15, 1889, 6; J.L. to "My Dear Brother Devine,"
January 8, 1915, LC.
12. J.L. to Richard T. Ely, July 4, 1885, Ely Papers, SHSW.
13. J.L. to Paul J. Maas, n.d., LC; J.L. to Burton, March 18, 1917, LC; Labadie,
"When the writer came into Detroit," n.d., LC; Stark, "Letter to a Friend."
14. Melvin G. Holli, ed„ Detroit (New York: New Viewpoints, 1976), 59, 82-86,
269, 275; Olivier Zunz, The Changing Face of Inequality: Urbanization, Indus
trial Development, and Immigrants in Detroit, 1880-1920 (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1982), 16-18.
15. Holli, Detroit, 62: Leon Fink, Workingmen's Democracy: Die Knights of Labor
and American Politics (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983), 178, 182;
Zunz, Changing Face of Inequality, 32, 35; Oestreicher, Solidarity and Frag
mentation, 10, 34—35, 53.
16. Detroit Evening News, January 1, 1880.
17. MSBLS, First Annual Report, 1884, 187.
18. "Old Labor Movements," Detroit Evening New’s, 1890 (with notation by A. Ing
lis, "written by Joe"), LC.
19. Anthony C. Labadie to "dere brother," February 1875, LC; J.L., "My Outings,"
n.d., LC.
20. J.L., "My Outings"; Anthony C. Labadie to "well joseph," July 9, 1886, LC;
Anthony C. Labadie Discharge Papers, April 2, 1863, LC.
21. J.L. to Sophie Archambeau, November 12, 1876, LC.
22. J.L., "To the Editor of the Evening New’s," Detroit Evening New’s, May 6, 1876,
J.L. Scrapbook II, 2, LC; J.L. to "Father," May 4, 1876, LC.
23. Ibid.
24. J.L. to Myra Weller, September 23, 1925, LC.
25. There are ten letters from J.L. to Sophie Archambeau, 1870 to 1876, and six
letters from Sophie Archambeau to J.L., all written in 1876, LC.
26. J.L. to Sophie Archambeau, n.d. ("Wednesday, 12 o'clock"), and September 3
and 13, November 12, 1876, LC.
27. Sophie Archambeau to J.L., October 15, November 26, 1876, LC; J.L. to Sophie
Archambeau, n.d. ("Tuesday night, 8V2 o'clock"), LC.
28. J.L. to Sophie Archambeau, September 3, November 12, 1876, LC.
29. Catholic Information Center, Washington, D.C.
30. J.L. to Sophie Archambeau, September 3, 1876, LC.


Notes to Chapter 4
265
31. J.L. to Sophie Archambeau, n.d. ("Tuesday night, 8V2 o'clock"), and September
3, 1876, LC.
32. A. Inglis, "Jo and 'Mamma' Labadie," September 12, 1948, LC; J.L., "Cranky
Notions (The sphit moves me . . .)," ca. 1899, LC.
33. J.L., "What Is Love?"
34. J.L. to Weiler, September 23, 1925, LC.
Chapter 4
1. Foner, Histoiy of the Labor Movement, 1:413.
2. In 1880, there were 23, 769 Geimans in a total Detroit population of 116, 340.
Holli, Detroit, 62, 269-270; Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation, 37,
44—52: Detroit Evening News, September 5, 1887.
3. Holli, Detroit, 82; Patricia A. Cooper, Once a Cigar Maker: Men, Women, and
Work Culture in American Cigar Factories, 1900-1916 (Urbana: University
of Illinois Press, 1987). 170; Judson Grenell, "Rubbing Elbows With People
Worthwhile: XXVI. Charles Erb," Detroit Nev’s, ca. 1916, Detroit Labor Lead
ers File, LC; Detroit Evening News, September 5, 1887.
4. J. Grenell, "Rubbing Elbows With People Worthwhile: XXVI. Charles Erb";
idem, "Autobiography," 29.
5. J.L. to Henry Ford, unsent, 1914, LC.
6. J. Grenell, "Autobiography," 30.
7. J. Grenell, "Autobiography," 1, 21, 23, 26-27.
8. Ibid., 27, 34; Judson Grenell, "Rubbing Elbows With People Worthwhile: V. Joe
Labadie," Detroit New’s, September 11, 1916.
9. J. Grenell to A. Inglis, October 28, 1929; J. Grenell, "Autobiography," 29; The
Socialist (Detroit), December 8, 1877; Siegfried E. Rolland, "The Detroit Labor
Press, 1839-89" (master's thesis, Wayne State University, 1946), 13. The first
issue of The Socialist was dated October 13, 1877.
10. The Socialist (Detroit), December 8, 1877, January 5, 1878; The Socialist (Chi
cago), November 16, 1878; D. Boyd to A. Inglis, November 29, 1938, LC.
11. J. Grenell, "Autobiography," 31, 33. Although no editor was named and most of
the articles were unsigned, Grenell stated in his autobiography that he was the
editor. Frank Hirth, who became editor of the Chicago Socialist, could not have
been editor of the Detroit Socialist, as some historians have written, because the
issue of June 1, 1878, stated that the editor was unable to read German and Hirth
was Geiman.
12. Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation, 83-84; J. Grenell, "Autobiography,"
32-33.
13. The Socialist (Detroit), December 8, 1877; Labadie Account Book, January
1878, LC; J. Grenell, "Autobiography," 81.
14. The number of members claimed was probably fanciful. Morris Hillquit, in his
Histoiy of Socialism in the United States (New York: Dover Publications, 1971),
206, estimates SLP membership at the beginning of 1879 as 10,000. The Social
ist (Detroit), January 5, 12, and May 11, 25, 1878.


266
Notes to Chapter 5
15. J. Grenell, "Autobiography," 32; Daniel Bell, "The Problem of Idealogical
Rigidity," in Failure of a Dream: Essays in the Histoiy of American Socialism,
ed. John H. M. Laslett and Seymour Martin Lipset (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1974), 7.
16. The Socialist (Detroit), January 12, February 16, March 16, 1878; J.L., "Eight
Hours a Day," The Socialist (Chicago), October 19, 1878.
17. Richard Oestreicher, "Socialism and the Knights of Labor in Detroit, 1877-
1886," Labor Histoiy 22 (1981): 12. The Socialist (Chicago), January 18, April
20, 1878; J.L., "Pauper Labor," Labor Enquirer (Denver), October 14, [1884],
J.L. Scrapbook II, 89-90, LC.
18. The Socialist (Detroit), May 18, 1878 (quoting from a Detroit Evening New’s
article).
19. The Socialist (Detroit), January 12, February 9, 23, and May 25, 1878.
20. Labadie Account Book, 1878; MSBLS, First Annual Report, 1884, 86-87.
21. Sidney Glazer, "Labor and Agrarian Movements in Michigan, 1876-1896"
(Ph.D. diss.. University of Michigan, 1932), 38. The typographical union was
the first trade union in Michigan. It originated in March 1839, when Detroit
printers and employers banded together to form a Typographical Society "in the
interest of both the employing and the employed." When the ITU was founded
thirteen year's later, the Detroit printers' group was chartered as T.U. 18. For
many years, it was the sole labor organization in the city. Detroit Evening New’s,
September 5, 1887.
22. Dulles and Dubofsky, Labor in America, 106. The Typographical Union had
only 4, 260 members in 1878. Ware, The Labor Movement, 51.
23. J.L. to Richard T. Ely, August 30, 1885, Ely Papers, SHSW; J.L., Letters to the
Editor, Our Organette, July 29, 1882; August 11, 1883.
24. International Typographical Union, Report of Proceedings of the Twenty-sixth
Annual Session of the International Typographical Union, Detroit, June 3-7,
1878, 19, 48, 54-56, Microfilm Misc.
#60, American Labor Union Constitution and Proceedings, 1836-1974, ITU Con
stitution and Proceedings, University Microfilm, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan;
Detroit Evening New’s, June 5, 6, 7, 1878.
25. Labadie Account Book, June 1878.
26. Socialist Labor Party, Proceedings of the Second National Convention, Decem
ber 26, 1879-January 1, 1880, Records of the Socialistic Labor Party of Amer
ica, microfilm edition, SHSW, 1970, 7-8.
27. J. Grenell, 'Autobiography," 34; Fink, Workingmen's Democracy, 194; Bruce C.
Nelson, Beyond the Martyrs: A Social Histoiy of Chicago's Anarchists, 1870-
1900 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1988), 203.
28. Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation, 130; Foner, Histoiy of the Labor
Movement, 2:29-31.
Chapter 5
1. The Socialist (Chicago), January 4, 1879.
2. J.L. to Paul J. Maas, n.d., LC; The Socialist (Chicago), January 4, May 10, 1879.


Notes to Chapter 5
267
3. J.L., untitled two-page typescript, beginning "Some of the comrades say
LC; J. Grenell, "Rubbing Elbows With People Worthwhile: V. Joe Labadie";
idem, "These socialist tracts . .. ."note, summer 1929, attached to copy of Labor
Review’, July 1880, LC; The Socialist (Chicago), May 10, June 14, 1879.
4. The Socialist (Chicago), May 10, 1879; Karl Marx, Poverty of Philosophy (New
York: International Publishers, 1936), 60, cited in Rolland, "The Detroit Labor
Press," 70-75; "John F. Bray," Detroit Evening Journal, reprinted in the Labor
Leaf, June 30, 1886. Bom in Washington, D.C., but taken to England at the age
of twelve, Bray was a fascinating man. According to Rolland, his parents were
actors, dancers, and singers in England and the United States. Bray worked as
a printer and daguerrotype artist, edited the Pontiac Jacksonian, and wrote on
aerial navigation, perpetual motion, and fanners, as well as utopian socialism.
In his 1840 Aerial Navigation, he maintained that the advent of the steam engine
had made flight in heavier-than-air machines possible. He even designed a crude
airplane that resembled a box car with rotating wings at the side and stern and a
steam engine with a system of screws and shafts for transmitting power.
5. "What Is Socialism?" Socialistic Tract Association, Tract no. 1, LC.
6. Ibid.
7. The Socialist (Chicago), May 10, 1879; Labor Review’, July 1880; J. Grenell,
"Autobiography," 31-32; Detroit New’s, November 21, 1878.
8. J.L., "Some of the comrades say," LC.
9. The Socialist (Chicago), January 18, February 1, 1879.
10. "Greenbacks! Greenbacks!" speech by Moses W. Field, reprinted from Detroit
Daily Sun, 1875, clipping. Greenback folder, LC.
11. Foner, Histoiy of the Labor Movement, 1:476-79; Glazer, "Labor and Agrarian
Movements in Michigan," 189-92; The Socialist (Detroit), January 19, May 11,
1878; The Socialist (Chicago), October 5, 19, 1878; J. Grenell, "Autobiogra
phy," 31; J.L. to Maas, n.d., LC.
12. Foner, Histoiy of the Labor Movement, 1:484.
13. Detroit Evening News, October 25, 27, 1879.
14. "City Politics," [October 27, 1879], n.s., J.L. Scrapbook III, 11, LC.
15. Ibid.; Detroit Evening New’s, October 27, 1879; "To the Voters of Detroit," hand
bill, Political Activities folder, LC.
16. J.L., "Taxation," [Bay City Globe], ca. 1881-82, J.L. Scrapbook II, 53, LC.
17. Ibid.; Detroit Evening New’s, October 30, November 5, 1879; J.L. to Powderly,
December 7, 1879, TVP.
18. Detroit City Directoiy for 1880 (Detroit: J. W. Weeks, 1880), 514—15, Burton
Collection, Detroit Public Library, Detroit, Michigan; Labadie Account Book,
1878-79; Labor Leaf, April 7, 1886.
19. Labadie Account Book, 1879-80; "The No-Rent Manifesto," [Bay City Globe],
November 10, 1881, J.L. Scrapbook II, 45, LC.
20. J.L., "Stop the Leak," Our Organette, September 9, 1882; J.L., "Almost an Anar
chist," Liberty (Boston), June 9, 1883.
21. Henry George to J.L., March 10, 1881, LC.
22. J.L. to Frederick F. Ingram, October 29, 1919, LC. Interest in George's ideas.


268
Notes to Chapter 6
which nearly died out after his death, has been growing in recent years. There
are a number of Henry George schools in the United States and Canada and a
modified form of his land-value tax is practiced in Australia.
23. Labor Review’, February, April, and September 18, 1880; Oestreicher, Solidarity
and Fragmentation, 5.
24. Beecher quoted in Labor Leaf, September 29, 1886; Labor Review, March 1880;
Sophie Labadie quoted in A. Inglis, "Charles Joseph Antoine Labadie," three-
page biographical sketch, 1, LC; idem, "Charles Joseph Antoine Labadie," ten-
page biographical sketch, 2, LC.
25. Labor Review, May 1880; Labadie Account Book, June 1880.
26. Philip Van Patten to Powderly, July 15, 1880, TVP; The Socialist (Chicago),
May 10, 1879; J. Grenell, "Autobiography," 34-35.
27. Labor Review’, May 1880.
28. Advance and Labor Leaf, September 17, 1887.
29. J.L. to E. A. Stephens, published letter, n.s., June 1, 1880, J.L. Scrapbook II, LC.
This is probably the E. A. Stevens who was one of the earliest members of the
Knights of Labor in Detroit and who was living in Chicago in 1880.
30. Hillquit, Histoiy of Socialism in the United States, 244^15; Convention report.
Labor Review’, June 1880; J. Grenell, "Autobiography," 35.
31. Labor Review, June 1880; Paul Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1984), 47^18.
32. Labor Review, June 1880, August 28, 1880 (platform).
33. Ibid., August 7, 21, 1880.
34. Ibid., September 11,1880; J.L., "Who is a Socialist?" in Doggerel for the Under
dog (Detroit: The Labadie Shop, 1910), LC. For an account of local German
opposition to SLP involvement in the Greenback campaign, see Oestreicher,
Solidarity and Fragmentation, 93-96.
35. Labor Review’, October 2, 1880. Weaver polled more than one million votes in
1892 as presidential candidate of the Populist party. In 1882, Josiah W. Begole
was elected governor of Michigan on a Democrat-Greenback fusion ticket.
36. Hillquit, Histoiy of Socialism in the United States, 217; Labor Review’, Novem
ber 1881.
37. J.L., "Almost an Anarchist," Liberty, June 9, 1883. See Truth, September 1884.
for the last mention of Labadie as an SLP official. One-time state socialists who
turned to anarchism in this period include Dyer Lum, whose intellectual devel
opment most closely parallels Labadie's, and Moritz A. Bachmann, in the indi
vidualist camp, as well as William Holmes, and all the Haymarket defendants in
the collectivist camp.
Chapter 6
1. The Unionist, September 4, 1882.
2. Detroit Evening News, September 5, 1887.
3. MSBLS, First Annual Report, 1884, 74. This report incorrectly gives the found
ing date of the Detroit Trades Assembly as 1865. The population of Detroit in
1860 was 45, 619.


Notes to Chapter 6
269
4. The Socialist (Detroit), January 12, 19, 1878.
5. Ibid., January 19, 1878; Ware, The Labor Movement, 60, 377.
6. Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation, 78.
7. *** (Detroit), February 1880; Labor Review’, March 1880.
8. Labor Review’, March 1880; Detroit Times, April 17, 1881; MSBLS, First Annual
Report, 1884, 75; D. Boyd to A. Inglis, July 22, 1938 (re: Strigel), LC; Detroit
Newts, July 21, 1880.
9. MSBLS, First Annual Report, 75; Detroit Times, April 10, 1881; D. Boyd to A.
Inglis, November 29, 1938, LC.
10. Labor Review’, October 23, 1880.
11. Ibid., October 9, 23, 1880; Labadie Account Book, October 1880, LC.
12. Labor Review’, September 18, 1880.
13. Detroit Times, April 17, 1881.
14. Ibid., April 10, 1881; Hillquit, Histoiy of Socialism in the United States, 208.
15. Detroit Times, April 10, 1881. The Trades Council reported a drop of one-third
in the circulation of the paper's Sunday edition as a result of the boycott. Oestre
icher, Solidarity and Fragmentation, 109. The concept of a boycott, of course,
had been employed by American colonials who refused to buy British goods
after the passage of the Stamp Act in 1765. But the term itself was not used
until after 1880, when local people in Ireland refused to cooperate with Captain
Charles Cunningham Boycott, an English land agent, because of his ruthlessness
in evicting tenants.
16. Detroit Times, April 17, 24, and May 8, 14, 1881. Oestreicher estimates the
city's industrial workers in 1880 as 14, 500 (Solidarity and Fragmentation, A).
17. Labadie Account Book, May 1881; J.L., "The Law of Wages," Labor Star,
n.d., J.L. Scrapbook II, 61-62, LC; J.L., "Two Kinds of Slavery—Chattel and
Wages," Labor Star, n.d., J.L. Scrapbook II, 74-75, LC.
18. J. Grenell, 'Autobiography," 32; Margaret Grenell to A. Inglis, June 22, 1946,
LC.
19. Silas Farmer, Flistoiy of Detroit and Wayne County (Detroit, 1890), 681; Labor
Review, September 1881. The Herald folded shortly thereafter.
20. Labadie was editor of the revived Labor Review’. See John Swinton to J.L., July
26, 1881, LC.
21. Labor Review, August and September 1881; Richard O. Boyer and Herbert
M. Morais, Labor's Untold Stoiy (Pittsburgh: United Electrical, Radio, and
Machine Workers of America, 1988), 82-84: Truth, May 1884, 11-12.
22. William H. Foster to J.L., May 4, 1885, LC; Emma Goldman, Living My Life
(New York: Dover Publications, 1970), 1:140; Boyer and Morais, Labor's
Untold Stoiy, 80-82; Foner, Histoiy of the Labor Movement, 2:30; J.L., "Laba-
die's Lessons," Labor Enquirer (Denver), February 15, 1884, J.L. Scrapbook II,
97-98, LC.
23. Swinton to J.L., December 24, 1889, LC. Labadie later hied to obtain missing
copies of John Swinton's Paper for his collection, but Swinton himself could not
supply them.
24. A. Inglis, Labadie character sketch beginning, "In a letter to me dated 1929," 1,
LC.


270
Notes to Chapter 6
25. J.L. to Richard T. Ely, July 4, 1885, SHSW; A. Inglis, "Jo and 'Mamma' idem,
notes on Labadie's 1926 Ann Arbor visit, n.d., written underneath a picture of
Labadie; idem, "Charles Joseph Antoine Labadie," three-page biographical
sketch, 1.
26. They included The Exponent (Cincinnati), The Trades (Philadelphia), Labor
Star (Cleveland), The Voice (New York), Our Organette (Philadelphia), Truth
(San Francisco), Journal of United Labor (Pittsburgh), Labor Herald (Pitts
burgh), The Crisis (Indianapolis), Labor Enquirer (Denver), John Swinton's
Paper (New York), The Craftsman (Washington, D.C.), and Liberty (Boston),
as well as the Detroit National (Greenback), Bay City Globe, Flint Labor News
Echo, and Grand Rapids Daily Democrat.
27. Detroit Times, May 8, 1881; "A Socialist Replies," Detroit Evening New’s, n.d.,
J.L. Scrapbook II, 36, LC.
28. J.L., "How the Knights of Labor Came to Michigan," 1926, LC; Knights of
Labor, Record of Proceedings, 1880, 213-14.
29. Ware, The Labor Movement, 75, 92.
30. Ibid., 66, 93; J.L. to Richard T. Ely, December 16, 1885, SHSW.
31. Powderly to J.L., June 8, 1882, TVP; J.L. to Rev. Dr. Rexford, November 12,
1882, LC.
32. J.L., untitled typescript beginning, "The first move . . . ," LC; Knights of Labor,
Record of Proceedings of the Sixth Regular Session of the General Assembly.
New York City, September 5-12, 1882, 389; Ware, The Labor Movement, 96.
33. Detroit Evening News, September 5, 1887; The Unionist, September 18, 1882;
Fink, Workingmen's Democracy, 9.
34. The Unionist, January 22, 1883; Detroit Evening News, September5, 1887; Oes-
treicher. Solidarity and Fragmentation, 188.
35. The Unionist, April 30, 1883; Foner, Histoiy of the Labor Movement, 2:58-59;
Carolyn Ashbaugh, Lucy Parsons: American Revolutionary (Chicago: Charles
H. Kerr Publishing Co., 1976), 26; Bernard Mandel, Samuel Gompers (Yellow
Springs: The Antioch Press, 1963), 186; John Swinton's Paper, September 27,
1885; Joseph Buchanan, The Stoiy of a Labor Agitator (New York: The Outlook
Co., 1903), 276-78.
36. The Unionist, April 21, 1882; October 2, 16, 1882. Lord was not re-elected.
Rolland, "The Detroit Labor Press," 107.
37. Foner, Histoiy of the Labor Movement, 2:361-64.
38. J.L., "Uncle Sam, the Real Culprit," Liberty, October 3, 1885.
39. Foner, Histoiy of the Labor Movement, 2:75-76; Boyer and Morais, Labor's
Untold Stoiy, 80; J. Grenell, "A Foreword" (March 1928), LC; Our Organette,
July 29, 1882.
40. J.L., "What Is a Workingman?" August 3, 1881, [Detroit National], LC; J.L.,
"Political Economy," Bay City Globe, n.d., both J.L. Scrapbook II, 49-50, LC.
41. Our Organette, September 9, 1882; J.L., "Citizens of the Republic . .. "Bay City
Globe, May 5, 1882, J.L. Scrapbook II, 50-51, LC; J.L., "The Labor Problem,"
The Unionist, June 12,1882. To the modem reader, the idea of eliminating interest
may seem curious, but payments for the use of money were forbidden in Biblical


Notes to Chapter 6
271
times and during the Roman Republic. In general, people regarded interest and
usury as synonymous until the late Middle Ages. Marx thought it "a crime
against humanity." Islamic law still bans interest.
42. Fink, Workingmen's Democracy, 6; J.L., "The Benefit Working People Would
Derive from Free Land," Labor Star April 23, 1883, J.L. Scrapbook II, 74, LC;
Our Organette, August 5, 1882.
43. J.L., "Letter from Michigan," n.s., November 1, [1884], J.L. Scrapbook II, 94,
LC. Powderly was also equivocal on the issue of political action, ruling that it
must not be discussed in local assemblies, while maintaining that "wise leg
islation" would eliminate the necessity of strikes. Foner, Histoiy of the Labor
Movement, 2:80-81.
44. Editor's note. Bay City Globe, n.d. [1882], J.L. Scrapbook II, 51, LC.
45. Editor's note. Labor Star, n.d., J.L. Scrapbook II, 58, LC; "Mass Meeting,"
Labor Star, [October 6, 1882], J.L. Scrapbook II, 55-57, LC.
46. Ware, The Labor Movement, 251.
47. Ibid., 248; J.L., ‘An Open Letter," Labor Star, November 17, 1882, J.L. Scrap
book II, 58-59, LC. The FOTLU wanted legislation for the incorporation of
trade unions, enforcement of the eight-hour day, repeal of the conspiracy laws
used to prosecute strikers, abolition of child labor and contract convict labor,
compulsory education, uniform apprentice laws, bureaus of labor, and the exclu
sion of Chinese coolies—demands similar to those of the Knights.
48. J.L., ‘An Open Letter," Labor Star, November 17, 1882; J.L., "To the Editor,"
Our Organette, November 18, December 16, 1882.
49. Labor Star, [November 1882], J.L. Scrapbook II, 59, 61-62, LC.
50. Ibid.; International Typographical Union, Report of Proceedings of the Thir
ty-first Annual Session of the International Typographical Union, Cincinnati,
[1883], 41 (report on the 1882 convention of the FOTLU), Microfilm Misc. #60,
American Labor Unions Constitutions and Proceedings, 1826-1974, ITU Con
stitution and Proceedings, University Microfilms, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan.
51. "Banquet and Dance," Labor Star, [November 1882], J.L. Scrapbook II, 61, LC.
52. Our Organette, December 16, 1882.
53. J.L. to Powderly, August 27, 1884, TVP; Our Organette, November 18, Decem
ber 23, 1882.
54. ITU, Report of Proceedings, [1883], 13; J. L., "Labadie's Logic," Labor
Enquirer (Denver), March 12, 1883, J.L. Scrapbook II, 67-69, LC; Our Orga
nette, February 24, 1883.
55. International Typographical Union, Report of Proceedings of the Thirty-second
Annual Session of the International Typographical Union, New Orleans, [1884],
92, Microfilm Misc. #60, American Labor Unions Constitutions and Proceed
ings, 1826-1974, ITU Constitution and Proceedings, University Microfilms,
Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan; J.L., "Magnificent Michigan," Labor Enquirer (Den
ver), June 15, [1884], J.L. Scrapbook II, 81-82, LC; J.L. to Powderly, August 6,
27, 1884, TVP.
56. Ware, The Labor Movement, 238;ITU, Report of Proceedings, [1884], 12 :Labor
Leaf, June 16, 1886.


272
Notes to Chapter 7
Chapter 7
1. The Unionist, May 13, 1883; Detroit Evening New’s, [May 1883], J.L. Scrap
book II, 64, LC.
2. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 61, 64, 66.
3. Ibid., 164-68; The Alami (Chicago), December 27, 1884.
4. Detroit Evening New’s, [May 1883], J.L. Scrapbook II, 64, LC; Avrich, The Hay
market Tragedy, 61-62, 65.
5. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 64.
6. Detroit Evening News, [May 1883], J.L. Scrapbook II, 64, LC; "Reformers,"
[The Unionist], [June 1883], J.L. Scrapbook II, 65, LC.
7. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 60, 67.
8. Samuel Gompers, Seventy Years of Life and Labor (New York: Augustus M.
Kelley, 1967), 2:177.
9. Ashbaugh, Lucy Parsons, 45; Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 133; Nelson,
Beyond the Martyrs, 154—55.
10. J.L., "The Duty of Reformers," Lansing Sentinel, n.d., J.L. Scrapbook II, 91, LC;
J.L., "Labor's Only Hope," Detroit Spectator, November 22, 1883, J.L. Scrap
book 1883-1901, 101a, LC/LL.
11. J.L., "Labor's Only Hope," 101a.
12. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Liberty, December 15, 1888; J.L, "The Anarchistic View
of the Expansion Question," Liberty, February 1905.
13. Rudolf Rocker, Pioneers of American Freedom: Origins of Liberal and Radi
cal Thought in America (Los Angeles: Rocker Publications Committee, 1949),
238^-0; David DeLeon, The American as Anarchist (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1978), 3^1.
14. J.L. to Dr. William E. Gilroy, June 14, 1925, LC; J.L., "Your interesting editorial
...LC. William Lloyd Garrison, Adin Ballou, and other Christian abolitionists
denounced all law and government and believed in a new order in which the
individual would be guided only by a love of God. Corinne Jacker, The Black
Flag of Anarchy: Antistatism in the United States (New York: Charles Scribner's
Sons, 1968), 72-81.
15. J.L., 'Almost an Anarchist"; Detroit Free Press, January 15, 1950 (J.L. on
"Marxmanship").
16. J.L., "Almost an Anarchist," Liberty, June 9, 1883 and editor's note.
17. Benjamin Tucker to J.L., May 9, 1883, LC; Charles H. Hamilton, "Introduction:
The Evolution of a Subversive Tradition," in Michael E. Coughlin et al„ eds„
Benjamin R. Tucker and the Champions of Liberty (St. Paul: Michael E. Cough
lin. 1987), 4.
18. J.L., "Your interesting editorial. . .LC.
19. The account of Warren's activities is based on James J. Martin, Men Against the
State: The Expositors of Individualist Anarchism in America, 1827-1908 (Colo
rado Springs: Ralph Myles Publisher, Inc., 1970), 1-102. See also Rocker, Pio
neers of American Freedom, 50-69; William O. Reichert, Partisans of Freedom:
A Study in American Anarchism (Bowling Green: Bowling Green University
Popular Press, 1976), 64-78.


Notes to Chapter 7
273
20. Martin, Men Against the State, 13.
21. For extended discussions of Warren's associates and Lysander Spooner, see
ibid., 105-53, 167-201. See also Martin Henry Blatt, Free Love and Anarchism:
The Biography of Ezra Heywood (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989).
22. Benjamin Tucker, Instead of a Book (New York: Haskell House Publishers,
1969), dedication page; Hamilton, "Introduction," 5. Woodhull was a co-founder
of the Equal Rights Party in 1872 and became its presidential candidate. Tucker
describes her seduction of him in Emmanie Sachs, The Terrible Siren: Victoria
Woodhull (New York: Harper and Bros., 1928), 236-66.
23. J.L, "Plain Talks on Plain Subjects," Labor Review, January 1882, LC; J.L.,
"Labadie," Labor Star March 7, 1883, J.L. Scrapbook II, 66-67, LC; J.L. to
Professor George D. Herron, October 23, 1918, LC; J.L. to Richard T. Ely, July
4, 1885, SHSW; J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf April 23, 1887, LC.
24. Detroit Evening New’s, September 5, 1887; Foner, Histoiy of the Labor Move
ment, 2:41.
25. 'Anarchy or Reason," [Illegible] Movement (SLP publication), n.d. (after June 9,
1883), J.L. Scrapbook II, 85, LC.
26. S. Robert Wilson to J.L., November 30, 1883, LC; Hillquit, Histoiy of Social
ism in the United States, 219. Labadie was apparently still secretary of the
SLP National Board of Supervision as late as September 1884, since members
nationwide were instructed to send complaints and grievances to his 44 Canfield
Street home until that date. Truth, September 1884.
27. Burnette G. Haskell to J.L. and August Spies, September 1, 1883, LC.
28. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 68-70; Haskell to J.L., September 12, 1883,
LC.
29. For discussions of Haskell and the Pittsburgh Congress see Charles M. Destler,
American Radicalism (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1966), 78-104; Avrich, The
Haymarket Tragedy, 68-78; Reichert, Partisans of Freedom, 201-10; Martin,
Men Against the State, 221, 223.
30. Buchanan, The Stoiy of a Labor Agitator, 266; Haskell to J.L., February 2, 1885,
LC.
31. Haskell to J.L. and Spies, September 1, 1883, LC.
32. Liberty, October 6, 1883. Detroit was not among the cities listed as having sent
delegates to the Pittsburgh Congress in accounts published in Vorbote, October
13, 16, 1883, although it is possible Labadie was there representing San Fran
cisco, Haskell's base.
33. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 74—75.
34. Liberty, September 6, 1884.
35. Haskell later joined the Kaweah Cooperative Colony near Mt. Whitney, Cali
fornia, a socialist society based on Edward Bellamy's 1888 utopian romance.
Looking Backw’ard, See Reichert, Partisans of Freedom, 209.
36. Tucker had joined the militants two years earlier in forming the Revolutionary
Socialistic party in Chicago; Liberty had been chosen as their English-language
organ. He later rejected the use of force, and declined to send a delegate to the
congress.
37. J.L., "Is Tyranny a Necessity?" Liberty, February 23, 1895.


274
Notes to Chapter 8
Chapter 8
1. J.L., "Labor Department," Lansing Sentinel [March 1885], J.L. Scrapbook
1883-1901, 30-31, LC/LL.
2. Quoted in DeLeon, The American as Anarchist, 5.
3. The Unionist, April 30, May 13, 1883.
4. Labor Leaf, November 15, 1884; Detroit Spectator, November 10, 17, 1883;
J.L., "Labor Not a Commodity," Detroit Spectator, July 1883, J.L. Scrapbook
1883-1901, 99, LC/LL.
5. In December, Labadie's account book shows rent, $7.50; food, $13.55; one ton
of coal, $7.00; dentist, $5.00; pew rent, $3.50.
6. Detroit Spectator, November 17, 1883; J.L., "Magnificent Michigan," Labor
Enquirer (Denver), June 15, [1884], J.L. Scrapbook II, 81-82, LC; "The Trevel-
lick Home Fund," National Labor Tribune, March-September 1884, J.L. Scrap
book III, 20, 24-25, LC; J.L. to Powderly, November 7, 1885, TVP.
7. Labor Leaf, May 19, 1886.
8. MSBLS, First Annual Report, February 1, 1884, 179-81.
9. Ibid., 67-81; Benjamin Tucker to J.L., January 6, 1883, LC. Labadie identified
himself as the author of this section in a postcard to Richard T. Ely, June 18,
1885, SHSW.
10. Progressive Cigannakers' Journal, August 1, 1884, J.L. Scrapbook 1883-1901,
70, LC/LL; J.L. to Powderly, November 28, 1885, TVP.
11. J.L., "Labor Department," Lansing Sentinel, n.d. [1884], J.L. Scrapbook 1883-
1901, 17, 4-5, LC/LL; J.L., "Plain Talks on Plain Subjects," Labor Review, Jan
uary 1882.
12. J.L., "Labor Department," Lansing Sentinel, 1884-85, J.L. Scrapbook 1883-
1901, 2, 5, 18, 28, LC/LL.
13. Labor Leaf, January 14, 1885; Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation, 127,
ISl: Detroit Evening News, September 5, 1887.
14. J.L. to Ely, July 4, October 18, 1885, SHSW.
15. Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation, 123, 127.
16. Ibid., 114; J.L., "Wolverine K. of L.," Labor Enquirer (Denver) January 25,
1884, J.L. Scrapbook II, 80-81, LC. Accounts of this convention are also found
in John Swinton's Paper, January 20, 1884; The Crisis, April 25, 1885, J.L.
Scrapbook 1883-1901, 32-33, LC/LL; Michigan State Assembly of the Knights
of Labor, Record of Proceedings of the First Regular Session of the Michigan
State Assembly, Detroit, January 11-12, 1884; Journal of United Labor, June 25,
1884, 723-24.
17. J.L., "To the Editor," John Swinton's Paper, May 4, 1884; J.L., "Magnificent
Michigan," 81.
18. J.L., "Labadie's Lines," n.s., n.d., J.L. Scrapbook II, 86-87, LC; "Lansing
Knights of Labor Declare Against Millionaire Alger," n.s., n.d., J.L. Scrapbook
II, 85, LC. Alger was Secretary of War during the Spanish-American War.
19. Labor Leaf, November 1, 1884, March 4, 1885; Oestreicher, Solidarity and
Fragmentation, 121. Detroit had been without a labor paper since the Detroit
Spectator went out of business a year earlier.


Notes to Chapter 8
275
20. Labor Leaf, September 9, 1885.
21. Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation, 122; Labor Leaf, November 26,
1884.
22. Labor Leaf, December 31, 1884. See J.L. Account Book, May-June 1885.
23. J.L., "Labadie's Lessons," Labor Enquirer (Denver), February 15, 1884, J.L.
Scrapbook II, 96-99, LC.
24. Labor Leaf, June 17, July 15, October 7, 1885; Bruce Laurie, Artisans into
Workers: Labor in Nineteenth-Centuiy America (New York: The Noonday
Press, 1989), 161. One of the firm's founders was Hazen Pingree, who later
became mayor of Detroit and governor of Michigan.
25. Powderly to J.L., January 22, 1883, LC; Labor Leaf, June 3, 1885; Boot and
Shoe Cooperative Association of Detroit, Certificate no. 89, issued to Joseph A.
Labadie; Labadie Account Book, December, 1885, LC.
26. D. Boyd to A. Inglis, September 25, 1938, LC; Labor Leaf, December 31, 1884;
J.L., "Plain Talks on Plain Subjects," Labor Review, March 1, 1882.
27. J.L. to Ely, October 18, 1885, SHSW; J.L., "To the Editor," Labor Star, J.L.
Scrapbook II, 82-83, LC.
28. The account of the Saginaw Valley strike is based on the following sources:
Doris B. McLaughlin, Michigan Labor: A Brief Histoiy from 1818 to the Pres
ent (Ann Arbor: Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations, University of Mich
igan/Wayne State University, 1970), chap. 2; MSBLS, Third Annual Report,
February 1886, 92-126; Detroit Evening News, August 15-22, 1885; The Alarm
(Chicago), September 19, 1885; John Swinton's Paper, August 9, 1885; Labor
Leaf, July-October 1885.
29. D. Boyd to A. Inglis, July 22, 1938, LC; Labor Leaf, October 7, 1885.
30. J.L., "Barry Defense Fund," Labor Leaf, September 23, 1885; J.L., "Cranky
Notions," Labor Leaf, July 29, 1885.
31. Louis Adamic, Dynamite: The Stoiy of Class Violence in America (New York:
Chelsea House Publishers, n.d.), 57-59.
32. Detroit Evening News, September 5, 1887; Labor Leaf, July 15, 1885; J.L.,
"Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf, July 22, 1885.
33. J.L., "To the Editor," John Swinton's Paper, October 12, 1884; J.L. to Ely, July
4, 1885, SHSW.
34. Labor Leaf, February 25, 1885, February 3, 1886; J.L., "Cranky Notions," Lib
erty, January 14, 1888; John Swinton to J.L., July 17, 1895, LC.
35. Labor Leaf, May 20, 1885, February 3, 1886; J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor
Leaf, June 24, 1885; J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf, September 2, 1885.
36. J.L. to Ely, June 18, December 20, 1885, SHSW; Ely to J.L., June 30, August 4,
1885, LC. For an examination of the correspondence between J.L. and Ely, see
Sidney Fine, "The Ely-Labadie Letters," Michigan Histoiy (March 1952): 1-32.
37. J.L., "Information Wanted," Labor Leaf, August 12, 1885; J.L. to Ely, August 8,
1885, SHSW.
38. Ely to J.L., August 14, 1885, LC. It is interesting to note that Ely did not mention
his New York experience in his 1938 autobiography. Fine, "The Ely-Labadie
Letters," 17n. 43.
39. Ely to J.L., September 28, November 17, 1885, LC; J.L. to Ely, October 18,


276
Notes to Chapter 9
December 16, 1885, SHSW; "Report of Joseph A. Labadie, Delegate to the
General Assembly, K. of L., Minneapolis, 1887" (Detroit: John R. Burton, n.d.),
14.
40. Liberty, July 3, 1886, July 30, 1887; Tucker to J.L., September 21, 1885, Octo
ber 1, 1886, LC. See also Fine, "The Ely-Labadie Letters," 8n. 23.
41. Richard T. Ely, The Labor Movement in America (New York: Thomas Y. Crow
ell and Co., 1886), vii, 125; Liberty, December 29, 1894. In his book, Ely also
refers to Labadie's letter of July 4, 1885, without identifying him, on 245^-6
and in a note on 236.
42. J.L., "Our Bitter Foes," Labor Leaf, October 7, 1885; J.L., "Labor Department,"
Lansing Sentinel, [1885], J.L. Scrapbook 1883-1901, 30, 16, LC/LL.
43. Labor Leaf, February 25, March 4, August 19, September 2, 1885.
44. A. Inglis, "Charles Joseph Antoine Labadie," ten-page biographical sketch, 4,
LC.
Chapter 9
1. Foner, Histoiy of the Labor Movement, 1:369; Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy,
181.
2. McLaughlin, Michigan Labor, 15-16.
3. J.L., "To the Editor of the Detroit Journal," Detroit Journal, September 11,
1885, J.L. Scrapbook I, 55, LC.
4. Ware, The Labor Movement, 252-53; Foner, Histoiy of the Labor Movement,
2:98-103.
5. Labor Leaf, December 10, 1884; J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf, July 15,
1885.
6. Labor Leaf, February 17, April 28, 1886.
7. Ibid., February 17, March 17, 1886.
8. Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation, 135, 150.
9. Labor Leaf, March 24, 1886. This "Cranky Notions" column was republished in
Geiman in Johann Most's Freiheit, April 17, 1886.
10. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 186-87.
11. Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation, 150-55; Labor Leaf, May 12, 1886.
12. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf, May 5, 1886.
13. Detroit New’s, May 5, 1886; Labor Leaf, September 2, 1885, February 17, 1886;
Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 122-24.
14. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 6-11; J.L., "Labadie's Advice to the 'Alarm,' "
Liberty, January 3, 1885; J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf, October 13, 1886.
15. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 215-19.
16. Dulles and Dubofsky, Labor in America, 138; Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy,
184, 186.
17. The account of the Haymarket incident is based on Avrich, The Haymarket Trag
edy, 188-214; Sidney Lens, "The Bomb at Haymarket," in Haymarket Scrap
book, ed. Dave Roediger and Franklin Rosemont (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr
Publishing Co., 1986), 17-18.
18. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf, May 12, 1886.


Notes to Chapter 9
277
19. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 220-21; J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf,
May 19 1886; Labor Leaf, June 16, 1886. For extensive excerpts from Labadie's
writings on the Haymarket episode, see Carlotta Anderson, "Joseph A. Laba
die (1850-1933): 'Cranky Notions' on Haymarket," Haymarket Scrapbook ed.
Dave Roediger and Franklin Rosemont (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Publishing
Co., 1986), 123-24.
20. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 220.
21. J.L. to Powderly, March 25, 1886, TVP.
22. Powderly to J.L., June 8, 1882. LC. The article was printed in the Journal of
United Labor, June 1882, 244.
23. John Swinton's Paper, quoted in Ware, The Labor Movement, 83.
24. J.L. to Powderly, January 6, 1886, TVP; Powderly to J.L., January 25, 1886,
LC; J.L. to Powderly, August 5, 1884, TVP; Powderly to J.L. August 7, 1884,
LC.
25. Ware, The Labor Movement, 86; Knights of Labor, Record of Proceedings from
the Eighth Regular Session of the General Assembly, Philadelphia, September
1-10, 1884, 572-73.
26. Powderly to J.L., November 13, 1882, January 22, 1883, LC.
27. Labor Leaf, June 30, 1886; "He Would Throw It," Detroit Tribune, June 29,
1886, LC.
28. Labor Leaf, July 7, 1886, Labadie Account Book, June 1886, LC.
29. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf, December 9, 1885, April 28, 1886.
30. Ibid., June 16, 1886; International Typographical Union, Report of Proceedings
of the Thirty-fourth Annual Session of the International Typographical Union,
Pittsburgh, June 7-11, 1886, 83, 90-94, 112; "ITU Convention," John Swinton's
Paper, June 13, 1886; Ware, The Labor Movement, 237-39.
31. Detroit Evening New’s, quoted in A. Inglis, "Charles Joseph Antoine Labadie,"
ten-page biographical sketch, 4, LC; Detroit New’s, October 8, 1933; Oestre
icher, Solidarity and Fragmentation, 24.
32. Leo Donatus was buried in Mt. Elliott Cemetery on February 2, 1880. See Burial
Records, Mt. Elliott Cemetery, Detroit.
33. Laurie, Artisans into Workers, 161; Susan Levine, Labor's True Woman: Car
pet Weavers, Industrialization and Labor Reform in the Gilded Age (Philadel
phia: Temple University Press, 1984),59, 104—5, 111-12; Gregory S. Kealey
and Bryan D. Palmer, Dreaming of What Might Be: The Knights of Labor in
Ontario, 1880-1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 324; J.L.,
"Editorial," Advance and' Labor Leaf, September 10, 1887.
34. A. Inglis, "Charles Joseph Antoine Labadie," three-page biographical sketch,
1-2, LC.
35. Labor Leaf, August 12, 1885, February 3, September 8, 1886.
36. J.L., "My Outings"; Anthony Cleophis Labadie to "well brother Joseph," April
20, 1883, both LC; Betty J. Dunham, Oliver Township Histoiy (Kalkaska: Row
ell Printing, 1985), 19, 29.
37. "Declaration for the Increase of an Invalid Pension," State of Michigan, County
of Kalkaska, September 8, 1877 (Veterans Records, St. Louis); Anthony Cleop
his Labadie to "Well Joseph," April 13, 1885, July 9, 1886, LC.


278
Notes to Chapter io
38. J.L. to Powderly, January 6, 1886, TVP; Detroit Evening New’s, January 4, 1887,
J.L. Scrapbook II, 99, LC.
39. Labor Leaf, February 24, June 9, 1886; J.L. "To the Editor: The present distur
bance . . . ," n.d., LC.
40. Labor Leaf April 21, 1886; Henry George to J.L., May 21, 1886, LC; Labor
Leaf January 20, 1886; J.L., "Almost an Anarchist," Liberty, June 9, 1883; Peter
J. McGuire to J.L., February 26, 1895, LC.
41. J.L., untitled manuscript written on backs of envelopes dated 1921, beginning,
"A few days ago . . . ," LC; J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf, June 24, 1885.
In 1891 the streetcar workers in a newly electrified system were organized into
the AFL by Robert Y. Ogg. See MSBLS, Ninth Annual Report, 1892, 344-45.
42. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf, March 31, 1886; Ware, The Labor Move
ment, 66; Oestreicher, Solidarity and Lragmentation, 109, 242.
43. Labor Leaf, August 4 and 18, 1886.
44. Ibid., September 8, 1886; Detroit Council of Trades and Labor Unions, Colum
bian Labor Day Souvenir (Detroit: The Jefferson Press, 1893), 25-26; J.L.,
"Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf, September 8, 1886; "Labor Day," ibid.
Chapter 10
1. Dulles and Dubofsky, Labor in America, 133-37; J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor
Leaf, August 4, 1886.
2. Ware, The Labor Movement, 152-53.
3. Labor Leaf, May 26, June 23, 1886; Oestreicher, Solidarity and Lragmentation,
189.
4. Oestreicher, Solidarity and Lragmentation, 189-90; Foner, Histoiy of the Labor
Movement, 2:133-36.
5. Labor Leaf, September 8, October 13, 1886. For an extensive treatment of the
role of the ILP in the 1886 election, see Oestreicher, Solidarity and Lragmenta
tion, 180-87.
6. Labor Leaf, September 8, 1886.
7. Oestreicher, Solidarity and Lragmentation, 182-83.
8. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf, September 22, 1886; Labor Leaf, October
6, 1886.
9. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf, January 6, October 13, 1886.
10. A. Inglis, "Charles Joseph Antoine Labadie," ten-page biographical sketch, LC;
J. Grenell, "Autobiography," 45; Oestreicher, Solidarity and Lragmentation,
183; Rolland, "The Detroit Labor Press," 44, 81.
11. Labor Leaf, August 5, October 14, 1885, September 29, December 8, 1886; J.
Grenell, "Autobiography," 34.
12. J.L., "The politicians of the world," note on scrap of paper, LC; A. Inglis,
"Charles Joseph Antoine Labadie," ten-page biographical sketch, 3, LC; idem,
"Grenell-Judson," 5, LC.
13. J. Grenell, "Autobiography," 44 45. That year George was mayoral candidate
of the United Labor parly in New York City, receiving 68,000 votes, more than
Theodore Roosevelt, who came in third.


Notes to Chapter 10
279
14. Liberty, May 22, June 19, 1886; Benjamin Tucker to J.L., June 5, 1886, LC.
Tucker had previously accused Most's followers of setting fire to several dwell
ings they owned, in which six residents burned to death, for the insurance money.
No evidence was ever presented to connect Most with the arsonists. See Avrich,
The Haymarket Tragedy, 174; Liberty, August 18, 1886. Tucker later changed
his tune. After the executions, he called the men the "John Browns of America's
industrial revolution," and branded Henry George a "vile sinner who betrayed
the cause of liberty for refusing to defend the condemned men." Liberty, Novem
ber 19, 1887, January 5, 1889.
15. Liberty, July 31, 1886.
16. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 277.
17. Labor Leaf, August 25, 1886.
18. Ibid.; J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf, August 25, 1886, and July 21, 1886
(quoting Wallaceburg, Ontario, Herald Record; August Spies to J.L., September
7, 1886, LC.
19. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 290-93.
20. Ashbaugh, Lucy Parsons, 104; Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 297-98.
21. Lucy Parsons to J.L., October 11, 1886, LC; Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy,
300-301.
22. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 298; Ashbaugh, Lucy Parsons, 56, 109.
23. Labor Leaf, December 8, 1886, January 26, 1887.
24. Labor Leaf, January 26, 1887; Detroit News, January 26, 1887; Ashbaugh, Lucy
Parsons, 110.
25. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 429; J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf,
August 25, 1886; J.L., "Has Mr. Powderly Ever Been a Socialist?" Advance and
Labor Leaf, September 17, 1887, also published in the Detroit Evening New’s,
same date.
26. Powderly to John Devlin, August 30, 1887, published in the Detroit Free Press
and reprinted m Advance and Labor Leaf, September 17, 1887.
27. J.L., "Has Mr. Powderly Ever Been a Socialist?"
28. Terence V. Powderly, Thirty Years of Labor (Columbus: Excelsior Publishing
House, 1890), 544.
29. Buchanan, The Stoiy of a Labor Agitator, 314-15.
30. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf, December 29, 1886.
31. Ware, The Labor Movement, 87; Thomas B. Barry to J.L., February 24, June 14,
1887, LC.
32. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf, February 9, 1887.
33. Ibid.
34. Liberty, March 12, 1887.
35. Ibid., February 20, 1886; J.L. to Powderly, January 6, March 25, 1886, TVP.
36. Devlin to Powderly, January 31, 1888, TVP. For the dispute between the Knights
of Labor and AFL unions, see Elizabeth and Kenneth Fones-Wolf, "Knights
versus the Trade Unionists: The Case of the Washington, D.C., Carpenters,
1881-1896," Labor Histoiy 22 (spring 1981): 192-212.
37. Advance and Labor Leaf, February 19 and 26, 1887.


280
Notes to Chapter i i
38. For the significance of the change of editors, see Oestreicher, Solidarity and
Fragmentation, 217n. 34. Advance and Labor Leaf, February 19, 1887; J.
Grenell, "Autobiography," 58. Burton began publishing a new journal. Onward,
in September 1888. Devoted principally to the single tax movement, it lasted
until October 1890.
39. Tucker to J.L., February 6, 1887, LC; Advance and Labor Leaf, February 19,
May 14, 1887; J.L., "Cranky Notions," Advance and Labor Leaf, May 5, 1887.
Labadie's letters to Tucker prior to 1905 are lost.
40. J. Grenell, "A Foreword," March 1928, LC; Advance and Labor Leaf, February
19, 1887; John M. McGregor to J.L., March 1, 1922, February 17, 1927, LC.
41. Advance and Labor Leaf, June 11, July 16, 1887. McGregor, Grenell, and Rob
inson were among the stockholders.
42. J.L., "This Paper, Its Policy," Advance and Labor Leaf, July 16, 1887; J.L., edi
torial, Advance and Labor Leaf, July 23, 1887.
43. J.L., editorials. Advance and Labor Leaf, August 6 and 20, 1887.
44. Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation, 203; Advance and Labor Leaf,
August 13, September 17, 1887; Devlin to Powderly, September 21, 1887, TVP.
Chapter 11
1. Devlin to Powderly, September 21, 1887, TVP; Powderly to Devlin, Decem
ber 4, 1886, TVP. Devlin had been deputy labor commissioner when Labadie
worked in the Michigan Bureau of Labor, had served as a Democratic state legis
lator, and was now U.S. consul in Windsor, as well as a member of the executive
board of D. A. 50.
2. "Working for the Reds," Detroit Tribune, October 27, 1887, J.L. Scrapbook I,
45, LC; Avrich, The Flaymarket Tragedy, 314-15; Freedom, November 1933.
3. "Working for the Reds," 45; Avrich, The Flaymarket Tragedy, 314, 323-26, 338-
39, 348.
4. Chicago Tribune, October 1, 1887; Minneapolis Journal October 3 and 15,
1887, LC.
5. Minneapolis Journal October 3, 1887, LC; Report of Proceedings of the Elev
enth Regular Session of the General Assembly, Minneapolis, October 3-19,
1887, p. 1842.
6. Buchanan, Stoiy of a Labor Agitator, 325, 363-68; Avrich, The Haymarket
Tragedy, 308; Minneapolis Journal October 6, 1887, LC. Buchanan was head
of the Rocky Mountain Division of the IWA.
7. "Report of Joseph A. Labadie, Delegate to the General Assembly, Knights of
Labor, Minneapolis, 1887" (Detroit: John R. Burton, November 14, 1887),
10-11, LC; Knights of Labor, Record of Proceedings of the Eleventh Regu
lar Session of the General Assembly, Minneapolis, October 3-19, 1887, 1791;
Foner, Histoiy of the Labor Movement, 2:162.
8. "Powderly's Socialism," Advance and Labor Leaf, October 15, 1887. Van Pat
ten wrote Powderly on August 13, 1880, two months after the Chicago Green
back-Labor convention, "From your letter I judge that you wish to remain a
member," with instructions on sending quarterly SLP dues.


Notes to Chapter 11
281
9. Minneapolis Journal, October 15, 1887, LC; J.L., "Report," 11, LC.
10. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 241, 349; Powderly to Annie Wright, October
27, 1887, TVP; Knights of Labor, Record of Proceedings, 1887, 123-25; Wil
liam Holmes to J.L., October 3, 1887, TVP. The document and accompanying
letter from Holmes were apparently sent to Labadie in Minneapolis or Chicago.
They mysteriously ended up in the Powderly papers.
11. Powderly, Thirty Years of Labor, 548-58.
12. Ibid., 551-53; Ohio Valley Budget Weekly (Wheeling, W. Va.), November 5,
1887; J.L, Report, 5.
13. Powderly, Thirty Years of Labor, 529, 553.
14. "Report of John M. Decker, Delegate to the General Assembly, Knights of
Labor, Minneapolis, 1887" (Detroit: John R. Burton, n.d.), 3; Knights of Labor,
Record of Proceedings, 1887, 1513.
15. Ibid., 1723-25; Oestreicher, "Terence Powderly," 54; Avrich, The Haymarket
Tragedy, 374, 350.
16. "Now the Battle Is On," clipping regarding dissenters, n.s., October 23, 1887,
LC.
17. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Advance and Labor Leaf, December 17, 1887; Advance
and Labor Leaf, October 29, November 12, 1887.
18. "Working for the RedsT Detroit Tribune, October 27, 1887; Advance and'Labor
Leaf, October 22, November 5, 1887; Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 338-39,
350-53.
19. Ware, The Labor Movement, 87; Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 346^-7,
373-74.
20. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 378, 392-93, 401.
21. J.L., "A Revolutionary Milepost," Mother Earth 7, no. 9 (November 1912), LC;
J.L., "Cranky Notions," Labor Leaf, October 13, 1886; Thomas B. Barry to J.L.,
February 5, 1889, LC.
22. Advance and Labor Leaf, October 29, 1887; "Powderly Belabored," Detroit
Evening New’s, November 16, 1887.
23. J.L., Report, 7-15.
24. Detroit Evening New’s, November 16, 1887; Powderly to Emma Fichenscher,
November 23, 1887; Powderly to Devlin, November 29, 1887, TVP.
25. Minneapolis Evening Journal, October 15, 1887, LC; Advance and Labor Leaf,
October 22, November 26, 1887; Powderly to A. M. Dewey, October 23, 1887,
TVP. Dewey was not a delegate to the convention.
26. Advance and Labor Leaf, November 26, 1887; Dewey to Powderly, November
25, 1887, TVP; Devlin to Powderly, November 16, 1887, TVP.
27. Dewey to Powderly, November 25, 1887, TVP; Advance and Labor Leaf, June
2, 1888. After less than a year as editor, Dewey was forced out by other Knights
of Labor officials, who complained of his work habits, writing style, and edito
rial judgment. Weir, Beyond Hibor's Veil, 154.
28. "Now the Battle Is On," n.s., October 23, 1887, LC; Powderly to Dewey, April
27, 1887, TVP.
29. Decker, "Report," 1^1, 8, 10. The state assembly, unlike Detroit's free-wheeling
district assembly, tended to tow the administration line and had adopted a res-


282
Notes to Chapter 12
olution condemning "anarchy and revolutionary schemes." Advance and Labor
Leaf, August 6, 1887.
30. Dyer Lum wrote to Labadie on November 6, 1887, "I understand that you 'have
stepped down and out' from the Advance." Tucker wrote on January 16, 1888, "I
was sorry that circumstances compelled you to leave the Advance" (both LC).
31. Lum to J.L., December 31, 1887.LC.
32. Frank H. Brooks, "Ideology, Strategy and Organization: Dyer Lum and the
American Anarchist Movement," Labor Histoiy 34, no. 1 (winter 1993): 57-83;
Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 317-21.
33. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 368. As the years went by, frustrated in his
yearning to avenge the tragedy or die for the cause of human freedom, Lum sank
into depression and alcoholism, and eventually poisoned himself. Ibid., 408-9.
34. George A. Schilling to J.L., December 26, 1887, LC; Lum to J.L., December 26,
1887, LC.
35. Henry George to J.L., August 19, 1889, LC; George to Mr. Gutshow, November
25, 1887, NYPL; Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 343^15.
36. Schilling to J.L., November 24, December 12, December 26, 1887, LC; Benja
min Tucker to J.L., December 11, 1887, LC; Solidarity (New York), December
31. 1887, quoting the Labor Enquirer (Chicago).
37. Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation, 220nn. 88, 89; Detroit Evening
New’s, September 5, 1887. Labadie was master workman of Henry George
Assembly 2697 at the time.
38. Advance and Labor Leaf, February 4, March 10,1888; J.L., "Seek Good Health,"
n.s., n.d., J.L. Scrapbook IV, 38-310, LC; J.L. "Cranky Notions," Liberty, March
16, 1889; Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation, 28n. 36.
39. Powderly to John W. Hayes, November 12, December 12, 1887, TVP; Powderly
to Emma Fichenscher, November 23, 1887, TVP.
40. "Men Who Make Your Cigars," [Detroit News], July 28, 1889, Labor Leaders
folder, LC; D. Boyd to A. Inglis, July 22, 1938, LC.
41. Advance and Labor Leaf, January 14 and 21, 1888; Devlin to Powderly, January
20, 1888, TVP; Powderly to Devlin, February 3, 1888, TVP.
42. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Advance and' Labor Leaf, January 14, 1888.
43. Advance and Labor Leaf, December 17, 1887, April 28, June 23, 1888; J.L. to
Schilling, January 25, 1895, GS. By June 1888, Grenell, Burton, and McGregor
had all severed their connection with the paper as well.
Chapter 12
1. Detroit Evening New’s, February 27, 1888.
2. Philip Taft, The AFL in the Time of Gompers (New York: Harper and Bros.,
1957), 44, 45; Gompers, Seventy Years of Life and Labor, ed. Philip Taft and
John A. Sessions (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1957), 6.
3. Advance and Labor Leaf, March 3, 1888.
4. Gompers, Seventy Years of Life and Labor, ed. Taft and Sessions, 169. Mill is
quoted in Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House (New York: MacMillan,
1912), 189.


Notes to Chapter 12
283
5. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Liberty, November 10, 1888.
6. Gompers, Seventy Years of Life and Labor, ed. Taft and Sessions, 18-20, 191,
161-62; Mandel, Samuel Gompers, 87, 92.
7. Gompers, Seventy Years of Life and Labor, ed. Taft and Sessions, 178, 157-58.
8. Ibid., 25, 50-51, 74, 77, 214; Mandel, Samuel Gompers, 11, 167.
9. Gompers, Seventy Years of Life and Labor, ed. Taft and Sessions, 35, 51; Taft,
The AFL in the Time of Gompers, 147; Charles A. Madison, American Labor
Leaders (New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1950), 98, 110.
10. "Men Who Make Your Cigars," clipping, n.s., July 28, 1889, Detroit Labor Lead
ers file, LC; Gompers, Seventy Years of Life and Labor, ed. Taft and Sessions,
239. Goldwater, whose career paralleled Labadie's in many respects, played a
prominent role in Detroit labor and radical activities as well as Democratic poli
tics. See Robert Rockaway, "The Laboring Man's Champion: Samuel Gold-wa
ter," Detroit Historical Society Bulletin (November 1970): 4-9.
11. Richard J. Oestreicher, "The Limits of Labor Radicalism: Tom Barry and the
Knights of Labor," unpublished paper, 1981, 19; Oestreicher, Solidarity and
Fragmentation, 209; "Working for the Reds," Detroit Tribune, October 27, 1887,
J.L. Scrapbook I, 45, LC.
12. George W. Stark, "We Old Timers," Detroit New’s, January 28, 1939.
13. Michigan Federation of Labor (MFL), First Annual Convention of the Michigan
Federation of Labor, 1889. Record of Proceedings. Lansing, February 19-21,
1889, 6-7, LC.
14. Ibid., 9-11; MFL, Resolutions, February 1889, LC. Conspiracy laws, which
had their origin in eighteenth-century English law, held that by combining to
improve working conditions or strike, workers were engaging in conspiracy.
15. MFL, First Annual Convention, 3.
16. The Craftsman, April 13, 1889; Twentieth Centiny, January 16, 1890, clipping
attached to copy of Michigan Federation of Labor, Second Annual Convention of
the Michigan Federation of Labor, 1890. Record of Proceedings, East Saginaw,
February 4—7, 1890, 12; Charles E. Barnes to J.L., April 2, 1889, LC.
17. Gompers to J.L., April 1, 1889, LC; Gompers to Robert Ogg, May 20, 1889,
AFL:SG. Although the MFL used the AFL title on its letterhead and worked
closely with that organization, it did not immediately affiliate. Delegates at the
1894 convention balked at the per capita tax. AFL records indicate the MFL did
not formally affiliate until January 31, 1901.
18. MFL, Second Annual Convention, 10.
19. Gompers, Seventy Years of Life and Labor, ed. Taft and Sessions, 236; Gompers
to J.L., January 14, 1890, February 12, 1894, LC; AFL, Record of Proceedings
of the Ninth Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor, Boston,
December 10-14, 1889, 17.
20. Ibid., 15, 35, 39,43.
21. Foner, Histoiy of the Labor Movement, 2:178-83.
22. MFL, Second Annual Convention, 9-10, 13.
23. Gompers quoted in Madison, American Labor Leaders, 99; The Workman, Jan
uary 11, 1890, J.L. Scrapbook 1883-1901, 35, LC/LL. Only some years later


284
Notes to Chapter 12
did the AFL use the slogan, "Stand faithfully by our Mends and elect them;
oppose our enemies and defeat them." Gompers's voluntarism is extensively
treated in Michael Rogin, "Voluntarism: The Political Functions of an Anti
political Dochine," in Labor and American Politics, ed. Charles M. Rehmus
and Doris B. McLaughlin (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1967),
108-28.
24. Kim Voss, The Making of American Exceptionalism: The Knights of Labor and
Class Formation in the Nineteenth Century (Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
1993) 1, 248^19. See also Fink, Workingmen's Democracy, 228-29.
25. Philip Taft speculates that anarchists in the AFL played a role in preventing the
development of a labor party (The AFL in the Time of Gompers, xvi). Frank
Brooks discusses anti-state contributors to AFL "voluntarism" in "Ideology,
Strategy and Organization: Dyer Lum and the American Anarchist Movement,"
Labor History 34, no. 1 (winter 1993): 79-80. See also George B. Cotkin, "The
Spencerian and Comtian Nexus in Gompers' Labor Philosophy: The Impact of
Non-Marxian Evolutionary Thought," Labor History 20 (fall 1979): 510-23.
Labadie claimed Peter J. McGuire "leaned considerably toward anarchism"
(Liberty, June 9, 1883).
26. The Workman, January-March 1890, J.L. Scrapbook 1883-1901, 35-55, LC/LL.
27. J.L., "To the Editor," The Exponent, July 4, 1880, J.L. Scrapbook II, 76-77, LC;
The Workman, January-March 1890.
28. "State Convention," Saginaw Evening New’s, February 4, 1890, LC; MFL, Sec
ond Annua! Convention, 9.
29. Thomas Barry to J.L., June 25, September 6, 1888, LC.
30. Advance and Labor Leaf, October 20 and 27, 1888; Powderly, Thirty Years of
Labor, 648; "Report of J. H. Morrow, Delegate to the Eleventh General Assem
bly of the American Federation of Labor," Indianapolis, 1888, 1, quoted in Mau
rice M. Ramsey, "The Knights of Labor in Michigan, 1878-1888" (master's
thesis. College of the City of Detroit, 1932), 42^-3.
31. Powderly, Thirty Years of Labor, 646; Powderly to John Hayes, December 8,
1888, quoted in Ware, The Labor Movement, 373.
32. Robert Ogg to J.L., December 11, 1888, LC; Barry to J.L., February 5, 1889,
LC; New York Sun, October 5, and Brotherhood of United Labor, Circular, 1889,
quoted in Ramsey, "The Knights of Labor in Michigan," 43^14; Oestreicher,
"The Limits of Labor Radicalism," 5.
33. Barry to J.L., February 25, 1889, LC.
34. Ibid., February 5, 1889.
35. "State Convention."
36. MFL, Second Annua! Convention, 9-11, 14-24. The eight-hour day was not
common for decades. It was 1929 before the forty-hour work week was hied in
Michigan. See Michigan Federationist 1, no. 7 (January 1929).
37. Gompers to J.L., January 14, 1890; Samuel Goldwater to J.L., August 25, 1889,
LC.
38. Michigan Federation of Labor Yearbook, 1896, 3, LC; Sidney Glazer, "Origins
and Early Development of the Michigan Federation of Labor," American Feder
ationist, May 1934, 528-30.


Notes to Chapter 13
285
39. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Industrial Gazette, December 1894-April 1895, LC.
Detroit had been without a labor paper since Advance and Labor Leaf folded in
November 1889.
40. A. Inglis to J.L., May 10, 1931, LC.
41. J.L., dedication to AFL, Doggerel for the Under Dog (Detroit: The Labadie
Shop, 1910); J.L. to A. Inglis, December 10, 1929, LC.
Chapter 13
1. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Liberty, August 13, 1892, reprinted from the Detroit
New’s.
2. The popular view is described in J.L., "Letter to Anarchists," March 16, 1889,
LC.
3. Ibid.; J.L., "Cranky Notions," Liberty, June 8, 1889.
4. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Liberty, February 25, December 15, 1888.
5. J.L., "Letter to Anarchists"; Benjamin Tucker to J.L., August 12, 1888,Decem-
ber 20, 1891, LC. Only two books published in the United States at the time
had titles that even suggested a general treatment of the subject: Albert Parsons,
Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Scientific Basis as Defined by Some of Its Apos
tles (1887), issued after his death by his wife, Lucy; and Anarchy and Anarchists
(1889) by Chicago police captain Michael J. Schaak, who rounded up and jailed
hundreds of radicals after the Haymarket bombing. It was not until the 1931
publication of Eunice Schuster's Native American Anarchism that a systematic
study of the subject became available.
6. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Liberty, June 8, 1889. Labadie's project is covered more
extensively in Caiiotta R. Anderson, "America's Anarchists: Who They Were
and What They Stood For," the dandelion 22 (spring 1998).
7. Charles Fowler to J.L., n.d., LC; E. W. Barber to J.L., March 19, 1889, LC;
George Schilling to J.L., January 25, 1889, April 4, 1894, LC; Archibald H.
Simpson to J.L., January 20, 1889, LC; Maurice A. Bachman (Moritz A. Bach-
mann) to J.L., n.d., LC.
8. William Holmes to J.L., April 7, 1889, LC; J.L., "Cranky Notions," Liberty,
January 28, April 14, 1888, May 24, 1890; William Holmes to Liberty, February
25, 1888.
9. Augustine Leroy Ballou to J.L., March 22, 1889, LC; John Beverley Robinson
to J.L., n.d., LC; Joshua K. Ingalls to J.L., March 25, 1889, LC.
10. DeLeon, 77ie American as Anarchist, xiii.
11. J.L., 'Anarchism, What It Is and What It Is Not" (Detroit: The International
Anarchist Group of Detroit, [1908]; J.L. to Tucker, May 21, 1908, NYPL. The
International Anarchist Group of Detroit was associated with the Modem School
Movement and was predominantly Jewish and Geiman. See Paul Avrich, The
Modern School Movement (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), 314,
633-64.
12. J.L., "Anarchism: What It Is and What It Is Not." Even this barebones exposition
did not please everyone. Tucker protested that one was an anarchist by virtue of
belief, not actions. See Tucker to J.L., May 4, 1908, LC. Voltairine de Cleyre


286
Notes to Chapter 13
objected that anarchists might commit crimes even though it would not be true
to their beliefs. See de Cleyre to J.L., May 11, 1908, LC.
13. Charles A. Madison, Critics and Crusaders (New York: Henry Holt, 1947-
1948), 159-60. Stimer's Der Einzige und Sein Eigentum (The Ego and His
Own) was published in 1845.
14. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Liberty, May 26, 1888.
15. Martin, Men Against the State, 246, 250-54. See also Hamilton, "Introduction,"
5-6, 15.
16. John Hubert Greusel, "The Poor Devil: A Memorial of Robert Reitzel" (Detroit:
The Labadie Shop, 1909), LC; Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation,
47^18; J.L. to George Herron, October 23, 1918, LC. For a discussion of Rob
ert Reitzel's literary influence, see Randall Paul Donaldson, "Robert Retizel
(1849-1898) and his German-American Periodical Der arme Teufel" (Ph.D.
diss., Johns Hopkins University, 1976).
17. Richard J. Oestreicher, "Robert Reitzel, Der arme Teufel," in The German-Amer
ican Radical Press: The Shaping of a Left Political Culture, 1850-1946, ed.
Elliott Shore et al. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 153, 165n. 12;
Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 384-85.
18. Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, 396-97.
19. Ibid., 411-12; Robert Reitzel to J.L., October 25, 1888, LC; Schilling to J.L.,
November 7, 1888, LC; Chicago Tribune, November 11-12, 1888; Agnes Inglis,
"Robert Reitzel and the Haymarket Affair," LC.
20. Holli, Detroit, 110-16; Bald, Michigan in Four Centuries, 325-28.
21. Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation, 234—35.
22. Melvin G. Holli, Reform in Detroit: Hazen S. Pingree and Urban Politics (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1969), 24, 30, 157, xiii.
23. Bald, Michigan in Four Centuries, 331; Stark, City of Destiny, 419.
24. Stark, City of Destiny, 431-32. By 1900, Looking Backward had sold more cop
ies than any book written in the United States except Uncle Tom's Cabin.
25. Samuel Gompers to J.L., February 12, 1894.
26. August Donath to J.L., October 15, 1884, November 10, 1885; February 1,
1886; January 24, 1887; March 26, 1891, LC; State of Michigan, Circuit Court
for the County of Wayne, "Bill of Exceptions, Mary J. June vs. Sophie Labadie
and Joseph Labadie," July 1907, 20-21, LC. Mary J. June (nee Archambeau)
sued her sister, Sophie, and Jo Labadie for $142.04 plus interest, which she
claimed was owed her. The suit was filed in 1899 and heal'd twice before the
State Supreme Court before being decided in the Labadies' favor in 1907.
27. J.L. to "My Dear Molly," January 1891, and Sophie Labadie to "My dear Josia
and Mary," January 21, 1895, State of Michigan, Circuit Court for the County of
Wayne, "Bill of Exceptions," 2-3, 16, LC.
28. Joseph Buchanan to J.L., March 13, April 9, 1890, LC; Powderly, The Path I
Trod, 161-62.
29. Labadie obituary, Detroit News, October 8, 1933; J.L., "Cranky Notions," Lib
erty, August 13, 1892, reprinted from the Detroit News.
30. J.L. to Schilling, December 27, 1895, GS; Robert Ogg to J.L., October 20, 1892,


Notes to Chapter 14
287
LC; Detroit Evening New’s, November 28, 1892; Detroit Journal, November 29
and 30, 1892; "Plymouth Church Affair," Detroit Tribune, November 29, 1892,
LC. The Social Gospel movement in American Protestantism during the latter
half of the nineteenth century concerned itself with the application of Christian
ity to social problems.
31. Richard Drinnon, Rebel in Paradise (New York: Harper and Row, 1976), 52-54;
Goldman, Living My Life, 1:97, 105.
32. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Detroit Sunday New’s, July 17, 1892, J.L. Scrapbook
1883-1901, 81, LC/LL.
33. Detroit News, reprinted in Liberty, August 13, 1892; Gompers, Seventy Years of
Life and Labor, ed. Taft and Sessions, 33.
34. Cesare Lombroso, Crime: Its Causes and Remedies (Montclair: Patterson Smith,
1968; reprint of 1906), xxx, 434.
35. Drinnon, Rebel in Paradise, 90-91. See also Sidney Fine, "Anarchism and the
Assassination of McKinley," in The Underside of American Histoiy, ed. Thomas
R. Frazier (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971), 61-83.
36. Detroit Evening New’s, September 11, 1901, J.L. Scrapbook IV, 45^-6; Gomp
ers, Seventy Years of Life and Labor, ed. Taft and Sessions, 235-36.
37. Labadie's anarchism was downplayed in "The Labadie Scrap Press," Detroit
New’s, August 20, 1911; R. C. Stewart, "The Labadie Labor Collection," Mich
igan Alumnus Quarterly Review, May 10, 1947, 250; Lee J. Smits, "Dean of
Detroit's Bohemia," Detroit Lree Press, October 29, 1922, J.L. Scrapbook I, LC;
J.L. to Die Workman, February 13, 1890, J.L. Scrapbook 1883-1901, 45, LC/LL.
Chapter 14
1. Holli, Refonn in Detroit, 63-64.
2. Stark, City of Destiny, 419-20; Holli, Reform in Detroit, 61-62.
3. J.L. to George A. Schilling. March 25, 1894, GS.
4. J.L. to Lester Clancy (water department official), April 12, 1917, LC; Benjamin
Tucker to J.L., September 7, 1893, LC.
5. Peter J. McGuire to J.L., March 8, 1895, LC; Withdrawal notice for Labadie
from Typographical Union No. 18, June 3, 1894, LC. Labadie was later granted
honorary membership and paid dues until his death. "Typo Union Celebrates
100th Year," clipping, Detroit Labor News, 1939, LC.
6. Lawrence D. Orton, Polish Detroit and the Kolasinski Affair (Detroit: Wayne
State University Press, 1981), 174-80.
7. Detroit Evening News, August 9, 1894, Labadie Scrapbook 1883-1901, 86-88,
LC/LL; The People (New York), April 11, 1897.
8. Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation, 237^-0.
9. McGuire to JL, May 7, 1892, March 8, 1895, February 26, 1896, LC; J.L., "The
Danger of Too Much State Power," The Caipenter, June 1895; Henry Robinson
to JL, February 8 and 17, 1893, LC; Michigan Bureau of Labor, Tenth Annual
Report, 1893, xxxiii-ixl; J.L., "The State Fallacy," Labor Leader, April 7, 1894,
J.L. Scrapbook 1883-1901, 85-86, LC/LL; J.L., 'Anarchism," Labor Leader,
March 21, 1896, J.L. Scrapbook 1883-1901, 89-90, LC/LL; J.L., "Where the


288
Notes to Chapter 14
Blame Lies," Labor Leader, February 24, 1894, J.L. Scrapbook 1883-1901,
83-84, LC/LL; The Workman, March 1, 1890, J.L. Scrapbook 1883-1901,
56-57, LC/LL. Labadie's articles in the Labor Leader appeared from 1893 to
1896.
10. American Federationist, April 1894; Samuel Gompers to J.L., September 13,
1894, LC.
11. American Federationist, May 1895; Foner, History of the Labor Movement,
2:280, 286.
12. Mandel, Samuel Gompers, 152-55; Foner, Histoiy of the Labor Movement,
2:287-94; August McCraith to J.L., April 28, 1894, February 10, 1895, LC.
13. J.L. to Schilling, December 18, 1894, GS; "Big Increase," Detroit News-Tri
bune, June 13, 1897, LC.
14. Detroit Sentinel, August 21, 1897; J.L., "Address by Jo Labadie," Kropotkin
Memorial Meeting, March 1921, LC; James Joll, The Anarchists (New York:
Grosset and Dunlap, 1966), 126-27, 150.
15. Paul Avrich, Anarchist Portraits (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988),
81, 84, 88; "General Walker and the Anarchists," Liberty, November 19, 1887.
16. Avrich, Anarchist Portraits, 56, 59, 62, 65, 76.
17. Ibid., 82, 84, 85, 88, 97, 98.
18. Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House, 177-79.
19. J.L., membership cards and personal documents, LC.
20. J.L., "Cranky Notions," beginning "I have read 'Labor and the Civic Federation,'
" n.d., LC. Labadie seemed devoid of the class consciousness emphasized by
some historians in analyzing nineteenth-century labor activism.
21. Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation, 231-42.
22. J.L. to Schilling, November 19, 1895, GS. Reports on the Social Science Club
are contained in newspaper clippings, December 23, 1896 to May 28, 1897, J.L.
Scrapbook I, 1-34, in The People (Detroit) (1897-1899) and the Detroit Sentinel
(1897-1899), LC.
23. Ibid.; "In a Dress Suit," Detroit Nev’s, December 30, 1896, J.L. Scrapbook I, 2.
24. The People (Detroit), January 28, April 23, 1897, J.L. Scrapbook I, 5, 30, LC.
25. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Liberty, November 10, 1888; Holli, Reform in Detroit,
141; Tucker to J.L., September 7, 1900, LC.
26. The People (Detroit), November 24, 1899.
27. J.L., ‘Anarchism in Detroit," Liberty, February 22, 1896; Detroit Evening Press,
December 23, 1895, quoted in Liberty, January 11, 1896; J.L., "Anarchism,"
nine-page typescript, LC. Labadie published this speech in 1896. It was sold for
five cents through E. H. Fulton's "Age of Thought" Library.
28. Charles Flint Kellogg, NAACP: A Histoiy of the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,
1967), 1:114-15, 229-30, 239-41.
29. Mandel, Samuel Gompers, 236-39; Foner, Histoiy of the Labor Movement,
2:352-53. Gompers defended at length the AFL's practices related to black
workers in letter to J.L., September 11, 1900, LC.
30. J.L., "My Deal' A1 [Weeks]," n.d. (after 1919), LC; MBLIS, Sixteenth Annual
Report, 1899, 327; Bald, Michigan in Four Centuries, 264, 316.


Notes to Chapter 15
289
31. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Advance and Labor Leaf, April 7, 1886; J.L. to A1
[Weeks], n.d., LC.
32. P. P. Cooney to Sophie Labadie, May 13, June 8, 1898, LC; Paul Avrich, "Lau-
rance Labadie," in Anarchist Voices: An Oral Histoiy of Anarchism in America
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), 16.
Chapter 15
1. Alice Wexler, Emma Goldman: An Intimate Life (New York: Pantheon Books,
1984), 85-86.
2. Ibid., 74-77.
3. Goldman, Living My Life, 1:202-7; Detroit Sentinel, November 13, 1897, LC.
The church was known variously as the People's Church, the Plymouth Congre
gational Church, and the People's or Plymouth Tabernacle.
4. Detroit New’s, November 15, 1897; Goldman, Living My Life, 1:203.
5. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Detroit Sentinel, November 27, 1897; Goldman, Living
My Life, 1:206.
6. Goldman, Living My Life, 1:205-7; J.L., "Cranky Notions," Detroit Sentinel,
December 11, 1897.
7. Detroit New’s, November 20-23, 1897; Goldman, Living My Life, 1:207; Detroit
Sentinel, December 11, 1897.
8. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Detroit Sentinel, November 27, December 11, 1897.
9. Wexler, Emma Goldman, 48^-9; J.L., "Cranky Notions," Detroit Sentinel,
December 11, 1897.
10. Wexler, Emma Goldman, 108-9, 298n. 27; Richard Drinnon, Rebel in Paradise
(New York: Harper and Row, 1976), 75; Goldman, Living My Life, 1:323-24.
11. Wexler, Emma Goldman, 103-7; Drinnon, Rebel in Paradise, 76-77; Goldman,
Living My Life, 1:322.
12. Avrich, Anarchist Portraits, 103; Sidney Fine, 'Anarchism and the Assassination
of McKinley," in The Underside of American Histoiy, ed. Thomas R. Frazier
(New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971), 2:72-74, 77, 82-83. See also
Robert G. Scofield, "Anti-Anarchist Laws," the dandelion 5, no. 18 (spring-win
ter 1982): 3-11.
13. J.L., "To the Editor of the Windsor Record," LC; Drinnon, Rebel in Paradise,
121-22.
14. J.L., "To the Editor," Detroit New’s, March 18, [1907], J.L. Scrapbook I, 4CMH,
LC; Detroit Times, March 24, 1907, J.L. Scrapbook I, 41, LC; Windsor Evening
Record, March 23, 1907, J.L. Scrapbook I, 41, LC.
15. Henry A. Robinson to J.L, November 22, 1897, LC; Oestreicher, Solidarity and
Fragmentation, 243^14.
16. Detroit Sentinel, September 25, 1897,4. Labadie is never listed as editor, but his
stewardship is referred to in letters from William Holmes, Henry Robinson, and
other friends as well as in comments in the publication. Among the American
anarchists who wrote for the paper were John William Lloyd, Lizzie Holmes,
Stephen Byington, Victor Yarros, Voltairine de Cleyre, and Rafael Buck.
17. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Detroit Sentinel, November 6, 1897, May 7, 1898.


290
Notes to Chapter 15
18. J.L., "Cranky Notions," Detroit Sentinel, November 6, 1897, quoting from the
American Craftsman.
19. Fine, "Anarchism and the Assassination of McKinley," 74n. 55.
20. Anarchist stickers, LC; Detroit Journal April 7, 1908, J.L. Scrapbook IV, 302,
LC.
21. Detroit Journal. April 11, 1908, J.L. Scrapbook IV, 787-88, LC; J.L. to Benja
min Tucker, April 8, 1908, NYPL; Allan Benson to J.L., May 1, 1908, LC; E.
Debs to J.L., May 5, 1908, LC. Tucker was also having troubles with the stick
ers. The assistant attorney general for the Post Office Department declared some
of them unmailable and ruled that all mail bearing them would be discarded. See
Tucker, "Article about Jo Labadie," Tucker Collection, NYPL; Tucker to J.L.,
May 4, 1908, LC.
22. Detroit News, May 13, 1908, J.L. Scrapbook I, 122-23, LC.
23. Detroit Free Press, May 13, 1908, J.L. Scrapbook I, 121, LC; ibid.. May 20,
1908, J.L. Scrapbook I, 124, LC; Detroit New’s, November 9, 1933.
24. J.L. to Tucker, May 21, 1908, NYPL.
25. Ibid.
26. Tucker to J.L., January 15, June 11, 1908, LC; J.L. to Tucker, January 17, 1908,
NYPL.
27. Avrich, Anarchist Portraits, 145^-7; Benson to J.L., April 14, 1908, April 23,
1908, LC. Benson was the Socialist party candidate for president in 1916.
28. J.L. to Tucker, June 30, 1908, NYPL, Tucker to J.L., July 2, September 6 and 17,
1908, LC; J.L. to Tucker, September 13, 1908, NYPL.
29. Hamilton, "Introduction," 14-15; Martin, Men Against the State, 273.
30. J.L. to Tucker, August 15, 1906, February 8, March 28, 1909, NYPL; Carl Nold
to J.L..April 17, 1910, LC.
31. Drinnon, Rebel in Paradise, 14: J.L., "Cranky Notions," The Firebrand, Decem
ber 25, 1909; Fine, "Anarchism and the Assassination of McKinley," 80. Long
after Altgeld's death in 1902, Labadie venerated him as a "Great Soul!" with
"a red, red heart beating with justice and mercy" in "John P. Altgelt [v/<r]," Sing
Songs and Some That Don't.
32. The Firebrand, January 5, 1910. Goldman considered Tucker and his circle cold,
with "no depths, no passions, no intencities [s/c]. Just sawdust." See Wexler,
Emma Goldman, 290n. 13.
33. Wexler, Emma Goldman, 186; Goldman to J.L., January 16, July 27, 1911, LC;
J.L. to Goldman, August 3, 1911, LC. The wife of Ross Winn, publisher of The
Firebrand and The Advance, had appealed to Goldman for help. See Mrs. Ross
Winn to Goldman, July 12, 1911, LC.
34. Goldman to J.L., September 30, 1911, LC.
35. Ibid., April 11, 1906, LC.
36. Wexler, Emma Goldman, 122, 281.
37. J.L. to Tucker, March 28, 1923, NYPL. Tucker did not reply. After World War'
I, there were still small groups of foreign-bom anarchists in the United States,
chiefly Italian, Spanish, and Russian. See Paul Avrich, Sacco and Vanzetti: The
Anarchist Background (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991).


Notes to Chapter 16
291
Chapter 16
1. Detroit Journal, July 1, 1901, J.L. Scrapbook I, 114, LC.
2. J.L., "Bob Hendrie, Teamster," Doggerel for the Under Dog (Detroit: The Laba
die Shop, 1910), 49; Jack Conroy, "Jo Labadie, Craftsman and Poet," North
ern Light 1, no. 7 (November-December 1927): 160; J.L., "The Russian Red
Revolt," Russian Verses (Detroit: The Labadie Shop, 1932), 6, LC.
3. Benjamin Tucker to J.L., January 17, August 11, 1903, LC; Harry Rickel to J.L.,
September 10, 1919, LC; Conroy, "Jo Labadie, Craftsman and Poet"; Lawrence
H. Conrad to J.L., January 24, May 5, 1927, LC. Ironically, Whitman was a great
admirer of Tucker, who, in 1882, sold Leaves of Grass in defiance of Boston
postal censorship. See Martin Blatt, "Ezra Heywood and Benjamin R. Tucker,"
in Benjamin R. Tucker, 35-37.
4. J.L. to Tucker, March 28, 1923, NYPL; Lawrence H. Conrad, "Jo Labadie—
Poet," Michigan Histoiy 16, no. 2 (spring 1932): 223; Haldeman-Julius Weekly
(Girard, Kansas), March 22, 1924, LC; J.L., "Freedom of Speech" in Anthology
of Revolutionary Poetry, ed. Marcus Graham (New York: Active Press, 1927),
217-18.
5. J.L. to Dr. William E. Gilroy, June 14, 1925, LC; "The Labadie Scrap Press,"
Detroit News, August 20, 1911, J.L. Scrapbook I, 94-95, LC. The booklets gen
erally measured three-and-a-half by five-and-a-half inches.
6. J.L., three-page manuscript beginning, "The demand for the products of the
shop," LC; Loose advertisements for the Labadie Shop, LC.
7. Paul Leake, Histoiy of Detroit (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Co., 1912), 976;
J. Grenell, "Autobiography," 67-68; Reichert, Partisans of Freedom, 353-58.
Schmidt was a member of the board of police commissioners, the state board of
arbitration and mediation, and the state board of forest inquiry.
8. J.L. to Henry Bool, January 26, 1917, LC/HB; J.L., "While I put the taboo on
no place . . . one-page manuscript, LC; Lee J. Smits, "Sidewalks of Detroit,"
[Detroit Free Press], August 7, 1928, J.L. Scrapbook V, 376, LC; Carl Nold to
J.L., postcard, March 16, 1916, LC; Goldman, Living My Life, 1:203.
9. A. Inglis, "Charles Joseph Antoine Labadie," three-page biographical sketch, 2;
J.L. to Carl Schmidt, "My deal' Karl . . . [January 2, 1910], LC; Schmidt to
J.L., February 4, 1910, LC; J.L. to Emma Goldman, August 3, 1911, LC; Gold
man to J.L., August 10, 1911, LC.
10. Steve Babson, Working Detroit: The Making of a Union Town (New York:
Adama Books, 1984), 18; David Montgomery, The Fall of the House of Labor
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 215; Cooper, Once a Cigar
Maker, 190-92.
11. J.L. to "Papa's Dearest," September 9, 1905, LC; J.L. to "Ma chere" (Sophie
Labadie), September 12, 1905, LC; J.L. to "Mamma and the Babies," Labor
Day, 1905, LC; J.L., to "Dear Ones," September 6, 1905, LC; E. Debs to J.L.,
December 12, 1905, LC. Arden, founded in 1900, is still in existence. Hubbard
told Labadie he was impressed with his definition of anarchy and proposed to
use some of the ideas as his own, "for that is the way I get my original things."
E. Hubbard to J.L., September 13, 1904, LC.


292
Notes to Chapter 16
12. J.L. to Tucker, February 8, 1909, NYPL; J.L. to Herman Kuehn, n.d., LC.
13. J.L. to Bool, July 14. 1913, LC/HB. The stone ruins of two Bubbling Waters
buildings are located in Kensington Metropark, near Brighton. The land was
deeded to the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority by Labadie's children in
1948 for $1, possibly as a result of condemnation proceedings. See deed dated
December 12, 1948, Oakland County Land Records. Labadie Road runs through
what is now a Nature Area. An exhibit about the Labadies is housed in the Nature
Center building.
14. J.L., "Cranky Notions," The Firebrand, November 1910; J.L. to "Deal' Old
George [Schilling]," May 6, 1925, LC.
15. J.L., "What Is Anarchism?" ten-page typescript, n.d., 8, LC.
16. J.L. to Bool, July 14, 1913, September 3, 1917, LC/HB. For descriptions of life
at Bubbling Waters, see J.L. to Sophie, Laura, and Laurance Labadie, LC.
17. J.L. to Bool, August 20, 1914, LC/HB; J.L. to J. Grenell, October 19, 1929, LC/
JG; "Dr. Urban Hartung's record of some of his fasting patients," LC. Labadie
wrote many articles about good health for the Detroit Times. See J.L. Scrapbook
IV, 286-310, LC.
18. Clippings from the Detroit Times, October 24, 1903, J.L. Scrapbook I, 116-17,
LC; ibid., October 30, November 9 and 10, 1903, J.L. Scrapbook IV, 228, 250-
52, LC.
19. "Police Horse Blanche, . . ." Detroit Journal, September 30, 1915; J.L. to J.
Grenell, 1927, LC/JG. Bool was a financial supporter of Tucker and other anar
chists. After President McKinley's assassination, he was threatened with vio
lence and a boycott of his business. He returned to his native England in 1910
after his wife died, but continued to send Labadie money until his death in 1922.
See Eunice Minette Schuster, Native American Anarchism (Port Townsend:
Loompanics Unlimited, 1983; reprint of 1932), 155-56.
20. The Vaudeville Breeze (Chicago), June 18, 1915; "Motion Picture Ranch Is
Filming Scenes Out in Wilds of Oakland County," Detroit News, June 18, 1916;
"Staging Movies in the Wilds of Oakland County," Detroit Free Press, n.d.
[1915], author's collection.
21. Gregg Sutter, "Making Movies in Michigan," Detroit News Magazine, Novem
ber 1, 1981; "Motion Picture Ranch," Detroit News, June 18, 1916. Fielding and
Taliaferro starred in "The Rich Slave" (1921); Harris, Marmont, and Hubert and
Oliver Labadie in "The First Woman" (1922); and Mayo and Landis in "Then
Came the Woman" (1926).
22. J.L. to Bool, December 18, 1915, July 9, 1921, LC/HB; Nina Van Zandt to J.L.,
January 10, 1913, LC; J.L., 'An Explanation," leaflet, LC.
23. J.L. to Bool, August 17, 1916, LC/HB. Ruins of the fireplace are still visible in
Kensington Metropark.
24. J.L. to "My good old friend" (Henry Bool), n.d., five-page letter, LC/HB. Laba
die was a contributing editor of the Bowman, North Dakota, Truth Seeker in
1913. He wrote occasionally for The Egoist (1921-1925) and The Mutualist
(1925-1926), both published in Clinton, Iowa.
25. Gompers wanted Labadie to discuss the labor provisions of the Clayton Anti-
Trust Act of 1914, which he teimed labor's "Magna Carta." He seems to have


Notes to Chapter 16
293
forgotten that Labadie, who turned him down, had little use for labor laws.
Gompers to J.L., July 13, 1915, September 3, 1915, LC. See also J.L., "Some
of the comrades say . . . ms., LC; Oestreicher, Solidarity and Fragmentation,
233-35. In 1886, over 20 percent of the workers had been organized.
26. E. Debs to J.L., December 12, 1905, LC; Nick Salvatore, Eugene V Debs
(Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982) 254-56, 245.
27. Stephen Meyer III, The Five Dollar Day: Labor Management and Social Con
trol in the Ford Motor Company, 1908-1921 (Albany: State University of New
York Press, 1981), 91, 93, 108; Babson, Working Detroit, 33; Joyce Shaw Peter
son, American Automobile Workers, 1900-1933 (Albany: State University of
New York Press, 1987), 108-10; J.L. to Bool, August 7, 1918, LC/HB; J.L. to L.
Labadie, September 4, 1917, LC.
28. J.L. to Charlotte Labadie, April 28, 1912, LC; E. Debs to J.L., May 5, 1908,
March 13, 1909, LC.
29. J.L. to E. Debs, December 9, 1920, EVD; J.L. to T. Debs, December 9, 1920,
EVD; T. Debs to J.L., December 24, 1920, LC.
30. J.L. to E. Debs, December 9, 1920, EVD.
31. J.L. to "Dearies" (his children), November 6, 1916, LC; J.L. to L. Labadie,
November 11, 1918, LC.
32. Detroit News Tribune, July 31, 1904, J.L. Scrapbook IV, 802, LC; Clipping,
Portage Daily Democrat, August 19, 1911, LC.
33. See correspondence between L. Labadie and J.L., 1915-17, LC.
34. Ibid., 1917-18, LC.
35. University of Michigan, transcript for L. Labadie, June 1918; J.L. to L. Labadie,
July 2, 1918, LC.
36. J.L. to Bool, June 15, September 3, 1917, May 20, 1918, LC/HB.
37. Roger Burlingame, Hemy Ford (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1955), 3^1; J.L. to
Robert McCormick, n.d., LC.
38. George Schilling to J.L., n.d. (after 1914), LC; J.L. to "My dearly beloved
brother Bool. . (Henry Bool), n.d. (before December 23, 1914), LC/HB;
Tucker to J.L., December 23, 1914, bMS Am 1614 (218), by permission of the
Houghton Library, Harvard University; Tucker to "an American friend," n.d.,
one-page typescript titled "Tucker's attitude during World War I," LC/LL.
39. J.L. to Schilling, February 23, 1925, LC; " 'Jo' Labadie's Job in Doubt," Detroit
Journal, April 23, 1917, LC; Microfilm 1085, Investigative Case Files of the
Bureau of Investigation, 1908-1922, Microfilm Reel 141-B, File Nos. 3253-
3376, Entry 12B, March 20 and 27, 1920, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
40. Avrich, Sacco and Vanzetti, 165, 173-75; J.L. to William Kelsey, May 2, 1920,
LC.
41. David H. Bennett, Die Party of Fear: From Nativist Movements to the New’ Right
in American Histoiy (New York: Vintage Books, 1990), 192; Babson, Working
Detroit, 38-39; Joseph R. Conlin, "William D. 'Big Bill' Haywood: The West
erner as Labor Radical," in Labor Leaders in America, ed. Melvyn Dubofsky
and Warren Van Tine (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987), 114; J.L. to
Gompers, November 15, 1919, AFL:SG; J.L. to Tucker, 1922, NYPL.
42. Mandel, Samuel Gompers, 351, 396-97, 437, 477-78.


294
Notes to Chapter 17
43. J.L. to Gompers, November 15, 1919, AFL:SG; Gompers to J.L., December 5,
1919, LC.
44. J.L. to Allan Benson, February 25, 1920, LC; J.L. to Bool, January 20, Novem
ber 9, 1919, LC/HB; Detroit Times, March 22, 1920, J.L. Scrapbook III, 49, LC;
J.L. to Tucker, 1922, NYPL.
Chapter 17
1. J.L., "To the Board of Regents of the University of Michigan," July 28, 1911,
LC. As early as the 1880s, Labadie was trying to get missing copies of such
publications as Our Organette, John Swinton's Paper, and The Craftsman.
2. Richard T. Ely to J.L., April 10, 1897, LC. For an account of the origins of the
collection and its first thirty years, see Arthur John, "A History of the Laba
die Collection of Labor and Radical Literature in the University of Michigan
Library," unpublished term paper, 1941—42, LC. The Labadie-Ely correspon
dence is reproduced and discussed in Fine, "The Ely-Labadie Letters," 30-32.
Labadie's literature was of particular interest to Ely in 1897 because he was
contemplating a revision of his book. The Labor Movement in America.
3. Richard T. Ely to J.L., November 7, 1906, LC.
4. J.L. to Benjamin Tucker, August 15, 1906, NYPL; Tucker to J.L., August 17,
1906, LC. Although Labadie regularly contributed unpaid articles to Liberty,
Tucker charged him the full subscription price.
5. J.L. to John B. Andrews, August 14, 1906, LC.
6. Andrews to J.L., August 22, 1906, LC; Ely to J.L., November 7, 1906, LC; Gra
ham Taylor to J.L., November 13, 1906, LC; Edward W. Bemis to J.L., Novem
ber 14, 1906, LC; J.L. to Board of Regents, July 28, 1911, LC.
7. Henry Carter Adams to J.L., May 5, 1909, LC; George E. Bar-nett to J.L., May
2, 1910, LC; G. W. W. Hanger to J.L., November 23, 1910, LC. Labadie said he
also was offered $3,000 for his collection by the Michigan State Librarian (J.L.
to Henry Bool, December 1, 1913, LC/HB), although a letter dated April 20,
1914, from State Librarian Mary C. Spencer seems to indicate no money was
available for this purpose.
8. J.L. to John R. Commons, April 4, 1912, quoted in "A Letter from Jo Labadie to
John R. Commons," Labor Histoiy 2, no. 3 (summer 1970): 345.
9. J.L. to Tucker, March 28, 1909, NYPL; Robert Mark Wenley to J.L., February
22, 1911, LC.
10. J.L. to Board of Regents, July 28, 1911, LC.
11. Carl E. Parry to J.L., October 17, 1911, LC; A. Inglis, "The Labadie Collection,"
1932, LC.
12. Detroit Journal, August 28, 1912, J.L. Scrapbook I, 119-20, LC; J.L., "The
Labadie Collection of Sociological Literature," one-page printed leaflet, LC.
13. John, "A History of the Labadie Collection," 24—27; Card Schmidt to J.L., Febru
ary 24, 1912, LC; Commons to J.L., April 1, 1912, LC; Detroit Journal, August
28, 1912, J.L. Scrapbook I, 119, LC.
14. John, "A History of the Labadie Collection," 27-28; Harry Bums Hutchins to
J.L., May 27, 1916, LC.


Notes to Chapter 18
295
15. Material regarding Agnes Inglis's life is based primarily on her autobiography,
"Reflections—Notes for a Book," two-part, 244-page typescript, LC/AI. See
also Dione Miles, "Agnes Inglis: Librarian, Activist, Humanitarian," the dande
lion 3, no. 12 (winter 1979): 7-15; James J. Martin, "Agnes Inglis: Recollections
and Impressions," in Laurance Labadie: Selected Essays (Colorado Springs:
Ralph Myles Publisher, Inc., 1978), 67-74; R. Anne Okey, "They All Knew
Each Other: Agnes Inglis and the Labadie Collection," exhibit catalog. Special
Collections Library, University of Michigan Library, 1992. See also Richard
Drinnon, Rebel in Paradise (New York: Harper and Row, 1961), 138-39.
16. A. Inglis, "Reflections—Notes for a Book," part 1, 43^14, 88-89, LC/AI; Gold
man, Living My Life, 2:666; Wexler, Emma Goldman, 184—85.
17. A. Inglis to J.L., April 13 and 18, November 5, 1916, LC.
18. A. Inglis, "Reflections—Notes for a Book," paid 2, 12-14, 16, 86-87, LC/AI; A.
Inglis to J.L., October 21, 1928, LC.
19. A. Inglis to J.L., February 11, 1924, LC; J. Grenell, "Autobiography," 82.
20. Edward C. Weber, "The Labadie Collection in the University of Michigan
Library," Labor Histoiy 31, nos. 1-2 (winter-spring 1990): 157-59; Author's
interviews with Edward C. Weber, May 1985; A. Inglis, one-page typescript,
beginning "I have preserved in the Collection ....," December 12, 1938,
LC.
21. A. Inglis, two-page typescript, beginning "I began work in the collection in 1924
" LC; A. Inglis to J.L., January 15, September 6, 1928, June 12, 1930, LC.
22. A. Inglis to J.L., September 6, 1928, LC; J.L. to A. Inglis, May 11, 1925, LC/AI.
23. A. Inglis to J.L., November 24, 1925, December 17, 1926, May 10, 1931, LC.
24. A. Inglis, two-page biographical sketch, "Item of interest in regard to Jo Laba
die," December 11, 1932, 2, LC.
25. Miles, 'Agnes Inglis: Librarian, Activist, Humanitarian," 8; Martin, "Agnes Ing
lis: Recollections and Impressions," 68, 71; Weber, "The Labadie Collection,"
159; J.L., one-page typescript, "To Friends, who may be glad to hear about the
Labadie Collection," n.d. [1927], LC; A. Inglis to J.L., January 21, February 12,
1928, LC.
26. A. Inglis to J.L., August 25, 1929, June 12, 1930, May 10, 1931, LC; A. Inglis,
"Charles Joseph Antoine Labadie," three-page biographical sketch, 2, LC. Laba
die did not deny his self-centeredness, but attributed the quality to everyone else
as well. "What we do to the Collection is not for the other fellow so much as it
is for ourselves," he wrote Inglis in August 1928. "No one does unselfish things,
tho he may think he does . . . [and] others may get benefit to [s/c]."
Chapter 18
1. Holli, Detroit, 125-26; Babson, Working Detroit, 41^-4.
2. Babson, Working Detroit, 39^-0; Ron Alpern et al.. Union Town: A Labor His
toiy Guide to Detroit (Detroit: Workers Education Local 189, n.d.), 4.
3. J.L. to J. Grenell, 1927, LC/JG; J.L. to John B. Andrews, [1922], LC.
4. J.L. to A. Inglis, September 1928, LC/AI; J.L. to Benjamin Tucker, March 28,
1923, NYPL; J.L. to Henry Bool, January 20, 1920, LC/HB; "Dean of Detroit's


296
Notes to Chapter 18
Bohemia," Detroit Free Press, October 29, 1922, J.L. Scrapbook I, 102—4, LC.
Labadie exchanged hundreds of letters with money reformer Heiman Kuehn
and Albert G. Wagner, both former Tucker associates. Other radical correspon
dents of his last years included William C. Owen, John William Lloyd, Alexan
der Berkman, Edward H. Fulton, Allan Benson, Clarence Darrow, John Henry
MacKay, Carl Nold, John Beverley Robinson, George Schilling, Myra Pepper
Weiler, Austin W. Wright, Hippolyte Havel, Leonard Abbott, Emile Armand,
Henry Cohen, and Alfred B. Westrup.
5. Detroit Labor Forum flyer. The lecture was part of a 1920 series that included
Roger Baldwin, founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, whose speech
was titled, "The Revolt of Labor"; J.L. to J. Grenell, 1927, LC/JG.
6. J. Grenell, "Autobiography," 96-98; J.L. to Tucker, March 28, 1923, NYPL.
7. John Burton to J.L., July 10, 1912, January 16, 1922, LC. Burton established
Onward in 1888 as a successor to Advance and Labor Leaf.
8. John M. McGregor to J.L., February 17, 1927, March 1927, LC; McGregor to J.
Grenell, October 11, 1927, LC/JG.
9. Thomas Barry to J.L., September 2, 1907, LC; Oestreicher, "The Limits of
Labor Radicalism," 16-17.
10. Gompers to J.L., January 27, 1920, LC.
11. Salvatore, Eugene V. Debs. 327-28, 334-38; E. Debs to J.L., January 5, 1925,
LC.
12. Oestreicher, "Terence Powderly," 56; Madison, American Labor Leaders, 68.
13. Henry A. Robinson to J.L., September 12, 1896, LC.
14. J.L., "Address by Jo Labadie," Kropotkin Memorial Meeting, March 1921, LC.
15. J.L. to Tucker, 1922,NYPL;J.L. to "Dear George" (Schilling (.February 23,
1925, LC. At the time of their 1919 deportation, Goldman and Berkman com
mitted themselves to support the Bolsheviks. They fled Russia in despair two
years later. Goldman, Living My Life, 2:927.
16. J.L. to William C. Owen, March 17, 1924, LC.
17. J.L. to J. Grenell, December 23, 1927, August 4, 1928, LC/JG; J.L. to Bool,
November 9, 1919, LC/HB; J. Grenell, "Rubbing Elbows with People Worth
while: V. Joe Labadie," Detroit News, September 11, 1916. See also "Joe Laba
die Leads Simple Life," Detroit Free Press, June 27, 1915.
18. J.L. to Albert G. Wagner, August 31, September 10, 1925, LC. Labadie issued
What Is Love? second edition (1921); Songs of the Spoiled (1922); Windows
(1924); Sing Songs and Some That Don't (1925); Anarchism: Genuine and Asi
nine (1925), and Holiday Sentiments, n.d., a booklet of four short poems.
19. Lawrence H. Conrad to J.L., December 27, 1926, January 24, 1927, March 3 and
17, 1928, LC; J. Grenell to J.L., March 26, 1928, LC.
20. Carl Schmidt to J.L., November 15, 1919; J.L., "Walhalla and Its Host" (Detroit:
The Labadie Shop, 1910), 10, LC.
21. J. Grenell to J.L., May 11, 1928, LC; J.L. to "Friend Albertus" (AlbertWagner),
February 8, 1927, LC.
22. L. Labadie, unsent letter [to Charlotte Labadie Hauser], n.d. (after 1927), begin
ning "It is a deplorable circumstance," LC/LL; C. Labadie Hauser to L. Labadie,
May 13, 1932, LC/LL, Family Papers, box 19.


Notes to Epilogue
297
23. J.L. to A. Inglis, September, 1928, LC/AI.
24. L. Labadie to author. May 29, 1965, LC/LL.
25. L. Labadie, "Places I have worked," n.d., LC/LL; Avrich, Anarchist Voices, 16;
L. Labadie, "Dere foks," [1927], "Dear Fadder and Mudder," February 17, n.d.
(after 1925), LC/LL. See also additional correspondence, L. Labadie with par
ents, 1921-24, LC/LL.
26. A. Inglis, note, beginning "April 23, 1932—Joe visited the Labadie Collection,"
J.L. biography and character sketches, and miscellaneous notes, LC.
27. L. Labadie to A. Inglis, December 21, 1932, LC/AI; "Jo Labadie's Only Funeral
Is Goodbys [s/c] of His Friends," Detroit News, October 10,1933, J.L. Scrapbook
V, 402, LC. Anarchism consisted of a single essay, "Anarchism and Crime,"
originally published in Anarchism: Genuine and Asinine (1925).
28. Detroit News, October 10, 1933, J.L. Scrapbook V, 402, LC.
29. Estelle James, "Jimmy Hoffa: Labor Hero or Labor's Own Foe?" in Labor Lead
ers in America, 304.
30. Bald, Michigan in Four Centuries, 404—5, 414—16, 423; Alpern et al.. Union
Town, 4.
31. A. Inglis, "Charles Joseph Antoine Labadie," three-page biographical sketch, 3,
LC.
32. J.L. to Bool, undated fragment, beginning "Of course, what to me seems depress
ing," LC/HB; W. K. Kelsey, Detroit News, April 18, 1950, J.L. Scrapbook IV,
559, LC; Lee J. Smits, "Sidewalks of Detroit," Detroit Free Press, [after 1920],
LC.
Epilogue
1. Benj amin Tucker, "The Attitude of Anarchism Toward Industrial Combinations"
(Detroit: Laurance Labadie, 1933), LC, Anarchism 8019; Martin, Men Against
the State, 271-73. In the speech. Tucker maintained that industrial combinations
per se were simply a form of competition based on cooperation and that the
"baneful" trusts of the time were "systems of a social disease" created by the
state in the form of "land monopoly . . . idea monopoly . . . tariff monopoly and
money monopoly." The only remedy was the establishment of "free access" in
those areas. The success of the conference prompted the organization of the
National Civic Federation, which sought to establish labor-capital cooperation
and industrial peace. In 1934, Laurance Labadie reprinted Tucker's "Why I Am
an Anarchist" (first published in the Twentieth Century in 1892).
2. Tucker to L. Labadie, June 3, 1933, bMS Am 1614 (220), by permission of
the Houghton Library, Harvard University; L. Labadie to Tucker, March 30,
September 17, 1936, LC/LL; Inscription on a photograph of Benjamin Tucker
sent to L. Labadie, LC/LL. Tucker's assessment that the cause was lost was
perhaps bleaker than warranted. There are, at this writing, several websites on
the internet concerned with the American individualist anarchism represented
by Tucker, Labadie, and others. Frank Brooks, speculating on the causes of
the movement's decline, points to the extreme individualism that prevented
the formation of any effective organization, to tactics that were gradualist.


298
Notes to Epilogue
individualist, and passive, and to a strategy limited to "conversion through
preaching." Brooks, "American Individual Anarchism: What It Was and Why It
Failed," Journal of Political Ideologies 1, no. 1 (1966): 75-95. Tucker died in
Monaco on June 22, 1939, at the age of eighty-five.
3. L. Labadie to Tucker, July 9, September 17, 1936, LC/LL.
4. A selection of his essays was reprinted in 1978 in Martin, Laurance Labadie:
Selected Essays. For an extensive treatment of L. Labadie's views, see two
undergraduate papers by Fritz Ward, "Laurance Labadie and the Individualist
Anarchist Critique of War'" (1987), and "Laurance Labadie and the Origins of
Modern Radical Libertarianism" (1988), LC.
5. Avrich, Anarchist Voices. 16; Mildred J. Loomis and Mark A. Sullivan, "Laura
nce Labadie: Keeper of the Flame," in Benjamin R. Tucker 116-30.
6. Loomis and Sullivan, "Laurance Labadie," 119.
7. Martin, "Laurance Labadie," 5-6.
8. In This Ugly Civilization (1929) and Flight from the City (1933), Borsodi advo
cated homesteading as an alternative to the problems of urban industrialization.
For a discussion of the decentralist movement and Lane's End Homestead, see
Mildred J. Loomis, Decentral ism: Where It Came From: Where It Is Going
(York, Penn.: The School of Living Press, 1980). The school's publications
included Interpreter (1947-1957), Balanced Living (1958-1961), and A Way
Out( 1962-1966).
9. Martin, "Laurance Labadie," 6, 8, 16. Among those writing for the School's
publications at the time were Robert Anton Wilson, Paul Goodman, Murray
Rothbard, S. E. Parker, Timothy Leary, Theodore Schroeder, Robert LeFevre,
and Frank Chodorov.
10. Loomis and Sullivan, "Laurance Labadie," 121; L. Labadie to "Fred" (Saxby),
May 16, 1952, LC/LL. On the Borsodi homesteading experiment at "Dog
woods," see Ralph Borsodi, Flight from the City. 3d ed. (Suffern: School of
Living, 1947).
11. Martin, "Laurance Labadie," 10.
12. The neighborhood of the Labadie family home in Detroit was then almost all
black.
13. Related to the author by Mark Sullivan, September 21, 1987; L. Labadie to
author, December 12, 1948, LC/LL.
14. L. Labadie, "Published Articles by Laurance Labadie," April 4, 1964, two-page
typescript, LC/LL; Martin, "Laurance Labadie," 17; L. Labadie, "What Is Man's
Destiny," reprinted in Martin, "Laurance Labadie," 65; Avrich, Anarchist Voices.
16.
15. Murray N. Rothbard, For a New Liberty (New York: Macmillan, 1974), 8-10.


299
Bibliography
Bibliographical Note
Most of the primary materials used for this book were saved by Jo and Sophie Laba
die and may be found in the Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan in
original, photocopied, or, in some cases, microfilmed form. They include letters
received by Labadie from his many correspondents, along with his manuscripts,
personal account book, publications of the Labadie Shop, family photographs, and
eight family scrapbooks. Those sent to the collection during his lifetime, or recently
by me, are found in the Joseph Labadie Papers. Materials I sent immediately after
his son, Laurance, died in 1975, were placed with the Laurance Labadie Papers.
Letters from Labadie to others are generally located with the papers of the recipient,
either in the collection itself (e.g„ the Agnes Inglis Papers, Judson Grenell Papers)
or in another library.
Of particular' interest are the eight scrapbooks consisting primarily of clip
pings from a wide range of publications, from both the popular press and obscure
journals, of articles by or about Jo Labadie, his activities, or his associates. Five
were photocopied from originals in my possession and are designated I-V for iden
tification puiposes. They are with the Joseph Labadie Papers. Three originals are
housed with the Laurance Labadie Papers. They are referred to as scrapbook 1883-
1901, scrapbook 1882-1929, and "Cranky Notions scrapbook" (mostly Labadie's
published poems). Labadie's account book for the years 1878-86 contains many
valuable details of the family's daily expenses and income.
I made extensive use of the valuable research notes written by Agnes Inglis,
first curator of the Labadie Collection, about persons and events mentioned in the
book. These are cited in the chapter notes but not included in the bibliography. She
left two biographical sketches of Labadie titled "Charles Joseph Antoine Labadie."
I have differentiated them by noting whether I refer to the three-page version or the
ten-page one.
Jo Labadie's manuscripts and published writings (with the exception of those
issued by the Labadie Shop) are too numerous to list. Details of many other docu
ments not listed in the bibliography may be found in the notes. The periodicals listed
are in the collection, some in microfilm versions. Carefully saved by the Labadies,
they often represent the only extant full run.


300
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Debs, Eugene V. Papers. Cunningham Memorial Library, Indiana State University,
Terre Haute, Indiana.
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Grenell, Judson. Autobiography. Archives and Historical Collections, Michigan
State University, East Lansing.
Joseph Ishill Collection. Manuscript Department, Houghton Library, Harvard
University.
Labadie Collection. Special Collections Library, University of Michigan, Ann
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Papers. Judson Grenell Papers. Henry Bool Papers.
Parsons, Albert R., Collection. State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison.
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Microfilm edition. Microfilming Corporation of America, Glen Rock, New
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Schilling, George A. Papers. Illinois State Historical Society, Springfield, Illinois.
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Labor Leader Boston, 1887-97. Edited by Frank K. Foster.
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Labadie, Joseph A., and Edwin M. Clark. My Friend Indeed and A Friend 's Accep
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Articles
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