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Ameringer, Oscar (04 August 1870–05 November 1943), humorist and socialist editor, was born in a Swabian village in Germany, the son of August Ameringer, a cabinetmaker. His mother’s maiden name was Hoffman, and she was the previously widowed owner of a twelve-acre farm. Relocated to Laupheim, Ameringer grew up in the relative comfort of the lower middle class, yet he despised the religiosity and anti-Semitism of his Lutheran schooling. An instinctive antimonarchist, storyteller, and musician, he seized his first opportunity, at age sixteen, to flee to the United States. There he would become the “Mark Twain of American socialism,” a famed literary comedian, stage entertainer, and labor and political organizer....

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Victor Berger. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-100903).

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Berger, Victor Louis (28 February 1860–07 August 1929), a founder and leader of the Socialist Party of America and a U.S. congressman, was born in the Nieder-Rehbach region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Romania) to Ignatz Berger and his wife, Julia (maiden name unknown), innkeepers. Berger attended the Universities of Vienna and Budapest for two years. His family suffered economic reversals and in 1878 emigrated to Bridgeport, Connecticut. In 1881 Berger settled in Milwaukee, where he taught school. In the heavily Germanic city he emerged as a leader, initially through the ...

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Browne, Carl (1846–16 January 1914), political agitator, reform journalist, and organizer of "Coxey's Army", political agitator, reform journalist, and organizer of “Coxey’s Army,” was born in Springfield, Illinois. (The date and place of his birth are sometimes less reliably given as 4 July 1849 in Newton, Iowa). Browne was working as a sign painter in western Iowa in 1869 when he suddenly decided to move to California. At that time he desired more than anything else to paint a gargantuan panorama of the Yosemite Valley. He later exhibited this painting up and down the Pacific Coast, such panoramas being a popular form of folk art in the nineteenth century. One unfriendly critic observed, “As an artist Carl Browne belongs to a distinct school. In fact, he constitutes the entire school.” Browne’s response to critics was to affirm that as a young man he had apprenticed with a carriage and house painter (an experience that probably accounted for his love of huge panoramic images and garish colors such as might adorn a circus wagon)....

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Calverton, Victor Francis (25 June 1900–20 November 1940), socialist writer and editor, was born George Goetz in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Charles Goetz, a German-American tailor, and Ida Geiger, the granddaughter of a left-wing refugee from the German 1848 revolution. Radicalized by his father’s denunciations of the Spanish-American War, Calverton read voraciously throughout high school in the Baltimore public schools, transferring his allegiance from Lutheranism to socialism. Although he was tempted to become a professional baseball player, he decided to earn money for college by working as a timekeeper with the Bethlehem Steel Company. In 1921 he graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in English and then spent a year studying psychology at Hopkins. After a brief membership in the Socialist Labor party, he began teaching in the public schools. In 1923 he published the first issue of the ...

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Carey, James Francis (19 August 1867–31 December 1938), Socialist politician, was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, the son of James Carey (1814–1889), a day laborer and sometime shoemaker, and Mary Moriarty Carey (1834–1891). His parents had emigrated from Ireland at the time of the Great Famine....

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De Leon, Daniel (14 December 1852–11 May 1914), socialist, journalist, and polemicist, was born in Curaçao, Dutch West Indies, the son of Salomon De Leon, a surgeon and official in the Dutch colonial army, and Sarah Jesurun, who came from a wealthy family of Sephardic Jews. In the year that his father died (1864), Daniel’s mother took her sickly twelve-year-old son to Europe for its more salubrious climate and educational opportunities. Although no evidence exists to prove that De Leon attended a Gymnasium in Germany or the University of Leiden in Belgium, as he later claimed, he did acquire some secondary education and knowledge of classical and modern languages....

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Dietzgen, Peter Joseph (09 December 1828–15 April 1888), writer and socialist philosopher, was born in Blankenberg near Cologne, now part of Germany, the son of Gottfried Dietzgen, a master tanner, and Margaret Lückeroth. He had an elementary education and some high school in Cologne prior to learning his father’s trade. In hours of recreation from the tannery he studied literature, economics, and philosophy and became fluent in French. His studies of French economists, the ...

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Ghent, William James (29 April 1866–10 July 1942), socialist and author, was born in Frankfort, Indiana, the son of Ira Keith Ghent and Mary Elizabeth Palmer, farmers. As a child Ghent lived in Kansas, where his parents struggled to establish a homestead, but after six years Ghent’s father moved the family back to Frankfort and opened a drugstore. Ghent went to work at age thirteen, starting as a printer’s devil on a local paper. Before long he had become a skilled typesetter and began traveling around the country as an itinerant printer....

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Gronlund, Laurence (13 July 1846–15 October 1899), socialist writer, was born and raised in Copenhagen, Denmark (names of parents unknown). After brief service in the Danish military, he completed his formal education at the University of Copenhagen, receiving his M.A. in 1865. He then studied law before emigrating to the United States in 1867. While teaching German in the public schools of Milwaukee, he finished his legal studies and joined the Chicago bar in 1869. Attracted to socialist gatherings among Chicago’s German-Americans, he immersed himself in the literature of contemporary social philosophy and soon dropped the practice of law for a career in radical journalism and organizing....

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Haessler, Carl (05 August 1888–01 December 1972), journalist and socialist trade unionist, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Herman F. Haessler and Elizabeth Wagner. The political life of that city was dominated at that time by immigrant German social democrats. Haessler earned a B.A. at the University of Milwaukee, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and won a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University, where he studied for two years. He completed his formal education with a Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois, where he also taught. In 1917 he married Mildred Barnes; they had two children....

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Harriman, Job (15 June 1861–25 October 1925), Socialist and utopian colonist, was born in Clinton County, Indiana, the son of Newton Springer Harriman and Elizabeth Miller, farmers. At the age of eighteen Harriman traveled to Irvington, Indiana (a suburb of Indianapolis), where he enrolled in Northwest Christian University and began religious studies. After graduation he served for three years as a minister in the Disciples of Christ church, but a growing interest in secular matters drew him away from organized religion, and at twenty-three he left the church. In 1883 Harriman headed west to Colorado Springs. He enrolled in Colorado College, where he studied philosophy but after one year returned to Indiana unsure about his future....

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Harrington, Michael (24 February 1928–31 July 1989), writer and socialist political leader, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Edward Michael Harrington, a lawyer, and Catherine Fitzgibbon, a teacher. He grew up in a middle-class Catholic family, attended parochial schools, and graduated from Holy Cross College in 1947, after which he attended Yale Law School for one year, then enrolled at the University of Chicago, where he received a master’s degree in English literature in 1949....

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Harrison, Hubert Henry (27 April 1883–17 December 1927), black intellectual and radical political activist, was born in Concordia, St. Croix, Danish West Indies (now U.S. Virgin Islands), the son of William Adolphus Harrison and Cecilia Elizabeth Haines. Little is known of his father. His mother had at least three other children and, in 1889, married a laborer. Harrison received a primary education in St. Croix. In September 1900, after his mother died, he immigrated to New York City, where he worked low-paying jobs, attended evening high school, did some writing, editing, and lecturing, and read voraciously. In 1907 he obtained postal employment and moved to Harlem. The following year he taught at the White Rose Home, where he was deeply influenced by social worker Frances Reynolds Keyser, a future founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1909 he married Irene Louise Horton, with whom he had five children....

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Hillquit, Morris (01 August 1869–07 October 1933), attorney and socialist leader, was born Morris Hillkowitz in Riga, Latvia, then a part of the Russian Empire, the son of Benjamin Hillkowitz, a schoolteacher, and Rebecca Levene. His father sent Morris to elementary and secondary schools in Riga, where he learned Russian and German. The family immigrated to the United States in 1886 and soon after changed its name to Hillquit. In New York City, Morris resumed his education and learned English, a language that he always spoke with a foreign accent. As was the case with most Jewish immigrant families, the Hillquits required contributions from all members to survive. Hence Morris found work in a shirt factory, where he met other young immigrant workers and became acquainted with the infant Jewish-American labor movement. He began to learn Yiddish in order to communicate with fellow immigrant Jews for whom it was the language of choice. He also read socialist literature in its original German. As a result of his reading and personal experiences in the United States, Hillquit joined the Socialist Labor Party (SLP) in 1887. That year he became a staff member of the first Yiddish-language socialist newspaper in the United States, ...

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Hoan, Daniel Webster (12 March 1881–11 June 1961), socialist leader and mayor of Milwaukee, was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, the son of Daniel Webster Hoan, a well digger, and Margaret Hood. Upon completing seven years of school, he worked as a chef in Waukesha, Milwaukee, and Chicago hotels and restaurants. In 1901 he entered the University of Wisconsin as an “adult special” student. There he organized a Socialist society and regularly attended meetings of the Socialist party members of the state legislature. Following graduation in 1905, Hoan opened a restaurant in Chicago and attended night classes at Kent College of Law, passing bar examinations in Illinois and Wisconsin in 1908. In the following year he married Agnes Bernice Magner; they had two children before her death in 1941....

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Howland, Marie (23 January 1836–18 September 1921), women's rights advocate, utopian socialist, and writer, women’s rights advocate, utopian socialist, and writer, was born Hannah Marie Stevens in Lebanon, New Hampshire, the eldest daughter of poor farmers whose names are unknown. As a young girl, Howland insisted that her parents allow her to attend school, just like her brother, and she excelled at her studies. When she was twelve, however, her formal education came to an abrupt end with the death of her father. Left destitute, the family had to separate in order to survive. Her mother had always worked hard on the farm but without wages. Howland learned, at an early age, what economic dependence meant for women....

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Hughan, Jessie Wallace (25 December 1875–10 April 1955), pacifist, socialist, and teacher, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Samuel Hughan, an accountant and librarian, and Margaret West. Both parents were religious seekers and followers of Henry George’s Single Tax theory. Hughan attended Barnard College, graduating in 1898 with an A.B. in economics. A year later she received an A.M. from Columbia University with a thesis on Henry George’s economic theories. In 1910 she was awarded a Ph.D. from Columbia; the title of her dissertation was “The Present Status of Socialism in America.” Having become acquainted with Socialist party members through her research, she herself became a socialist in 1907. The Socialist party recognized her leadership potential and appointed her to its executive committee and that of the Inter-Collegiate Socialist Society, later the League for Industrial Democracy. She also ran as a socialist candidate for a number of offices, including the U.S. Senate in 1924....

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London, Meyer (29 December 1871–06 June 1926), socialist leader and labor lawyer, was born in Kalvarie, province of Suvalki, Poland, the son of Ephraim London, a printer, and Rebecca Berson. His father received a traditional Orthodox Jewish education but turned to radicalism under the influence of the enlightenment movement. His mother was born into a rabbinical family and retained her Orthodox views. London’s father arrived in the United States in 1888 and set up a printing shop on the Lower East Side of New York City that published a Yiddish anarchist journal. In 1891 he sent for the rest of his family. Meyer entered New York University’s law school in 1896 and was admitted to the bar two years later. In 1899 he married Anna Rosenson, a dentist; they had one child....

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Maurer, James Hudson (15 April 1864–16 March 1944), socialist politician and labor official, was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, the son of James R. Maurer, a shoemaker, and Sarah Lorah. James endured a difficult childhood. His father, a strict Lutheran, died of smallpox in 1872. His mother remarried soon after, but his stepfather proved stern and abusive. Poverty cut short James’s formal education. After just fourteen months at public school, without the ability to read or write, he was forced to seek work to supplement the family’s income. He labored as a newsboy, farm laborer, factory operative, and, at age sixteen, machinist’s apprentice. During his apprenticeship Maurer learned to read and developed an interest in politics and economics. In 1880 he joined the Knights of Labor and the Greenback party. In 1881, after moving to nearby Pottstown, Maurer rose through the ranks of the Knights, eventually becoming district master workman for the Schuylkill Valley. In 1886 he married Mary J. Missimer; they had two children. In 1891 the family returned to Reading....