Item no. 10007
60x45cm (24x18in)
Collection: Bread & Roses
Collage by Anita Siegel, inspired by a quote from Eugene V. Debs, on a poster from the Images of Labor poster series.

"Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation."

Eugene V. Debs (1855 - 1926) is the foremost socialist political leader in the history of American radicalism.  Dissatisfied with the conservative craft brotherhoods which organized only skilled railroad workers, Debs, a Secretary of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, began organizing the American Railway Union in 1892--an industrial union which represented all workers regardless of skill. Despite early success, the union was broken by the Federal government during the Pullman boycott of 1894, and Debs was jailed for six months for conspiring to obstruct the delivery of Federal mail.  In prison, Debs became a socialist.

Drawing on Biblical imagery, the republicanism of Thomas Paine, the utopianism of Edward Bellamy, and the writings of Karl Marx, Debs fashioned a socialist vision which many workers found compelling.  Although his Socialist Party never became a truly mass party, Debs polled nearly one million votes as Presidential candidate in 1912.  A lifelong crusader for the "cooperative commonwealth," Debs was the only radical in American history to create a large, national working class socialist constituency.

Image from the Images of Labor Collection, Bread and Roses, artist Anita Siegel.

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