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The Yankee International

Marxism and the American Reform Tradition, 1848-1876

Timothy Messer-Kruse

Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Imprint: The University of North Carolina Press
Published: 11/2000
Pages: 336
Subject: History, Political Science | University of North Carolina
Print ISBN: 9.78E+12
eBook ISBN: 9780807863374


Examining the social and intellectual collision of the American
reform tradition with immigrant Marxism during the Reconstruction
era, Timothy Messer-Kruse charts the rise and fall of the
International Workingman's Association (IWA), the first
international socialist organization. He analyzes what attracted
American reformers--many of them veterans of antebellum crusades for abolition, women's rights, and other radical causes--to the IWA, how their presence affected the course of the American Left, and why they were ultimately purged from the IWA by their orthodox Marxist comrades.
Messer-Kruse explores the ideology and activities of the
Yankee Internationalists, tracing the evolution of antebellum
American reformers' thinking on the question of wage labor and
illuminating the beginnings of a broad labor reform coalition in
the early years of Reconstruction. He shows how American
reformers' priority of racial and sexual equality clashed with
their Marxist partners' strategy of infiltrating trade unions.
Ultimately, he argues, Marxist demands for party discipline and
ideological unity proved incompatible with the Yankees' native
republicanism. With the expulsion of Yankee reformers from the
IWA in 1871, American Marxism was divorced from the American
reform tradition.