Learn About Eugene Victor Debs

You can visit E.V. Debs’ home in Terre Haute, Indiana. It’s on the campus there. You get to wander around and see terrific murals, posters, artifacts, etc. They kind of scramble up his politics with those of other socialists. He’s not around to defend himself, and the museum people didn’t seem to know much about his role as America’s foremost socialist agitator.

He traveled to Texas at one point. There’s a picture of him with Texas socialists. Click here.

Here are just a few of his famous statements:

  "When I rise it will be with the ranks and not from the ranks."


  "The workers are the saviors of society, the redeemers of the race." 1905

 “I told my friends of the cloth that I did not believe Christ was meek and lowly but a real

living, vital agitator who went into the temple with a lash and a knout and whipped the oppressors

of the poor, routed them out of the doors and spilled their blood and got silver on the floor. He

told the robbed and misruled and exploited and driven people to disobey their plunderers, he

denounced the profiteers, and it was for this that they nailed his quivering body to the cross and

spiked it to the gates of Jerusalem, not because he told them to love one another. That was

harmless doctrine. But when he touched their profits and denounced them before their people he

was marked for crucifixion.” Speaking to a reporter for Call from his prison cell in 1919 while

serving time for making anti-war speeches.

  “Am I my brother's keeper? [That frequently asked question] has never been answered in a

way that is satisfactory to civilized society. Yes, I am my brother's keeper. I am under a moral

obligation to him that is inspired, not by maudlin sentimentality, but by the higher duty I owe

myself. It is when you have done your work honestly, when you have contributed your share to

the common fund that you begin to live. Then, as Whitman said, you can take out your soul; you

can commune with yourself; you can take a comrade by the hand and you can look into his soul

and in that holy communion you live. And if you don't know what that is, or if you are not at least

on the edge of it, it is denied you even to look into the Promised Land.”  From a speech given at

the founding of the Federal Council of Churches in Girard, Kansas, 1908

  “Solidarity is not a matter of sentiment but a fact, cold and impassive as the granite

foundations of a skyscraper. If the basic elements, identity of interest, clarity of vision, honesty of

intent, and oneness of purpose, or any of these is lacking, all sentimental pleas for solidarity, and

all other efforts to achieve it will be barren of results.”

  "I would no more teach children military training than teach them arson, robbery, or


  "It is better to be true to a principle and to stand alone and be able to look yourself in the

face without a blush, far better to be in a hopeless minority than to be in a great popular and

powerful majority of the unthinking.”

'Do you know that all the progress in this whole world's history has been made by minorities? I

have somehow been fortunately all of my life in the minority. I have thought again and again that

if ever I find myself in the majority I will know that I have outlived myself (laughter) There is

something magnificent about having the courage to stand with a few with and for a principle and

to fight for it without fear or favor, developing all of your latent powers, expanding to the

proportionable end, rising to your true stature, no matter whose respect you may forfeit, as long

as you keep your own...."  (Speech to the Conference for Progressive Political Action, Lexington

Hotel, Feb 21, 1925, in Chicago)

  "Ten thousand times has the labor movement stumbled and bruised itself. We have been

enjoined by the courts, assaulted by thugs, charged by the militia, traduced by the press, frowned

upon in public opinion, and deceived by politicians. 'But notwithstanding all this and all these,

labor is today the most vital and potential power this planet has ever known, and its historic

mission is as certain of ultimate realization as is the setting of the sun." (1894)

  "I'd rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for something I don't want,

and get it."

  “The birth of freedom, the dawn of Brotherhood, the beginning of MAN. That is the demand.”

1903, Speaking before the Western Federation of Miners

  “The earth is for all the people. That is the demand. The machinery of production and

distribution for all the  people. That is the demand.  The collective ownership and control of

industry and its democratic management in the interest of all the people. That is the demand.  The

elimination of rent, interest, profit and the production of wealth to satisfy the wants of all the

people. That is the demand. Cooperative industry in which all shall work together in harmony as

the basis of a new social order, a higher civilization, a real republic. That is the demand. The end

of class struggles and class rule, of master and slave, or ignorance and vice, of poverty and shame,

of cruelty and crime –“

   “Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was

not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a

lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I

am not free.”


  "The editor is more important than the president of a union because he communicates ideas

and gets people to thinking." quoted by Dave Elsila  at Black lake 6-19-96

  “If it is a fact that after working for George M. Pullman for many years you appear two

weeks after your work stops, ragged and hungry, it only emphasizes that the charge I made before

this community, and Pullman stands before you a self-confessed robber....The paternalism of

Pullman is the same as the self-interest of a slave-holder in his human chattels. You are striking to

avert slavery and degradation.” 1894. speaking in Pullman, Ill., During the American

Railway Union's Pullman Strike

  "Full opportunity for full development is the unalienable right of all. He who denies it is a

tyrant; he who does not demand it is a coward; he who is indifferent to it is a slave; he who does

not desire it is dead. The earth for all the people! That is the demand."  --from a 1904 speech by

Eugene V Debs ran as an ad in PWW 4/96 by Lydia S Karhu.

  “They are distorted, deformed, hideous mentally and morally. Their trade is treason, their

breath is pollution and yet the officials of the  C.B.&Q. formed a conspiracy with these

professional liars, perjurers, cut-throats and murderers to overcome a strike, the result of a policy

of flagrant injustice.”   1888. Speaking during the strike of engineers and firemen on the

Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Rail Line in which Pinkerton thugs, hired by the railroad,

frequently assaulted strikers.

  “The strike is the weapon of the oppressed, of men capable of appreciating justice and

having the courage to resist wrong and contend for principle. The nation had for its cornerstone a

strike, and while arrogant injustice throws down the gauntlet and challenges the right to conflict,

strikes will come, come by virtue of irrevocable laws, destined to have a wider sweep and greater

power as men advance in intelligence and independence.” 1888, Speaking during the strike of

engineers and firemen on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Rail Line

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