Hellraisers Journal: Eugene V Debs & Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Denied Right to Speak in the State of Minnesota

EGF Quote, I fell in love with my country, RG 96


Hellraisers Journal, Wednesday July 4, 1917
St. Peter & Duluth, Minnesota – Freedom of Speech Denied

From the New Ulm Review of July 4, 1917:


Eugene Debs, ISR, Sept 1916

St. Peter’s Chautauqua opened Sunday, July 1, and will continue until next Sunday, July 8. An excellent program has been arranged and is being carried out, with a large attendance. Eugene V. Debs, who had been secured to deliver one of the lectures, has been forbidden by the Minnesota Safety commission to deliver a public lecture in this state. The St. Peter committee was notified to that effect late last week. Mr. Debs was to have delivered the Fourth of July address on the Chautauqua program. St. Peter people, who had anticipated hearing a patriotic address by Mr. Debs feel that the Safety commission has convicted him without a trial.

The commission offered to send C. W. Ames, a member of that body to take the place of Debs on the program, but the offer was declined without even thanks. In fact the offer was considered, according to the St. Peter papers, somewhat presumptuous on the part of the commission.


[Photograph added.]

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and the City of Duluth:

EGF, Everett Northwest Worker, Jan 18, 1917

As reported previously in the Hellraisers Journal, Miss Flynn arrived in Duluth at the invitation of the Finnish Socialists. They wished for her to speak at their picnic held each year on the Mesabi Iron Range where she was known and loved for her work on behalf of the iron miners’ strike of a year ago. However, the Duluth police had other plans, and they arrested her on June 24th, along with several local members of the Industrial Workers of the World. She was charged with “vagrancy.” The June 29th edition of The Duluth News Tribune carried the following report:

Gains Release From Vagrancy Charge
by Promising to Leave Duluth.


Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, woman leader of the Industrial Workers of the World, was released from charges of vagrancy by the police last night and her bail refunded. Miss Flynn told City Attorney Samuelson that she wished to leave the city and bid its police farewell and not merely au revoir. The authorities said they thought this arrangement was the easiest way out of the situation.




New Ulm Review
(New Ulm, Brown county, Minnesota)
-July 4, 1917

The Duluth News Tribune
(Duluth, Minnesota)
-June 29, 1917, page 12

Iron in Her Soul:
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and the American Left

-by Helen C. Camp
WSU Press, Mar 1, 1995
(Search: “arrested her for vagrancy”)

In July [1917], against Carlo’s [Tresca] wishes, she [Flynn] accepted an invitation to go to the Mesabi Range to speak at the annual picnic of the Finnish Socialists. But she was well known in Duluth by now, and two federal agents came to her hotel to ask what she was doing there and if she had any intention of advocating draft evasion. They seemed satisfied by her answer and left, but the local police, who had just raided the IWW hall, arrived hot on their hells and arrested her for “vagrancy”; after the picnic they released her, telling her to leave town.

Eugene Debs, ISR, Sept 1916
EGF, Everett Northwest Worker, Jan 18, 1917

See also:

For more on the Chautauqua Movement:

Note: The article above does not state that the St Peter Chautauqua was specifically a “Socialist Chautauqua,” but it very well could have been since a speech by Debs was on the agenda. For more info, google: “socialist chautauqua” or “socialist encampment.”

Category: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

The Rebel Girl:
An Autobiography, My First Life (1906-1926)

-by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
(Pages 228-9)
International Publishers, 1973

Can be read online, links here: