Hellraisers Journal: The International Socialist Review on the September 5th Raids Made Upon the IWW and the SPA

We ask the membership to redouble their efforts
to build up the organization to the end that
the lot of the workers may be bettered,
and their toil-worn existence brightened.
-Big Bill Haywood


Hellraisers Journal, Tuesday October 2, 1917
From the International Socialist Review: Raids and More Raids

This month’s edition of the Review describes the raids conducted September 5th by Federa Agents at the behest of the U. S. Department of Justice upon the headquarters and regional offices of the Industrial Workers of the World and the Socialist Party of America:

SP Nat HQ w Germer, ISR Oct 1917


The I. W. W. and the Socialist Party

SIMULTANEOUSLY on September 5th, representatives of the U. S. Government raided the national offices of the Socialist party and of the I. W. W. Chicago, and of some twenty branch offices of the I. W. W. in different states. U. S. marshals armed with search warrants have taken files, records, pamphlets, leaflets and in many places the entire offices were cleaned out.

Such a wholesale and simultaneous invasion upon the offices of a labor and Socialist organization have never taken place before in the history of this country. The charge has been made that the I. W. W. is a seditious organization and that the I. W. W. and the Socialist Party headquarters are guilty of violating the Espionage Act.

From the National Office

SEPTEMBER 5th a force of Federal Agents took possession of the national office. A thoro search of the office was made and later copies of books, leaflets, records and lists were taken.

This material is to be placed before the grand jury. The charge made against the national office is that some of the comrades have violated the Espionage Act.

It may have been the intention to conceal the real purpose of this search, but the inference was left that there was no disposition to interfere with the routine work of the party. If the information given us is correct, we will be permitted to continue our regular activities except so far as we interfere with the war program.

We appeal to the members of the party to lay special stress on organization at this time. Every member should enlist as a recruiting officer in order to build up the party machinery so that we can win a sweeping victory in the congressional elections of 1918.

IWW Chg HQ w BBH, ISR Oct 1917


Statement from the I. W. W.

Fellow Workers:

At 2:00 p. m., September 5th, the general office and publishing bureau were raided by the United States authorities.

Government officials have taken for investigation all the correspondence files, books and ledgers wherein the financial transactions of the general office are recorded, and the duplicate membership record of the G. R. U. [General Recruiting Union] and many of the Industrial unions, that were kept on file in the general office. Also there was taken samples of all literature published by the organization, and samples of the due stamps and various assessment stamps, membership books, report blanks, credentials, and all other supplies pertaining to the work of the organization.

In the publishing bureau, none of the machinery was disturbed, but the federal officials requested that proofs be printed of all the papers, cuts and literature published by the bureau.

From the editorial rooms was taken all the contents of the safe belonging to Solidarity [newspaper], all the books, records and mailing list of Solidarity, and also the mailing list of all the language papers, all bound and unbound files and all the papers, and the contents of the desks of the editors of all the papers.

From this voluminous mass of papers, literature, and records the government will endeavor to sift whatever evidence (if any) they can find to substantiate their charges against the organization, and will present same to the federal Grand Jury now sitting in Chicago.

We who have nothing to hide, and never have had, have nothing to fear from a fair and square investigation. In fact the general office, only a few weeks ago, sent an invitation to Justice Covington, who had been appointed by President Wilson to investigate the I. W. W,, to visit the general office in Chicago and go over all of our records himself, and we assured him of our hearty co-operation in the event he accepted our invitation.

However, while this indiscriminate seizure of the records, files and property, etc., of the organization, and the fact that the general office and the publishing bureau have been in the possession of federal authorities has handicapped the work of the organization considerably, we are now able to inform the membership that the general office is open for business, and will fill all orders for supplies and literature promptly and efficiently.

In regard to the publication of our papers, we do not know when we shall be allowed to publish them again, but we think that in the course of a few more days we shall be able to resume the publication of Solidarity and the foreign language papers.

In the meantime until the publication of our papers is resumed, we shall endeavor to keep the membership informed thru bulletins and letters of whatever events may yet transpire.

We also ask the forbearance of the membership if answers to their correspondence is somewhat delayed, as the mail of the general office, the publishing bureau and of all the papers is tied up in the post office. We expect to secure the release of all our mail in a day or so, and we will lose no time then in replying to the correspondence of one and all.

Until things become normal again, we ask the membership to redouble their efforts to build up the organization to the end that the lot of the workers may be bettered, and their toil-worn existence brightened.

Yours for the O. B. U,
Sec’y.-Treas. I. W. W.


Chg IWW Printing, ISR Oct 1917


A copy of the Industrial Worker, published at Seattle, reached our desk this morning. It reports that everything movable was removed from the I. W. W. headquarters at that point, but that since there had been no withdrawal of the second class mailing privileges of that paper, the boys proceeded to publish an edition as usual, under great difficulties. Says the Industrial Worker:

A raid on the offices of the Seattle district of the Lumber Workers I. U. No. 500 and the I. W. W. hall in Seattle was carried out as completely as that on the Industrial Worker. Everything that could be used in the work of organization was taken.

Word from Spokane is to the effect that everything belonging to the organization was taken and that some records in private houses were seized. The supplies were taken there as at most other places, and those in charge of the offices report that they are about out of supplies to carry on the work.

The raid was carried on very thoroughly at general headquarters in Chicago. Even the private homes of several members of the I. W. W. were entered and searched. The day after the raid of the Minneapolis office of the Agricultural Workers that office issued the following statement:

According to information, September 5 was the date set for a nation-wide search of the files of the Industrial Workers of the World by federal authorities. The purpose of this raid, as near as we are able to learn, was to find out whether the I. W, W., as an organization, is carrying on a propaganda of sedition and anti-militarism.

There will be no evidence obtained from the I. W, W. that will connect the organization with any such propaganda.

The federal authorities, acting under instructions from the Department of Justice at Washington, came into headquarters of the A. W. I. U. No. 400 [formerly the Agricultural Workers Organization], in Minneapolis, with assistants and U. S. deputy marshals. They made a complete investigation of the files and everything else in the office. The investigation was carried on quietly and with order. They were told when they commenced their investigation they would find no such evidence as they were looking for, nor would they find any evidence that the organization was being financed by “German Gold.”

When they finished their work, they were pretty well satisfied that the business carried on is legitimate business. There was nothing destroyed or taken from the main office of No. 400 that would in any way interfere with the business of the union

Business is going on just the same as it did before the investigation.

Instead of this investigation hurting the organization, it is my firm opinion that it will result in a great boost. Every delegate should get busy and take advantage of the excitement caused by this investigation. Those who are not carrying credentials and who are eligible to do so, should write in and get them at once. We are herewith producing some telegrams received from various branches:

“Tulsa, Okla. Federal agents under instructions of U. S. attorney general’s office, seized literature, letters and day book today. No arrests. Hall open for business as usual.”

“Omaha, Neb.: Hall raided and everything confiscated by federal officers.”

“Great Falls, Mont.: Hall raided and closed by the police.”

“Spokane, Wash.: All records and papers taken by U. S. marshals. No arrests.”

From Minneapolis

The entire effects of the I. W. W. have been gone over in the hopes that something or other would be found that would prove their allegiance to kaiserism. It was undoubtedly hoped that large consignments of gold and other evidences of Germany’s control would be discovered.

The cause of the raid is attributed to the labor troubles of the West. The labor trouble is attributed to German influence. We have a faint suspicion that the attorney-general was searching the wrong house for the attributed cause of the latter.

We also suspect that he was misinformed as to the ability of the members of the I. W. W. to conduct their business and go on without the aid of leaders.

Akron, Ohio, reports all supplies confiscated.

The Socialist National Headquarters

At the time of the raids made upon I. W. W. headquarters, the federal authorities took charge of the offices of Socialist national headquarters. The office force was sent home; copies of pamphlets, books, papers, records, files, letter copy books, etc., etc., were taken for use in the investigation which has been going on for ten days.

The American Socialist has been permanently denied mailing privileges. We understand that every assistance was given the federal officers both at the I. W. W. and Socialist headquarters. The comrades at the national office of the party are sending out rallying cries to Socialists all over the country to get together, to become organizers and to elect as many Socialists as possible at the coming elections.

The Chicago Tribune, printing a “tentative slate” of an agreement reached between the Democratic and Republican organizations on the judicial election, says:

“The leaders hope to avoid a bitter battle between the factions in each party preceding the nominations, and a partisan campaign following, which might end, the leaders on both sides say, in a clean slate of Socialist candidates slipping through in November.”

Governor Burnquist of Minnesota, has issued orders to every sheriff, with the possible exception, we are informed, of those counties in which Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth are located, to prevent all Socialist meetings. The three cities mentioned are the only ones where it is now possible to hold Socialist meetings.

State secretary of Minnesota, A. L. Sugarman, went to Deer Wood to fulfill a speaking engagement. At the depot he was met by half a dozen deputies and the sheriff informed him that he had orders from the governor to permit no Socialist meetings in that county. The sheriff saw to it that Sugarman got on a train bound for Minneapolis.

A few days later Andrew Hansen went to Greeley to fill a lecture date for the Socialist party. The sheriff and county attorney declared the meeting could not be held. They offered to pay all the Socialist expenses and even asked Hansen what “his price” was. The sheriff put Hansen on a train bound for Minneapolis and there was no Socialist meeting.

At Staples the authorities assured the Socialists that a mob had organized to put their Socialist speaker out of business and that they would have to prevent meetings in order to avoid riots.

At Dale where 10,000 people had planned holding a Socialist picnic, a bunch of deputies, sheriffs, rowdies, etc., etc., took possession of the hall and picnic grounds before the Socialists began to arrive.

All this persecution and misrepresentation is going to cause the Socialist movement and industrial union organization to grow as never before.

Mine doodle, ISR Oct 1917



International Socialist Review Volume 18
(Chicago, Illinois)
Charles H. Kerr and Company
July 1917-June 1918
Oct 1917
“The I. W. W. and the Socialist Party”
(Also source for images within article.)

See also:
Tag: World War I Repression