Social Democratic Federation of AmericaAlternative names
The Social Democratic Federation (SDF) was organized in 1936 after the split in the Socialist Party between the Old Guard and the Militants. It was able to attract many of the traditional Socialist Party sources of support and its activities were directed by many prominent Socialist Party members, including August Claessens, Algernon Lee, Leo Meltzer, James Oneal and Louis Waldman. The SDF sought to promote the principles of social democracy and independent political action. In the late 1930's, SDF was associated with the American Labor Party of New York and the People's Party. During the 1940's and early 1950's, SDF's membership and influence declined forcing merger negotiations with the Socialist Party. The merger was affected in 1957.
From the description of Records, 1933-1956. (New York University). WorldCat record id: 17269163
The Social Democratic Federation of America (SDF) was organized in 1936 after the split in the Socialist Party ranks between the Old Guard and the Militants. Although not an official political party like the Socialist Party, the SDF was a political organization which consisted of the following groups: (1) Socialist Party state branches, particularly those in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Maryland; (2) Socialist Party municipal locals, particularly those in Reading, Pennsylvania, under the leadership of James H. Maurer, and Bridgeport, Connecticut, under the leadership of Mayor Jasper McLevy; (3) labor parties, especially members of the American Labor Party of New York, the FarmerLabor Party of Minnesota, and the Non Partisan League; and (4) socialist foreign language organizations, like the Jewish Socialist Verband and the Finnish Socialist Federation. During its formative period, the SDF was not only able to attract many of the traditional Socialist Party sources of financial support, but its activities were also directed by many prominent members of the Socialist Party, including August Claessens, Algernon Lee, Leo Meltzer, James Oneal, and Louis Waldman.
During its 20 year history, the SDF sought to promote the principles of social democracy and independent political action. Such ideals were realized through a variety of activities concerning domestic and international issues. Regarding the domestic issues, the SDF sought legislation to amend the National Labor Relations Act, supported Franklin D. Roosevelt in his Presidential campaigns in 1940 and 1944, called upon all labor organizations to unite against communist groups in the United States, and endorsed civil rights legislation. Internationally, the SDF played a vital role in various programs that brought German refugee children to the United States. The SDF also supported American participation in World War II, opposed Mahatma Gandhi's independence movement in India during the war, and assisted in the relocation of Jewish refugees after the war.
Like the Socialist Party, the SDF was also plagued by bitter internal conflicts. One of the major controversies affecting the organization in the late 1930s and early 1940s was its relationship with the American Labor Party of New York. When the New York Old Guard became the New York State division of the SDF in 1936, they adopted the name "People's Party" and subsequently joined the American Labor Party. From the perspective of the People's Party, this linkage with the American Labor Party was seen as an opportunity to help organize a formidable labor party, support Franklin D. Roosevelt in his Presidential reelection bid, and still remain outside the realm of conventional party politics. Ironically, however, the members of the People's Party, who had earlier withdrawn from the Socialist Party on the grounds that it was overly sympathetic towards communism, were now closely associated with an organization which was controlled by communists. The unsettling relationship with the American Labor Party ultimately caused such influential SDF figures as Louis Waldman and Leo Meltzer to resign from the organization.
Another conflict within the SDF involved the New Leader and its editor, James Oneal. Shortly after the SDF was established in the fall of 1936, the editorial board of the New Leader withdrew its support for the Socialist Party and joined the new organization. The relationship between the New Leader staff and the SDF executive committee was never cordial, since both groups held differing opinions as to what the editorial policy of the newspaper should be. These disagreements became so large in scope and so emotional in tone that James Oneal finally resigned as editor in 1940. In his resignation letter, Oneal stated that the New Leader had become a liberal, progressive publication instead of a significant SDF organ and that the New Leader had failed to strengthen the SDF overall. Following Oneal's resignation, the editorial board of the New Leader and the SDF leadership continued to fight over the proper editorial policy for the publication. Eventually, the staff of the New Leader split from the SDF.
During the 1940s and early 1950s, the SDF experienced a drastic decline in its membership and influence. Much of this decline can be attributed to three major factors: (1) the general decline in the popularity of socialism throughout this period; (2) the movement of many socialists, social democrats, and progressive liberals into the Americans for Democratic Action and other liberal organizations; and (3) the suspicions generated by the SDF's association with the American Labor Party. By the early 1950s, this decline forced the SDF leadership to begin serious negotiations with the Socialist Party on a possible merger. Attempts at uniting these two organizations began as early as 1937 and continued through the 1940s without much success. At this point in time, however, the mutual decline of both organizations had prompted a reassessment of the merger issue. Finally, in 1957, after several years of negotiations, the SDF merged with the Socialist Party.
From the guide to the Social Democratic Federation of America Records, 1933-1956, (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)
|creatorOf||Social Democratic Federation of America Records, 1933-1956||Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives|
|referencedIn||Goldberg, Louis Palatnik, b. 1888. Papers, 1929-1957.||Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library|
|referencedIn||Goldberg, Louis Palatnik, b. 1888. Papers, 1926-1957.||Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library|
|referencedIn||August Claessens Papers, 1906-1963||Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive|
|referencedIn||Lee, Algernon. Papers, 1896-1954.||Churchill County Museum|
|creatorOf||Social Democratic Federation of America. Records, 1933-1956.||Elmer Holmes Bobst Library|
|referencedIn||Socialist Party (U.S.). Records, 1900-1976.||Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library|
|referencedIn||Socialist collections in the Tamiment Library, 1872-1956 (inclusive), [microform].||Yale University Library|
|referencedIn||Algernon Lee Papers, Bulk, 1896-1954, 1861-1954, (Bulk 1896-1954)||Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives|
|referencedIn||Lena Morrow Lewis Papers, 1899-1951||Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives|
|referencedIn||Claessens, August, 1885-1954. Papers, 1911-1955.||Churchill County Museum|
|referencedIn||Printed Ephemera Collection on Organizations, 1886-||Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives|
|referencedIn||New Leader records, 1928-1960.||Churchill County Museum|
|referencedIn||James Oneal Papers, 1907-1962||Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives|
|referencedIn||Socialist Party (U.S.). Records, 1900-1987.||Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library|
|associatedWith||American Labor Party.||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Beal, Fred E.||person|
|associatedWith||Beal, Fred Erwin, 1896-1954||person|
|associatedWith||Claessens, August, 1885-1954.||person|
|associatedWith||Debs, Theodore, 1864-1945.||person|
|associatedWith||Goldberg, Louis Palatnik, b. 1888.||person|
|associatedWith||Jewish Socialist Verband.||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Lewis, Lena Morrow.||person|
|associatedWith||Maurer, James H. b. 1864.||person|
|associatedWith||Mooney, Thomas J., 1882-1942.||person|
|associatedWith||New leader (New York, N.Y. : 1924).||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||People's Party (N.Y.).||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Russell, Charles Edward, 1860-1941.||person|
|associatedWith||Social Democratic Youth.||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Socialist Party-Social Democratic Federation.||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Socialist Party (U.S.)||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Waldman, Louis, b. 1892||person|
|associatedWith||WEVD (Radio station) New York, N.Y.||corporateBody|
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|New York (State)--New York|
|Textile Workers' Strike, Gastonia, N.C., 1929|
|Labor unions--United States|