Barton, Thomas

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Epithet: Reverend

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Epithet: Merchant at Bordeaux

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Epithet: of Add MS 29498

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Epithet: Reverend; of Pennsylvania

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A native of Indiana, Tom Barton (b. 1935) joined the Socialist Party (technically, the Socialist Party-Social Democratic Federation) in the late 1950s and its youth cadre, the Young People's Socialist League, one of the new generation of activists who reenergized the fractious Party and helped propel it into the struggle for civil rights and the peace movement. A third generation union activist, Barton's grandfather was a member of the International Workers of the World, an uncle helped form a UAW local in Wisconsin.

Affiliated with Student Peace Union, Barton traveled to Philadelphia in 1960 to help organize the peace movement in that city. His efforts soon bore fruit. Working with fellow Socialists Martin Oppenheimer (a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania) and Leo Kormis (a lab technician at Penn), he was influential in galvanizing local students to action, although their more orthodox Marxist perspectives sometimes sat uneasily with the New Left sensibilities of the Students for a Democratic Society and other groups. On the national stage, YPSL enjoyed considerable success in organizing the march for a nuclear test ban in Washington, D.C., in 1962, and they are credited with being the first left-oriented group to oppose U.S. military intervention in Vietnam.

With the Chicago Branch of YPSL in 1963, Barton gained increasing prominence. As an editor of Young Socialist Review and through his involvement in national committees, he was selected as a delegate to represent the Branch at the national YPSL Convention in 1964. The membership during that summer was badly divided in the stance the organization should take with respect to the upcoming presidential election, and particularly whether to support the candidacy of Lyndon Johnson. While Shachtman and Michael Harrington argued that the Socialist Party should realign to work with the Democratic Party and push them to the left, Barton became one of the leaders in the Left-wing faction of YPSL (along with Bob Brown, Marge Green, Walt Lively, Joe Weiner, and David Komatsu) opposing the realignment and favoring building a mass labor party. At the Convention, where he was listed as National Secretary, Barton was at the center of dispute between the Realignment, Left-wing, Third camp, Spartacists, and other camps. The events came to a head after a resolution was passed to suspend Socialist Party discipline over YPSL until the Party prevented its leaders from supporting Johnson and the Realignment (Right-wing) faction walked out. Although the Left-wing never formally split from the Party, the Party responded by suspending YPSL. The Left-wing itself split into factions and YPSL itself dissolved. Although reconstituted two years later, it did not regain the vibrancy it enjoyed during the early 1960s.

During the latter half of the 1960s, Barton continued in the revolutionary vein and as an active participant in the antiwar movement. At one time East Coast distributor of the antiwar Vietnam GI -- assisting in sending issues to Vietnam -- he was part of the Wildcat group that supported revolutionary organizing of the working class. Described by Barton's friend and fellow Wildcat Juan McIver as surviving "in a no-man's land between leftism and communism," the Wildcat was rooted in Chicago, Baltimore, and New York, and published Wildcat (later renamed The Spark ), Wildcat Report (for New York), and Worker and Soldier . In Detroit, they built on widespread alienation among Black auto workers, attempting to coordinate with radical organizations such as the Dodge Revolutionary Workers Movement, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, and Detroit Revolutionary Organizing Committee. One worker at Chrysler's Eldon Ave. gear and axle plant regarded the Wildcat people as "Old Left" and "so secretive they had crossed over into paranoia." (

Working in the health industry and a shop Steward with Local 768, Heath Care Workers, AFSCME District Council 37, New York City, Barton has remained politically active. A member of the International Socialist Organization, he has taken part in antiglobalization protests in 2000 and has been active in opposition to the war and militarism, publishing GI Special (later Military Resistance ) and Traveling Soldier . He assisted ex-Iraq GIs in organizing Iraq Veterans Against the War.

From the guide to the Thomas Barton Papers MS 539., 1947-1978, 1960-1974, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Indian and Military Affairs of Pennsylvania, 1737-1775, 1737-1775 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Estimate of the Fur and Peltry Trade in the District of Michilimackinac, 1767 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn (XXIV. ff. 352). Jan. 1765-Feb. 1766.Hon Charles Yorke, Lord Chancellor: Briefs in House of Lords appeals: 1753-1769.includes:f. 1 Dorothy Forbes, widow of William, 13th Baron Forbes: Suit v. Lord Forbes: 1760, 1765. f.1 James Forbes, 16th Baron For... British Library
referencedIn VOL. IX. Oct. 1764-May, 1765. 1. Letters to Colonel [latterly Brigadier-General] Bouquet, from Ensign John Fowler; Fort Ligonier, 1 and 3 Oct. 1764, ff. 1, 2. Captain Timothy Green; Brushey Run, 4 Oct., Fort Ligonier, 30 Oct. 1764, ff. 4, 29. Captain... British Library
creatorOf AGREEMENTS between Alfred Bunn, of Drury Lane Theatre, and Michael William Balfe, for the sale of all rights in the words of "The Maid of Artois," to the composer; 16 May, 1836; for the payment of five guineas a night to the composer, during the perf... British Library
referencedIn Vol. I (ff. 256). A-B.includes:f. 1 H. Abé, Surgeon Major of General Cornube's Regiment at Namur: Letter to the Royal Society: 1755.f.3 Louis Paul Abeille, Advocate to the Parlement of Brittany: Letter to T. Birch: 1761.: Fr.f. 6 Gottfried Ache... British Library
creatorOf Thomas Barton Papers MS 539., 1947-1978, 1960-1974 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part I: The Revolution and the Administration, 1669-1958. Houghton Library
referencedIn Jared Sparks collection of American manuscripts, 1582-1843. Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Dearborn, Frederick M. (Frederick Myers), b. 1876 person
associatedWith Gilbert, Carl. person
associatedWith Henry, Lyndon. person
associatedWith MacFadyen, Gavin. person
associatedWith McIver, Juan. person
associatedWith McKelvey, Donald. person
associatedWith Oppenheimer, Martin. person
associatedWith Pennsylvania (Province). corporateBody
associatedWith Rogers, Robert, 1731-1795 person
associatedWith Shatkin, Joan. person
associatedWith Shatkin, Norm. person
associatedWith Socialist Party of the United States of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 person
associatedWith Student Peace Union. corporateBody
associatedWith Students for a Democratic Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Verret, Joe. person
associatedWith Weiner, Joe. person
associatedWith Wildcat. corporateBody
associatedWith Young People's Socialist League. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Findhorn River, Scotland
Stirling, Scotland
River Forth, Scotland
Pittenweem, Fifeshire
Edinburgh, Scotland
Civil rights movement
Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Antiwar movement




Ark ID: w6038k55

SNAC ID: 62836917