Eugene V. Debs: Walls and Bars

Eugene V. Debs, Walls and Bars, Eugene Victor Debds Foundation, Charles H. Kerr & Company: Chicago; 1973

* 1855, Terre Haute, Indiana, USA, † 1926, Lindlahr Sanitarium, Elmhurst, Illinois, USA

Charge: Sedition
Prison: Atlanta, Georgia (Map)

Copyright 1927; The Socialist Party

During Debs lifetime he delivered over six thousand speeches, writing approximately three thousand items for publication in newspapers, journals and books all of which he kept a record of as a kind of 'tounge of the working class'. In this edition Bernard J. Brommel has highlighted (with a *) particular writings that reflect Debs ideas and experiences as a prisoner in a selected bibliography (p 20-33) all of which Debs references throughout his own writing. Eg: "Current Comment: Chicago's Filthy Jail," Debs Magazine (Nov. 1922)

Chapters written from prison:
Chapters VII ; XVIII (Studies from behind Prison Walls)

Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926), leader of the Socialist Party of America and its presidential candidate on four occasions, was bitterly opposed to American entry into World War I. He denounced the war and assailed the federal administration for its prosecution of persons charged with sedition. He himself was indicted by a federal grand jury for a violation of the Espionage Act, and on September 24, 1918, after a four-day trial, Debs was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment. The Supreme Court upheld the verdict in March, 1919, and Debs was taken to the federal penitentiary at Atlanta, Georgia. On Christmas Day, 1921, by order of President Warren G. Harding, Debs was released, though without restoration of his citizenship.

While still an inmate of the penitentiary, the suggestion was made to Debs that he write a series of articles describing his prison experience. After his release, twelve articles were written and published through the Bell Syndicate of New York and in newspapers which subscribed for them throughout the country.

Debs later decided, since many of his articles were censored on the grounds that they were "propaganda," or "too radical," to publish them in book form, under the title Walls and Bars.

The original manuscript consists of carbon copies of the twelve articles, with the author's corrections, an additional three chapters considering the cause and responsibility for crime and imprisonment, and an address entitled "Prison Labor, Its Effects on Industry and Trade," March 21, 1899; and two articles on the prison question published in Century Magazine, July, 1922, and The World Tomorrow, August, 1922.

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