Report by Frederick Bird
Abstract: The Commonwealth was a
socialist weekly newspaper published in Everett, Washington
between January 1911 and April 1914. Subtitled the "Official
Paper of the Socialist Party of Washington," the
Commonwealth served as a promotional and educational medium
for the party, reporting locally and statewide on internal
Socialist Party events and issues. While carrying state, national
and international news and commentary selected from other
publications, it also contained significant quantities of locally
produced coverage on the development and controversies of the
Socialist Party in Washington and of the events leading up to and
following the national presidential election of 1912. Three of the
Commonwealth’s seven editors would go on to various
degrees of success in other careers, including one who ran as the
Socialist candidate for governor of Washington, one who may have became a
Communist Party functionary and movie producer, and one who went
on to distinguished himself nationally as an intellectual and
Dates Published: January 1911 – April 1914
("Entered as second-class matter March 9, 1911 at Everett,
Washington"); published weekly; 4-8 pages, most commonly 4
Circulation: 3,600 in December 1912 ;
4,100 in January 1913 , primarily throughout Northwest
Washington (subscription campaigns were frequently publicized).
Publisher: The Everett City [Socialist Party]
Central Committee, the Everett [Socialist Party] Fifth Ward Local,
and Horace G. Cupples (St. Louis, Mo.  ) are listed as
the only owners of one or over one percent of the capital stock.
Shares were offered at $5 each and as of January 1913, 195 shares
had been sold. "No group or person had a
controlling interest," and operational "control is vested in
five directors … all members of the working class." 
Editors: O. L. Anderson
(Feb. 4, 1911 - May 25, 1911); James M. Salter (June 16, 1911 - Sept.
1, 1911); Anna
Agnes Maley (Sept. 8, 1911 –
May 31, 1912); Joseph T. Hazard (July
1912 - Feb. 1913); H. A.
(an "ex-sky pilot") (February 21, 1913 – July 3, 1913); Alfred
Wagenknecht (July 17-31, 1913);
James M. Salter
(August 7 & 14, 1913); Maynard
Shipley (August 28, 1913 – April 9,
1914 [last issue]).
(Note: although numerous editions are missing from the
collection, several editors have been added here based on “Story
Of Washington Socialist And The Old Commonwealth,”
(Appendix C) by F. G.
Crosby, published in the Feb. 4, 1915 edition of the Washington
Socialist Party of Washington
Commerce Building, Everett,
Washington, (Jan. 1911 – Dec. 1912);
California Street, Everett, Washington (Jan. 1913 – March 1914)
Commonwealth became the
Washington Socialist (April
1914 – June 1915), then The
to Sept. 1917), and finally the
Co-operative News (Oct.
1917 – June 1918). Note: The latter three
newspapers are all contained in microfilm A3099, entitled
"Co-operative News – Everett."
of Washington Libraries, Microform
and Newspaper Collections: A3100; duplicate film
available at the Everett Public
In the publication’s first year alone, only four editions or
partial editions are available. A total of 68 editions make up the
collection, covering a length of time that could have, at most,
seen the production of 169 editions. See Appendix
A for the complete list.
Click to Enlarge
(July 12, 1912, p.1)
(March 28, 1912, p.1)
(December 13, 1912, p.4)
Speeding the Coming of a Better Day
if you are looking for the light and the knowledge that is necessary
to you, subscribe for "The Commonwealth," this paper here in Everett,
a splendid little socialist paper that is filled with illuminating
matter that you need to read and to digest and to understand. If you
are already a socialist you can secure a score of subscribers, extend
the scope of its circulation and speed the coming of the better day
for us all. You can hasten it, you can retard it; you can no more
prevent it than you can prevent the sunrise on the morrow. 
Eugene V. Debs
Presidential campaign speech given in
Everett, Washington about Sept.30, 1912
Commonwealth (January 1911 – April 1914) was the first of a
sequential, interrelated series of four Socialist weekly newspapers
published in Everett, Washington between 1911 and 1919. (see Lineage.)
The Commonwealth called itself "Official Paper of the
Socialist Party of Washington" and primarily served as an
informational and educational vehicle for members and sympathizers of
the Socialist Party of Washington.
paper contained state, national and international news and commentary
selected from other publications or provided by the Socialist Party. The
Commonwealth also featured a significant proportion of locally
produced coverage on the personalities and controversies of the
Socialist Party in Washington, and local events leading up to and
following the national presidential election of 1912. Vignettes of life
in a radical society in the second decade of the twentieth century can
be gleaned from the many articles, commentary pieces,
letters-to-the-editor and reports from Socialist Party locals.
In its capacity as
the party’s official paper, The Commonwealth periodically
published the official bulletins of the state party that included a
listing of geographically based socialist locals and their respective
paid-up memberships. Everett, according to these bulletins, was the site
of the state party office at that time.
Anna Agnes Maley - Third
editor of the Commonwealth and Socialist candidate for governor of
Commonwealth, July 12, 1912
the edition of January 19, 1912 (eight months before the presidential
election), the party bulletins included a list of 105 locals statewide
(with five or more members "in good standing"), ranging in
size from Seattle’s Fifth Ward with 203 members to Liberty in Kittitas
County with five members—for a total of 2,433 paid-up members.
A little over a year later and after the presidential election, a
similar bulletin listed 3,335 members from 202 reporting locals for the
month of February 1913 (82 locals did not report). These lists of
Socialist locals also offer an insight into the kinds of communities
where hardcore socialists were found in Washington. While the Seattle
locals had the greatest number of members at 379 in 1913, most of the
locals were in rural areas or small cities and towns and had four to 25
members. A sampling of the small locals includes Bangor, Kitsap County
(17 members), Chesaw, Okanogan County (11), Cowiche, Yakima County (8),
Horse Heaven, Benton County (10), Medical Lake, Spokane County (8),
Sanpoil, Walla Walla County (8), and Bothell, King County (14).
more telling representation of socialist strength in Washington were the
election results of 1913, where the Socialist Party presidential
candidate Eugene Debs garnered 40,100 votes, or 14 percent of the
presidential vote statewide. The Commonwealth’s third editor, Anna Agnes Maley, the Socialist Party’s
gubernatorial candidate, received 37,155 votes or 12 percent of the
total cast.  The Snohomish County
returns, as reported in the Commonwealth, show the socialists’
proportionately greater strength there with Debs with 21 percent of the
total and coming in second, behind Theodore Roosevelt but ahead of Woodrow
Wilson. Ex-editor Maley also placed second in the county, earning 21
percent of the vote.
promotion, Commonwealth, Nov. 1, 1912
(See Appendix C for a readable version)
tension of that election year is reflected in numerous Commonwealth
articles on Socialist Party disputes, including one titled
"Internal Strife Becomes Open War" where the paper reports
that Socialist Party is Seattle had to go to court to stop independent
socialists (a "fake socialist county committee") from filing
as precinct committeemen against the approved party nominees.
Party locals in Bellingham and Gig Harbor were expelled for "party
treason," for having tried and found "not guilty" two
party members who had been charged with voting for and advising others
to vote for "capitalist party candidates." The state party
committee disagreed with those verdicts.
In December 1912 a battle erupted over "Philosophical Anarchists
Attempt[ing] to Abolish State Socialist Constitution" by proposing
a party amendment that would have required the publishing of all motions of
all locals in the state in the party newspaper, thereby possibly
bankrupting the newspaper with a flood of paperwork. Proponents of this
proposal, says the Commonwealth, were "pink tea dreamers."
 For more details on this intra-party
strife, see "Squabbling
Socialists in Washington State: A Guide to Factions and Newspapers
1900-1917," by Gary Siebel.
Following are a selection of
news stories, commentaries and letters that afford historical insights:
national Socialist Party sought to educate its membership through the
circulation of propaganda materials for members to study individually
and within their individual locals. This study curriculum included a
lyceum program in which socialist speakers were sent out across the
country from local to local to educate, raise consciousness and raise
money. The national party did it and so did the Commonwealth,
which sent speakers selling subscriptions off across the state.
Among the many lyceum speakers who passed through
Everett and were promoted in the Commonwealth were "Miss
Emma Goldman, the talented and world renowned exponent of anarchy [who]
will debate with Prof. Maynard Shipley, of international reputation in
scientific and sociological fields."
This was the same Maynard Shipley who took over as Commonwealth
editor that very week and would stay in Everett until April 1916. The largest turnout was probably for Eugene Debs’
campaign stop on Sept 1, 1912. The Commonwealth printed the
entire speech, which was meant as much to educate on socialism, as it
was to rally votes for an election.
A promotion for Shipley's
Aug. 17, 1913 debate with the renowned anarchist Emma Goldman:
Commonwealth, Aug. 14, 1913 (Appendix D)
worked hard to promote socialist-oriented curriculums to public schools
and teachers themselves were often attracted to socialism, but neither
situation passed without controversy. "The Boys and Girls of the
Working Class Are Not Allowed to Learn the True History of the Workers
and Producers of the Nation," read part of a Commonwealth
commentary headline on November 29, 1912. "The teaching of history
in the Everett schools leaves the pupil with faith in the system of
private ownership and the want and suffering of the wage system. History
properly taught should leave the pupil with an understanding of the
absolute necessity of collective ownership and equal opportunity,"
said the story. 
The Commonwealth also featured
many articles on the controversial dismissal of two socialist
schoolteachers in the nearby Arlington School District.
"Ridiculous, Absurd and Flimsy Charges Filed …" read one
headline, as the story went on say, "The Howling Dervishes of
Arlington by the aid of such political and official stimulants as they
can procure, are still rousing themselves to a higher and higher degree
of fanatical frenzy." 
eloquence could flow from unexpected sources as shown in this passage in
a letter to the editor by E. H. Erickson of Silvana, a small farming
community in north Snohomish County:
The election is over and the political victims, the scapegoats of
capitalism, are beginning to crawl out of the ruins dazed and
stupefied and wondering how it happened… But even though the people
have again been fooled, though they have again sold their birthright
not for a mess of pottage but for a mess of starvation and want, they
will not always consent to be thus fooled. There is a sinister note in
the voice of the people this time—a note of warning that they will
not much longer play the fool in this game.
The new president and his cabinet will … be
haunted by a spectre. That spectre will be with them in their council
halls. It will be there at the door of their gilded saloons and
magnificent banquet halls, clamoring for admittance …
Why is this spectre so grim, so insistent, so
omnipresent, so silent yet so eloquent[?].
Because in its shadow are the souls of the children slain in the
factories of capitalism; the souls of the thousands of Magdalenas
[buried] in the potter’s field; the souls of all the urchins killed
in our great national butcher shops, the railroads; the souls of all
those entombed alive in our mines; the souls of all the poor widows
who go under in the struggle to keep their dear ones from starving;
the souls of all the unfortunate driven to suicide by this system.
Woodrow Wilson, you cannot escape this
spectre wherever you go … it will be there at your side, the protest
of the living through the dead…
Death and Rebirth
The Commonwealth would
eventually flounder not for lack of enthusiasm or political fervor, but
for a very capitalistic reason. It could not pay its bills. Supported by
subscriptions and advertising, paid circulation reached a published
high of only 4,100 in January 1913
hardly an issue of the paper went by without a strident appeal for more
subscriptions. Financial success, however, escaped the publication as
indicated by occasional references to its inability to print an edition
and the commentary in the last edition on April 9, 1914 wherein the
editor, Maynard Shipley, writes, "Well, comrades, they tried to
slip one over on us last week, and we lost an issue, besides suffering
the demoralization due to having our property and letters seized, and
being placed in the hands of a receiver." Shipley, however,
predicts a brighter future, as "we start this week without the
burden of debt which has hung over us like a pall for a year or more,
some debts, indeed, having been incurred by our predecessors over two
years ago . . ."
Commonwealth," Shipley writes, "or The Washington Socialist as
it will be soon be known, stands ready at your hands to be developed
into the kind of weapon needed by the workers of Washington in their
all-conquering struggle with the master class."
YOU DO WITH IT," he asks? 
Contents of The
(Everett) Commonwealth microfilm file A3100:
Nov. 10 (one page)
Jan. 1, 3, 10, 17 (one
Feb. 21, 27
March 7, 21, 28
April 4, 11, 18
July 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
Aug. 7, 14, 21, 28
Sept. 4, 11, 18, 25
Oct. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
Nov. 6, 13, 20
Dec. 11, 18
July 12, 19
Aug. 9, 16, 23
Sept. 6, 27
Oct. 4, 11, 18
Nov. 1, 15, 22, 29
Dec. 13, 20, 27
||Jan. 8, 15, 22, 29
Feb. 5, 12, 19
Anna Agnes Maley,
1872 – 1918, was the third editor of the Commonwealth. She says
in a signed piece published on December 1, 1911 that she joined the
paper on September 1, 1911, about ten months after it started. . According to her obituary, Maley was born, raised and
schooled in Minnesota, where she taught school for six years. In 1903,
Maley went to Girard, Kansas and worked on the Appeal to Reason newspaper.
Later she moved to New York City and was on the staff of the New York
Worker and the New York Call, the latter a socialist daily
newspaper. She subsequently traveled as a lecturer before coming to
She left the Commonwealth in the spring of 1912 to campaign as
the Socialist Party candidate for governor of Washington. She received
37,155 votes or about 12 percent of the total vote cast for that
position. Maley’s name thereafter appears periodically in the Commonwealth,
primarily in reference to her as a traveling lyceum speaker. One
citation published in the November 29, 1912 edition says she was a
former writer for a publication called the Progressive Woman.
 She is referenced in the
Commonwealth edition of Aug. 28,
1913 in letter from her to the national secretary of the Socialist
Party is reprinted under the headline, “Comrade Anna Maley Is Brutally
Handled.” In the letter she writes of her arrest during a free speech
campaign in Monograph, West Virginia on Aug. 18, 1913.
latter-day history of the Commonwealth said she was teaching in
1915 at the Rand School of Social Science in New York City (“Story
Of Washington Socialist And The Old Commonwealth,” by F. G. Crosby,
published in the Feb. 4, 1915 edition of the Washington Socialist).
The same article notes, "Comrade
Maley largely made her own living during the time she was with us by
lecturing, and, as a matter of fact, drew very little money from the
Wagenknecht (1881-1956?) had a brief
tenure as Commonwealth editor, just two issues, but he too would appear
to have remained
in the public limelight. Eugene Debs recognizes an "Alfred
Wagenknecht" as a jailed World
War I draft protester in a speech given June 16, 1918 in Canton, Ohio. 
This Wagenknecht later joined the American Communist Party, ultimately serving
on the party’s executive board and founding the "Friends of
Soviet Russia."  He
also produced and directed documentary films for the party. 
(Note: The author of this paper has not been able, to date, to satisfactorily
connect the first Wagenknecht with the second.)
(1872 - 1934)
was already well known in socialist and scientific circles when he came
to Everett in 1913. He had founded the Seattle Academy of Science in
1898. He had been the editor of The World of Oakland, California for two years and was a traveling speaker on the lyceum
F. G. Crosby,
writing in the Washington Socialist of
Feb. 4, 1915,
noted "Comrade Shipley ... was in the city on a lecture course, and was
roped in and brought to the office by the trustees, who knew a good
thing when they saw it.
Shipley is pre-eminently a writer, his editorials are copied by the
Socialist press all over the United States, often without giving him
credit for them. He has made many warm friends for the paper, and
naturally some enemies." (see
Of Washington Socialist And The Old Commonwealth”).
he left Everett, he run unsuccessfully for Congress from California’s
6th District in 1920, founded the Science League of American in 1924,
lectured on astronomy and evolution, published at least two books: The
War on Modern Science; a Short History of the Fundamentalist Attacks on
Evolution and Modernism (1927) and The Key to Evolution (1929).
Shipley was one of the original signers of the Humanist Manifesto in
1933. He died in 1934.  The one biography of Shipley is
Up-Hill All The Way, The Life of
Maynard Shipley by Miriam Allen DeFord, Antioch Press, 1956.
Commonwealth, Aug. 21, 1913
TAFT AND SHERMAN
Lawrence wages and Beef Trust prices.
Domination of Penrose and Guggenheim.
Uniform reply to all questions about
remedies, “God knows!”
Pinkertons and militia in labor
Pauper labor for protected industries.
Tariff tinkering (upward).
Child labor (particularly in
In brief, the same old thing year in and
Wilson and Marshall
Free-trade wages and high-tariff prices.
Domination of Taggart and Sullivan).
Profound discourses by the professor on
nothing at all.
Peonage, poll taxes, company stores.
Tariff tinkering (downward possibly).
Child labor (particularly in Southern
In brief, the same old thing, only a
good deal worse.
DEBS AND SEIDEL
social value of your product.
Social ownership of all trusts.
Administration of, by and for the
Performance instead of promises.
Immediate application of socialist
remedies for industrial evils.
Suppression of thugs and hired
Abolition of judicial tyranny.
Free labor under democratic management
Protection of workers against tariff
Abolition of child labor.
In brief, the establishment of the
Osborne Twine mill wages and Steel Trust
Misery and another “Alton Steel.”
Trust regulation (outright fake).
Domination of Perkins and Morgan.
Oracular pronouncements by the Colonel
Same thing (including Roughriders).
Still more injunctions.
Open shop, gag laws, etc.
Tariff tinker (in behalf of good
Child labor (except in cases of bad
In brief, the same old thing, sugar
coated with pretense.
In her biography of
Shipley, Up-Hill All The Way -- The Life of Maynard Shipley,
Miriam Allen DeFord wrote of this, Shipley's second debate with Goldman,
"When Miss Goldman came to Everett for the debate, a problem arose. It
would be too late afterwards for her to leave Everett, but not a hotel
in the town would receive the notorious Anarchist. Maynard piloted her
from place to place, and at last inveigled the proprietor of a
rooming-house into giving a bed for the night to an anonymous lady. The
next time this man met Maynard he was furious. 'What did you mean,' he
demanded, 'by foisting that woman on me? It would have ruined my
business if anyone had found out!' Evidently Miss Goldman had been
unable to refrain from making herself known."
Up-Hill All The Way, The Life of Maynard
Shipley, Miriam Allen DeFord,
(Yellow Springs, Ohio, Antioch Press, 1956), 148.
1 The Commonwealth newspaper,
Everett, Washington, issue of Dec. 13, 1912.
2 Commonwealth, Jan. 31, 1913.
3 Commonwealth, from second class mailing permit "Statement
of ownership," published Oct. 18, 1912.
4 Commonwealth, Jan. 31, 1913.
5 Commonwealth, Oct. 18, 1912.
6 Commonwealth, Oct. 6, 1912.
7 Commonwealth, Jan. 19, 1912.
8 Commonwealth, Feb. 13, 1913.
9 Theodore Roosevelt (Progressive or "Bull
Moose" Party) won the state with 113,500 votes, followed by Woodrow
Wilson (Democrat) with 86,600 votes, and William Howard Taft
(Republican) with 70,100 votes. The winner in the governor’s
race was Democrat Ernest Lister (97,251 votes), followed by Republican
M.E. Hay (96,629) and Progressive Robert T. Hodge (77,792). From the
HistoryLink web site
&keyword=Debs, accessed April 28, 2001, quoting
from Washington Secretary of State, Abstract of Votes Polled in
the State of Washington at the General Election held November 5, 1912,
(Olympia: State of Washington, 1913), 4-11.
10 Commonwealth, Nov. 15, 1912.
11 Commonwealth, Oct. 18, 1912.
12 Commonwealth, Jan. 31, 1913.
13 Commonwealth, Dec. 13, 1912.
14 Commonwealth, Aug. 14, 1913.
15 Commonwealth, Oct. 6, 1912.
16 Commonwealth, Nov. 29, 1912.
17 Commonwealth, Aug. 14, 1913.
18 Commonwealth, Nov 15, 1912.
19 Commonwealth, Jan. 31, 1913.
20 Commonwealth, April 9, 1914.
21 Commonwealth, Dec. 1, 1911.
22 Commonwealth, Nov. 29, 1912.
23 Commonwealth, Aug. 28, 1913.
24 Debs’ speech from PBS web site at http://www.pbs.org/greatspeeches/timeline/e_debs_s.html,
accessed April 29, 2001.
25 "Friends of Soviet Russia," cited at http://www.fabw.org/histcp/14.pdf,
accessed April 28, 2001.
26 The Passaic Textile Strike (MOMA): October 1926, International
Workers' Aid, producer: Alfred Wagenknecht, cited at http://www.pghcitypaper.com/cv42600.html,
accessed April 28, 2001.
27 Commonwealth, Aug. 21, 1913.
28 Who Was Who in America, Vol. 1, 1897-1942, s. v. "Maynard
Shipley," (Chicago: A.N. Marquis Company, 1943), 1120.
Copyright (c) 2002 Frederick Bird1249 NE 92nd
Seattle, WA 98115