(Everett: 1911-1914)

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 author.

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 pages.

Circulation: 3,600 in December 1912 [1]; 4,100 in January 1913 [2], 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. [3] ) 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.[4] "No group or person had a controlling interest," and operational "control is vested in five directors … all members of the working class." [5]


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. Livermore (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.)

Political Affiliation: Socialist Party of Washington

Business Addresses: 216-217 Commerce Building, Everett, Washington, (Jan. 1911 – Dec. 1912); 1612 California Street, Everett, Washington (Jan. 1913 – March 1914)

Lineage: The Commonwealth became the Washington Socialist (April 1914 – June 1915), then The Northwest Worker (July 1915 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."

Collection: University of Washington Libraries, Microform and Newspaper Collections: A3100; duplicate film available at the Everett Public Library. Incomplete: 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)


The Commonwealth Speeding the Coming of a Better Day

And 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. [6]

Eugene V. Debs
Presidential campaign speech given in
Everett, Washington about Sept.30, 1912

The 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.

The 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.

Party News
     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
Anna Agnes Maley - Third editor of the Commonwealth and Socialist candidate for governor of Washington, 1912
Commonwealth,  July 12, 1912

In 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. [7] 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). [8]

A 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. [9] 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. [10]

1912 Presidential election "Instructions to Voters"
Socialist Election promotion, Commonwealth, Nov. 1, 1912
(See Appendix C for a readable version)

Party ‘Treason
    The 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. [11] 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. [12] 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." [13] 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.

Selected Subjects
Following are a selection of news stories, commentaries and letters that afford historical insights:

Lyceums: The 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." [14] 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. [15]

Shilpley-Goldman Debate promotion, Aug. 14, 1913
A promotion for Shipley's Aug. 17, 1913 debate with the renowned anarchist Emma Goldman: Commonwealth, Aug. 14, 1913 (Appendix D)

Schools: Socialists 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. [16]
     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." [17]

Letters: Simple 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…[18]

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 [19], and 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 . . ."

"The 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."

"WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH IT," he asks? [20]


Appendix A

Contents of The (Everett) Commonwealth microfilm file A3100:


Jan. 26
Nov. 10 (one page)
Dec. 18

1913 Jan. 1, 3, 10, 17 (one page), 31
Feb. 21, 27
March 7, 21, 28
April 4, 11, 18
May 9
June 26
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
1912 Jan. 19
Feb. 9
July 12, 19
Aug. 9, 16, 23
Sept. 6, 27
Oct. 4, 11, 18
Nov. 1, 15, 22, 29
Dec. 13, 20, 27

1914 Jan. 8, 15, 22, 29
Feb. 5, 12, 19
March 19
April 9

Appendix B

The Editors:

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. [21]. 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 Everett. [22]

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. [23] 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. [24]

A 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 'Commonwealth.' "

Alfred 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. [25] This Wagenknecht later joined the American Communist Party, ultimately serving on the party’s executive board and founding the "Friends of Soviet Russia." [26] He also produced and directed documentary films for the party. [27]  (Note: The author of this paper has not been able, to date, to satisfactorily connect the first Wagenknecht with the second.)

Maynard Shipley (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 circuit. [28]

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. 

Maynard Shipley photo

"Comrade 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 “Story Of Washington Socialist And The Old Commonwealth”).

After 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. [28] The one biography of Shipley is Up-Hill All The Way, The Life of Maynard Shipley by Miriam Allen DeFord, Antioch Press, 1956.

Maynard Shipley, Commonwealth, Aug. 21, 1913

Appendix C


Instructions to Voters

 Vote for




Lawrence wages and Beef Trust prices.


Trust-busting (Tragi-comedy).

Domination of Penrose and Guggenheim.

Plausible promises.

Uniform reply to all questions about remedies, “God knows!”

Pinkertons and militia in labor troubles.


Pauper labor for protected industries.

Tariff tinkering (upward).

Child labor (particularly in Pennsylvania).

In brief, the same old thing year in and year out.

 Vote for


Wilson and Marshall


Free-trade wages and high-tariff prices.


Trust-busting (faree-comedy).

Domination of Taggart and Sullivan).

Platitudinous promises.

Profound discourses by the professor on nothing at all.

Same thing.

More injunctions.

Peonage, poll taxes, company stores.

Tariff tinkering (downward possibly).

Child labor (particularly in Southern cotton mills).

In brief, the same old thing, only a good deal worse.

 Vote for




The full social value of your product.


Social ownership of all trusts.

Administration of, by and for the working class.

Performance instead of promises.

Immediate application of socialist remedies for industrial evils.

Suppression of thugs and hired murderers.

Abolition of judicial tyranny.

Free labor under democratic management of industry.

Protection of workers against tariff changes.

Abolition of child labor.

In brief, the establishment of the cooperative commonwealth.

 Vote for


Roosevelt and Johnson


Osborne Twine mill wages and Steel Trust prices.

Misery and another “Alton Steel.”

Trust regulation (outright fake).

Domination of Perkins and Morgan.

Vociferous promises.

Oracular pronouncements by the Colonel on everything.

Same thing (including Roughriders).

Still more injunctions.

Open shop, gag laws, etc.

Tariff tinker (in behalf of good trusts).

Child labor (except in cases of bad trusts).

In brief, the same old thing, sugar coated with pretense.

Appendix D

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, accessed April 29, 2001.
25 "Friends of Soviet Russia," cited at, accessed April 28, 2001.
26 The Passaic Textile Strike (MOMA): October 1926, International Workers' Aid, producer: Alfred Wagenknecht, cited at, 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 Bird
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