|Daniel De Leon|
|Born:||December 14, 1852|
|Died||May 11, 1914|
De Leon was an American Marxist theoretician and militant unionist. He is often overshadowed by more important Socialists during this time period.
De Leon was born on December 14 in Curaçao, West Indies (a Dutch-owned island off Venezuela), and he was later educated in Germany and the Netherlands during the 1860s and early 1870s. Later, he went on to attend Columbia College (now Columbia University) in New York City. When he graduated from Columbia, he won two highly regarded prizes for essays on "Constitutional History and Constitutional Law" and "International Law." Several years after graduating, De Leon returned to Columbia as a lecturer on International Law. He resigned that position after several years when the university turned back on its promise to make him a full professor because he actively supported the United Labor Party during the 1886 mayoral campaign in New York City. The ULP's candidate for mayor was Henry George, a man who ended up getting second place, but also managed to beat the Republican candidate, Theodore Roosevelt.
George's criticism of the aspects of class-divided society led De Leon to an investigation of the reasons for this. De Leon began reading the works of Karl Marx and Frederich Engels, helping De Leon perfect his ideology on the causes of the class struggle and what could end it.
In 1890, De Leon joined the Socialist Labor Party, which was America's oldest Marxist political party. He quickly rose in the party's ranks, becoming editor of the party paper, The People. He soon assumed party leadership, installing his personal views on syndicalism and Marxism into the party platform. It was his belief that militant labor unions would be the vehicle which would bring about Karl Marx's revolution of the working class.
Because of De Leon's highly authoritarian command of the party, many members became angry with him, labeling him "The Pope" of the SLP. The anti-DeLeonist faction of the SLP (known as "Kangaroos") were led by Morris Hilquit. When they were unable to get rid of De Leon, they left and joined Eugene V Debs's Social Democratic Party.
In 1905, De Leon joined Debs and others to form a militant trade union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). De Leon hoped that the IWW would be the vehicle of class struggle that he had been waiting for. De Leon died on May 11, 1914. Because of his orthodox and autocratic ideology, only a sprinkling of people follow his ideas closely today.