Today in labor history: Socialist denied seat in Congress

On this day in 1919 Victor Berger, the first socialist elected to the U.S. Congress was denied his seat.

Berger was elected from Wisconsin’s 5th district. He was a founding member of the Social Democracy of America, the Social Democratic Party and later the Socialist Party.

Like Eugene Debs, Berger opposed the First World War. He was convicted under the Espionage Act which Congress used as the basis for vacating his seat.  The Supreme Court overturned Congress’ decision  He first successful election campaign to the House of Representatives was in 1910. He was returned to Congress three times after the war.

Berger befriended Gene Debs while in prison and helped win him to the the socialist cause. Debs credited the Congressman with introducing him to Karl Marx’s Capital.


Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.