A letter from Adolf Cluss to his communist friend Joseph Weydemeyer; Juni 6, 1852.

The Political Man

A year and a half after immigrating to the United States, Adolf Cluss reestablished contact with leaders of the communist league living in Great Britain. His letters reveal that he kept abreast of events in Europe and offered support to revolutionary causes.

Cluss used information sent by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Wilhelm Wolff to write scathing articles to counter political foes in the German-American community. He also published Marxist propaganda to help establish a communist stronghold in America.

In July 1852, Cluss became a founding member of the Washington Turnverein (the German-language gymnastic society favored by political refugees) and was elected secretary, allowing him influence over the national Turnerbund.

1852 and 1853 became his most active years on behalf of the communist league. He wrote articles on American political history, labor and immigration issues, and political commentary for The People's Paper in London and New York's Die Reform. His special focus became U.S. labor issues since he anticipated a burgeoning labor movement. Expectation soon turned to disappointment, however, when Cluss had to acknowledge that U.S. labor conditions differed from those in Europe and that a labor revolution was not imminent in the United States.

Cluss's correspondence with Marx ended in 1855, by which time he had become a U.S. citizen. Like many fellow Turners, Cluss joined the Republican Party sometime between 1855 and 1860, when the party was still largely ostracized in Washington for its antislavery stance, and became a life-long supporter of the party.



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