Button, Eugene V. Debs

Button, Eugene V. Debs

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Labor activist Eugene V. Debs ran for president five times. In his first race in 1900, he was on the ballot as the candidate of the Social Democratic Party. Although he received less than one percent of the vote, this campaign led to the formation of the Socialist Party and solidified Debs’s place on the national stage. He was the candidate of the Socialist Party of America in 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920. In his last election, campaigning from prison (having been found guilty of sedition during World War I), Debs received almost 914,000 votes, the most ever recorded for a Socialist on the national ballot.
Debs was an enthusiastic candidate but likely never expected victory at the ballot box. He instead used his campaigns to spread his vision for the country and to promote a legislative agenda. The major parties gradually endorsed many of the progressive ideas Debs had advocated such as woman suffrage, child labor reform, and the right to unionize.
Object Name
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accession number
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Political Campaigns
See more items in
Government, Politics, and Reform
American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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