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Grass-Roots Socialism

Radical Movements in the Southwest, 1895-1943

480 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / no illustrations

American History

  Paperback / 9780807107737 / August 1978

Grass-Roots Socialism answers two of the most intriguing questions in the history of American radicalism: why was the Socialist party stronger in Oklahoma than in any other state, and how was the party able to build powerful organizations in nearby rural southwestern areas?

Many of the same grievances that had created a strong Populist movement in the region provided the Socialists with potent political issues—the railroad monopoly, the crop lien system, and political corruption. With these widely felt grievances to build on, the Socialists led the class-conscious farmers and workers to a radicalism that was far in advance of that advocated by the earlier People’s party.

Examined in this broadly based study of the movement are popular leaders like Oklahoma’s Oscar Ameringer (“The Mark Twain of American Socialism”), “Red Tom” Hickey of Texas, and Kate Richards O’Hare, who was second only to Eugene Debs as a Socialist orator. Included also is information on the party’s propaganda techniques, especially those used in the lively newspapers which claimed fifty thousand subscribers in the Southwest by 1913, and on the attractive summer camp meetings which drew thousands of poor white tenant farmers to week-long agitation and education sessions.

James R. Green teaches in the College of Community and Public Service, University of Massachusetts at Boston. He received his doctorate from Yale University and has also taught at Brandeis University and Warwick University, England, where he was a visiting lecturer at the Centre for the Study of Social History.

Praise for Grass-Roots Socialism

“This book is by far the most local or regional study yet published on American socialism in its heyday before the First World War. . . . An authoritative, compelling, and innovative study of rank-and-file socialism in the southwest which will long remain the standard work for its regional area.”—American Historical Review

 “Such a short notice cannot do justice to the wealth of information to be found in Grass-Roots Socialism, the perceptiveness of Green’s analysis as well as his lively and sophisticated method. This is a great book which raises questions about a political consciousness, militancy and radicalization that are still relevant to the socialist movement today.”—Social History

“James R. Green’s large and impressive book on an American version of socialism attains an almost elegiac quality. . . .He is imaginative in his search for evidence and sophisticated in his use of historical materialism, all the while carrying a very readable narrative forward.”—Agricultural History

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