Skip to Main Content
Banner Image

Presidential Campaigns in U.S. History: Eugene Debs

Woodrow Wilson speech from 1912 campaign

About Eugene Debs


For Debs, Socialism was as much about the dignity and humanity of the individual worker as it was about abstract questions of the proper organization of the American means of production or the distribution of wealth. This placed much of Debs’ rhetoric firmly within an American as well as a European political context; Debs spoke in the optimistic, evangelical cadences of a home-grown American radical tradition, drawing on Emerson, Robert Owen, or John Brown as much as on Marx or Engels. This often made Debs as many enemies as friends within the Socialist Party itself, and for most of his career Debs sought to remain aloof from the fierce factional infighting of the American Left. But it also gave Debs a broader popular appeal than any other American Socialist could muster, and his personal charisma and persuasiveness before an audience were second to no other American politician of any stripe.

 -eHistory at OSU

Books in the Library

Eugene Debs campaign speech before arrest

A reading of Eugene Debs speech at a campaign rally for the 1912 election. After this speech, he was arrested and jailed.

1912: Wilson v. Roosevelt V. Taft V. Debs

 Election of 1912: EHistory at OSU

Teddy Roosevelt speech from 1912 campaign


Youtube about Eugene Debs