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Making the World Safe for WorkersLabor, the Left, and Wilsonian Internationalism$
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Elizabeth McKillen

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037870

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037870.001.0001

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The AFL, International Labor Politics, and Labor Dissent in 1918

The AFL, International Labor Politics, and Labor Dissent in 1918

(p.152) Chapter 5 The AFL, International Labor Politics, and Labor Dissent in 1918
Making the World Safe for Workers

Elizabeth McKillen

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the Wilson administration's reliance on the advice and diplomacy of American Federation of Labor (AFL) leaders and prowar Socialists in dealing with the European Left throughout 1918. It begins with a comparison of British and American labor diplomacy in 1918, paying particular attention to the AFL's wartime diplomacy and international labor politics led by Samuel Gompers. It then considers Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points program, along with the AFL's two labor missions to Europe. It also explores the Labour Party politics that gave British labor more bargaining power within government circles than their U.S. counterparts. Finally, it describes the spread of the Labor Party movement throughout the American Midwest. The chapter shows that, by conferring with the AFL leadership and prowar Socialists for diplomatic counsel and diplomatic service abroad and strongly opposing the Stockholm Conference, Wilson undercut the political strength of his strongest supporters in Europe while encouraging continued derision and ridicule within the American Left, helping to set the stage for further polarization at war's end.

Keywords:   international labor politics, American Federation of Labor, Socialists, European Left, labor diplomacy, Woodrow Wilson, labor missions, Europe, Labor Party movement, American Left

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