Bouck White and the Church of the Social Revolution

By and large Socialist [[Party of America]] clergymen were among the more conservative party members, but there were a few who were quite radical. One such radical was the flamboyant Bouck White, author of the hilarious The Book of Daniel Drew, a purported autobiography, and of the once very popular The Call of the Carpenter, which portrayed Jesus of Nazareth as a social revolutionist. White’s radicalism embarrassed such relatively staid Socialists as Hillquit, Julius Gerber, once executive secretary of Local New York, and W. J. Ghent. Furthermore, many Socialists were uneasy about the presence of any minister in their party because the clerics hardly fitted the Marxist stereotype. White, minister of the Church of the Social Revolution in New York, became involved in a protest movement aimed at embarrassing the Rockefeller family for the Standard Oil Company’s role in the “Ludlow massacre” in Colorado, in which thirteen members of strikers’ families were killed by state militia. Upton Sinclair organized a group of pickets, wearing black bands of mourning, to parade around the Standard Oil Company building in New York. White invaded the Calvary Baptist Church, where the Rockefellers were members, with the announced intention of challenging its pastor, Dr. Cornelius Woelfkin, to a debate on the subject of the teachings of Jesus regarding men of great wealth. When White arose during the service to make his challenge, he was grabbed and dragged from the church by police and ushers. Subsequently he was convicted in a disorderly conduct charge and sentenced to six months on Blackwells Island, an unusually harsh sentence for such a charge. White was also an ardent opponent of war and nationalism, and, to demonstrate dramatically his contempt for nationalism and its symbols, he sometimes burned the American flag during his speeches.

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from David A. Shannon’s The Socialist Party of America: A History (New York: Macmillan Company, 1955), pp 60–61

1 Response to “Bouck White and the Church of the Social Revolution”

  1. 1 New blogs: self-governing socialism and radical archives « Poumista Trackback on January 15, 2010 at 1:04 pm
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