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The Commonwealth (Everett, WA)
"The work of The Commonwealth will not be done until the day the true commonwealth in which all are in possession of that which is truly their own is established. The Commonwealth will continue to call upon the people early and late, to rise and claim that which is their own." Thus proclaimed the Everett Commonwealth at its debut on February 4, 1911.
First edited by O.L. Anderson, this four-column, eight-page weekly entered into the fractious debates typical of the Washington State's multiplying Socialist factions. Editors came and went in quick succession, the most notable being Anna Agnes Maley (September 1911-May 1912). Having written for one of the most important Socialist periodicals in the country----The Appeal to Reason, Maley had made her mark nationally through her support for political and women's rights before coming to Washington State. The Commonwealth’s coverage of notable national and international events expanded under her hand, without a reduction in the detailed reports on Socialist activities around the state.
With the Presidential election of 1912 on the horizon and with Eugene V. Debs leading the Socialist ticket, Maley left the paper in order to run for governor, the first woman and first Socialist to do so in the state. The Commonwealth covered the run-up to the election in considerable depth, publishing Debs' speech in Everett along with other campaign news. Maley came in third in the race for governor, taking a respectable 12 percent of the vote.
The Commonwealth continued under six more editors, including Maynard Shipley, a graduate of Stanford University and former editor of the World of Oakland, California-- the oldest Socialist newspaper on the West Coast. Believing that the constant squabbling among factions damaged the Socialist cause, Shipley refused to publish stories about the infighting. He tried to maintain high standards of journalism in the Commonwealth, increasing the use of photographs and the depth of news coverage.
Several significant figures in the national and international Socialist movement contributed to the Commonwealth including Gordon Nye, Fred D. Warren, George D. Herron, and Debs himself. The paper advocated strongly for freedom of expression, universal suffrage, industrial unionism, and the single tax. It also supported the Industrial Workers of the World and helped the Washington State Socialist Party to push organized labor toward the left. Despite constant efforts to increase its subscription base, the paper struggled financially and went into receivership in March 1914. The final issue of the Commonwealth appeared on April 9, 1914, and the paper’s assets were sold to the Socialist Party of Snohomish County. The Commonwealth’s demise brought about the birth of a new paper, the Washington Socialist.
Provided by: Washington State Library; Olympia, WA