Politician and U.S. labor leader, born in Terre Haute (Indiana) on 5 November 1855 and died in Elmhurst (ill.) on October 20, 1926, was a prominent leader of the labor movement in the 1890's, and founder of the American Socialist Party and candidate to the Presidency of the country in the early 20th century.
Son of a modest family of German emigrants, began working at a young age on the railway. In 1875 he joined the brotherhood of Stokers; three years later, he became editor of its magazine and in 1880 was Secretary of the organization. Between 1879 and 1883 he served as Secretary of the City Council of his home town and in 1885 was elected member of the Parliament of Indiana, without for that reason abandon Union work. Debs, against the thesis of Samuel Gompers, advocated for the union in a single organization of all the brotherhoods of the railway industry, rather than a Federation of these and got it in 1893 with the creation of the American Railway Union, of which he was its first President. In April 1894, he directed the first strike in demand for better wages against the Great Northern Railroad.
After the violent strike Pullman, which opposed at first, was sentenced to prison for six months (1895), time that used to form Marxist doctrine. In the campaign of 1896 he supported William j. Bryandemcratico-popular party, but the following year decided to found the Socialist Party of America, in front of which was presented to the elections of 1900. Despite the achieved little success - did not reach 1% of the votes - he continued presenting on several occasions, and in 1912, got his best result with a 6% of the total votes. In 1907, he helped to found the International Workers of the World (IWW), but soon abandoned it by not endorsing their actions. In the 1916 election, he resigned from the nomination of the Socialist Party, but returned to assume his leadership with United States entry into World War II, conflict that Debs is regarded as one form of oppression towards the working class. The ferocity of their criticism of the Government and the Smith Act controversy over espionage earned him a sentence of ten years in prison; Even so, arose again in the elections of 1920, and received more than nine hundred thousand votes. In 1921 President Warren g. Harding granted him forgiveness, but did not regain citizenship. His last years were spent in the troubled Lindlahr sanitarium of various health problems. He was the author of numerous articles and speeches, in which highlighted by his brilliant oratory, and the Walls and Bars work, published after his death.