Hillquit, Morris

Hillquit, Morris,

1869–1933, American lawyer and Socialist leader, b. Riga, Latvia (then in Russia). He came to the United States in 1886. He was the leader of the right-wing, or constitutional, Socialists in their revolt against the radical leadership of Daniel De LeonDe Leon, Daniel
, 1852–1914, American socialist leader. Born on the island of Curaçao of Spanish-American parents, he was educated in Germany and the Netherlands before going (1872) to New York City. There he edited a Spanish newspaper, studied law at Columbia (LL.B.
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 in 1899. This revolt split the Socialist Labor party and led (1900) to the founding of the Social Democratic party, which evolved into the Socialist party. Hillquit from the beginning was the dominant theorist and tactician of the party, representing it on the executive committee of the Socialist and Labor International. He vigorously opposed U.S. entry into World War I and served as the defense lawyer in many espionage cases against socialists. He also served for many years as counsel to a number of labor unions. He was his party's candidate for mayor of New York City twice and for Congressman five times. In 1924 he led the Socialists into Robert M. La Follette's Progressive party. He wrote an autobiography Loose Leaves from a Busy Life (1934, repr. 1971).


See F. G. Ham and C. S. Warmbrodt, The Morris Hillquit Papers (1969).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Hillquit, Morris


(real surname Hilkowitz). Born Aug. 1, 1869, in Riga; died Oct. 7, 1933. Activist in the Socialist Party (SP) of the USA. Reformist.

Hillquit emigrated to America in 1886 and joined the Socialist Labor Party of the USA in 1888; after the party’s split in 1899, Hillquit helped organize the Socialist Party (SP) of the USA in 1901 and headed its right-centrist wing. At the beginning of World War I, Hillquit was a pacifist. At the SP congress of April 1917 he expressed his solidarity with the left wing’s resolution opposing American participation in the war; in practice, however, he shunned the struggle to implement that resolution. In 1928, on Hillquit’s recommendation, the clause on recognition of the class struggle as a precondition for party membership was deleted from the SP bylaws. Hillquit became chairman of the SP in 1929.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Hillquit, Morris (b. Hillkowitz)

(1869–1933) lawyer, author, reformer; born in Riga, Latvia. He emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1886, dropped out of high school to go to work and helped found the United Hebrew Trades (1888). He graduated from New York University Law School in 1891. He helped found the Socialist Party of America (1900) and afterward defended many Socialists, including those prosecuted in 1917–18 for antiwar activities. He failed in several bids for elective office. A moderate who tried to adapt European Socialism to the American situation, he published several works on socialism, including Socialism in Theory and Practice (1909).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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