Eugene V. Debs
Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) announced that he had become a socialist in 1897, when he was 42. Debs had already spent his lifetime as an active trade unionist and political activist in his home city of Terre Haute, Indiana. He had served six months in jail as a result of his forceful leadership during the great Pullman Strike of 1894. Many AFL unions can trace their beginnings to Eugene Debs' early career. After 1897, his devotion to American socialism and socialist idealism placed him at the center of many of the political and labor struggles of the early part of the century, including the founding of the International Workers of the World. He ran for President as the Socialist Party USA candidate five times, the last time from his jail cell where he was serving a sentence for encouraging Americans to resist induction into the Army during World War One.