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Sunday, 6 February 2011

Minutes of the General Council of the First International 1866-1868

Minutes of the General Council of the First International 1866-1868
Explanatory Notes

1. The leading body of the International Working Men’s Association,
elected at the inaugural meeting held at St. Martin’s Hall, London, on
September 28, 1864, was originally called the Central Council. When
national central committees uniting the International’s sections in
each country began to appear, the Central Council in London gradually
came to be known as the General Council. This name was fixed in the
Rules approved by the Geneva Congress of 1866 .

The announcement about the change of the Council’s name was given in
the report of a regular Council meeting published in The Commonwealth
No. 188 October 13, 1866. Nevertheless, in the years that followed, in
the documents written in English the old name of the Council was used
alongside the new one. This is partly to be explained by the Council’s
continuing use for some time of the seal and headed note-paper
obtained during the first year of the International’s activities.

2. In the summer of 1866, when new railway lines were being laid,
large-scale excavations were in progress in the London suburbs. When
one of the construction firms, Brothers Waring, tried to replace local
labour by Belgians at lower rates, this caused trouble between the
English and Belgian excavators. The General Council began to discuss
this question for the first time on August 21, 1866 (see The General
Council of the First International. 1864-1866. The London Conference,
1865. Minutes, Moscow, p. 226. In the references given below this book
is simply referred to as The General Council. 1864-1866). At its
meeting on August 28, at which James Lee, the Secretary of the United
Excavators’ Society, was present, the General Council adopted the
following resolution:

“That in case the Excavators’ Society takes steps to form a branch in
the district where the disturbance occurred, that the Central Council
send a delegate speaking the Belgian language to accompany the
excavators’ delegates to induce the Belgians to join the Excavators’
Society.” The General Council committed itself to use its influence to
Prevent the importation of any more Belgian workers at reduced Prices
(ibid., p. 424).

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