Quotations by Debs, Eugene V.


If it had not been for the discontent of a few fellows who have not been satisfied with their condition you would still be living in caves. You never would have emerged from the jungle. Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation.

Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) American union leader, activist, socialist, politician
“The Issue,” Speech, Girard, Kansas (23 May 1908)
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It is a basic economic proposition that as long as a relatively few men own the railroads, the telegraph, the telephone, own the oil fields and the gas fields and the steel mills and the sugar refineries and the leather tanneries — own, in short, the sources and means of life — they will corrupt our politics, they will enslave the working class, they will impoverish and debase society, they will do all things that are needful to perpetuate their power as the economic masters and the political rulers of the people.

Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) American union leader, activist, socialist, politician
“The Issue,” Speech, Girard, Kansas (23 May 1908)
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When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong.

Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) American union leader, activist, socialist, politician
Speech, Cleveland, Ohio, against accusations of sedition (12 Sep 1918)

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Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind then that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; and while there is a criminal element, I am of it; and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) American union leader, activist, socialist, politician
Statement to the Court (18 Sep 1918)
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On being convicted of Sedition. Often paraphrased: "As long as there is a lower class, I am in it. As long as there is a criminal element, I am of it. As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
Added on 25-May-18 | Last updated 25-May-18
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