Skip to main content
Select Source:

Morris Hillquit

Morris Hillquit

Morris Hillquit (1869-1933), Russian-born American lawyer and author, figured prominently in the organization of the Socialist Party of America.

Morris Hillquit, born Moses Hilkowitz in Riga on Aug. 1, 1869, received his early education abroad. Soon after emigrating to New York City in 1886, he began a lifelong involvement in left-wing political activities, participating in the establishment of the United Hebrew Trades, a union for impoverished Jewish garment workers formed in 1888. About the same time, he worked as a clerk for the Socialist Labor party and soon began writing for the Arbeiter Zeitung, a Yiddish-language newspaper. In 1891 he entered New York University Law School, receiving a degree in 1893. From 1893 to 1899 he mainly devoted himself to building a successful legal practice.

In 1899 Hillquit emerged as an important Socialist leader. He and others had become restive under Daniel De Leon's heavy-handed leadership of the Socialist Labor party, and the dissidents—known as the "Kangaroo" faction—bolted the party. In 1900 Hillquit and his allies supported the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic party, Eugene V. Debs. The next year, with Hillquit as a central figure in the unity move, the Kangaroo faction and the Debs party joined to form the Socialist Party of America.

Hillquit served the party as promoter, platform writer, legal adviser, author, and candidate. He wrote numerous articles and books on the party's behalf. On five occasions—in 1906, 1908, 1916, 1918, and 1920—he ran for Congress in East Side New York districts. Twice he ran for mayor of New York City. An evolutionary socialist, he argued that the party would discredit itself if it promised an instant socialist utopia. He nevertheless repeatedly supported the leadership of Debs, though he was closer to the party's radical wing.

Hillquit was conspicuously hostile to American involvement in World War I. In 1915 the Socialist party adopted a platform (largely written by Hillquit) urging Americans to withhold economic and diplomatic support from all the belligerents. When the United States entered the war in 1917, another Hillquit platform condemning the war was approved by the party. When, in 1917, Hillquit ran for mayor, it was in the face of great hostility to the Socialists' peace platform; still, he received more than 20 percent of the vote.

After World War I Hillquit's poor health and the demoralized condition of the Socialist party limited his political effectiveness, although in 1932 he again entered the New York City mayoralty race and won nearly a quarter-million votes. He died on Dec. 31, 1933.

Further Reading

Hillquit's many writings include an autobiography, Loose Leaves from a Busy Life (1934). Three excellent studies of socialism in America provide background for Hillquit's career: Ira Kipnis, The American Socialist Movement, 1897-1912 (1952); Howard H. Quint, The Forging of American Socialism (1953); and David A. Shannon, The Socialist Party of America (1955).

Additional Sources

Pratt, Norma Fain., Morris Hillquit: a political history of an American Jewish socialist, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979. □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Morris Hillquit." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Jun. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Morris Hillquit." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/morris-hillquit

"Morris Hillquit." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved June 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/morris-hillquit

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Hillquit, Morris

Morris Hillquit, 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 Leon 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).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Hillquit, Morris." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Jun. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Hillquit, Morris." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hillquit-morris

"Hillquit, Morris." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved June 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hillquit-morris

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.