Simon Philip Van Patten
1852 - 1918
Simon Philip Van Patten was known as S. P. or Philip and was born February 22,
1852 in Georgetown, Washington, DC and died September 21, 1918 in Little Rock,
Pulaski Co., Arkansas. Philip lived in Hot Springs, Garland Co., Arkansas from prior to
1900 up until his death in Little Rock in 1918.
On April 21, 1886, he was married to Laura Belle Maclish (1860-1917).
He was the son of Charles Toll Hanson Van Patten (1814-1886) and his wife, Amelia
Caroline Harper (1820-1865).
His obituary reads:
S. P. Van Patten Dead
S. P. Van Patten, one of the early settlers in Hot Springs, died yesterday in Little
Rock. Some time after the death of Mrs. Van Patten more than a year ago, Mr. Van
Patten had been in a very broken down condition. At one time he was one of the
leading architects of the city, and some of the largest buildings of the early history of
the city were the work of his skill.
The body will be brought here for interment.
Mr. Van Patten was prominately connected with several fraternal orginizations and
was very active in the Knights of Pythias organization here for years.
He was a member of the Episcopal church for many years.
Source: Obit with handwritten note of date - Sentinel Record; 21SEP1918; pg. 8.
Now comes the interesting part !!! Is this Philip Van Patten, the same Philip Van Patten
as this one:
Simon Philip Van Patten (1852-1918), known by his middle name of "Philip," was an
American socialist political activist prominent during the latter half of the 1870s and the
first half of the 1880s. Van Patten is best remembered for being named the first
Corresponding Secretary of the Workingmen's Party of the United States in 1876 and
for heading it and its successor organization, the Socialist Labor Party of America, for
the next six years. In 1883 Van Patten mysteriously disappeared, with his friends
reporting him as a potential suicide to law enforcement authorities. He later turned up
as a government employee, however, having abandoned radical politics in favor of
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia comes:
Biography of Philip Van Patten
Early years: Simon Philip Van Patten was born February 22, 1852 in Georgetown,
Washington, DC, in the United States, the son of ethnic Dutch heritage. One
early socialist historian characterized Van Patten as "an American of good family, with
an excellent education." According to U.S. Census data, his father was born in New
York state and his mother in Pennsylvania.
Political career: According to the recollection of pioneer Chicago Socialist George A.
Schilling, Philip Van Patten seems to have become involved in the radical politics in
about 1875, joining John McAuliffe and John Eckford as among the first group of
English-speaking Socialists in that city. Other leading English-speaking Chicago
socialists in this period, who had organized themselves as part of the Social
Democratic Party of North America (SDP), included Schilling himself, Thomas J.
Morgan, John Paulson, and Albert R. Parsons. Of this group, Van Patten does not
seem to have been a gifted orator, for Schilling recalls that "at this time A.R. Parsons
and John McAuliffe were the only ones capable of expounding in public the principles
of the party in the English language." The official organ of this group was a weekly
newspaper published in New York City called The Socialist.
In July 1876 the SDP joined with trade union-oriented groups loyal to the First
International at a Unity Congress to establish the Workingmen's Party of the United
States. The name of The Socialist was changed to The Labor Standard and
retained as the official English language voice of the organization, with a new editor
named to take charge of the publication. Chicago was named as the seat of the
Executive Committee of this new organization and it was this Chicago committee that
named Philip Van Patten as the Corresponding Secretary of the new organization.
Chicago railway strike of 1877
A great railroad strike erupted in the Eastern United States in 1877, spreading West to
the working class center of Chicago, where it was conducted directly by the National
Executive Committee of the NEC. Chief among the leaders of this Chicago
organization were National Secretary Philip Van Patten, head of the Chicago City
Committee, George A. Schilling, and English-language newspaper editor Albert R.
The cause of this strike was a severe economic depression which had begun as the
Panic of 1873 and which continued uninterrupted through 1877. One of the hardest-
hit sectors of the American economy was the railroad industry, which had been the
object a speculative bubble of massive investment between 1867 and 1877. As one
historian has observed, thousands of miles of costly railroads had been constructed in
this period "on the mere expectation of the future development of the country, and
without reference to the actual requirements of traffic." The so-called "Long
Depression" of 1873 had seen a particularly severe contraction in the railroad sector,
with wages of railroad workers slashed by an average of approximately 25 percent by
1877. In June 1877 another cut of 10 percent was announced by several major rail
lines and strikes erupted in response.
On July 21 the Workingmen's Party held two giant mass meetings in support of the
strikers — an outdoor meeting conducted in German and an indoor session at Stack's
Hall in English. At these sessions the Workingmen's Party called for the
nationalization of the railroads and for the establishment of an 8-hour day throughout
A huge torchlight march took place the next night, attended by an estimated 15,000
Chicagoans. This rally marked the eve of the escalation of the strike, as on July 23
striking workers on the Michigan Central Railroad marched to the shops of the B & O
and the Illinois Central to call out those workers to join the strike for higher wages.
Machine shops, factories, and mills were swept up in the strike wave. Employers
and law enforcement authorities launched an offensive of their own, bringing about
the firing of Workingmen's Party leader Albert Parsons from his job as a printer, and
breaking up a WP meeting attended by 5,000 striking workers, family members and
sympathizers through the copious use of nightsticks.
Philip Van Patten was arrested as a strike leader, taken to police headquarters, and
threatened with hanging — as had been Parsons earlier in the day. Violence was
indeed escalated on July 24, when police fired upon strikers at the railroad yards,
killing 3 and wounding at least 8 others; they used their clubs again later in the day to
break up a Workingmen's Party rally. Violence continued for the rest of the week,
with a final death toll recorded of at least 18 workers in the successful crushing of the
Decline of the SLP
* Cover of the pamphlet of stenographic proceedings of the 1877 "National
Congress" which re-elected Philip Van Patten Secretary of the SLP.
The headquarters city of the Socialist Labor Party moved several times in its early
years and Philip Van Patten followed it. The 1st National Congress of the
organization, held in Newark, New Jersey in December 1877, moved the NEC and
party headquarters to Cincinnati, Ohio, at the time the site of a large and active
"Section" of the party. Van Patten was re-elected National Secretary by that
convention and he made his way West to establish national headquarters in
conjunction with an NEC elected by Section Cincinnati.
By the time the NEC had established itself in that city in March 1878 factionalism and
discouragement had largely disrupted the local organization, however, a situation
exacerbated by the failure of the party's Cincinnati-based daily, the Ohio Volkszeitung,
in September of that year. Even before the next convention of the SLP at the end
of 1879, Secretary Van Patten and party headquarters had moved to Detroit,
Michigan, with a new NEC elected by that thriving Section.
Controversy was soon to erupt, however, pitting the electoral politics-oriented Van
Patten and the Detroit NEC against the radical activities of Section Chicago, who
were sliding towards direct action and decentralization that were part of a growing
One unintended consequence resulting from the smashing of the 1877 Chicago
railway strike with armed force was a radicalization of the labor movement in that city.
 As early as 1875 there had been established in Chicago a workers' militia known
as the Lehr und Wehr Verein (Education and Defense Society) — a paramilitary
organization which declared itself armed and ready to defend the working class
against manifestations of state violence against striking workers and their political
activities. These units of armed workmen drilled in public with rifles in hand,
marching under the red flag, amidst public pronouncements that workers' militia
groups would henceforth come to the aid of striking workers against the state militia in
the event of a strike.
By May and June 1878, the popular press was filled with sensational stories positing
an armed insurrection to seize the state by these groups. Van Patten and the
Detroit NEC of the SLP which he headed were outspoken opponents of the Lehr und
Wehr Verein, instead advocating the use of electoral methods to win control of the
state by the workers movement. In response to the June 1878 press frenzy, Van
Patten published a document "denying the false reports that our Sections were
arming, and informing the public that our party, as a party, would not be responsible
for any violations of law by its members," as he put it.
This position placed Van Patten in opposition to the Chicago organization, including
the staffs of the daily Chicagoer Arbeiter Zeitung and the weekly Vorbote, which
ridiculed the NEC mercilessly. The NEC responded with a public statement made
to the press disavowing allegations that the Socialist Labor Party was arming and
advising all party members to disassociate themselves from armed militia groups.
Section Chicago was specifically requested to exclude the Lehr und Weir Verein from
a scheduled public demonstration which was in the offing.
Van Patten recalled:
"This declaration was received by the Chicago section with the most bitter contempt.
The advice was disregarded and the armed organization welcomed to the procession.
The editor of the Arbeiter Zeitung and Vorbote (Paul Grottkau), not satisfied with this,
attempted to create a permanent breach in our party by printing thousands of extra
papers filled with abuse of our Committee, ignoring all explanations showing the good
intentions which had actuated us, so as to maintain the honor of the Party we
repudiated the Vorbote as our organ until such time as its tone should be corrected.
Called upon to decide the question, the 2nd National Convention of the SLP, held in
Allegheny City, Pennsylvania at the end of 1879 narrowly approved after heated
debate a resolution of censure of the actions of Van Patten and the NEC for
intervening in the local affairs of Section Chicago. This was not held against Van
Patten personally, however, and he was returned as National Secretary by the
convention, which was ultimately controlled by the moderate rather than the radical
wing of the party.
Van Patten and his electorally-oriented comrades sought to field a socialist candidate
in the Presidential election of 1880, or to at least support an alternative to the so-
called "old party" candidates that was not inimical to the Socialist Labor Party's goals.
To this end, Van Patten and several other members of the SLP traveled to the
national convention of the Greenback Party, which ultimately nominated James B.
Weaver for the Presidency, in an attempt to "socialize" that party's platform.
Despite their failure to materially influence the program of the Greenbackers, Van
Patten and his associates requested that SLP members support the Greenback Party
ticket in the fall campaign — an attitude which further deepened the division between
the NEC and the radical trade unionists of Section Chicago.
Fighting over the direction of the SLP and the radical workers' movement would
remain a matter of bitter debate over the next several years, with the ideas of direct
action and armed insurrection steadily gaining momentum throughout the first half of
the 1880s. Membership in the Socialist Labor Party plummeted during this battle.
Although the total size of the organization was not stated at the 1879 Convention of
the SLP, a subsequent report submitted by New York City activist P.J. McGuire to the
1881 Convention of the Second International claimed a membership of just 2,500 for
the American organization — a total disputed by Adolph Strasser, who estimated the
count at just 1,500.
The departure of the left wing of the SLP to the Anarchist movement left the party
apparatus, such as it was, in the hands of the electorally-oriented moderates. The
December 1881 3rd National Convention of the organization, held in New York City,
was attended by a mere 17 delegates, mostly from New York City itself. The
convention made New York the headquarters city for the organization and returned
Philip Van Patten as National Secretary. Van Patten remarked to a correspondent
at the time that his re-election related to the party's "difficulty in getting anyone who
could write correct English" and was made possible by the absence at the convention
of what he called the "thick-headed, dyspeptic element."
In 1883, Van Patten was named as a prospective editor of a new labor newspaper
that had been launched in New York City called Voice of the People. Van Patten
was charged with attempting to raise funding to take the publication from weekly to
daily status. He was unable to achieve this, however. Together with the seeming
disintegration of the SLP as an electoral force, this general situation was said to have
left Van Patten "despondent and dejected."
In the middle of April 1883, Van Patten crated up all his books and papers and
shipped them away to an unknown destination from his lodgings in Manhattan.
Government career / Capitalist Career:
On April 22, 1883, friends of Van Patten called New York City police authorities to
report him missing. Van Patten had suddenly disappeared, leaving behind a letter
announcing his plan to commit suicide. This letter was later revealed as a part of a
plan to divert attention from Van Patten's decision to abandon the socialist movement
in favor of government employment, however. Morris Hillquit, a pioneer historian of
the American radicalism, considered Van Patten's loss after a decade of complete
dedication to the cause a "hard blow to the organized socialist movement of this
country," writing; "He was a man of much enthusiasm and devotion, but by no
means a strong and popular leader. It was not so much the loss of his personality as
the moral effect of his retreat that reflected a deep discouragement on the socialist
Later life, death, and legacy:
Sometime in the 1890s Philip Van Patten reemerged as a prominent architect in Hot
Van Patten's died in Hot Springs on September 21, 1918. He was 66 years old at
the time of his death.
1.^ a b c Jerry W. Wilson, "Simon Philip Van Patten," Rootsweb at Ancestry.com/
2.^ a b c d e f "A Socialist Editor Missing: Fears that Philip Van Patten Has Committed
Suicide," New York Times, April 23, 1883.
3.^ a b c d e Morris Hillquit, History of Socialism in the United States. New York: Funk
and Wagnalls, 1903; pg. 239.
4.^ a b c d e George A. Schilling, "History of the Labor Movement in Chicago," in Lucy
Parsons (ed.), Life of Albert R. Parsons, with Brief History of the Labor Movement in
America. Chicago: Lucy E. Parsons, 1889; pg. xv.
5.^ The German-language organs were the Vorbote from Chicago and the Sozial-
Demokrat from New York. See: Selig Pearlman, "Upheaval and Reorganization," in
John R. Commons, et al., History of Labour in the United States: Volume 2. New York:
Macmillan, 1918; pg. 271.
6.^ Selig Pearlman, "Upheaval and Reorganization," in John R. Commons, et al.,
History of Labour in the United States. New York: Macmillan, 1918; pg. 271.
7.^ a b Hillquit, History of Socialism in the United States," pg. 224.
8.^ a b c d Hillquit, History of Socialism in the United States, pg. 220.
9.^ a b c d e f g h i Aaron Brenner, Benjamin Day, and Immanuel Ness, The
Encyclopedia of Strikes in American History. Armonk NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2009; pp. 187-
10.^ a b Hillquit, History of Socialism in the United States, pg. 225.
11.^ a b Philip Van Patten, "Report of the NEC to the 2nd National Convention of the
Socialist Labor Party of America: Allegheny City, PA — Dec. 26, 1879." Corvallis, OR:
1000 Flowers Publishing Co., 2011; pg. 2.
12.^ a b Frederic Heath, Socialism in America (aka Social Democracy Red Book).
Terre Haute, IN: Debs Publishing Co., 1900; pg. 34.
13.^ Heath, Social Democracy Red Book, pp. 34-35.
14.^ Van Patten, "Report of the NEC to the 2nd National Convention of the Socialist
Labor Party of America," pp. 11-12.
15.^ Heath, Social Democracy Red Book, pg. 35.
16.^ a b c d Van Patten, "Report of the NEC to the 2nd National Convention of the
Socialist Labor Party of America," pg. 12.
17.^ Van Patten, "Report of the NEC to the 2nd National Convention of the Socialist
Labor Party of America," pg. 13.
18.^ Hillquit, History of Socialism in the United States, pp. 234-235.
19.^ Hillquit, History of Socialism in the United States, pg. 235.
20.^ a b Howard H. Quint, The Forging of American Socialism: Origins of the American
Movement: The Impact of Socialism on American Thought and Action, 1886-1901.
Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1953; pg. 18.
21.^ One important landmark in this process was the arrival of militant anarchist
Johann Most in the United States in 1882.
22.^ Hillquit, History of Socialism in the United States, pg. 228.
23.^ Quint, The Forging of American Socialism, pg. 18.
24.^ Quint, The Forging of American Socialism, pp. 18-19.
25.^ Phillip Van Patten to George Schilling, Jan. 12, 1882. Original in Schilling Papers,
Illinois State Historical Library. Quoted in Quint, The Forging of American Socialism,
26.^ Carlotta R. Anderson, All-American Anarchist: Joseph A. Labadie and the Labor
Movement. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998; pg. 99.
NOTE: To this very year (2012), no one is actually 100% sure that Simon Philip Van
Patten (1852-1918) is the same exact person as Philip Van Patten, Socialist.
Photo taken: 1877
Comments about our V.P. family site ???
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