Max S. Hayes

Max Hayes
Personal details
Born (1866-05-25)May 25, 1866
Havana, Ohio, U.S.
Died October 11, 1945(1945-10-11) (aged 79)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Political party Populist (1890–1896)
Socialist Labor (1896–1899)
Social Democratic (1899–1901)
Socialist (1901–1919)
Labor (1919–1920)
Farmer-Labor (1920–1936)

Maximillian S. "Max" Hayes (1866-1945) was a newspaper editor, trade union activist, and socialist politician. In 1912 Hayes became the first candidate to challenge Samuel Gompers for the presidency of the American Federation of Labor in nearly a decade, drawing about 30% of the vote in his losing effort. Hayes is best remembered as the long-time editor of the Cleveland Citizen and as the Vice Presidential candidate of the Farmer-Labor Party ticket in 1920.


Early years

Hayes was born in the tiny rural hamlet of Havana, Huron County, Ohio on May 25, 1866. His father, Joseph Maximilian Sebastian Hayes, was a farmer.[1] Hayes was raised as a Roman Catholic.[1] Hayes was largely self-educated, only attending school through the 4th grade.[2]

At age 13 Hayes went to work as a printer's apprentice, beginning work in a field in which he would remain for the rest of his life.[1] Hayes worked on the staff of the Cleveland Press from 1881 to 1890.[2]

In 1890, Hayes became founder and editor of a labor newspaper of a decidedly Socialist bent, The Cleveland Citizen.[2] This paper was named the official organ of the Cleveland Central Labor Union in 1892.[1] Hayes remained active as editor of this weekly publication until 1939.

Hayes was a member of the International Typographical Union (ITU) from 1884 and worked as a general organizer for the labor movement in the Cleveland area for 15 years.[1]

He was a frequent representative of the ITU to the annual conventions of the American Federation of Labor.[3]

In 1903, Hayes was chosen as the delegate of the AF of L to the convention of the British Trades Union Congress.[2]

Hayes was a bitter opponent of the Industrial Workers of the World from the time of its founding in 1905, lending his support instead to the AF of L.

Early political career

In 1890, Hayes joined the People's Party, of which he was a member until 1896.[2] Hayes then joined the Socialist Labor Party of America (SLP), serving as the Secretary of Section Cleveland, SLP. He left the SLP during the split of the anti-Daniel DeLeon and pro-American Federation of Labor dissident faction headed by Henry Slobodin and Morris Hillquit in 1899.[2] Although Hayes was a vocal opponent of Samuel Gompers in the AF of L, he nevertheless was even more opposed to the SLP's Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance (ST&LA), which he believed to be sectarian and destructive.

In 1900 Hayes was nominated for Vice President of the United States by the Hillquit faction in 1900, but withdrew in favor of the candidacy of Job Harriman in a unity ticket that brought together the former-SLP dissidents with the Chicago-based Social Democratic Party of America of Eugene V. Debs and Victor L. Berger.[2] Hayes was a Social Democratic Party candidate for U.S. Congress in that year.[2]

Hayes was one of five members of the "Springfield SDP," joining a like number from the Chicago organization, named to a special committee in charge of preparations for the August 1901 Joint Unity Convention from which the Socialist Party of America was born.[4]

In the 1902 campaign, Hayes stood as the Socialists' candidate for Ohio Secretary of State.[2]

Challenge to Gompers

The 1911 annual convention of the American Federation of Labor, held in Atlanta, Georgia, saw the introduction of a resolution by a socialist member of the Brewery Workers' Union endorsing the use of a direct vote of member unions instead of a vote of assembled convention delegates for the selection of AF of L officers.[5]

While the Socialist-backed resolution called for immediate establighment of this system, a minority report merely instructing the governing Executive Council of the AF of L to investigate the applicability of this electoral method and to report their findings to the 1912 convention was favored by others.[6] As expansion of the initiative and referendum was long part of the Socialist Party's ameliorative minimum program and the nominator a well-known member of that organization, this brought conservative delegates to the floor to warn of the dangers of the Socialist Party's efforts at boring from within.[6]

AF of L President Samuel Gompers temporarily passed on the gavel at the convention so that he could himself speak on the floor during the debate which followed.[7] Gompers declared himself to have long been in favor of expansion of the initiative and referendum and accused the Socialists of having systemically and intentionally published "the rankest untruth" and "vile falsehood" about his actual sentiments on the matter.[7] Gompers stated that he had found the main resolution for immediate direct elections of AF of L officers by member unions "indefensible," instead favoring investigation of the matter as called for in the minority report.[7]

Gompers' attack on the intellectual honesty of Socialists at the 1911 AF of L convention drew a response from Max Hayes on the floor, with Hayes's mounting frustration with the moderate majority of the Federation readily evident. Hayes declared

I am tired of the eternal fight that is made on everything a socialist member of this organization suggests. If a socialists introduces a resolution, it mattes not the nature of it, somebody rises and shouts a warning: 'Look out! the socialists are about to get you and you are about to be made the tail of the socialist kite!' And then, bing! Knock it in the head, whatever it is a socialist suggests.

I don't care what party you belong to. It makes no difference to me, but if I can convince you that you are wrong you should be willing to admit it, and if you convince me that I am wrong I certainly should admit it, but party affiliations should have nothing to do with action taken on any matter brought to this convention.[8]

Gompers' preferred option ultimately prevailed and the direct election of the AF of L leadership was waylaid by the 1911 convention.[8]

At the AF of L's 1912 annual convention Hayes became the last socialist to challenge Gompers for the Presidency of the Federation.[9] This was the first time since the organization's 1903 conclave that Gompers had been met by an opponent in his bid for re-election as head of the AF of L.[10]

Hayes received the entire vote of five international unions, including the Bakery Workers, Cloth Hat and Cap Makers, International Association of Machinists, Western Federation of Miners and the Shingle Weavers.[9] He also received majority support from the United Mine Workers of America, Journeymen Tailors, and Brewery Workers in a losing effort, won by Gompers by a tally of 11,974 to 5,074.[11]

Vice-Presidential nominee

Hayes was an opponent of the aggressively antimilitarist 1917 St. Louis resolution of the Socialist Party. He did not resign from that organization until May 1919, however. Hayes then joined the fledgling "Farmer-Labor Party" and was named to the national ticket as candidate for Vice President of the United States, running with the group's Presidential nominee, Parley Parker Christensen. Christensen was on the ballot in only nineteen states, but in these totalled 265,398 votes, one percent of the national total and 1.80 percent of the votes from states which had him on the ballot. Christensen did, nonetheless, fare exceptionally well for a third-party candidate in Washington state and South Dakota, where he outpolled Democrat James M. Cox in more than one third of all counties. Hayes was subsequently was active in the Conference for Progressive Political Action (CPPA) from 1922 to 1924.

Later years

During the Great Depression, Hayes served as a member of the Ohio State Adjustment Board of the National Recovery Administration, remaining in this capacity until termination of the NRA in 1935.[1] He was also a charter member of the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority, organized in 1933.[1] He remained with the Metropolitan Housing Authority until 1937.[12]

Hayes and his wife, the former Dora Schneider, had one daughter, who married A.I. Davey, Jr. in 1931.[12] Upon his retirement in 1939, Hayes passed on the editorship of the Cleveland Citizen to his son-in-law.[12]

Death and legacy

Hayes died in Cleveland on October 11, 1945.

Max S. Hayes' papers are held by two institutions. The Ohio Historical Society maintains one collection, which is available through interlibrary loan in microfilmed form. Other material is held by the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.[13]

Hayes is the namesake of Max S. Hayes High School in Cleveland, part of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Gary M. Fink (ed.), "Maximilian Sebastian Hayes," in Biographical Dictionary of American Labor. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1984; pg. 285.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Solon DeLeon with Irma C. Hayssen and Grace Poole (eds.), The American Labor Who's Who. New York: Hanford Press, 1925; pg. 100.
  3. David J. Saposs, Left Wing Unionism: A Study of Radical Policies and Tactics. New York: International Publishers, 1926; pp. 33-34.
  4. William Butscher, "Reply of the Springfield NEC," The Socialist [Seattle], no. 38 (April 28, 1901), pg. 4.
  5. "Gompers' Answer to Socialists," Atlanta Constitution, November 21, 1911. Republished as "Excerpts from News Accounts of the 1911 Convention of the AFL in Atlanta," in Peter J. Albert and Grace Palladino (eds.), The Samuel Gompers Papers: Volume 8: Progress and Reaction in the Age of Reform, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001; pp. 282-283.
  6. 1 2 "Excerpts from News Accounts of the 1911 Convention of the AFL in Atlanta," Samuel Gompers Papers Vol. 8, pg. 283.
  7. 1 2 3 "Excerpts from News Accounts of the 1911 Convention of the AFL in Atlanta," Samuel Gompers Papers Vol. 8, pg. 284.
  8. 1 2 "Excerpts from News Accounts of the 1911 Convention of the AFL in Atlanta," Samuel Gompers Papers Vol. 8, pg. 285.
  9. 1 2 Saposs, Left Wing Unionism, pg. 34.
  10. "Gompers Will Head AF of L Another Year," Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, November 24, 1912. Republished in Peter J. Albert and Grace Palladino (eds.), The Samuel Gompers Papers: Volume 8: Progress and Reaction in the Age of Reform, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001; pp. 414-416.
  11. AF of L Proceedings, 1912, pp. 354-355, cited in Saposs, Left Wing Unionism, pg. 34.
  12. 1 2 3 "Max S. Hayes, Papers, 1891-1949: Biographical Note," Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Martin P. Catherwood Library, Cornell University.
  13. "Max S. Hayes, Papers, 1891-1949," Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Martin P. Catherwood Library, Cornell University. Collection 5471mf.


  • Socialism and Trade Unions; Trade Unions and Socialism. With Daniel Lynch. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Co., 1900.
  • The Double Edge of Labor's Sword: Discussion and Testimony on Socialism and Trade-Unionism before the Commission on Industrial Relations. With Morris Hillquit and Samuel Gompers. Chicago: National Office of the Socialist Party, 1914. Also translated into German and Japanese.
  • A History of Cleveland Labor. Cleveland, OH: Cleveland AFL-CIO Federation of Labor/The Greater Cleveland Labor History Society/The Cleveland Citizen, 1987.

Further reading

  • Philip Taft, The AF of L in the Time of Gompers. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1957.
Party political offices
New political party Social Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States

Succeeded by
Job Harriman
Farmer-Labor nominee for Vice President of the United States
Succeeded by
William Bouck
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