365 Fulton Street, Brooklyn

Picture1In October 1880, a group of greenback-socialists took out a one-year lease on the fourth floor of a building at 365 Fulton Street in Brooklyn. There they established the Spread the Light Hall and held the first meeting of the Brooklyn Spread the Light Club on December 8th. The Hall provided a lecture room and meeting place, together with a Library, for the network of radicals active in New York City and Brooklyn. It also hosted other organizations such as the Greenback Labor Party, the Socialistic Labor Party, the Knights of Labor (specifically Brooklyn’s mixed Local Assembly 1562 and its pseudonymous public face the Advance Labor Club), and the  Irish Ladies Land League.

The building overlooked Brooklyn City Hall and club members would sit on the roof of the building shouting anti-monopoly and anti-rent slogans, through a megaphone, at the assembled politicians. During elections, it provided a campaigning base for the greenbackers and the socialists, and electoral  slogans would be hung on transparencies from the windows.

While the Spread the Light Club itself had disappeared by early 1882, the building was still known by local people as the Spread the Light Hall for a further decade. During its brief period as a base for the club, it hosted most of the main New York radicals of the period, including Henry George, Dr Adolf Douai, Robert Blissert, Theodore Cuno, Patrick and Ellen Ford, Matthew Maguire, Peter J McGuire, and Louis Post. It was almost certainly the place where the first discussions took place about a Massive Festival Parade and Pic-Nic to be held in September 1882, which subsequently came to be regarded as the first Labor Day parade.

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