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Crawford, Archibald “Archie” (1883–1924)

Lucien van der Walt


Born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1883, Crawford, who would go on to become a South African socialist and union leader, qualified as a fitter and came out with the British forces during the Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902). After demobilization, Crawford worked in the Pretoria State railway workshops, preaching socialism, but was dismissed in 1906 for agitating against retrenchments. In 1907, he was active in the movement of the unemployed and, with J. T. Bain , led a march of several hundred people from Johannesburg to Pretoria on May 1 to demand that the government employ white labor at fair wages. The delegation was rebuffed and the movement collapsed. The next year he was elected to the Johannesburg municipal council with the backing of the Labor Representation Committee, a forerunner of the South African Labor Party (SALP). Active in the small Independent Labor Party with Bain, Crawford launched and edited a radical weekly, the Voice of Labour , in 1908, and formed the Johannesburg Socialist Society in 1909. Increasingly radical, he was involved in the founding of the SALP in October 1909, when he unsuccessfully sought to have the party's segregationist commitments removed. Expelled later that year, he stood unsuccessfully for the small Socialist Party in the 1910 general elections on a revolutionary and non-racial platform. Crawford undertook a world tour, visiting North America, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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