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Debs outside Attorney General’s office: 1921 | by Washington Area Spark
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Debs outside Attorney General’s office: 1921

Eugene Debs stands in front of the Attorney General’s office at 1010 Vermont Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. December 26, 1921 after his ten year sentence for speaking against World War I was commuted.


Debs, the great labor and socialist leader who ran five times for U.S president, had been released from the Atlanta penitentiary Christmas Day and headed to Washington, D.C. to call on Attorney General Harry M. Dougherty and President Warren Harding who had commuted his sentence.


Debs joked that “I’ve started for here four or five times (to the White House), but this is the first time I ever landed,” (referring to his five times running for President).


After a day and a half in the nation’s capital, Debs headed home to his wife in Terre Haute, Indiana.


Debs was known for organizing the American Railway Union, one of the first industry-wide unions in the U.S. and leading the unsuccessful Pullman Strike.


He was the greatest socialist in the United States, garnering nearly a million votes when he ran for president from his prison cell in the 1920 election. Debs had been imprisoned for making a speech opposing the draft and America’s entry into World War I.


For more information and related images, see


For a blog post on Debs visit to Washington, DC following his release from prison, see


Photograph by Harris and Ewing. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-hec-41847 (digital file from original negative).

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Taken on December 26, 1921