January 31st John Spargo (Birth)  
Born in Stithians, John Spargo (1876 – 1966) became one of the earliest biographers of Karl Marx and later, through unexpected circumstance, a serious politician in America.

Trained as a stonecutter he became a lay Methodist minister but soon became attracted to Marxism.  In 1900, Spargo moved to Barry where he became heavily involved in socialist politics to the extent that, by the age of 25, he was recognised as one of the most promising Marxists in Britain.  His politics were an amalgamation of Christian Socialism and Marxism, which were informed by scientific thought, and he was often invited to speak at public gatherings. 

So successful was he that he was invited to give a lecture series across America.  The lecture series turned out to amount to little more than a promise and Spargo was reduced to using soup kitchens.  

Over time, he met many of the leading radicals in New York and he spent eight years editing a socialist magazine and giving lecture tours across the country.  He wrote about child slavery, state funded feeding of underprivileged children on the grounds but his real fame arose with his 1908 biography of Marx. Between 1909 and 1914 his views moved to the right and he also moved to Vermont to recover from heart and lung problems.

He left the Socialist Party over his support for American entry in WWI and by 1924 was a member of the Republican Party even being suggested as Herbert Hoover’s Secretary of Labor.  In later life, he became curator of the Bennington Historical Museum in Vermont and wrote several books on ceramics.

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