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About William English Walling
William English Walling (1877–1936) (known as "English" to friends and family) was an American labor reformer and Socialist Republican born in Louisville, Kentucky. He was the grandson of William Hayden English, the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1880, and was born into wealth. He was educated at the University of Chicago and at Harvard Law School. He was a co-founder of the NAACP, and founded the National Women's Trade Union League in 1903.
In 1906, following a trip to Russia to report on the abortive Russian Revolution of 1905 he married Anna Strunsky, a Jewish immigrant and an aspiring novelist from San Francisco. In 1908 he published Russia's Message, a book inspired by the social unrest he and his wife had observed in Russia.
In 1908 Walling and his wife went to Springfield, Illinois to investigate a race riot. As a result of their investigations, Walling wrote an article The Race War in the North for the September 3 issue of The Independent, in which he stated, “the spirit of the abolitionists, of Lincoln and Lovejoy, must be revived and we must come to treat the negro on a plane of absolute political and capitalist equality.” He also appealed for a “large and powerful body of citizens to come to their aid.” The article directly led to the founding of the NAACP.
Walling was a member of the Republican Party, but quit in 1917 due to the party's stance against U.S. involvement in World War I. His marriage to Anna Strunsky ended at this time, in part due to their disagreement over the United States' role in the conflict. He later worked full-time for the American Federation of Labor.