This extensive volume is the first of a series in the Correspondence section of the MEGA which deals principally with the activity of Marx and Engels in the International Working Men's Association (IWA). It contains 354 letters of which 120 from Marx and Engels and 234 to them; 153 of the latter are published here for the first time.
The correspondence shows how Marx rapidly acquired a leading influence in the Central Council of the Association. Among those for the first time published are letters from Council members Johann Georg Eccarius, Hermann Jung, Friedrich Leßner, Victor Le Lubez and William Randall Cremer; this material contains information on the preparation of the Association's Inaugural Address, its Provisional Statutes, and the Addresses to the United States Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson - all written by Marx - as well as on the distribution and resonance of these documents.
One group of letters clearly documents the influence of Marx on the activities of the IWA in the most important countries. The letters of the early Chartist leader Ernest Jones make clear Marx's efforts to encourage the trade unions to participate in the suffrage movement with the object of obtaining the universal right to vote. The correspondence with Victor Schily in Paris demonstrates how Marx sought to strengthen the section of the IWA in that city. He also received and sent many letters as the temporary Corresponding Secretary for Belgium. The letters from Joseph Wedemeyer are, on the other hand, one of the most important sources for the analysis by Marx and Engels of the Civil War in the United States.
They both gave special attention to Germany where they sought, after the death of Ferdinand Lassalle, to gain influence over the Allgemeine Deutsche Arbeiterverein. The volume contains letters from Johann Baptist von Schweitzer and Johann Baptist von Hofstetten to Marx and Engels which are here for the first time published. Above all, the volume sheds much light on the all-encompassing collaboration with Wilhelm Liebknecht, their most assiduous correspondent in this period. 33 of the 46 letters of Liebknecht, in fact, are first here published in a complete form. Many letters with Germans deal with the origins and distribution of Engels' pamphlet "The Prussian Military Question and the German Workers' Party".
The letters document in many ways that Marx, despite his involvement in the IWA, dedicated great effort to the writing down in fifteen months of both an outline for the second volume of "Capital" and the main manuscript itself of the third volume. Having reached this point, he considered that it would be possible by the beginning of 1866 to apply himself to the final version of the first volume. The letters also give information about the composition and influence of his lecture "Value, price and profit" which he delivered during the great strike wave in 1865 to the Central Council of the IWA.
Equally important, this volume offers insights into the personal lives of Marx and Engels. Among the letters here for the first time published are those from Engels' mother Elisabeth and his brother Hermann as well as from colleagues in the Manchester Schiller-Anstalt of which he became president in 1864.
The letters are published in strict chronological order and thus present a sort of collective journal of the authors and their correspondents; given their faithful relationship to reality and the many themes they contain, they are of great interest to a broad circle of readers. Specialists will find in the scholarly Apparatus of the volume - of more pages than the text itself - the results of much new research with regard to the letters; of these, 46 have been more accurately dated and many have been more correctly transcribed.