The formation in 1864 of the International Working Men’s Association, or the First International in 1864 was a landmark event in socialist movement by which “Socialism stepped on the stage of history as a world movement”. The meeting in London and was attended by delegates from Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Poland and Switzerland. Marx drafted ‘An Address to the Working Classes’ which has become famous as the ‘Inaugural Address of the International Working Men’s Association’ which along with the General Rules outlined the principles and aims of the International. It was declared that the emancipation of the working classes must be won by the working classes themselves by ‘abolition of all class rule’. The Address ended with the slogan “Proletarians of all lands, unite!” denoting the universal character of movement.
The governments of the time considered it as a menace and attempts were made to exterminate it by declaring it illegal and persecution of its members.
Despite its limited membership it was feared by the rulers because of sense of workers’ solidarity it created. In its short period of existence, the International exercised a major influence on workers’ movements in Europe and North America, creating bonds of international solidarity and providing aid to movement across borders. Even in conditions of war like between Prussia and France in 1870, the workers maintained their solidarity and were even arrested on charges of treason.