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A Biography of Friedrich Engels

Friedrich Engels was born in 1820 in Barmen, Germany. His father was a wealthy man with interests in a textile business in England. This fact as well as his association with Karl Marx would dominate his existence. The father wished the son to follow in his footsteps and so sent him to clerk for three years at the manufacturing town of Bremen. Because of this, Engels never really had a University Education.

Yet even at this stage (about 20 years old) he was already becoming active in radical causes and writing pamphlets on philosophy and economics. Engels would meet Marx in 1842 in Cologne and their friendship would flower in Paris in 1844. Engels, who was a thinker in his own right, thought Marx the more original, and soon hitched his intellectual wagon to Marx's star.

In the early 1840s he spent a few years in England working as a manager at one of his father's mills. It was this experience that produced his first prominent work, "The Condition of the Working Class in England" published in 1844. In 1847 Marx was asked to write a document proclaiming the principles of communism for "The Communist League". Engels collaborated and helped write the now famous Communist Manifesto.

In 1850 Engels returned to England to run the factory of which he was now part owner. He made the decision to do this for manifold reasons not the least of which was to help the poverty stricken Marx who had lately been driven from Brussels for his revolutionary activity. Marx would move to London to do research for his book, "Das Kapital" at the British Museum, while Engels supported him both financially and intellectually.

Marx would produce the first volume of "Das Kapital" during his lifetime, but the remaining three volumes would be put together posthumously by Engels from Marx's notes. In the years remaining to Engels, he spent the bulk of his time on these works and explaining to the world what Marxism was all about. He ultimately believed that Marx had found a scientific basis for history and that the principles laid down by Marx would govern the affairs of men for the foreseeable future.

Engels died in 1895.

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