founded the Social Democracy of America, a socialist communitarian movement, and in 1898 he was a founder of the Social Democratic Party of the United States, an organization committed to running and electing socialist candidates.
Debs served on the party's executive committee and in 1900 polled a hundred thousand votes as the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic party and a wing of the Socialist Labor party led by Morris Hillquit
In 1901 he was a founder of the Socialist Party of America, and he ran for president as its candidate in 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920. In 1905 Debs participated in founding the Industrial Workers of the World
, a revolutionary syndicalist industrial union that he hoped would function as the economic arm of the Socialist party; he left the IWW three years later. During World War I, he was prosecuted under the Espionage Act and sentenced to ten years in prison. Although they were longtime rivals, Samuel Gompers supported the campaign for clemency that culminated in a presidential pardon in 1921 .