When the Manifesto of the Communist Party was published on the eve of the February Revolution of 1848 in Paris, it's main author, Karl Marx, was convinced that Western Europe was on the verge of witnessing a great class struggle between the bourgeois and the proletariat. In the middle nineteenth century, industrialization was coming of age, capitalist owners were free to hire labor on their own terms. Although trade unions were formed to fight for better working conditions and fair wages, they represented a very small portion of an ever growing working class. Socialism gave hope to the working class, and the theory that made it possible was due to the work of Karl Marx. Marx's vision of a classless society was defined in the pamphlet which began with the statement that "the history of all hithero existing society if the history of class struggles (Marx 5)." History had been divided into the opposing forces of the oppressed and the oppressor, the bourgeois being the upper middle class oppressor and the proletariat being the oppressed industrial working class. The ideals set forth in the Manifesto were destined to influence revolutionaries all over Europe. .
Karl Heinrich Marx was born into a Jewish family in the Prussian town of Trier on May 5, 1818. Trier was the oldest city in the Rhineland, and as a result of it's annexation by France in the Napoleonic Wars had been exposed to notions such as freedom of the press, constitutional liberty and religious toleration. Karl's parents were steeped in free French ideas of politics , religion, life and art. When the city was reincorporated into imperial Prussia by the congress of Vienna in 1815, Prussian edict banned Jews from public office and practicing in the professions (Wheen 10). Marx was a bourgeois Jew in a predominantly Catholic city, by the time he was six years old his father, a lawyer with a keen interest in philosophy, converted the family to Christianity and all were baptized as Protestants.