Karl Marx was born in Trier, Germany on May 5, 1818. His father was a Jewish lawyer who abandoned his faith in order to escape Antisemitism. Karl attended public schools in Trier before graduating and studying law at Bonn University.
During his stay at Bonn, Karl racked up huge debts and even injured himself in a duel. When his father found out, he was furious and forced Karl to move to Berlin to study at the university there. Karl was greatly influenced by his teacher Bruno Bauer, who had very radical ideas about politics and religion.
In 1842, Karl became the editor of the "Rheinische Zeitung" newspaper in Cologne. His contributions to the paper centered around political and social issues, drawing fire from the authorities and political figures. In 1843, the critical pressure forced him to resign from his position and the paper was later forced to cease distribution.
Karl moved to Paris, where he developed his beliefs in communism. In 1844, Friedrich Engels came to visit and they shared their ideas, realizing that they had independently arrived at the same ideas about revolutionary problems. They began combining their resources to construct a system of principles for communism and organizing a working-class movement.
During his time in France, Karl had been watched very closely by the French authorities. In 1845, he was finally ordered to leave Paris as a result of his threatening political activities. He moved to Brussels, where he created a network of revolutionary groups called Communist Correspondence Committees. In 1847, the groups consolidated into a larger organization called the Communist League. Engels and Marx submitted a statement of communist principles, which became known as the Communist Manifesto.
Most of the ideas conceptualized in the manifesto were new and unheard of. They went entirely against the idea of capitalism and empowered the working class. Marx theorized that the existing capitalist system would be overthrown and a massive working class revolution would form a classless society where everyone was equally wealthy.
In 1848, Marx was exiled from Belgium after the revolutions in France and Germany. He first moved to Paris, then back to Cologne. There, he created a communist journal called the "Neue Rheinische Zeitung" and worked in local communist organizations. In 1849 he was arrested and charged with inciting armed insurrection, but was acquitted of charges and exiled from Germany. He moved briefly to France until they banished him and he was forced to retreat to London, England.
In London, Karl began devoting his time to creating a worldwide communist movement. He wrote his famous work "Das Kapital", which analyzed the capitalist economy and its exploitation of the working class. He next published "The Civil War in France" in 1871, which was about the revolutionary government that took power in Paris during the Franco-Prussian War. During his time in London, Karl also contributed articles to numerous publications, including the New York Daily Tribune.
The Communist League had dissolved in 1852, but Karl did not give up. He formed the First International organization in London, which was a revolutionary group with many of the members from the Communist League. Political pressures eventually forced him to move the headquarters of the organization to the United States.
Karl Marx died on March 14, 1883. Although Karl Marx was not greatly influential during his life, his ideas became very popular after his death. The labor movement seized upon his ideas, resulting in communist revolutions in countries such as Russia and China. His ideas greatly shaped the 20th century, where capitalism eventually prevailed after much reform.