Bebel was born in Deutz, now a part of Cologne; he founded the Sächsische Volkspartei ("Saxon People's Party") in 1867 together with Wilhelm Liebknecht, and the SDAP (Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei, Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany) in 1869, which merged with the ADAV (Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein, "General German Workers' Association") in 1875 to form the SAPD (Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, "Socialist Workers' Party of Germany"), which renamed itself SPD in 1890.
In 1872, Bebel was convicted in a political lawsuit, the so-called Leipziger Hochverratsprozess, and sentenced to two years in Festungshaft ("imprisonment in a fortress", a variant of a jail sentence that was not considered dishonouring), which he spent at the famous Königstein Fortress. Later in his life, he acted as chairman of the SPD and member of the Reichstag. Bebel's book, Women and Socialism was translated into English by Daniel DeLeon of the Socialist Labor Party of America as Woman under Socialism. It figured prominently in the Connolly-DeLeon controversy after James Connolly, then a member of the SLP, denounced it as a "quasi-prurient" book that would repel potential recruits to the socialist movement.
After living in Berlin-Schöneberg for many years, where a commemorative plaque commemorates him at Hauptstraße 97; he died on August 13 1913 during a visit to a sanatorium in Switzerland and was buried in Zürich.
His basic laws of a socialist society are: