American Communist Party

Knowledge Identifier: &American_Communist_Party

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American Communist Party

Marxist-Leninist political party in the United States, and is the largest communist party in the country add

Category: Politics

Founded in 1919.

Countries: United States (31%), Russia (17%), Germany (14%)

Main connections: Soviet Union, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Adolf Hitler

Linked to: Communist Labor Party, Communist Party, Communist Party of Canada, Communist Party of China

 

Timeline


 

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1919

During the spring of 1919 the Left Wing Caucus of the Socialist Party, buoyed by a large influx of new members from countries involved in the Russian Revolution, prepared to wrest control from the smaller controlling faction of moderate socialists add something

 

Foster, who had been deeply involved in the Steel Strike of 1919 and had been a long-time syndicalist and a Wobbly, had strong bonds with the progressive leaders of the Chicago Federation of Labor and, through them, with the Progressive Party and nascent farmer-labor parties add something

 

In 1919, after a series of unattributed bombings and attempted assassinations of government officials, and judges , the US Department of Justice headed by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, acting under the Sedition Act of 1918, began arresting thousands of foreign-born party members, many of whom the government deported add something

 

This prosecution was continued in 1919 and January, 1920 in the Palmer Raids or the red scare add something

 

When the Communist Party was formed in 1919 the United States government was engaged in prosecution of socialists who had opposed World War I and military service add something

 

In January 1919, Vladimir Lenin invited the left wing of the Socialist Party of America to join Comintern add something

 

By August 1919, only months after its founding, the CPUSA claimed 50,000 to 60,000 members add something

 

The Socialist Party called an emergency convention on August 30, 1919 add something

 

The remaining leftist delegates walked out and, meeting with the expelled delegates, formed the Communist Labor Party on August 30, 1919 add something

 

However, the language federations, eventually joined by C.E. Ruthenberg and Louis C. Fraina, turned away from that effort and formed their own party, the Communist Party of America, at a separate convention on September 1, 1919 add something


1920

As the red scare and deportations of the early 1920s ebbed, the party became bolder and more open add something

 

The Comintern was not happy with two communist parties and in January, 1920 dispatched an order that the two parties, which consisted of about 12,000 members, merge under the name United Communist Party, and to follow the party line established in Moscow add something

 

The records provided an irrefutable link between Soviet intelligence and information obtained by the CPUSA and its contacts in the U.S. government from the 1920s through the 1940s add something


1921

A more strongly worded directive from the Comintern eventually did the trick and the parties were merged in May, 1921 add something

 

It re-emerged in the last days of 1921 as a legal political party called the Workers Party of America add something

 

Socialist Party of America - Unity between these two communist organizations was a lengthy and complicated process, formally taking place at a secret convention held at the Overlook Mountain House hotel near Woodstock, New York in May 1921 with the establishment of a new unified "Communist Party of America


1924

Perhaps the greatest single blow dealt to the party in this period was the loss of the "Daily Worker", published since 1924, which was suspended in 1958 due to falling circulation add something

 

Under pressure from the Comintern, however, the party broke off relations with both groups in 1924 add something


1925

In 1925 the Comintern, through its representative Sergei Gusev, ordered the majority Foster faction to surrender control to Ruthenberg's faction; Foster complied add something

 

This move away from hopes of revolution in the near future to a more nuanced approach was accelerated by the decisions of the Fifth World Congress of the Comintern held in 1925 add something


1926

The factional infighting within the CPUSA did not end, however; the Communist leadership of the New York locals of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union lost the 1926 strike of cloakmakers in New York City in large part because of intra-party factional rivalries add something


1927

Ruthenberg died in 1927 and his ally, Lovestone, succeeded him as party secretary add something


1928

Cannon attended the Sixth Congress of the Comintern in 1928, hoping to use his connections with leading circles within it to regain the advantage against the Lovestone faction add something

 

In 1928 there were about 24,000 members add something

 

The upheavals within the CPUSA in 1928 were an echo of a much more significant change: Stalin's decision to break off any form of collaboration with western socialist parties, which were now condemned as "social fascists add something


1929

This was to have unfortunate consequences for Lovestone when, in 1929, Bukharin was on the losing end of a struggle with Stalin and was purged from his position on the Politburo and removed as head of the Comintern add something


1930

By 1930, the party adopted the title of Communist Party of the USA, with the slogan of "the united front from below" add something

 

Historian Ellen Schrecker concludes that decades of recent scholarship offer "a more nuanced portrayal of the party as "both" a Stalinist sect tied to a vicious regime "and" the most dynamic organization within the American Left during the 1930s and '40s" add something

 

Historically significant in Latino working class history as a successful organizer of the Mexican American working class in the Southwestern United States in the 1930s, the Communist Party regards working-class Latino people as another oppressed group targeted by overt racism as well as systemic discrimination in areas such as education, and sees the participation of Latino voters in a general mass movement in both party-based and nonpartisan work as an essential goal for major left-wing progress add something

 

In the late 1930s, with the authorization of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began investigating both domestic Nazis and Communists add something

 

Other CPUSA records contained further evidence that Soviet sympathizers had indeed infiltrated the State Department, beginning in the 1930s add something

 

See The Communist Party and African-Americans and the article on the Scottsboro Boys for the Communist Party's work in promoting minority rights and involvement in the historically significant case of the Scottsboro Boys in the 1930s add something

 

The Communist Party USA played a significant role in defending the rights of African-Americans during its heyday in the 1930s and 1940s add something


1932

By 1932 the total had fallen to 6,000 members add something

 

In 1932, the retiring head of the CPUSA, William Z. Foster, published a book entitled "Toward Soviet America", which laid out the Communist Party's plans for revolution and the building of a new socialist society based on the model of Soviet Russia add something

 

The ideological rigidity of the third period began to crack, however, with two events: the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt as president of the United States in 1932 and Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany in 1933 add something


1933

Roosevelt's election and the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933 sparked a tremendous upsurge in union organizing in 1933 and 1934 add something


1935

The Seventh Congress of the Comintern made the change in line official in 1935, when it declared the need for a "popular front" of all groups opposed to fascism add something


1936

Earl Russell Browder offered to run as Norman Thomas' running mate on a joint Socialist Party-Communist Party ticket in the 1936 presidential election but Thomas rejected this overture add something

 

The gesture did not mean that much in practical terms, since the CPUSA was, by 1936, effectively supporting Roosevelt in much of his trade union work add something

 

Therein, between August 1936 and mid-1938 the Soviet government indicted, tried, and shot virtually all of the remaining Old Bolsheviks add something


1938

Although membership in the CPUSA rose to about 75,000 by 1938, many members left the party after the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany on August 23, 1939 add something


1939

While General Secretary Browder at first attacked Germany for its September 1, 1939 invasion of western Poland, on September 11, the CPUSA received a blunt directive from Moscow denouncing the Polish government add something


1940

Congress passed the Smith Act, which made it illegal to advocate, abet, or teach the desirability of overthrowing the government, in 1940 add something

 

By April 1940, the CPUSA Daily Worker's line seemed not so much antiwar as simply pro-German add something

 

In August 1940, after NKVD agent Ramón Mercader killed Leon Trotsky with an ice axe, Browder perpetuated Moscow's fiction that the killer, who had been dating one of Trotsky's secretaries, was a disillusioned follower add something


1941

Ostensibly, this was not due to Lovestone's insubordination in challenging a decision by Stalin, but for his support for American Exceptionalism, the thesis that socialism could be achieved peacefully in the USA. Lovestone and Gitlow formed their own group called the "Communist Party ", a section of the pro-Bukharin International Communist Opposition, which was initially larger than the Trotskyists but failed to survive past 1941 add something

 

In allegiance to the Soviet Union, the party changed this policy again after Adolf Hitler broke the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact by attacking the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 add something


1943

Stalin publicly disbanded the Comintern in 1943 add something

 

A Moscow NKVD message to all stations on September 12, 1943 detailed instructions for handling intelligence sources within the CPUSA after the disestablishment of the Comintern add something


1944

In order better to integrate the communist movement into American life the party was officially dissolved in 1944 and replaced by a "Communist Political Association" add something


1945

As a result of this, in 1945 he was retired and replaced by William Z. Foster, who would remain the senior leader of the party until his own retirement in 1958 add something


1946

Communist Party of Burma - In February 1946 Thakin Soe denounced the leadership, accusing them of Browderism, the form of revisionism espoused by Earl Browder, leader of the American Communist Party, who proposed that armed struggle would no longer be necessary, as world fascism and imperialism had been weakened, making constitutional methods a real option to achieve national liberation


1947

More important for the party was the renewal of state persecution of the CPUSA. The Truman administration's loyalty oath program, introduced in 1947, drove some leftists out of federal employment and, more importantly, legitimized the notion of Communists as subversives, to be exposed and expelled from public and private employment add something


1948

Against the backdrop of these many setbacks, however, William Z Foster, who was once again in a leadership role after the ouster of Earl Browder, and who, due to his poor health, had not been brought to trial in 1948 along with a number of other members of the party's leadership, wrote his "History of the Communist Party of the United States" add something


1949

In 1949, the federal government put Eugene Dennis, William Z. Foster and ten other CPUSA leaders on trial for advocating the violent overthrow of the government add something

 

In 1949's Foley Square trial, the FBI prosecuted eleven members of the CPUSA's leadership, including Gus Hall and Eugene Dennis add something

 

The CIO formally expelled a number of left-led unions in 1949 after internal disputes triggered by the party's support for Henry Wallace's candidacy for President and its opposition to the Marshall Plan, while other labor leaders sympathetic to the CPUSA either were driven out of their unions or dropped their alliances with the party add something

 

The widespread fear of Communism became even more acute after the Soviets' detonation of an atomic bomb in 1949 and discovery of Soviet espionage add something


1950

One of America's most prominent sexual radicals, Harry Hay, developed his political views as an active member of the CPUSA, but his founding in the early 1950s of the Mattachine Society, America's second gay rights group, was not seen as something Communists should associate with organizationally add something

 

Senator McCarthy had kept up his attacks on the CPUSA during the 1950s despite being aware of its impotency add something

 

The government prosecutors, encouraged by their success, arrested and convicted over 100 additional Party officers in the early 1950s add something

 

William Sullivan, chief of intelligence operations for the FBI in the 1950s, has described Hoover's continued zeal in pursuing action against the CPUSA as "insincere", as he was fully aware of the Party's moribund condition add something


1952

Theodore Hall, a Harvard-trained physicist who did not join the CPUSA until 1952, began passing information on the atomic bomb to the Soviets soon after he was hired at Los Alamos at age 19 add something


1953

Korean War - The end of the Korean War in 1953 led to a lessening of anxieties about subversion add something


1954

Congress outlawed the CPUSA in the Communist Control Act of 1954 add something


1956

Cold War - As the decades progressed, the combined effects of the second Red Scare, McCarthyism, Nikita Khrushchev's 1956 Secret Speech denouncing the previous decades of Joseph Stalin's rule, and the adversities of the continued Cold War mentality, steadily weakened the Communist Party's internal structure and confidence add something


1957

By 1957, membership had dwindled to less than 10,000, of whom some 1,500 were informants for the Federal Bureau of Investigation add something


1959

From 1959 until 1989, when Gus Hall attacked the initiatives taken by Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union, the CPUSA received a substantial subsidy from the Soviet Union add something


1960

Vietnam War - The party attempted to recover with its opposition to the Vietnam War during the U.S. Civil rights movement in the 1960s, but the continued uncritical support of the CPUSA for an increasingly stultified and militaristic Soviet Union increasingly alienated them from the rest of the U.S. left, who saw this supportive position as outdated and even dangerous add something


1961

Many of these critics were elements on both U.S. coasts who would come together to form the Progressive Labor Movement in 1961 add something


1970

In the 1970s, the CPUSA managed to grow in membership to about 25,000 members, despite the exodus of numerous Anti-Revisionist and Maoist groups from its ranks add something

 

This substantial amount reflected the Party's loyalty to the Moscow line, in contrast to the Italian and later Spanish and British Communist parties, whose eurocommunism deviated from the orthodox line in the late 1970s add something


1986

" The two newspapers merged in 1986 into the People's Weekly World add something


1989

The cutoff of funds in 1989 resulted in a financial crisis, which forced the CPUSA to cut back publication in 1990 of the Party newspaper, the "People's Daily World", to weekly publication, the "People's Weekly World" add something


1991

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the party held its convention and attempted to resolve the issue of whether the Party should reject Marxism-Leninism add something


1998

It was instrumental in the founding of the Black Radical Congress in 1998 add something

 

The Communist Party was instrumental in the founding of the progressive Black Radical Congress in 1998 add something


2001

According to its 2001 Constitution, the party operates on the principle of democratic centralism, its highest authority being the quadrennial National Convention add something

 

Article VI, Section 3 of the 2001 Constitution lays out certain positions as non-negotiable: add something


2004

In 2004, the editors of "Political Affairs" published articles detailing their self-criticism of the Party's early views of gay and lesbian rights and praised Hay's work add something


2005

The CPUSA endorsed LGBT rights in a 2005 statement add something


2006

CPUSA affirmed the resolution with a statement a year later in honor of gay pride month in June, 2006 add something


2008

"Global Warming Report to March 2008 NC" add something


2014

In June 2014, the Party will be holding its 30th National Convention in Chicago add something