Communist Party of the United States of America

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The Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) was a Moscow-controlled far-left Marxist-Leninist party in the United States. It nominated a candidate for president from 1924 through 1984, sometimes with funding from the atheistic Communist Soviet Union. With the collapse of the Soviet Union it became a hollow shell and has urged voters to support the Democrat Party.[1]

The Soviet Union used the CPUSA to recruit spies after the U.S. recognized the USSR in 1933.

The CPUSA was under heavy attack by the U.S. government after 1947 and the start of the Cold War. After gaining control of many Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) locals and unions it was expelled from the CIO in 1948. After losing its main base it continued to operate some small unions, such as the fur workers. It supported and gained control of the presidential campaign of Henry A. Wallace in 1948. After 1948 it was a hunted target and played only a small role.

Membership in the CPUSA was a high maintenance commitment—the Party demanded full control of people's ideas, friendships, jobs and activities. There were repeated in-depth investigations, humiliating interrogations, forced confessions, and purges. Many sympathizers (or "fellow travelers") supported Communist goals but refused to become members. Of those who did join turnover in membership was very high, with most people staying less than a year before they quit in disgust with the intellectual and social regimentation of the party and its structure as a top-down dictatorship that took orders from Moscow. The CPUSA did not execute anyone, but many—probably most—of the American Communists who traveled to Russia were killed there.[2]

Early years

It was formed in 1919 as a splinter group of the left-wing of the Socialist Party over the issue of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. The left wing socialists supported Lenin and Trotsky, and broke off the SP to form two rival parties: the Communist Party of America and Communist Labor Party. Under pressure from the Communist International, these two communist parties officially merged in Chicago in 1919. From its inception, the Communist Party USA came under attack from the FBI and Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer for defying the Sedition Act of 1918. Consequently, the Communist Party USA went underground and went through name changes to evade the authorities.

During the early 1920s, the party apparatus was, to a great extent, underground. It reemerged in 1923 with a small legal above ground element, the Workers Party of America. As the Red Scare of 1919 and deportations of the early 1920s ebbed, the party became bolder and more open. When the FBI in August 1922 raided the third convention of the Communist Party USA meeting secretly near Bridgman, Michigan, they obtained biographical information about each of the delegates. They came largely from Eastern and Central Europe; all but two could speak English and most were Americanized. Most had previously belonged to the Socialist Party, or (less often) to the IWW. Most had been radicals prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917. Few held official trade union positions, very few worked in heavy industry, and a substantial number had been arrested at least once.[3]


An element of the party, however, remained permanently underground. It was through this underground party, often commanded by a Soviet official operating in the United States, that Soviet intelligence was able to co-opt CPUSA members.[4] The Comintern supplied the American Communist movement with the equivalent of several million dollars in valuables, an enormous sum in the 1920s.[5]

American Communists demonstrate in New York City's Union Square in 1929.

By 1930 the party had adopted the title Communist Party of the USA. In the 1930s the CPUSA recruited several hundred persons among millions of new employees hired by the federal government under the impact of the New Deal's rapid expansion of governmental programs. Open membership in the Communist Party brought discharge. The CPUSA evaded the law by organizing caucuses of government employees that met in secret. Joseph Peters, a senior member of the Central Committee of the CPUSA, headed the party's underground apparatus from 1932 to 1938 and pioneered its role as an auxiliary to Soviet intelligence activities. CPUSA operatives did not move in heavily until Roosevelt's second term and not en masse until the third term, although the entering wedge was made during his first term.

In 1932, Sergei Ivanovich Gussev, who had served as Comintern agent and Stalin's personal representative in the United States, "commanded the Communists in the United States to take up four tasks. Two of them were the defence of the Soviet Union and the furtherance of Red conquest of China." In 1933 the notorious Gerhart Eisler "was secretly sent into the United States by Moscow to make sure these orders were carried out." [6]


József Pogány.

The Hungarian József Pogány, nicknamed John Pepper, was sent to the United States as the representative of the Comintern during the 1920s, with full authority to control the Party. He quickly assimilated American political culture and played a central role before being called back to Moscow. Criticized by Stalin for his ideas about the future of the labor movement in the United States, Pogány was expelled from the Comintern in 1929 and disappeared in the Gulag.

From 1919 to the early 1930s Party head William Z. Foster was one of the most influential leftist labor and political leaders in the United States. After coordinating the great industrywide steel strike of 1919, he joined the Party and was its candidate for president in 1924, 1928, and 1932. Foster's recurrent physical and mental health problems curtailed his leadership, especially during the 1930s. He was loyal to Stalin who returned Foster to power in 1945. He retired in 1957 and Moscow replaced him with Gus Hall.

Earl Browder assumed party leadership after 1929 and actually dissolved the party in 1944, replacing it with the Communist Political Association. For this independent move he was in turn expelled and Stalin brought back Foster as head of the party. Foster published a highly revisionist "new history" of America, which was highly praised in Moscow, translated into many languages and made a handbook of anti-American propaganda all over the world. Of it Browder wrote, "This extraordinary book interpreted the history of America from its discovery to the present, as an orgy of 'bloody banditry' and imperialism, enriching itself by 'drinking the rich red blood' of other peoples." Foster was retired in 1958 and replaced by Gus Hall.

Gus Hall (1910-2000) was secretary general of the Party, 1959–2000. Hall was born to a family of Finnish immigrant workers in the mining camps of northern Minnesota. His parents were active participants in Finland's workers' socialist movement and the IWW. In 1927, Hall joined the Communist Party. By the early 1930s, he was involved in trade union activity, especially as an organizer in steel. In 1959 he became party leader and ran for president four times in 1972, 1976, 1980, and 1984, the last two times with Angela Davis.

Louis Budenz started as a Communist and ended as a leading anti-Communist, beginning with his involvement in the Toledo, Ohio, Electric Auto-Lite strike of 1934. Although the intensity of Budenz's later opposition to Communism during the McCarthy era made his former involvement in the CPUSA difficult to understand, his entry into the Party was the logical result of his involvement in the Auto-Lite strike. Intrigued by the idea of an "Americanized" socialism, Budenz's desire to assimilate leftism and nationalism spurred him to join the American Workers' Party (AWP) and, later, the Communist Party. Fervently patriotic, Budenz's interest in the CPUSA was based on the group's adoption of an approach that focused on the American experience. When the CPUSA realigned itself with Russia in 1945, Budenz left the organization. Following his departure, Budenz acted as an informant in the Red Scare, assisting the government in the condemnation of many of his former Communist sympathizers.[7]

Modern Times

The CPUSA has played a minor role in recent years, since it represented the "Old Left" and could not accept the anarchism of the young radicals of the "New Left." In the 2004 general election, the CPUSA endorsed Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry and in 2008 Barack Hussein Obama.[8][9][10]

Social Networking

The CPUSA uses the Internet in order to grow its ranks, with little success. In addition to a home page, they have created social networking to further its ideology. They utilize a account [11] as well as a account. CPUSA aligns itself with Young Communist League and they have a page on[12] Also traditional forms of print media, they publish the People's Weekly World newspaper.


From Gus Hall, former National Chair from 1910–2000,

"We Communists believe that socialism is the very best replacement for a capitalist system that has served its purpose, but no longer meets the needs and requirements of the great majority of our people."
Communist Party USA protest the World Trade meeting in Seattle, 1999


Coal miners in the United States and indeed in most countries were the most radical of all workers and their support was critical for Communism. The brief history of the National Miners Union (NMU) during 1928-31 sheds light on the role of the CPUSA in the Pennsylvania anthracite coal mining industry and on the polarized views of the CPUSA as either a functionary of Soviet and Communist International (Comintern) policy, or as a progressive response to regional and local interests. The NMU provided a militant alternative to the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and United Mine Workers of America (UMW), but failed to meet the CPUSA goal of defeating the AFL and UMW and taking control of the union movement. Although theoretically supporting revolutionary goals, NMU activists rejected them as impossible and impractical and focused on immediate issues such as working conditions, wages, benefits, and social reform. The NMU's failure to take control of strikes, the rise of labor violence, internal dissension, police harassment, press hostility, and nationwide anti-Communist attitudes contributed to the demise of the red union.[13]

The American Federation of Labor (AFL) demonstrated its respectability and Americanism by articulating a strong patriotism and fervent anti-Communism. From 1917 onward, the AFL used such groups as the American Alliance for Labor and Democracy and the National Civic Federation to circulate its views. Moreover, it cooperated covertly with the American Legion (a society for veterans of World War I) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, energetically investigating and purging itself of Communist labor activists. Beginning in 1935 the anti-Communist campaign of the AFL was stepped up in response to the Comintern's Popular Front strategy and the rivalry with the Congress of Industrial Organizations, which was heavily infiltrated by Communists. This use of anti-Communism moved the AFL to the right. Whereas during the 1920s it had presented itself as a bulwark against Bolshevism, during the Cold War after 1947 it characterized itself as a defense for free enterprise and strongly opposed the Soviet Union. After the CIO expelled its Communists in the late 1940s, the two union coalitions merged and redoubled their international activities to fight Communism.

The unionization of the Ford Motor Company's giant River Rouge complex inaugurated a brief era during which workers held much of the power to determine the pace and staffing of production. Their shop-floor power was sustained by a dense system of stewards and committeemen, the "abdication" of the foremen, who formed their own independent trade union, and by the growth of Communist Party influence in the new United Automobile Workers (UAW) Local 600. But in a protracted struggle after World War II, Ford management recaptured much of its lost authority. The company negotiated a more favorable UAW contract in 1946, smashed the foremen's union in 1947, and began a decentralization/automation program that shifted jobs and production away from the more militant units of the Rouge complex in the early 1950s. Corporate efforts to rewin control of the shop floor were aided by the UAW national leadership, which focused its energies on company-wide monetary and fringe benefit contract improvements, and by the eruption of Cold War political conflicts within Local 600, which discredited Communist-led militancy and facilitated the accommodation of the local to the UAW's more orthodox brand of unionism in the late 1950s.[14]

Secret apparatus

In the 1930s CPUSA membership became largely native-born, and more educated people joined, including many scientific and technically trained professionals. American Communists considered the capitalist corporations which employed them as "morally illegitimate" institutions. When Soviet intelligence officers approached and asked that the scientific secrets of these corporations be shared with the Soviet Union, few had moral objections.

Soviet intelligence agencies were able to use over 400 American citizens during the 1930s and up to 1946. The CPUSA was not just a recruiting ground for Soviet intelligence, it functioned within Soviet espionage as an auxiliary organization. Earl Browder, with the active assistance of a dozen high-level CPUSA officials, and numerous rank-and-file members, supervised CPUSA cooperation with the OGPU and GRU. Browder was given personal credit for recruitment of eighteen agents in a 1946 OGPU memo.

In the 1930s, the chief Soviet espionage organization operating in the U.S. became the GRU. Browder assisted the GRU in building a network of operatives and informants in Washington, including Alger Hiss, John Abt, Lee Pressman, Nathan Gregory Silvermaster and Harry Dexter White.

In the late 1930s Soviet agents sought to provide Moscow with a wide range of information on innovative weapons. After 1942 Soviet interest was focused on atomic energy and other scientific developments.

Popular Front

For a more detailed treatment, see Popular Front.

The CPUSA was adamantly opposed to fascism during the Popular Front period. In fact, the Popular Front was motivated by a fear of fascism, and the possible threat to the Soviet Union that Nazi Germany posed.

The CPUSA strongly supported the left-wing "Republican" side in the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s, and encouraged its young people to enlist in the "Abraham Lincoln Brigade" to go and fight there. About 800 did so.


The CPUSA drew a large fraction of its members from certain ethnic groups, such as Finns, Jews and Italians. Before World War I, Finnish immigrants in Michigan and Minnesota waged internal disputes as the Finnish Socialist Federation fought the Industrial Workers of the World for dominance. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Communist Party and the Communist Labor Party gained a strong following, and fought both the Socialists and the conservative Lutherans. Thousands of Finnish radicals voluntarily migrated to Soviet Russia. Stalin executed most of them in the 1930s. John Wiita (1888-1981), alias Henry Puro, fled from the U.S. to Canada to escape prosecution; in Canada he helped create the Workers' Party of Canada in 1921–22, which eventually became the Communist Party of Canada (CPC). Wiita was also editor of the Finnish socialist newspaper Vapaus (Liberty) from 1919–23. Wiita returned to the United States in 1923 and readopted his real name. He became a major figure in the Finnish-American Communist movement in the in the 1920s. In 1943, however, he left the Party after becoming disillusioned by the treatment of American Finns in Soviet Karelia, Stalin's purges, the Nazi-Soviet Pact, and the Soviet annexation of Karelia from Finland in the Winter War.[15]

Excerpt of letter from NAACP Chairman Roy Wilkins to William L. Patterson, Executive Director of the CPUSA front organization, Civil Rights Congress. The letter reads in part, "We remember that in the Scottsboro case, the NAACP was subject to the most unprincipled vilification. We remember the campaign of slander in the Daily Worker..." p.43


See also: Black History

In 1928 the 6th Congress of the Comintern in Moscow resolved that the black population of the American South was a subject nation, thus capable of engendering a "national revolutionary movement," and ordered the CPUSA to give high priority to mobilizing blacks. In Toward Soviet America William Z. Foster wrote, "the right of self-determination will apply to Negroes in the American Soviet system. In the so-called Black Belt of the South, where the Negroes are in the majority, they will have the fullest right to govern themselves."[16] The party made the 1931 Scottsboro lynching case its favorite publicity issue, making the maltreatment of African Americans a matter of international concern for the first time, and locked it into the American radical-liberal political agenda. The Communist front organization, the International Labor Defense (ILD), solicited and raised a considerable amount of money for the defense of the "Scottsboro Boys" but the full amount was not used for the Scottsboro defendants.[17] Several prominent African-American intellectuals and celebrities, such as Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright and Frank Marshall Davis became radicalized at this time as a result of the Scottsboro case, and the official Moscow directed position of the CPUSA to overthrow state and federal governments had an appeal because of maltreatment in the courts and the ever-present threat of lynching.

After 1930 the Party strongly supported creation of a Negro Soviet Socialist Republic, weeded out racism among its white members and tried to enlist a large black membership. It enlisted only a small black membership, which tried to take over the Civil Rights Movement. Only one major figure in the Civil Rights Movement was a Communist, Stanley Levison (1912-1979), who was a top advisor to Martin Luther King.[18]

Clockwise from bottom left, at a 1966 S.C.L.C. meeting in Atlanta: Stanley Levison, Jones, Cleveland Robinson, James Bevel, King, and Andrew Young (back to camera).

Benjamin J. Davis, Jr. (1903–64) came from a middle class Georgia family and was a black graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Law School. As a lawyer in Atlanta Davis was radicalized when he represented Angelo Herndon in the 1930s during Georgia's prosecution of Herndon. Davis joined the American Communist Party and became an organizer rather than an intellectual revolutionary. Moving to New York City, Davis served as editor of the party newspaper the Daily Worker during 1936–43, and was elected to the New York City Council in 1943 and reelected in 1945. During World War II, Davis followed the party line of defeating fascism before attacking domestic discrimination. On the New York City Council, he found it difficult to reconcile his party membership with elective office. He gained political strength as a Democrat, but his Communist connections brought increasing unpopularity. Convicted of violating the Smith Act, he served three years in prison. Davis remained active in Communist affairs until his death in 1964, balancing party allegiance and political activism.


The Party had a small but influential following among intellectuals and artists, especially in New York City in the 1930s and early 1940s. In 1935 the Party leaders created the "League of American Writers," downplaying the Party connection and overtly Marxist dogmas in an attempt to attract liberal, middle-class writers of established stature; after several years as a prestigious and broadly based organization, however, the league broke into hostile factions of progressives and Communists over such international issues as the Moscow show trials and the Hitler-Stalin Pact.

A bitter the conflict broke out between anti-Soviet liberals and anti-Stalinist Marxists on one side, and pro-Soviet "progressives," a group that sympathized with the CPUSA in the People's Front during 1935–39. The anti-Soviet faction, led in part by philosopher John Dewey, had a solid grasp of Stalinism allowing the liberals, the anti-Stalinist Marxists, and the ex-Marxists like James Burnham and John Dos Passos to join forces. The disillusionment of American independent Marxists with the Stalinist USSR grew rapidly after 1938. They decided the party line of the CPUSA was lacking in "scientific morality," and became embittered by Stalin's purge trials. By 1940, they no longer distinguished between Stalin and Marxist Russia, but considered Marxism there a failed experiment. The anti-Stalinist views of such critics as Sidney Hook, Max Eastman, Whittaker Chambers and James Burnham grew into a rationale for Cold War anti-Communism by the 1950s.[19]

Most of the intellectual broke with the Party—usually in 1939 when Stalin made an alliance with Hitler. The writers often wrote memoirs, including Howard Fast's The Naked God (1957), Richard Wright's American Hunger (1977), Elizabeth Bentley's Out of Bondage (1952), and—by far the most influential—Whittaker Chambers's Witness (1952). Typically the memoirs show a common pattern of chronicling their authors' conversion to, disillusionment with, and repudiation of Communism, often followed by an overt effort to fight against the Communist movement. These memoirs also discuss the religious aspects of both joining and leaving the Communist Party, and their authors' subsequent roles as expert witnesses against Communism in court cases. Howard Fast's later memoir, Being Red (1990), differs from his earlier ones in that it builds upon the standard narratives common to ex-Communist memoirs to explore a larger view of the native tradition of American radicalism and its meaning for the author.


John Howard Lawson (1894-1977) was a Hollywood screenwriter who helped found the Screen Writers Guild in 1933 and after 1934 was the leader of the Hollywood branch of the Communist Party. One of the first serious New York playwrights lured to Hollywood, Lawson was already committed to radical causes and revolutionary politics before he came to Hollywood, and leftism pervades his shows.[20]

See Hollywood values

Rural Reds

Marxism rarely flourished in rural America, but it did have a base in Sheridan County, northeastern Montana, from 1918 to 1934. Communism "saturated local political, social, and cultural life," created a chasm between "the Reds" and non-Reds, or "main streeters," and contributed to tension in the community. The Communist Party drew its greatest following from the farming and mining areas of the county, in particular those areas settled heavily by Danes and Norwegians. Rural cooperatives were the focus of Marxist activity and supported a vibrant counterculture of "farmer-based radicalism." Communists played on anticapitalistic sentiments, doing so effectively even in churches. Main streeters correctly associated Communism with criminality, a connection that clearly impeded the spread of Communism in the county.[21]

Supporting Hitler

Although membership in the CPUSA rose to about 75,000 [1] by 1938, nearly a third of its members left the party after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact Nonaggression Pact of 1939 with Hitler. A committed core remained in the ranks.

In 1939-41 the CPUSA attacked enemies of Hitler, even accusing Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt of provoking aggression against Hitler. The CPUSA went so far as to denounce the Polish government as "fascist" after the German and Soviet invasion.

Benjamin Gitlow, a Communist who later broke with the Party, wrote in 1940: "Stalin's hopes, through the activities of the American Communist Party, to create a public opinion in tbe United States that would favor a war ...Stalin is perfectly willing to let Americans die in defense of the Soviet Union even if they are not members of the Communist Party...." [22]

World War II

Communist unionism during the war was best exemplified by the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU). Its leadership was one of the most consistent proponents of Communist Party labor policies in the CIO and the rank-and-file consisted of a large number of Communists, Communist sympathizers and fellow travelers. While neither a puppet of Soviet foreign policy nor a carbon copy of CIO unionism, Communism in the ILWU was different from other forms of American unionism, even when similar policies were pursued, and Communist union activities were motivated by political considerations, even when these activities appeared to be regular union practices.[23]

American Labor Party

Stalin publicly disbanded the Comintern in 1943. 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. Earl Browder had been both Chairman of the CPUSA and recruiter for the NKVD (in the Venona project he is known as Agent "HELMSMAN"). He was expelled from the leadership when Soviet policy shifted. His crime had been to follow Moscow's orders in 1941 and "disband" the party in a show of unity with the US Government. But the NKGB thought his services worth keeping, and they succeeded in covertly financing him, by setting him up as a representative of Soviet publishers. Even then, that didn't work, as Browder was dropped after violating the Party Line again in favor of Titoism. Lovestone said of Browder, "There, but for an accident of geography, walks a dead man".

As the Presidential election of 1944 approached Browder and Sidney Hillman teamed up to capture the American Labor Party. Hilman's CIO enjoyed a favored position before the National Labor Relations Board.

Cold War

President Truman's Executive Order 9835 of 22 March 1947 tightened protections against subversive infiltration of the US Government, defining disloyalty as membership on a list of subversive organizations maintained by the Attorney General.

Truman's denunciations of the charges against Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White, and others, all of whom appear under code names in decrypted messages translated before Truman left office, suggest that Truman was never briefed on the Venona program, or if he was briefed, did not grasp its significance. Truman insisted Republicans trumped up the loyalty issue, and that wartime espionage had been insignificant and well contained by counteritelligence agencies.

It was the belief of opponents of the CPUSA such as J. Edgar Hoover, long-time director of the FBI, and Joseph McCarthy and other anti-Communists that the CPUSA constituted an active conspiracy, was secretive, loyal to a foreign power, and dedicated to the clandestine infiltration of American cultural and political institutions.[24]

Purged from Unions

Michael Quill.

In an incident that typifies the combination of local and national pressures that drove the CIO to expel Communists from union leadership between 1946 and 1950, Michael Quill, the international president of the Transport Workers Union (TWU), led an effort between 1948 and 1949 to drive Communists from Miami's TWU Local 500, Florida's largest CIO affiliate. Accused by the Miami Daily News of conspiring with Latin American Communists and threatened with a House Un-American Activities Committee investigation, Local 500 became vulnerable to a takeover by the anti-Communist leadership of Walter Reuther's anti-Communist United Auto Workers. Faced with pressure from both the national CIO leadership and rank-and-file members, Quill first severed his own affiliations with the Communist Party and then removed Communist Party member Charles Smolikoff and his allies from Local 500 leadership positions. Quill's expulsion of Smolikoff exemplifies the bargain the CIO made with America in the late 1940s and early 1950s in which the CIO protected itself from anti-Communist hysteria but lost the militancy and progressive political visions of committed Stalinists.[25]

Subversive Activities Control Act

In the "Findings and declarations of fact" of the United States Congress in the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950, in 50 U.S. Code Chapter 23 Subchapter IV Sec. 841, that,

"The Congress finds and declares that the Communist Party of the United States, although purportedly a political party, is in fact an instrumentality of a conspiracy to overthrow the Government of the United States...the policies and programs of the Communist Party are secretly prescribed for it by the foreign leaders...members of the Communist Party are recruited for indoctrination with respect to its objectives and methods, and are organized, instructed, and disciplined to carry into action slavishly the assignments given them....Its role as the agency of a hostile foreign power renders its existence a clear present and continuing danger to the security of the United States. It is the means whereby individuals are seduced into the service of the world Communist movement, trained to do its bidding, and directed and controlled in the conspiratorial performance of their revolutionary services.[26]


Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev made a stunning secret speech in Moscow in 1956 that exposed Joseph Stalin's crimes and errors while putting forth a revised version of Leninism that emphasized the idea of "peaceful coexistence" between the United States and the Soviet Union. Copies soon reached the CPUSA and created deep divisions. The Party was already in crisis because of McCarthyism. The CPUSA's National Executive Committee (NEC) convened to discuss Khrushchev's remarks, giving only secondary attention to Stalin's crimes and full attention to Khrushchev's comments about peaceful coexistence and the role of insurrection in the transition to socialism in countries with powerful capitalist classes. In the end, Khrushchev's report led to demoralization within the CPUSA, emboldened the Right's rejection of Marxism, and damaged the credibility of Leftism.[27]

Further reading

  • Alexander, Robert J. The Right Opposition: The Lovestoneites and the International Communist Opposition of the 1930s. (1981). 342 pp.
  • Avakumovic, Ivan. The Communist Party in Canada: A History. (1975). 309 pp.
  • Barrett, James R. William Z. Foster and the Tragedy of American Radicalism. (2000). 352 pp.
  • Belknap, Michal R. Cold War Political Justice: The Smith Act, the Communist Party, and American Civil Liberties. (1977). 322 pp. online edition
  • Cherny, Robert W. "Prelude to the Popular Front: The Communist Party in California, 1931-35." American Communist History 2002 1(1): 5-42 online at EBSCO
  • Cochran, Bert. Labor and Communism: The Conflict That Shaped American Unions. (1977). 394 pp.
  • Dyson, Lowell K. Red Harvest: The Communist Party and American Farmers. (1982). 259 pp.
  • Isserman, Maurice. Which Side Were You On? The American Communist Party during the Second World War. (1982). 305 pp.
  • Isserman, Maurice. "Three Generations: Historians View American Communism." Labor History 1985 26(4): 517–545. 0023-656x
  • Keeran, Roger. The Communist Party and the Auto Workers Unions. (1980). 340 pp.
  • Klehr, Harvey; Haynes, John Earl; and Anderson, Kyrill M. The Soviet World of American Communism. (Yale U. Press, 1995). 378 pp., by leading conservative historians
  • Klehr, Harvey. The Heyday of American Communism: The Depression Decade. (1984). 511 pp. by a leading conservative historian; argues that the CPUSA of the 1930s blindly followed directives from Moscow with little individual initiative.
  • Klehr, Harvey E. Communist Cadre: The Social Background of the American Communist Party Elite. (1978). 141 pp. by a leading conservative historian
  • Kraditor, Aileen S. "Jimmy Higgins": The Mental World of the American Rank-and-File Communist, 1930-1958. (1988). 283 pp. by a leading conservative historian
  • Kutulas, Judy. The Long War: The Intellectual People's Front and Anti-Stalinism, 1930-1940. (1995). 334 pp. online edition
  • Levenstein, Harvey A. Communism, Anticommunism, and the CIO. (1981). 364 pp.
  • Lyons, Paul. Philadelphia Communists, 1936-1956. (1982). 244 pp.
  • Johnson, Manning, Color, Communism and Common Sense (1958), The Allience, 1958.
  • Naison, Mark. Communists in Harlem during the Depression. (1983). 355 pp.
  • Nelson, Bruce. Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. (1988). 352 pp. Communists made a major effort to infiltrate these unions
  • Ottanelli, Fraser M. The Communist Party of the United States: From the Depression to World War II. (1991). 307 pp., a standard scholarly history
  • Pedersen, Vernon L. The Communist Party in Maryland, 1919-57. (2001). 254 pp.
  • Ryan, James G. Earl Browder: The Failure of American Communism. (1997). 332 pp. online edition
  • Schwartz, Lawrence H. Marxism and Culture: The CPUSA and Aesthetics in the 1930s. (1980). 151 pp.
  • Solomon, Mark. The Cry Was Unity: Communists and African Americans, 1917-36. (1998). 403 pp. online edition
  • Starobin, Joseph R. American Communism in Crisis, 1943-1957. (1972). 331 pp.
  • Steinberg, Peter L. The Great "Red Menace": United States Prosecution of American Communists, 1947-1952. (1984). 311 pp. online edition
  • Stepan-Norris, Judith, and Maurice Zeitlin. Left out: Reds and America's Industrial Unions (2003) online edition
  • Weinstein, Allen. Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case. (1978). 675 pp. by a leading conservative historian

Scholarly journal

  • American Communist History a peer-reviewed scholarly journal published by the Historians of American Communism. [2]

Primary sources

  • Johnpoll, Bernard K., ed. A Documentary History of the Communist Party of the United States. (8 vol. 1994). 6784 pp.

See also

External links


  2. The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia, Timotheo Tzouliadis, Penguin Press, August 2008. Review by Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs, November/December 2008.
  3. Harvey Klehr, "The Bridgman Delegates," Survey1976 22(2): 87-95. 0039-6192
  4. "The COMINTERN (Communist International) was a Soviet-controlled organization that conducted liaison with the national Communist parties of various countries, including the United States. Moscow issued guidance, support, and orders to the parties through the COMINTERN.
  5. Moynihan Commission on Government Secrecy Report, Appendix A, 4. The Encounter with Communism (1997).
  6. Louis F. Budenz, The Techniques of Communism, (1954), pp. 162-163.
  7. Roger Chapman, "Louis Francis Budenz's Journey from the Electric Auto-Lite Strike to the Communist Party and Beyond," Northwest Ohio Quarterly 2001 73(3-4): 118-141. 0029-3407
  8. Editorial: Eye on the Prize CPUSA, July 15, 2008
  9. Communist Party official shares White House's ambitious agenda WorldnetDaily, May 24, 2009
  10. Communist Party USA PAC Chair endorses Obama, October 12, 2008
  11. Communist Party USA FaceBook
  12. Official Myspace Page of the Young Communist League, USA MySpace
  13. Walter T. Howard, "The National Miners Union: Communists and Miners in the Pennsylvania Anthracite, 1928-1931." Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 2001 125(1-2): 91-124. 0031-4587
  14. See William Andrew, "Factionalism and Anti-Communism: Ford Local 600." Labor History 20 (1979): 227-55; Nelson Lichtenstein, "Auto Worker Militancy and the Structure of Factory Life, 1937-1955." Journal ofAmerican History 67 (September 1980): 335-53 in JSTOR
  15. J. Donald Wilson, "The Canadian Sojourn of a Finnish-American Radical," Canadian Ethnic Studies 1984 16(2): 102-115.
  16. Toward Soviet America, William Z. Foster, Coward-McCann, New York, 1932, p. 304.
  17. Who Was Frank Marshall Davis?, by Herbert Romerstein, USASurvival, p. 8.
  18. See "Levison, Stanley (1912-1979)" in King Encyclopedia online
  19. See Judy Kutulas, The Long War: The Intellectual People's Front and Anti-Stalinism (1995)
  20. Jonathan Chambers, “How Hollywood Led John Howard Lawson to Embrace Communism and how he Turned Hollywood Red.” ‘’Theatre History Studies’’ 1997 17: 15-32. 0733-2033
  21. Gerald Zahavi, "'Who's Going To Dance With Somebody Who Calls You A Mainstreeter': Communism, Culture, and Community in Sheridan County, Montana, 1918-1934." Great Plains Quarterly 1996 16(4): 251-286. 0275-7664
  22. Benjamin Gitlow, I Confess, New York: E P. Dutton, lnc., 1940, pgs. 485-486.
  23. Michael Torigian, "National Unity on the Waterfront: Communist Politics and the ILWU during the Second World War." Labor History 1989 30(3): 409-432. 0023-656x
  24. This is the "traditionalist" view of conservative scholars such as Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Chairman of the Moynihan Commission on Government Secrecy wrote in 1997, "President Truman was almost willfully obtuse as regards American Communism."
  25. Alex Lichtenstein, "Putting Labor's House in Order: The Transport Workers Union and Labor Anti-Communism in Miami during the 1940s". Labor History 1998 39(1): 7-23. 0023-656x
  26. Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950, 50 U.S. Code Chapter 23 Subchapter IV Sec. 841
  27. Harris, Jerry. First Reaction: U.S. Communist Leaders Confront The Khrushchev Revelations. Science & Society 1997-98 61(4): 502-512. 0036-8237