Norman Thomas

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Norman Thomas (1884-1968) was an American minister Socialist leader the Socialist Party of America's presidential candidate six times. He was born in Marion, Ohio, on November 20, 1884, as the son of a Presbyterian minister. In 1905, he graduated from Princeton University with a degree in political science. Sometime after his graduation, Thomas became a lifelong socialist. After studying at the Union Theological Seminary, he was ordained as a minister and became the pastor of East Harlem Presbyterian Church in New York City. He is known by some only for his remark:

The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.

In 1918 Thomas formed the magazine The World Tomorrow and in 1920 was one of the founders of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He unsuccessfully ran as the Socialist Party of America's candidate for governor of New York in 1924, and in 1928, 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944 and 1948 he was the Socialist Party of America's presidential candidate and rarely won 1% of the vote. In 1914 he joined the Intercollegiate Socialist Society,[1] and later became Chairman of the League for Industrial Democracy's executive committee.

In 1940, Thomas, along with Burton Wheeler, Charles Lindbergh, and Sen. Robert M. LaFollette, Jr. formed the America First Committee. The America First Committee grew to over 800,000 members in its first year. With the end of the Communazi period and Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union, Thomas said,

"Of course Socialist sympathy will always go with people attacked. But for Stalin we have no sympathy. His cruelty and duplicity have equaled Hitler's. We shall watch with interest to see how fast American Communists and the organs they control or influence will become propagandists for American entry into the war on the side of those 'great democracies'—Stalin's dictatorship and the British Empire."[2]

The America First Committee was disbanded after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

In the later years of his life, Thomas protested the Vietnam War and the Cold War. He died on December 19, 1968, at the age of eighty-four.

See also


  1. (2008) Norman Thomas: The Great Dissenter. Algora Publishing. 
  2. New York Times, June 24, 1941.