Congress passes Communist Control Act

Congress passes Communist Control Act



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Congress passes the Communist Control Act in response to the growing anticommunist hysteria in the United States. Though full of ominous language, many found the purpose of the act unclear.

In 1954, the Red Scare still raged in the United States. Although Senator Joseph McCarthy, the most famous of the “red hunters” in America, had been disgraced earlier in the summer of 1954 when he tried to prove that communists were in the U.S. Army, most Americans still believed that communists were at work in their country. Responding to this fear, Congress passed the Communist Control Act in August 1954. The act declared that, “The Communist Party of the United States, though purportedly a political party, is in fact an instrumentality of a conspiracy to overthrow the Government of the United States.” The act went on to charge that the party’s “role as the agency of a hostile foreign power renders its existence a clear and continuing danger to the security of the United States.” The conclusion seemed inescapable: “The Communist Party should be outlawed.” Indeed, that is what many people at the time believed the Communist Control Act accomplished.

READ MORE: How Eisenhower Secretly Pushed Back Against McCarthyism

A careful reading of the act, however, indicates that the reality was a bit fuzzier. In 1950, Congress passed the Internal Security Act. In many respects, it was merely a version of the Communist Control Act passed four years later. It used the same language to condemn communism and the Communist Party of the United States, and established penalties for anyone belonging to a group calling for the violent overthrow of the American government. However, it very specifically noted that mere membership in the Communist Party, or affiliated organizations, was not in and of itself sufficient cause for arrest or penalty. The 1954 act went one step further by removing the “rights, privileges, and immunities attendant upon legal bodies created under the jurisdiction of the laws of the United States” from the Communist Party. The Communist Control Act made it clear that “nothing in this section shall be construed as amending the Internal Security Act of 1950.” Thus, while the Communist Control Act may have declared that the Communist Party should be outlawed, the act itself did not take this decisive step.

In the years to come, the Communist Party of the United States continued to exist, although the U.S. government used legislation such as the Communist Control Act to harass Communist Party members. More ominously, the government also used such acts to investigate and harass numerous other organizations that were deemed to have communist “leanings.” These included the American Civil Liberties Union, labor unions, and the NAACP. By the mid-to-late 1960s, however, the Red Scare had run its course and a more liberal Supreme Court began to chip away at the immense tangle of anticommunist legislation that had been passed during the 1940s and 1950s. Today, the Communist Party of the United States continues to exist and regularly runs candidates for local, state and national elections.


McCarran Internal Security Act

The Internal Security Act of 1950, 64 Stat. 987 (Public Law 81-831), also known as the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950, the McCarran Act after its principal sponsor Sen. Pat McCarran (D-Nevada), or the Concentration Camp Law, [2] is a United States federal law. Congress enacted it over President Harry Truman's veto. It required Communist organizations to register with the federal government. The emergency detention provision was repealed when the Non-Detention Act of 1971 was signed into law by President Richard Nixon.

  • Introduced in the Senateas S. 4037 byPat McCarran (D-NV) on August 10, 1950 [1]
  • Committee consideration by Judiciary Committee
  • Passed the Senate on September 12, 1950 (70–7)
  • Passed the House on August 29, 1950 (354–20)
  • Reported by the joint conference committee on September 20, 1950 agreed to by the House on September 20, 1950 (313–20) and by the Senate on September 20, 1950 (51–7)
  • Vetoed by PresidentHarry Trumanon September 22, 1950
  • Overridden by the House on September 22, 1950 (286–48)
  • Overridden by the Senate and became law on September 22, 1950 (57–10)

HISTORY OF DRUG REGULATION

Congress has been regulating the importation and manufacture of drugs since the early 1900s. Criminal penalties for unauthorized possession of drugs began with the Narcotics Act of 1914 (the Harrison Act). In 1951 the Boggs Amendment instituted mandatory minimum sentences and eliminated parole or probation after the first offense. The Narcotic Control Act of 1956, known as the Daniel Act, increased the minimums.

The increase in drug use during the 1960s resulted in numerous long sentences and led the federal government to reexamine its punitive approach. In 1965 Congress enacted the Drug Abuse Control Amendments (DACA). DACA established a Bureau of Drug Abuse Control (BDAC) within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW, later Health and Human Services). The law created misdemeanor penalties (that is, generally speaking, a penalty not more than one year in prison and/or fine) for illegal manufacture and sale of certain depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, and other drugs that had not been covered under the Harrison Act and its amendments. The HEW thus gained responsibility for curbing the abuse of the newly prohibited "psychedelic" drug called LSD. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN, an agency of the Department of the Treasury) retained authority over many other drugs, including heroin, cocaine, and marijuana.

Many applauded the emergence of a multifaceted approach to the drug problem. But those who were committed to the criminal justice model of drug enforcement (generally, favoring the benefits to society of strict punishment over the benefits to the criminal of efforts at rehabilitation) were not satisfied. In February 1968 President Lyndon Johnson called the laws "a crazy quilt of inconsistent approaches and widely disparate criminal sanctions." He asked Congress to pass tougher laws and to create a powerful organization to enforce them. On April 8, 1968, Congress abolished the FBN and the BDAC and created a new Justice Department agency, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD). Even after the creation of the BNDD, however, there remained other federal agencies involved somewhat in drug regulation.

President Richard Nixon proposed that Congress reduce the confusion over policy and the duplication of effort by federal agencies by combining disparate regulations into a single statute. Congress complied by enacting the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. Nixon signed the bill on October 27, 1970, and it became effective on May 1, 1971. The legislation sought a balanced approach to the nation's drug problem. For example, Title I of the Comprehensive Act dealt with education, treatment, and rehabilitation.


Smith Act challenged

Federal statutes relating to so-called subversive activities resulted in challenges that reached the Supreme Court.

In Dennis v. United States (1951), the Court upheld the section of the Smith Act of 1940 that made it unlawful to advocate or teach the overthrow of government by force or violence or to organize or help to organize a group of persons teaching or advocating such overthrow. The Court stated, &ldquoOverthrow of the Government by force and violence is certainly a substantial enough interest for the Government to limit speech.&rdquo

In Yates v. United States (1957), the Court interpreted the language of the Smith Act as making it criminal to incite to action for the forcible overthrow of government, but not to teach the abstract doctrine of such forcible overthrow. In doing so, it stated that the &ldquoessential distinction is that those to whom the advocacy is addressed must be urged to do something, now or in the future, rather than merely to believe in something.&rdquo

Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin and other U.S. senators led vigorous congressional investigations into communist activities during the cold war that often subjected communists, or alleged communists, to public ridicule and inclusion on blacklists. In this photo, John Howard Lawson, screenwriter presses his face close to the microphone as he lashes out at the House Un-American Activities Committee in Washington, Oct. 27, 1947, during a tumultuous exchange which ended in his citation for contempt of Congress. He refused to answer questions as to whether he was or had ever been a member of the Communist party. (AP Photo/Beano Rollins, used with permission from the Associated Press)

Scales v. United States (1961), involved a challenge to the membership clause of the Smith Act, which made it a felony to acquire or hold knowing membership in any organization advocating the overthrow of the government by force or violence. The Court upheld the membership clause but interpreted it as requiring that active membership and specific intent were required and also noted that a &ldquoblanket prohibition of association with a group having both legal and illegal aims&rdquo would pose &ldquoa real danger that legitimate political expression or association would be impaired.&rdquo


Communist Control Act of 1954

The Communist Control Act of 1954 (68 Stat. 775, 50 U.S.C. 841-844) is a piece of United States federal legislation , signed into law by Dwight Eisenhower on 24 August 1954, which outlawed the Communist Party of the United States and criminalized membership in, or support for the Party or "Communist-action" organizations and defined evidence to be considered by a jury in determining participation in the activities, planning, actions, objectives, or purposes of such organizations.

In 1954, the Red Scare still raged in the United States. Although Senator Joseph McCarthy, the most famous of the "red hunters" in America, had been disgraced earlier in the summer of 1954 when he tried to prove that communists were in the U.S. Army, most Americans still believed that communists were at work in their country. Responding to this fear, Congress passed the Communist Control Act in August 1954. The act declared that, "The Communist Party of the United States, though purportedly a political party, is in fact an instrumentality of a conspiracy to overthrow the Government of the United States." The act went on to charge that the party's "role as the agency of a hostile foreign power renders its existence a clear and continuing danger to the security of the United States." The conclusion seemed inescapable: "The Communist Party should be outlawed." Indeed, that is what many people at the time believed the Communist Control Act accomplished.

A careful reading of the act, however, indicates that the reality was a bit fuzzier. In 1950, Congress passed the Internal Security Act. In many respects, it was merely a version of the Communist Control Act passed four years later. It used the same language to condemn communism and the Communist Party of the United States, and established penalties for anyone belonging to a group calling for the violent overthrow of the American government. However, it very specifically noted that mere membership in the Communist Party, or affiliated organizations, was not in and of itself sufficient cause for arrest or penalty. The 1954 act went one step further by removing the "rights, privileges, and immunities attendant upon legal bodies created under the jurisdiction of the laws of the United States" from the Communist Party. The Communist Control Act made it clear that "nothing in this section shall be construed as amending the Internal Security Act of 1950." Thus, while the Communist Control Act may have declared that the Communist Party should be outlawed, the act itself did not take this decisive step.


Congress passes Communist Control Act - Aug 24, 1954 - HISTORY.com

TSgt Joe C.

Congress passes the Communist Control Act in response to the growing anticommunist hysteria in the United States. Though full of ominous language, many found the purpose of the act unclear.

In 1954, the Red Scare still raged in the United States. Although Senator Joseph McCarthy, the most famous of the “red hunters” in America, had been disgraced earlier in the summer of 1954 when he tried to prove that communists were in the U.S. Army, most Americans still believed that communists were at work in their country. Responding to this fear, Congress passed the Communist Control Act in August 1954. The act declared that, “The Communist Party of the United States, though purportedly a political party, is in fact an instrumentality of a conspiracy to overthrow the Government of the United States.” The act went on to charge that the party’s “role as the agency of a hostile foreign power renders its existence a clear and continuing danger to the security of the United States.” The conclusion seemed inescapable: “The Communist Party should be outlawed.” Indeed, that is what many people at the time believed the Communist Control Act accomplished.

A careful reading of the act, however, indicates that the reality was a bit fuzzier. In 1950, Congress passed the Internal Security Act. In many respects, it was merely a version of the Communist Control Act passed four years later. It used the same language to condemn communism and the Communist Party of the United States, and established penalties for anyone belonging to a group calling for the violent overthrow of the American government. However, it very specifically noted that mere membership in the Communist Party, or affiliated organizations, was not in and of itself sufficient cause for arrest or penalty. The 1954 act went one step further by removing the “rights, privileges, and immunities attendant upon legal bodies created under the jurisdiction of the laws of the United States” from the Communist Party. The Communist Control Act made it clear that “nothing in this section shall be construed as amending the Internal Security Act of 1950.” Thus, while the Communist Control Act may have declared that the Communist Party should be outlawed, the act itself did not take this decisive step.


America's 'Official Secrets Act' — the long, sad history of the 100 year-old Espionage Act

It was April 1917, and Senator Charles Thomas of Colorado had serious concerns about the bill before the U.S. Senate. Following extensive debate and a few modifications, though, the bill passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

One hundred years ago today, on June 15, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill into law. Officially titled "An act to punish acts of interference with the foreign relations, the neutrality and the foreign commerce of the United States, to punish espionage, and better to enforce the criminal laws of the United States, and for other purposes," the law is more commonly known as the Espionage Act of 1917.

Senator Thomas’ warning about the Espionage Act would prove prescient in the century after it became law, as its vague language about foreign espionage was re-interpreted as a broad prohibition against the activities of anti-war activists, whistleblowers and journalists.

The Espionage Act was originally one of a series of bills that Congress passed in 1917 as the nation prepared to enter World War I, including bills establishing a draft and regulating the domestic economy. The law was ostensibly an attempt to stiffen penalties against espionage activities, including the collection and communication of sensitive national security information, that would benefit Germany and other nations waging war against the U.S.

I very much fear that with the best of intention we may place upon the statute books something that will rise to plague us in the immediate future

In the century since the act went into effect, it’s been used against much more than just foreign spies. Socialists, anti-war activists, whistleblowers and journalists have all found themselves targets of the Espionage Act. The law — which remains on the books to this day, as Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 37 of the U.S. Code — has grown into an American version of the U.K.’s “Official Secrets Act,” which outlaws the disclosure of any “information, documents or other articles relating to security or intelligence.”

How did the Espionage Act, originally intended to prevent German espionage during WWI, grow into a broad anti-disclosure law? It’s mostly thanks to a few amendments and a lot of creative re-interpretation by federal prosecutors and judges.

From the very start, the Espionage Act had a First Amendment problem.

Members of Congress, even in 1917, knew such a law could have serious implications for the freedom of the press, and many were divided on whether the government had the authority to restrict the press from publishing certain information—even during wartime.

An early draft of the Espionage Act included a section, at President Wilson’s behest, that would have given the president the power to issue regulations about what the press was and was not allowed to report. That provision aroused great debate in the Senate.

Senator Thomas of Colorado offered a strong defense of press freedom.

“Of all times in time of war the press should be free,” he said. “That of all occasions in human affairs calls for a press vigilant and bold, independent and uncensored. Better to lose a battle than to lose the vast advantage of a free press.”

“I am a thorough believer in the freedom of the press,” he said later during the debate. “I know that freedom has been abused. It must be abused in countries like this.”

Senator Knute Nelson of Minnesota, a Civil War veteran, took a different view of the press, recalling how newspapers had published daily troop movements during the Civil War.

“I remember well how the movements of our Army were constantly hampered because of the daily publicity that was given to all our movements and all our preparations by the press of the country,” he said. “They had reporters from most of the leading papers of the country with every army in the field and they would report every movement.”

He also compared journalists to mustard gas.

“[The war] has compelled the soldiers of the allies to protect themselves with masks against poisonous gases,” he said. “I think we owe it as a duty to protect our own men, our soldiers and sailors, in like manner against the gases of these newsmongers, these publishers here. We had better pass legislation that will operate like the gas masks in Europe to protect our soldiers and sailors against the insidious attacks of these men.”

Other senators tried to figure out where exactly the line could be drawn and how to ensure that the final version of the bill was narrow enough to criminalize spying without criminalizing journalism. This involved a lot of hypotheticals.

“Suppose a newspaper correspondent were to go into the office of the Secretary of War and talk to him about the number of troops that were in a certain division or under a certain command, or about the movement of those troops, whether that information is ever used or not, whether it is ever published or not, under the terms of this provision that in and of itself makes him guilty of a violation of the statute,” Senator James Watson of Indiana said.

“There ought not to be, it seems to me, a crime made of something collected in good faith, or some information solicited for a lawful purpose about our own country and our own conditions simply because it might be made useful to the enemy if somebody conveyed it to them,” Senator Thomas Sterling of South Dakota said.

“If a man publishes in a paper plans of our military authorities which do become of use to the enemy, although the publisher did not intend that they should, is it within the power of Congress to pass any law to punish him for publishing such things, although he did not intend to furnish aid and comfort to the enemy?” Senator Frank Brandegee of Connecticut asked.

There were endless discussions about whether the proposed statute should include words like “intent” and whether to replace the phrase “might be useful to the enemy” with “calculated to be useful to the enemy.” There was also a debate over whether Congress was restrained by the First Amendment during wartime. Senator Thomas Walsh of Montana argued that Congress’ authority to wage war included the ability to pass legislation that curtailed First Amendment rights.

“Seeing that it is a war measure, applicable only in time of war, the committee believed that we could afford to subject the innocent citizen to whatever discomfort might come to him by reason of this act, rather than to allow promiscuous publications to be made that might be invaluable to the enemy,” he said.

But Senator Thomas of Colorado warned that the law, though passed during wartime, could quickly outgrow its original purpose.

“Yet we are going ahead with this as a war measure, although when enacted it will be permanent in its operation,” he said.

In the end, the provision allowing the president to exercise overt censorship over the press was removed before the law was passed. The final version of the bill included prohibitions on the collection, retention, communication and publication of “information respecting the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation.”

Congress likely thought that it had passed a relatively narrow law targeting foreign spies, without any provisions regarding censorship of the press.

A 1973 Columbia Law Review article summed up the legislative history of the Espionage Act: “It was enacted after a series of legislative debates, amendments and conferences that may fairly be read as excluding criminal sanctions for well-meaning publication of information no matter what damage to the national security might ensue and regardless of whether the publisher knew its publication would be damaging.”

If a man publishes in a paper plans of our military authorities which do become of use to the enemy, is it within the power of Congress to pass any law to punish him for publishing such things, although he did not intend to furnish aid and comfort to the enemy?

Unfortunately, the sections of the law pertaining to foreign espionage were worded so vaguely that federal prosecutors and courts began in the latter half of the 20th century to use the law against both journalists and their sources.

The first victims of the Espionage Act, however, were members of the Socialist Party, thanks to a package of amendments passed in 1918 known as the “Sedition Act.” These amendments outlawed “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” that aimed to “incite, provoke or encourage resistance to the United States, or to promote the cause of its enemies.” It was mainly targeted at socialist activists who opposed U.S. involvement in WWI, and criticized the mandatory military draft. Socialist Party presidential candidate Eugene Debs, Socialist Party general secretary Charles Schenk, and anti-war newspaper publisher Jacob Frohwerk were three of the many socialists charged and convicted under the new provisions of the Espionage Act.

In early 1919, the Supreme Court upheld the convictions of Schenk, Frohwerk and Debs. In a shameful series of unanimous opinions written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., the Court ruled that the First Amendment did not prevent Congress from prohibiting speech that could undermine the war effort during wartime.

Holmes infamously declared that just as the First Amendment would not protect “falsely shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre,” so it did not protect Schenk, who was accused of publishing leaflets critical of the draft. Frohwerk was accused of publishing anti-war articles Holmes said that amounted to a “wilful obstruction” of the U.S. military’s recruitment efforts. Debs was accused of giving an anti-war speech that praised draft dodgers Holmes said that had the “intention and effect of obstructing the draft and recruitment for the war.”

The Sedition Act was repealed in 1920, and President Warren Harding commuted Debs’ sentence the following year. The Supreme Court decisions in Schenk, Frohwerk and Debs were never explicitly overturned, but later Court decisions established much stronger free speech protections and thankfully those decisions are generally considered bad law today.

Then, during World War II, there were aborted attempts to use the Espionage Act directly against the press.

In 1942, the Chicago Tribune reported that the U.S. Navy had advance knowledge of Japan’s naval strategy in the Battle of Midway. The article allegedly implied that the U.S. Navy had found a way to decrypt the Japanese military’s encoded messages — a fact which was not yet public knowledge. President Franklin Roosevelt, angry that the Tribune article would prompt the Japanese to change their secret code, asked the Department of Justice to look into charging the Tribune reporter under the Espionage Act. A grand jury was empaneled in Chicago, but the members of the grand jury declined to issue an indictment against the reporters.

In 1945, the FBI raided the offices of the pro-Communist foreign affairs journal Amerasia, which had obtained hundreds of U.S. intelligence and State Department documents marked “secret” and “top secret” and published articles based on them. The journal’s editors, and its sources in the federal government, were arrested on charges of violating the Espionage Act. But a grand jury — finding no evidence that the defendants had passed classified information to foreign governments — declined to issue any indictments under the Espionage Act, instead charging some of the Amerasia staffers with the lesser offense of theft of government property.

The failure to prosecute Amerasia editors for for espionage enraged conservative politicians, including Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who exploited the case to argue that the federal government was soft on Communism because it had been infiltrated by secret Communists.

In the ensuing anti-Communist hysteria, Congress passed a number of laws focused on domestic security and the suppression of left-wing political ideology. Among these laws were bills that amended the Espionage Act, adding section 798 and sub-sections 793(e) and (g).

Sub-section 793(e) applies the Espionage Act to people who disclose national security information that they were never authorized to have in the first place, while 793(g) makes it a crime to “conspire to violate” the Espionage Act, even if no national security information is actually disclosed. In other words, the Espionage Act doesn’t just apply to government employees who violate their security clearances by providing sensitive national security information to foreign spies it applies to any person who learns of such information and then communicates it to any other person.

Section 798 expands the scope of the Espionage Act to cover all classified information related to communications intelligence (e.g. wiretaps), including all classified information “obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government.” Under 798, it’s not just illegal to disclose the methods that the U.S. government uses to spy on foreign governments it’s also illegal to disclose any classified information that the U.S. government learns as a result of that spying.

These amendments transformed the Espionage Act, which had started as a wartime anti-spying statute, into a broad statute that outlawed the possession and communication of entire classes of information.

Nobody other than a spy, saboteur, or other person who would weaken the internal security of the Nation need have any fear of prosecution

If we were to take the Espionage Act at its face value, it is likely illegal for you to talk to anyone without a security clearance about any information marked “classified” that was obtained through signals intelligence. It does not matter whether you had a top-secret security clearance or just found a classified document on the sidewalk, nor does it matter why you decided to communicate the information or whether the disclosure of the information was actually harmful. It is illegal merely to know and communicate certain information.

It’s not clear that this was actually what Congress intended when it passed these absurdly broad amendments to the Espionage Act.

In 1949, as Congress was debating proposed amendments to the Espionage Act, Senator Harley Kilgore of West Virginia wrote a letter to Senator Pat McCarran on Nevada, the sponsor of the legislation, warning that the amendments “might make practically every newspaper in the United States and all the publishers, editors, and reporters into criminals without their doing any wrongful act.” McCarran asked Attorney General Tom Clark to respond to Kilgore, and Clark tried to reassure the senator that journalists would have nothing to fear from the Espionage Act.

“The history and application of the existing espionage statutes which this bill would amend only in part,” the attorney general wrote, “and the language, history, hearings and report of the committee relative to this bill, together with the integrity of the three branches of the Government which enact, enforce, and apply the law, would indicate that nobody other than a spy, saboteur, or other person who would weaken the internal security of the Nation need have any fear of prosecution under either existing law or the provisions of this bill.”

Two decades later, the federal government tried to use the Espionage Act against newspapers.


TOPN: Communist Control Act of 1954

Laws acquire popular names as they make their way through Congress. Sometimes these names say something about the substance of the law (as with the '2002 Winter Olympic Commemorative Coin Act'). Sometimes they are a way of recognizing or honoring the sponsor or creator of a particular law (as with the 'Taft-Hartley Act'). And sometimes they are meant to garner political support for a law by giving it a catchy name (as with the 'USA Patriot Act' or the 'Take Pride in America Act') or by invoking public outrage or sympathy (as with any number of laws named for victims of crimes). History books, newspapers, and other sources use the popular name to refer to these laws. Why can't these popular names easily be found in the US Code?

The United States Code is meant to be an organized, logical compilation of the laws passed by Congress. At its top level, it divides the world of legislation into fifty topically-organized Titles, and each Title is further subdivided into any number of logical subtopics. In theory, any law -- or individual provisions within any law -- passed by Congress should be classifiable into one or more slots in the framework of the Code. On the other hand, legislation often contains bundles of topically unrelated provisions that collectively respond to a particular public need or problem. A farm bill, for instance, might contain provisions that affect the tax status of farmers, their management of land or treatment of the environment, a system of price limits or supports, and so on. Each of these individual provisions would, logically, belong in a different place in the Code. (Of course, this isn't always the case some legislation deals with a fairly narrow range of related concerns.)

The process of incorporating a newly-passed piece of legislation into the Code is known as "classification" -- essentially a process of deciding where in the logical organization of the Code the various parts of the particular law belong. Sometimes classification is easy the law could be written with the Code in mind, and might specifically amend, extend, or repeal particular chunks of the existing Code, making it no great challenge to figure out how to classify its various parts. And as we said before, a particular law might be narrow in focus, making it both simple and sensible to move it wholesale into a particular slot in the Code. But this is not normally the case, and often different provisions of the law will logically belong in different, scattered locations in the Code. As a result, often the law will not be found in one place neatly identified by its popular name. Nor will a full-text search of the Code necessarily reveal where all the pieces have been scattered. Instead, those who classify laws into the Code typically leave a note explaining how a particular law has been classified into the Code. It is usually found in the Note section attached to a relevant section of the Code, usually under a paragraph identified as the "Short Title".

Our Table of Popular Names is organized alphabetically by popular name. You'll find three types of link associated with each popular name (though each law may not have all three types). One, a reference to a Public Law number, is a link to the bill as it was originally passed by Congress, and will take you to the LRC THOMAS legislative system, or GPO FDSYS site. So-called "Short Title" links, and links to particular sections of the Code, will lead you to a textual roadmap (the section notes) describing how the particular law was incorporated into the Code. Finally, acts may be referred to by a different name, or may have been renamed, the links will take you to the appropriate listing in the table.


Timeline

The Bolsheviks unite with Soviets established in various Russian cities to take control of the government in the October Revolution. Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin (below) are architects of the revolution. The Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets leads to the creation of the Russian Federated Soviet Socialist Republic. A peace settlement is reached with Germany.

United States enters the war.

First &ldquoRed Scare&rdquo in the US radicals, socialists and IWW members are targeted in raids.

Armistice in the Great War.

February: The first city-wide strike to occur in the United States begins: the Seattle General Strike.

March: First Communist International (Comitern), composed of Communists and radical socialists from around the world, including the United States , meets in Moscow. In the United States, socialists aligning with the Comiterns pledge allegiance to the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system, break from the Socialist Party of Eugene Debs to form the Communist Party of America and the Communist Labor Party, which later merge.

November: An IWW hall is attacked by military veterans during an Armistice Day parade in Centralia. Five veterans are killed by gunfire a mob breaks into the city jail and pulls out the perceived IWW leader, who was hanged, shot and mutilated. The state of Washington passes a law banning the IWW. In a subsequent trial, seven Wobblies are convicted of murder.

Continued persecution of Communists and &ldquoreds,&rdquo including the IWW.

Comintern pressures rival communist parties to unite, form Workers Party

Workers Party exerts influence on political coalitions, labor councils

AFL orders Seattle Central Labor Council to follow union governance by eliminating Communist issues

The Ku Klux Klan stages massive rally in Issaquah on July 26, attended by an estimated crowd of 13,000.

Joseph Stalin adopts the principle of socialism in one country, a departure from the doctrine of the earlier Internationals.

Seattle Central Labor Council completes expulsion of Communist members

Washington courts rule that Workers Party candidates may appear on ballot

Sixth World Conference of Communist Parties calls for period of revolutionary action

CPUSA launches Trade Union Unity League

CPUSA launches Unemployed Councils, calls for unemployment insurance, seven-hour day, and recognition of Soviet Union.

Unemployed Council forms in Seattle

Socialists form rival Unemployed Citizens League

March of unemployment groups on Olympia ends in scuffles between rival organizations

Washington state unemployment peaks at more than 25 percent

Cannery and Agricultural WorkersÕ Industrial Union forms

CP defends Ted Jordan in race-linked murder trial in Portland, Oregon

West Coast waterfront strike leads to police violence against strikers in San Francisco and Seattle

Revels Cayton starts Seattle chapter of League for Struggle for Negro Rights, runs for Seattle City Council

Washington Commonwealth Federation forms

Local 751 of International Association of Machinists forms

Local 401 of American Federation of Teachers forms on UW campus

Seventh World Congress of Communist Parties advocates popular front alliances

Terry Pettus organizes chapter of American Newspaper Guild

Guild strikes Seattle Post-Intelligencer

International Woodworkers of America created to encompass many lumber industry unions

Harry Bridges leads west-coast longshoremen into CIO. Union renamed International Longshoremen&rsquos and Warehousemen&rsquos

Washington Pension Union forms

Communist Party membership peaks at close to 100,000 nationwide, about 3,000 in District 12

Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact

State Representative Underwood requests investigation of &ldquocommunist activities&rdquo at UW

Smith Act makes it a crime to advocate the overthrow of the US government

Washington Commonwealth Federation disbanded

John Daschbach founds Washington Civil Rights Congress

The state&rsquos Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities is set up to investigate the influence and presence of Communists in state politics.

Officers of Cannery Workers&rsquo and Farm Laborers&rsquo Union arrested as Communists, scheduled for deportation

Three UW professors dismissed for Communist ties

Cannery Workers&rsquo and Farm Laborers&rsquo Union affiliates with International Longshoremen&rsquos and Warehousemen&rsquos Union

Congress passes McCarran-Walter Internal Security Act to monitor Communists

In landmark case, US Supreme Court rules that Cannery Union officers cannot be deported.

Seven union and civil rights activists in Seattle are charged with conspiracy for attending Communist Party meetings under the Smith Act. The seven include established leaders of the Communist Party in Washington - Henry Huff, John Daschbach, William Pennock, Paul Bowen, Karly Larsen, Terry Pettus and Barbara Hartle.

Barbara Hartle, late of Seattle Seven, becomes FBI informant

Disgruntled party activist Eugene Dennett testifies against Party

UW professor fired for not signing loyalty oath

Gus Hall prohibited from speaking on UW campus

Eugene Roebel arrested and fired from shipyard job in McCarran Act case

Subversive Activities Control Board investigates Washington Committee for Protection of Foreign Born

George Wallace allowed to speak on UW campus

UW students successfully demand abolition of ban on Communists speaking on campus

Henry Winston, national Communist Party leader, permitted to speak at UW

Milford Sutherland runs for Washington State governorship.

Washington Communist Party engages in campaigns on behalf of Native Americans, Seattle Women for Peace, Central District

Angela Davis fired from UCLA professorship

People before Profits Center opens in Seattle

B.J. Mangaoang becames chair of state Communist Party

Marion Kinney runs for State Legislature as a Communist

Kistler runs for State Legislature

B.J. Mangaoang runs for mayor of Seattle

Eastern European communist bloc countries collapse

BJ Mangaoang lauded in Seattle newspaper for her leadership. She reports less than 200 Party members State-wide.

Mark Jenkins play, All Powers Necessary and Convenient, examining the 1948 Canwell Committee hearings is staged by UW.


Contents

For the first half of the 20th century, the Communist Party was influential in various struggles for democratic rights. It played a prominent role in the labor movement from the 1920s through the 1940s, having a major hand in founding most of the country's first industrial unions (which would later use the McCarran Internal Security Act to expel their Communist members) while also becoming known for opposing racism and fighting for integration in workplaces and communities during the height of the Jim Crow period of racial segregation. Historian Ellen Schrecker concludes that decades of recent scholarship [note 1] 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". [13] It was also the first political party in the United States to be racially integrated. [14]

By August 1919, only months after its founding, the Communist Party claimed 50,000 to 60,000 members. Members also included anarchists and other radical leftists. At the time, the older and more moderate Socialist Party of America, suffering from criminal prosecutions for its antiwar stance during World War I, had declined to 40,000 members. The sections of the Communist Party's International Workers Order (IWO) organized for communism around linguistic and ethnic lines, providing mutual aid and tailored cultural activities to an IWO membership that peaked at 200,000 at its height. [15] Subsequent splits within the party have weakened its position.

During the Great Depression, many Americans became disillusioned with capitalism and some found communist ideology appealing. Others were attracted by the visible activism of Communists on behalf of a wide range of social and economic causes, including the rights of African Americans, workers and the unemployed. [16] The Communist Party played a significant role in the resurgence of organized labor in the 1930s. [17] Still others, alarmed by the rise of the Falangists in Spain and the Nazis in Germany, admired the Soviet Union's early and staunch opposition to fascism. Party membership swelled from 7,500 at the start of the decade to 55,000 by its end. [18]

Party members also rallied to the defense of the Spanish Republic during this period after a nationalist military uprising moved to overthrow it, resulting in the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). [19] The Communist Party of the Soviet Union, along with leftists throughout the world, raised funds for medical relief while many of its members made their way to Spain with the aid of the party to join the Lincoln Brigade, one of the International Brigades. [20] [19]

The Communist Party's early labor and organizing successes did not last. 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 party's internal structure and confidence. Party membership in the Communist International and its close adherence to the political positions of the Soviet Union made the party appear to most Americans as not only a threatening, subversive domestic entity, but also as a foreign agent fundamentally alien to the American way of life. Internal and external crises swirled together, to the point where members who did not end up in prison for party activities tended either to disappear quietly from its ranks or to adopt more moderate political positions at odds with the party line. By 1957, membership had dwindled to less than 10,000, of whom some 1,500 were informants for the FBI. [21] The party was also banned by the Communist Control Act of 1954, which still remains in effect although it was never really enforced. [22]

The party attempted to recover with its opposition to the Vietnam War during the civil rights movement in the 1960s, but its continued uncritical support for an increasingly stultified and militaristic Soviet Union increasingly alienated it from the rest of the left-wing in the United States, which saw this supportive role as outdated and even dangerous. At the same time, the party's aging membership demographics and calls for "peaceful coexistence" failed to speak to the New Left in the United States. [23] [24]

With the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev and his effort to radically alter the Soviet economic and political system from the mid-1980s, the Communist Party finally became estranged from the leadership of the Soviet Union itself. In 1989, the Soviet Communist Party cut off major funding to the American Communist Party due to its opposition to glasnost and perestroika. 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. The majority reasserted the party's now purely Marxist outlook, prompting a minority faction which urged social democrats to exit the now reduced party. The party has since adopted Marxism–Leninism within its program. [9] In 2014, the new draft of the party constitution declared: "We apply the scientific outlook developed by Marx, Engels, Lenin and others in the context of our American history, culture, and traditions". [25]

The Communist Party is based in New York City. From 1922 to 1988, it published Morgen Freiheit, a daily newspaper written in Yiddish. [26] [27] For decades, its West Coast newspaper was the People's World and its East Coast newspaper was The Daily World. [28] The two newspapers merged in 1986 into the People's Weekly World. The People's Weekly World has since become an online only publication called People's World. It has since ceased being an official Communist Party publication as the party does not fund its publication. [29] The party's former theoretical journal Political Affairs is now also published exclusively online, but the party still maintains International Publishers as its publishing house. In June 2014, the party held its 30th National Convention in Chicago. [30]

The party announced on April 7, 2021 that it intended to run candidates in elections again, after a hiatus of over thirty years. [31] Steven Estrada, who is running for city council in Long Beach, is one of the first candidates to run as an open member of the CPUSA again (although Long Beach local elections are non-partisan). [32]

Constitution program Edit

According to the constitution of the party adopted at the 30th National Convention in 2014, the Communist Party operates on the principle of democratic centralism, [33] its highest authority being the quadrennial National Convention. Article VI, Section 3 of the 2001 Constitution laid out certain positions as non-negotiable: [34]

[S]truggle for the unity of the working class, against all forms of national oppression, national chauvinism, discrimination and segregation, against all racist ideologies and practices, [. ] against all manifestations of male supremacy and discrimination against women, [. ] against homophobia and all manifestations of discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people.

Among the points in the party's "Immediate Program" are a $15/hour minimum wage for all workers, national universal health care and opposition to privatization of Social Security. Economic measures such as increased taxes on "the rich and corporations", "strong regulation" of the financial industry, "regulation and public ownership of utilities" and increased federal aid to cities and states opposition to the Iraq War and other military interventions opposition to free trade treaties such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) nuclear disarmament and a reduced military budget various civil rights provisions campaign finance reform including public financing of campaigns and election law reform, including instant runoff voting. [35]

Bill of Rights socialism Edit

The Communist Party emphasizes a vision of socialism as an extension of American democracy. Seeking to "build socialism in the United States based on the revolutionary traditions and struggles" of American history, the party promotes a conception of "Bill of Rights Socialism" that will "guarantee all the freedoms we have won over centuries of struggle and also extend the Bill of Rights to include freedom from unemployment" as well as freedom "from poverty, from illiteracy, and from discrimination and oppression". [36]

Reiterating the idea of property rights in socialist society as it is outlined in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels's Communist Manifesto (1848), [37] the Communist Party emphasizes:

Many myths have been propagated about socialism. Contrary to right-wing claims, socialism would not take away the personal private property of workers, only the private ownership of major industries, financial institutions, and other large corporations, and the excessive luxuries of the super-rich. [36]

Rather than making all wages entirely equal, the Communist Party holds that building socialism would entail "eliminating private wealth from stock speculation, from private ownership of large corporations, from the export of capital and jobs, and from the exploitation of large numbers of workers". [36]

Living standards Edit

Among the primary concerns of the Communist Party are the problems of unemployment, underemployment and job insecurity, which the party considers the natural result of the profit-driven incentives of the capitalist economy:

Millions of workers are unemployed, underemployed, or insecure in their jobs, even during economic upswings and periods of 'recovery' from recessions. Most workers experience long years of stagnant and declining real wages, while health and education costs soar. Many workers are forced to work second and third jobs to make ends meet. Most workers now average four different occupations during their lifetime, many involuntarily moved from job to job and career to career. Often, retirement-age workers are forced to continue working just to provide health care for themselves and their families. Millions of people continuously live below the poverty level many suffer homelessness and hunger. Public and private programs to alleviate poverty and hunger do not reach everyone, and are inadequate even for those they do reach. With capitalist globalization, jobs move from place to place as capitalists export factories and even entire industries to other countries in a relentless search for the lowest wages. [36]

The Communist Party believes that "class struggle starts with the fight for wages, hours, benefits, working conditions, job security, and jobs. But it also includes an endless variety of other forms for fighting specific battles: resisting speed-up, picketing, contract negotiations, strikes, demonstrations, lobbying for pro-labor legislation, elections, and even general strikes". [36] The Communist Party's national programs considers workers who struggle "against the capitalist class or any part of it on any issue with the aim of improving or defending their lives" part of the class struggle. [36]

Imperialism and war Edit

The Communist Party maintains that developments within the foreign policy of the United States—as reflected in the rise of neoconservatives and other groups associated with right-wing politics—have developed in tandem with the interests of large-scale capital such as the multinational corporations. The state thereby becomes thrust into a proxy role that is essentially inclined to help facilitate "control by one section of the capitalist class over all others and over the whole of society". [36]

Accordingly, the Communist Party holds that right-wing policymakers such as the neoconservatives, steering the state away from working-class interests on behalf of a disproportionately powerful capitalist class, have "demonized foreign opponents of the U.S., covertly funded the right-wing-initiated civil war in Nicaragua, and gave weapons to the Saddam Hussein dictatorship in Iraq. They picked small countries to invade, including Panama and Grenada, testing new military equipment and strategy, and breaking down resistance at home and abroad to U.S. military invasion as a policy option". [36]

From its ideological framework, the Communist Party understands imperialism as the pinnacle of capitalist development: the state, working on behalf of the few who wield disproportionate power, assumes the role of proffering "phony rationalizations" for economically driven imperial ambition as a means to promote the sectional economic interests of big business. [36]

In opposition to what it considers the ultimate agenda of the conservative wing of American politics, the Communist Party rejects foreign policy proposals such as the Bush Doctrine, rejecting the right of the American government to attack "any country it wants, to conduct war without end until it succeeds everywhere, and even to use 'tactical' nuclear weapons and militarize space. Whoever does not support the U.S. policy is condemned as an opponent. Whenever international organizations, such as the United Nations, do not support U.S. government policies, they are reluctantly tolerated until the U.S. government is able to subordinate or ignore them". [36]

Juxtaposing the support from the Republicans and the right-wing of the Democratic Party for the Bush administration-led invasion of Iraq with the many millions of Americans who opposed the invasion of Iraq from its beginning, the Communist Party notes the spirit of opposition towards the war coming from the American public:

Thousands of grassroots peace committees [were] organized by ordinary Americans [. ] neighborhoods, small towns and universities expressing opposition in countless creative ways. Thousands of actions, vigils, teach-ins and newspaper advertisements were organized. The largest demonstrations were held since the Vietnam War. 500,000 marched in New York after the war started. Students at over 500 universities conducted a Day of Action for "Books not Bombs."

Over 150 anti-war resolutions were passed by city councils. Resolutions were passed by thousands of local unions and community organizations. Local and national actions were organized on the Internet, including the "Virtual March on Washington DC" [. ]. Elected officials were flooded with millions of calls, emails and letters.

In an unprecedented development, large sections of the US labor movement officially opposed the war. In contrast, it took years to build labor opposition to the Vietnam War. [. ] For example in Chicago, labor leaders formed Labor United for Peace, Justice and Prosperity. They concluded that mass education of their members was essential to counter false propaganda, and that the fight for the peace, economic security and democratic rights was interrelated. [38]

The party has consistently opposed American involvement in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the First Gulf War and the post-September 11 conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Communist Party does not believe that the threat of terrorism can be resolved through war. [39]

Women and minorities Edit

The Communist Party Constitution defines the U.S. working class as "multiracial and multinational. It unites men and women, young and old, gay and straight, native-born and immigrant, urban and rural. We are employed and unemployed, organized and unorganized, and of all occupations – the vast majority of our society." [33]

The Communist Party seeks equal rights for women, equal pay for equal work and the protection of reproductive rights, together with putting an end to sexism. [40] The party's ranks include a Women's Equality Commission, which recognizes the role of women as an asset in moving towards building socialism. [41]

Historically significant in American history as an early fighter for African Americans' rights and playing a leading role in protesting the lynchings of African Americans in the South, the Communist Party in its national program today calls racism the "classic divide-and-conquer tactic". [note 2] [42] From its New York City base, the Communist Party's Ben Davis Club and other Communist Party organizations have been involved in local activism in Harlem and other African American and minority communities. [43] The Communist Party was instrumental in the founding of the progressive Black Radical Congress in 1998, as well as the African Blood Brotherhood. [44]

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. [45]

The Communist Party holds that racial and ethnic discrimination not only harms minorities, but is pernicious to working-class people of all backgrounds as any discriminatory practices between demographic sections of the working class constitute an inherently divisive practice responsible for "obstructing the development of working-class consciousness, driving wedges in class unity to divert attention from class exploitation, and creating extra profits for the capitalist class". [46] [note 3]

The Communist Party supports an end to racial profiling. [35] The party supports continued enforcement of civil rights laws as well as affirmative action. [35]

Environment Edit

The Communist Party notes its commitment to participating in environmental movements wherever possible, emphasizing the significance of building unity between the environmental movement and other progressive tendencies. [47]

The Communist Party's most recently released environmental document—the CPUSA National Committee's "2008 Global Warming Report"—takes note of the necessity of "major changes in how we live, move, produce, grow, and market". These changes, the party believe, cannot be effectively accomplished solely on the basis of profit considerations:

They require long-term planning, massive investment in redesigning and re-engineering, collective input, husbanding resources, social investment in research for long-term sustainability, and major conservation efforts. [. ] Various approaches blame the victims. Supposedly the only solution is to change individual consumer choices, since people in general are claimed to cause the problem. But consumers, workers, and poor people don't have any say in energy plant construction, in decisions about trade or plant relocation or job export, in deciding on tax subsidies to polluting industries like the oil industry. [48]

Supporting cooperation between economically advanced and less economically developed nations in the area of environmental cooperation, the Communist Party stands in favor of promoting "transfer from developed countries to developing countries of sustainable technology, and funds for capital investment in sustainable agriculture, energy, and industry. We should support efforts to get the developed nations to make major contributions to a fund to protect the rainforests from devastation". [48]

The Communist Party opposes drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, the use of nuclear power until and unless there is a safe way to dispose of its waste and it conceives of nuclear war as the greatest possible environmental threat. [47]

Religion Edit

The Communist Party is not against religion, but instead regards positively religious people's belief in justice, peace and respectful relations among peoples. To build good relations with supporters of religion, the party has its own Religious Commission. [49]

The Communist Party garnered support in particular communities, developing a unique geography. Instead of a broad nationwide support, support for the party was concentrated in different communities at different times, depending on the organizing strategy at that moment.

Before World War II, the Communist Party had relatively stable support in New York City, Chicago and St. Louis County, Minnesota. However, at times the party also had strongholds in more rural counties such as Sheridan County, Montana (22% in 1932), Iron County, Wisconsin (4% in 1932), or Ontonagon County, Michigan (5% in 1934). [50] Even in the South at the height of Jim Crow, the Communist Party had a significant presence in Alabama. Despite the disenfranchisement of African Americans, the party gained 8% of the votes in rural Elmore County. This was mostly due to the successful bi-racial organizing of sharecroppers through the Sharecroppers' Union. [50] [51]

Unlike open mass organizations like the Socialist Party or the NAACP, the Communist Party was a disciplined organization that demanded strenuous commitments and frequently expelled members. Membership levels remained below 20,000 until 1933 and then surged upward in the late 1930s, reaching 66,000 in 1939.

The party fielded candidates in presidential and many state and local elections not expecting to win, but expecting loyalists to vote the party ticket. The party mounted symbolic yet energetic campaigns during each presidential election from 1924 through 1940 and many gubernatorial and congressional races from 1922 to 1944.

The Communist Party organized by districts that did not coincide with state lines, initially dividing the country into 15 districts identified with a headquarters city with an additional "Agricultural District". Several reorganizations in the 1930s expanded the number of districts. [52]

United States labor movement Edit

The Communist Party has sought to play an active role in the labor movement since its origins as part of its effort to build a mass movement of American workers to bring about their own liberation through socialist revolution. As the prospects for such a social cataclysm have faded over time, the party has increasingly emphasized the ameliorative value of trade unions in capitalist society.

Soviet funding and espionage Edit

From 1959 until 1989, when Gus Hall condemned the initiatives taken by Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union, the Communist Party received a substantial subsidy from the Soviets. There is at least one receipt signed by Gus Hall in the KGB archives. [note 4] Starting with $75,000 in 1959, this was increased gradually to $3 million in 1987. 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. Releases from the Soviet archives show that all national Communist parties that conformed to the Soviet line were funded in the same fashion. From the Communist point of view, this international funding arose from the internationalist nature of communism itself as fraternal assistance was considered the duty of communists in any one country to give aid to their allies in other countries. From the anti-Communist point of view, this funding represented an unwarranted interference by one country in the affairs of another. The cutoff of funds in 1989 resulted in a financial crisis, which forced the party to cut back publication in 1990 of the party newspaper, the People's Daily World, to weekly publication, the People's Weekly World (see references below).

Much more controversial than mere funding is the alleged involvement of Communist members in espionage for the Soviet Union. Whittaker Chambers alleged that Sandor Goldberger—also known as Josef Peters, who commonly wrote under the name J. Peters—headed the Communist Party's underground secret apparatus from 1932 to 1938 and pioneered its role as an auxiliary to Soviet intelligence activities. [53] Bernard Schuster, Organizational Secretary of the New York District of the Communist Party, is claimed to have been the operational recruiter and conduit for members of the party into the ranks of the secret apparatus, or "Group A line".

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 Communist Party after the disestablishment of the Comintern.

There are a number of decrypted World War II Soviet messages between NKVD offices in the United States and Moscow, also known as the Venona cables. The Venona cables and other published sources appear to confirm that Julius Rosenberg was responsible for espionage. Theodore Hall, a Harvard-trained physicist who did not join the party until 1952, began passing information on the atomic bomb to the Soviets soon after he was hired at Los Alamos at age 19. Hall, who was known as Mlad by his KGB handlers, escaped prosecution. Hall's wife, aware of his espionage, claims that their NKVD handler had advised them to plead innocent, as the Rosenbergs did, if formally charged.

It was the belief of opponents of the Communist Party such as J. Edgar Hoover, longtime director of the FBI and Joseph McCarthy, for whom McCarthyism is named and other anti-Communists that the Communist Party constituted an active conspiracy, was secretive, loyal to a foreign power and whose members assisted Soviet intelligence in the clandestine infiltration of American government. This is the traditionalist view of some in the field of Communist studies such as Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes, since supported by several memoirs of ex Soviet KGB officers and information obtained from Venona and Soviet archives. [54] [55] [56]

At one time, this view was shared by the majority of the Congress. In the "Findings and declarations of fact" section of the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950 (50 U.S.C. Chap. 23 Sub. IV Sec. 841), it stated:

[A]lthough purportedly a political party, [the Comunist Party] is in fact an instrumentality of a conspiracy [. ] prescribed for it by the foreign leaders [. ] to carry into action slavishly the assignments given [. ]. [T]he Comunist Party acknowledges no constitutional or statutory limitations [. ]. The peril inherent in its operation arises [from] its dedication to the proposition that the present constitutional Government of the United States ultimately must be brought to ruin by any available means, including resort to force and violence [. ] as the agency of a hostile foreign power renders its existence a clear present and continuing danger. [57]

In 1993, experts from the Library of Congress traveled to Moscow to copy previously secret archives of the party records, sent to the Soviet Union for safekeeping by party organizers. The records provided an irrefutable link between Soviet intelligence and information obtained by the Communist Party and its contacts in the United States government from the 1920s through the 1940s. Some documents revealed that the Communist Party was actively involved in secretly recruiting party members from African American groups and rural farm workers. Other party records contained further evidence that Soviet sympathizers had indeed infiltrated the State Department, beginning in the 1930s. Included in Communist Party archival records were confidential letters from two American ambassadors in Europe to Roosevelt and a senior State Department official. Thanks to an official in the Department of State sympathetic to the party, the confidential correspondence, concerning political and economic matters in Europe, ended up in the hands of Soviet intelligence. [54] [58] [59]

Criminal prosecutions Edit

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. This prosecution was continued in 1919 and January 1920 in the Palmer Raids as part of the First Red Scare. Rank and file foreign-born members of the Communist Party were targeted and as many as possible were arrested and deported while leaders were prosecuted and in some cases sentenced to prison terms. In the late 1930s, with the authorization of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the FBI began investigating both domestic Nazis and Communists. In 1940, Congress passed the Smith Act, which made it illegal to advocate, abet, or teach the desirability of overthrowing the government.

In 1949, the federal government put Eugene Dennis, William Z. Foster and ten other Communist Party leaders on trial for advocating the violent overthrow of the government. Because the prosecution could not show that any of the defendants had openly called for violence or been involved in accumulating weapons for a proposed revolution, it relied on the testimony of former members of the party that the defendants had privately advocated the overthrow of the government and on quotations from the work of Marx, Lenin and other revolutionary figures of the past. [60] During the course of the trial, the judge held several of the defendants and all of their counsel in contempt of court. All of the remaining eleven defendants were found guilty, and the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of their convictions by a 6–2 vote in Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494 (1951). The government then proceeded with the prosecutions of more than 140 members of the party. [61]

Panicked by these arrests and fearing that the party was dangerously compromised by informants, Dennis and other party leaders decided to go underground and to disband many affiliated groups. The move heightened the political isolation of the leadership while making it nearly impossible for the party to function. The widespread support of action against communists and their associates began to abate after Senator Joseph McCarthy overreached himself in the Army–McCarthy hearings, producing a backlash. The end of the Korean War in 1953 also led to a lessening of anxieties about subversion. The Supreme Court brought a halt to the Smith Act prosecutions in 1957 in its decision in Yates v. United States, 354 U.S. 298 (1957), which required that the government prove that the defendant had actually taken concrete steps toward the forcible overthrow of the government, rather than merely advocating it in theory.

African Americans Edit

The Communist Party played a significant role in defending the rights of African Americans during its heyday in the 1930s and 1940s. The Alabama Chapter of the Communist Party USA played a highly important role in organizing the unemployed Black workers, the Alabama Sharecroppers' Union and numerous anti-lynching campaigns. Further, the Alabama chapter organized many young activists that would later go on to be prominent members in the civil rights movement, such as Rosa Parks. [51] Throughout its history many of the party's leaders and political thinkers have been African Americans. James Ford, Charlene Mitchell, Angela Davis and Jarvis Tyner, the current executive vice chair of the party, all ran as presidential or vice presidential candidates on the party ticket. Others like Benjamin J. Davis, William L. Patterson, Harry Haywood, James Jackson, Henry Winston, Claude Lightfoot, Alphaeus Hunton, Doxey Wilkerson, Claudia Jones and John Pittman contributed in important ways to the party's approaches to major issues from human and civil rights, peace, women's equality, the national question, working class unity, socialist thought, cultural struggle and more. African American thinkers, artists and writers such as Claude McKay, Richard Wright, Ann Petry, W. E. B. Du Bois, Shirley Graham Du Bois, Lloyd Brown, Charles White, Elizabeth Catlett, Paul Robeson, Gwendolyn Brooks and many more were one-time members or supporters of the party and the Communist Party also had a close alliance with Harlem Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. [62] The party's work to appeal to African Americans continues to this day. It was instrumental in the founding of the Black Radical Congress in 1998.

Gay rights movement Edit

One of the most prominent sexual radicals in the United States, Harry Hay, developed his political views as an active member of the Communist Party. Hay founded in the early 1950s the Mattachine Society, America's second gay rights organization. However, gay rights was not seen as something the party should associate with organizationally. Most party members saw homosexuality as something done by those with fascist tendencies (following the lead of the Soviet Union in criminalizing the practice for that reason). Hay was expelled from the party as an ideological risk. 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. [63]

The Communist Party endorsed LGBT rights in a 2005 statement. [64] The party affirmed the resolution with a statement a year later in honor of gay pride month in June 2006. [65]

United States peace movement Edit

The Communist Party opposed the United States involvement in the early stages of World War II (until June 22, 1941, the date of the German invasion of the Soviet Union), the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the invasion of Grenada and American support for anti-Communist military dictatorships and movements in Central America. Meanwhile, some in the peace movement and the New Left rejected the Communist Party for what it saw as the party's bureaucratic rigidity and for its close association with the Soviet Union.

The Communist Party was consistently opposed to the United States' 2003–2011 war in Iraq. [66] United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) includes the Communist Party as a member group, with Judith LeBlanc, who chairs the party's Peace and Solidarity Commission, being a member of the Steering Committee of UFPJ. [ citation needed ]

Communist Party USA candidates for president and vice president
Year President Vice President Votes Percent Name
1924
William Z. Foster

Benjamin Gitlow
38,669 0.13% Workers Party of America
1928
William Z. Foster

Benjamin Gitlow
48,551 0.13% Workers (Communist)
Party of America
1932
William Z. Foster
James W. Ford 103,307 0.26% Communist Party USA
1936
Earl Browder
James W. Ford 79,315 0.17%
1940
Earl Browder
James W. Ford 48,557 0.10%
1948
No candidate
endorsed Henry Wallace

No candidate
endorsed Glen H. Taylor
N/A
1952
No candidate
endorsed Vincent Hallinan

No candidate
endorsed Charlotta Bass
1968
Charlene Mitchell

Michael Zagarell
1,077 0.00%
1972
Gus Hall

Jarvis Tyner
25,597 0.03%
1976
Gus Hall

Jarvis Tyner
58,709 0.07%
1980
Gus Hall

Angela Davis
44,933 0.05%
1984
Gus Hall

Angela Davis
36,386 0.04%

Best results in major races Edit

Office Percent District Year Candidate
President 1.46% Florida 1928 William Z. Foster
0.84% Montana 1932 Earl Browder
0.64% New York 1936
US Senate 1.23% New York 1934 Max Bedacht
0.64% New York 1932 William Weinstone
0.42% Illinois 1932 William E. Browder
US House 6.2% California District 5 1934 Alexander Noral
5.2% California District 5 1936 Lawrence Ross
4.8% California District 13 1936 Emma Cutler
Party leaders of the Communist Party USA
Name Period Title
Charles Ruthenberg [67] 1919–1927 Executive Secretary of old CPA (1919–1920) Executive Secretary of WPA/W(C)P (May 1922 – 1927)
Alfred Wagenknecht 1919–1921 Executive Secretary of CLP (1919–1920) of UCP (1920–1921)
Charles Dirba 1920–1921 Executive Secretary of old CPA (1920–1921) of unified CPA (May 30, 1921 – July 27, 1921)
Louis Shapiro 1920 Executive Secretary of old CPA
L.E. Katterfeld 1921 Executive Secretary of unified CPA
William Weinstone 1921–1922 Executive Secretary of unified CPA
Jay Lovestone 1922 1927–1929 Executive Secretary of unified CPA (February 22, 1922 – August 22, 1922) of W(C)P/CPUSA (1927–1929)
James P. Cannon [68] 1921–1922 National Chairman of WPA
Caleb Harrison 1921–1922 Executive Secretary of WPA
Abram Jakira 1922–1923 Executive Secretary of unified CPA
William Z. Foster [69] 1929–1934 1945–1957 Party Chairman
Earl Browder 1934–1945 Party Chairman
Eugene Dennis 1945–1959 General Secretary
Gus Hall 1959–2000 General Secretary
Sam Webb 2000–2014 Chairman
John Bachtell 2014–2019 Chairman
Rossana Cambron 2019–present Co-chair
Joe Sims 2019–present Co-chair
Well-Known Organizers and Other Members of the Party
Name Years Active Title Notes
Elizabeth Benson 1939–1968 [70] Party Organizer A child prodigy, Benson moved to Houston at the age of 22 to organize the area for the national party. [71] Benson is best known for leading Texas organizing during the 1939 convention in San Antonio, where 5,000 people surrounded the building and rioted at the opening ceremonies. Benson and several others were escorted out by police.
Emma Tenayuca 1936–1939(?) Party Organizer Emma Tenayuca (December 21, 1916 – July 23, 1999), also known as Emma Beatrice Tenayuca, was an American labor leader, union organizer and educator. She is best known for her work organizing Mexican workers in Texas during the 1930s, particularly for leading the 1938 San Antonio pecan shellers strike.
Homer Brooks 1938–1943 Texas State Party Chair 1938 Candidate for Governor First husband of Emma Tenayuca. Brooks faced a draft evasion charge that became an exercise in red-baiting. He was sentenced to 60 days in prison, but the charge was overturned. [71]
Tupac Shakur ? Member, Baltimore Young Communist League [72] [73] Known for his career as a rapper and actor, Tupac Shakur was at one time a member of the Young Communist League in Baltimore. He found the platform of the party appealing, having grown up in poverty. Shakur also dated the daughter of the director of the local Communist Party. [73]
  1. ^ She mentions James Barrett, Maurice Isserman, Robin D. G. Kelley, Randi Storch and Kate Weigand.
  2. ^ See also 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.
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  4. ^ This claim is made on the personal site of Joseph T MajorArchived February 7, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved August 30, 2006. He cites it to Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes and Kyrill M. Anderson in The Soviet World of American Communism, Yale University Press (1998), ISBN0-300-07150-7, Document 45, p. 155. The text of a $3 million receipt dated March 19, 1988 is given on the site, but the receipt is not reproduced.
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