Browder, Earl, 1891-1973

Alternative names
Birth 1891-05-20
Death 1973-06-27

Biographical notes:

Earl Russell Browder (1891-1973) was General Secretary of the Communist party of the United States during the height of its popularity, in the 1930s and 1940s and twice represented the Party as its candidate for President. Earl Browder was born on May 20, 1891, in Wichita, Kansas. He was the son of William Browder and Martha Jane Hankins Browder. His father was a teacher and farmer who was avidly Populist. Earl Browder had little formal education and went to work to help support the family. At the age of 15 Browder joined the Socialist party, but within a few years he moved on to the newly formed Syndicalist League of North America, led by William Z. Foster. He took courses in law and business and became manager of a cooperative store in Olathe, Kansas where he authored a manual on the principles of accounting for cooperatives. In 1917, Browder was convicted of espionage for speaking out against potential US involvement in World War I and following his release from prison continued to oppose the war and was again convicted and served a second sentence. Soon after he left prison in 1919, he joined the newly organized Communist party. He also went to work for Foster's Trade Union Educational League (TUEL) in New York City. In 1921 Browder and Foster represented the TUEL at the Red International of Labor Unions (RILU) in Moscow. Browder became a top aide to Foster. In 1926 Browder travelled to Moscow and then China as part of an international Communist labor delegation. Returning to the United States in 1929, Browder helped Foster become General Secretary of the party. When poor health forced Foster into semi-retirement in 1932, Browder succeeded to the party leadership. During the 15 years of his leadership, the Communist party grew from a membership of a few thousand to over 100,000 and gained both visibility and considerable respectability with Browder as its "face" and "voice". Browder was the Party’s candidate for President in 1936 and 1940, both times with James W. Ford as his running mate. In 1940, Browder was convicted of passport fraud and sentenced to four years in federal prison in Atlanta but his sentence was commuted by President Roosevelt after 14 months. In the election of 1944, Browder supported Roosevelt’s reelection and presided over the dissolution of the United States Communist Party and the formation of the Communist Political Association. In 1946, Browder and his brother William were both expelled from the international Communist Party. Following his expulsion, Earl Browder wrote and lectured and worked with Soviet publishers and authors to get their books published in the United States. Browder died in Princeton, NJ on June 27, 1973.

From the guide to the Earl Browder Papers, 1879-1990, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

Communist leader.

From the description of Reminiscences of Earl Browder : oral history, 1964. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 309728731


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