Socialist Workers Party. Minnesota Section.

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The Socialist Workers Party, although not formally organized under that name until January 1938, traces its beginnings to the formation of the American Communist Party in 1919. The latter party was composed of left-wing elements of the American Socialist Party. After the expulsion of Leon Trotsky from the Russian Communist party in 1927, the Communist groups supporting Trotsky were also expelled from the party (October 1928). In November 1928 the Trotskyite groups began the publication of a newspaper, The Militant, and continued to exist as a small splinter group of the American Communist Party. Some prominent leaders of the group at this time were James P. Cannon and Max Schactman. From 1928 to 1937 the Trotsky group was associated with the Socialist Party. In 1938 they broke with the Socialist Party and organized the Socialist Workers Party, which is still in existence as the Trotskyite branch of the Communist Party.

The Socialist Workers Party is of particular interest to Minnesota because of the party's involvement in the Minneapolis Truck Drivers' Strike of 1934. Trotskyites, who in the 1920s had been expelled from most of the regular unions, were in the early 1930s back into labor union groups as individual members, but not as leaders in the respective unions. By 1934 they were sufficiently strong in the coal workers' union and in the teamsters' union to challenge the Minneapolis business community, which had kept Minneapolis a non-union city for many years. This challenge culminated in the truck drivers' strike of May 1934. The strike brought to public attention a number of prominent Minnesota Trotskyite leaders: Farrell Dobbs, Carl Skoglund, and the Dunne brothers, Vincent, Grant, and Miles.

In the years between the 1934 strike and the outbreak of World War II, the Trotskyites lost control of the teamsters union in Minneapolis. First they were ousted from their positions in the union, partly as a result of factional disputes within the union between AFL and CIO leaders, with the AFL eventually gaining control. Then in 1941, in Minneapolis, the leaders were brought to trial by the United States government under provisions of the recently passed Smith Act. The leaders were convicted of "advocating and teaching the overthrow of the United States government by force and violence." The decision was later unsuccessfully appealed, and the eighteen leaders were imprisoned in 1944. This action was considered the test case proving the effectiveness of the Smith Act.

The above sketch is based on information found in the following volumes: Howe and Coser, The American Communist Party, A Critical History (New York, 1962); James P. Cannon, The History of American Trotskyism... (New York, 1944); Walter Goldwater, Radical Periodicals in America, 1890-1950 (New Haven, 1964). The latter work contains a useful chart depicting the changes and development of left-wing third party movements in the United States from 1890 to 1950.

From the guide to the Party records., 1914-1980., (Minnesota Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Minnesota. State Ethical Practices Board. Socialist Workers Party files, 1974-1991. Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts
creatorOf Socialist Workers Party records, 1914-1980 Minnesota Historical Society
creatorOf Socialist Workers Party records, 1914-1980 Minnesota Historical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Federation of Labor. corporateBody
associatedWith American Federation of Labor. corporateBody
associatedWith Beck, Dave, 1894- person
associatedWith Beck, Dave, 1894- person
associatedWith Benson, Elmer Austin, 1895- person
associatedWith Benson, Elmer Austin, 1895- person
associatedWith Budenz, Louis F. 1891-1972. person
associatedWith Budenz, Louis F. (Louis Francis), 1891-1972 person
associatedWith Burnham, James, 1905-1987 person
associatedWith Burnham, James, 1905-1987. person
associatedWith Cannon, James Patrick, 1890-1974 person
associatedWith Cannon, James Patrick, 1890-1974. person
associatedWith Carlson, Grace, 1906- person
associatedWith Carlson, Grace, 1906- person
associatedWith Castro, Fidel, 1927- person
associatedWith Castro, Fidel, 1927- person
associatedWith Congress of Industrial Organizations (U.S.). corporateBody
associatedWith Congress of Industrial Organizations (U.S.). corporateBody
associatedWith Consolidation Committee of Enginemen (U.S.). corporateBody
associatedWith Consolidation Committee of Enginemen (U.S.). corporateBody
associatedWith Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. corporateBody
associatedWith Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. corporateBody
associatedWith Dewey, John, 1859-1952 person
associatedWith Dewey, John, 1859-1952. person
associatedWith Djilas, Milovan, 1911- person
associatedWith Djilas, Milovan, 1911- person
associatedWith Dobbs, Farrell. person
associatedWith Dobbs, Farrell. person
associatedWith Dos Passos, John, 1896-1970 person
associatedWith Dos Passos, John, 1896-1970. person
associatedWith Dunne, Grant J., 1893-1941 person
associatedWith Dunne, Grant J., 1893-1941. person
associatedWith Dunne, Miles. person
associatedWith Dunne, Miles. person
associatedWith Dunne, Vincent R. 1889-1970. person
associatedWith Dunne, Vincent R. (Vincent Raymond), 1889-1970 person
associatedWith Engels, Friedrich, 1820-1895 person
associatedWith Engels, Friedrich, 1820-1895. person
associatedWith Farrell, James T. 1904-1979. person
associatedWith Farrell, James T. (James Thomas), 1904-1979 person
associatedWith Freeman, Orville L. person
associatedWith Freeman, Orville L. person
associatedWith Gilbert, Joseph, 1865-1956 person
associatedWith Gilbert, Joseph, 1865-1956. person
associatedWith Hansen, Joseph. person
associatedWith Hansen, Joseph. person
associatedWith International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen, and Helpers of America. corporateBody
associatedWith International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen, and Helpers of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Kutcher, James. person
associatedWith Kutcher, James. person
associatedWith Lenin, Vladimir Ilich, 1870-1924 person
associatedWith Lenin, Vladimir Ilich, 1870-1924. person
associatedWith MacDonald, Dwight. person
associatedWith MacDonald, Dwight. person
associatedWith Mao, Tse-Tung, 1893-1976 person
associatedWith Mao, Tse-Tung, 1893-1976. person
associatedWith Marx, Karl, 1818-1883 person
associatedWith Marx, Karl, 1818-1883. person
associatedWith Mayer, Milton Sanford, 1908- person
associatedWith Mayer, Milton Sanford, 1908- person
associatedWith Minnesota. State Ethical Practices Board. corporateBody
associatedWith Nearing, Scott, 1883- person
associatedWith Nearing, Scott, 1883- person
associatedWith Phillips, Wendell, 1811-1884 person
associatedWith Phillips, Wendell, 1811-1884. person
associatedWith Preis, Art, 1911- person
associatedWith Preis, Art, 1911- person
associatedWith Scholle, August, 1904- person
associatedWith Scholle, August, 1904- person
associatedWith Schuman, Frederick Lewis, 1904- person
associatedWith Schuman, Frederick Lewis, 1904- person
associatedWith Skoglund, Carl, 1884-1960 person
associatedWith Skoglund, Carl, 1884-1960. person
associatedWith Smith, Gerald L. K. 1898- person
associatedWith Smith, Gerald L. K. (Gerald Lyman Kenneth), 1898- person
associatedWith Socialist Labor Party (U.S.). corporateBody
associatedWith Socialist Labor Party (U.S.). corporateBody
associatedWith Stalin, Joseph, 1879-1953 person
associatedWith Stalin, Joseph, 1879-1953. person
associatedWith Tito, Josip Broz, 1892-1980 person
associatedWith Tito, Josip Broz, 1892-1980. person
associatedWith Trotsky, Leon, 1879-1940 person
associatedWith Trotsky, Leon, 1879-1940. person
associatedWith United Railroad Operating Crafts. corporateBody
associatedWith United Railroad Operating Crafts. corporateBody
associatedWith Weiss, Myra Tanner. person
associatedWith Weiss, Myra Tanner. person
associatedWith Wells, H. G. 1866-1946. person
associatedWith Wells, H. G. (Herbert George), 1866-1946 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Asia
Russia (Federation)
Minnesota--Minneapolis
United States
Cuba
United States
Minneapolis (Minn.)
Minneapolis (Minn.).
Europe
Minnesota
Yugoslavia
Minnesota
Albert Lea (Minn.)
Albert Lea (Minn.).
Russia (Federation)
Subject
Communism
Communism--Yugoslavia
Communism--Cuba
Political Campaigns
African Americans
Sedition--Minnesota--Minneapolis
Academic freedom
Truck Drivers' Strike, Minneapolis, Minn., 1934
Depressions--1929
Communism--United States
Civil rights
Communism--Europe
Socialism
Labor movement
Labor movement--United States
Academic freedom--United States
Labor unions--Railroads
Strikes and lockouts--Minnesota--Minneapolis
Sedition
Labor unions
Political campaigns--United States
Depressions--1929--United States
Civil rights--United States
Disarmament
Labor unions--United States
Strikes and lockouts
Fascism
Communism--Asia
World War, 1939-1945
Occupation
Activity

Corporate Body

Active 1914

Active 1964

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