Dunne, William Francis, 1887-1953

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William Francis Dunne was a labor organizer, politician, editor, and Communist Party activist for most of his life. Born in 1887 in Kansas City, Missouri, Dunne was a football player at the University of Minnesota. As a result of the Panic of 1907, Dunne dropped out of college to become an electrician. He worked for the Northern Pacific Railway until 1910, when he joined the Socialist Party. Dunne was a middleweight boxer of some local note in 1914. In this period he was elected Business Agent of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Vancouver and eventually vice-president of the Pacific District Council of the IBEW. He resigned after several years and in 1916, moved to Butte, Montana. There he married Marguerite Walsh, c.1918.

In Butte, Dunne worked for several copper mining companies. He worked for the Anaconda Copper Mining Company in 1917 when 164 men were smothered to death. As a Joint Chairman of the Miners and Metal Trades Mechanics Strike Committee, Dunne participated in leading a strike of 28,000 men against the mining company. In 1918, Dunne became vice-president of the Montana Federation of Labor and was elected to the Montana State legislature as a Democrat on a radical platform. He introduced the first resolution in any United States legislative body calling for the withdrawal of American troops from Siberia and for recognition of the Soviet Union. That same year, Dunne became editor of the newly-founded Butte Daily Bulletin, the official organ of the Butte Central Labor Council. He remained editor until 1922. It was also during this period that Dunne, along with Louis Lochner of the Milwaukee Leader, Leland Olds, and Carl Haessler, founded the Federated Press, a labor news service.

During the 1920's Dunne was an organizer for several unions, among them the Steel and Metal Workers Union, out of which developed the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers Union. He took part in the organizing work of the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers, and organized the defense of the Gastonia textile union organizers in 1929-1930. Also in this period, Dunne was a national organizer for William Foster's Trade Union Unity League and the national hunger marches of the unemployed councils. Elected in 1924 as an alternate member of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, Dunne was the representative of the Workers (Communist) Party of America to the Comintern in 1925. He returned to the Soviet Union in 1928 to participate in Congresses of the Profintern and the Comintern, and in 1928-1929 served as a Comintern delegate in Outer Mongolia, allegedly collecting data on Japanese intrigue in the region.

William and Marguerite Dunne had one son, William Jr., who was killed in 1925 at the age of seven by a speeding car. It was possibly because of this event that Dunne began to drink heavily.

Dunne was added to the Politburo in 1929, but with Earl Browder's rise to Party leadership in the early 1930's, Dunne's party influence weakened. In 1934, Dunne returned to Butte, after he was dismissed from his national leadership position. For the next six years, he had a somewhat insignificant party role. He did occasional reporting for the Daily Worker and New Masses, and did organizational and publicity work for the Party throughout the Pacific Northwest region. Beginning in this period, Dunne focused much of his activity on writing. Many of his writings remained unpublished though he completed several political pamphlets and a major study of the African-American press for a film company. Since Browder's rise to leadership, and especially with the onset of the Popular Front in 1935, Dunne was extremely dissatisfied with the direction of the Party, maintaining that its' positions were too moderate and revisionist. Dunne often had many complaints about the course of the American Party, asserting that it had abdicated its role as a vanguard party. However, he frequently affirmed the positions of the Soviet Union and the Comintern, for example, his hearty endorsement of the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact. By the late 1930's, Dunne's alcoholism became out of control; in the late 1930's he caused much internal Party strife when he told comrades that Browder was planning to liquidate the Party.

With the outbreak of World War II, Dunne worked in war related industries and shipyards. From 1944 until the beginning of 1946, he found work as a navy cook in the Aleutian Islands. Upon Dunne's return to the United States, the Communist Party expelled him for "ultra-leftism" and alcoholism. Dunne, along with other expelled communists Max Bedacht, Vern Smith, and Samuel Darcy, unsuccessfully appealed this decision to the Cominform. Dunne maintained contact with other expelled communist leaders and attempted to form another independent communist party in the late 1940's. In 1951, Dunne helped found the James Connolly association, an Irish Republican organization. William Dunne died in 1953.

List of Dunne's Publications:

Permanent Counter-Revolution: The Role of the Trotzkyites in the Minneapolis Strike (1934). The Supreme Court's Challenge to Labor: The NIRA Decision--A Signal for Intensified Attacks on the Workers (1935). Why Hearst Lies About Communism: Three Open Letters to William Randolph Hearst (1935). The Struggle Against Opportunism in the Labor Movement--For a Socialist United States (1947). Our Heritage From 1776: A Working Class View of the First American Revolution (n.d.). With Bertram D. Wolfe.

From the guide to the William Francis Dunne Papers, 1914-1951, (Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive)

William Francis Dunne was a labor organizer, politician, editor, and Communist Party activist for most of his life. Born in 1887 in Kansas City, Missouri, Dunne was a football player at the University of Minnesota. As a result of the Panic of 1907, Dunne dropped out of college to become an electrician. He worked for the Northern Pacific Railway until 1910, when he joined the Socialist Party. Dunne was a middleweight boxer of some local note in 1914. In this period he was elected Business Agent of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Vancouver and eventually vice-president of the Pacific District Council of the IBEW. He resigned after several years and in 1916, moved to Butte, Montana. There he married Marguerite Walsh, c.1918.

In Butte, Dunne worked for several copper mining companies. He worked for the Anaconda Copper Mining Company in 1917 when 164 men were smothered to death. As a Joint Chairman of the Miners and Metal Trades Mechanics Strike Committee, Dunne participated in leading a strike of 28,000 men against the mining company. In 1918, Dunne became vice-president of the Montana Federation of Labor and was elected to the Montana State legislature as a Democrat on a radical platform. He introduced the first resolution in any United States legislative body calling for the withdrawal of American troops from Siberia and for recognition of the Soviet Union. That same year, Dunne became editor of the newly-founded Butte Daily Bulletin, the official organ of the Butte Central Labor Council. He remained editor until 1922. It was also during this period that Dunne, along with Louis Lochner of the Milwaukee Leader, Leland Olds, and Carl Haessler, founded the Federated Press, a labor news service.

During the 1920's Dunne was an organizer for several unions, among them the Steel and Metal Workers Union, out of which developed the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers Union. He took part in the organizing work of the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers, and organized the defense of the Gastonia textile union organizers in 1929-1930. Also in this period, Dunne was a national organizer for William Foster's Trade Union Unity League and the national hunger marches of the unemployed councils. Elected in 1924 as an alternate member of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, Dunne was the representative of the Workers (Communist) Party of America to the Comintern in 1925. He returned to the Soviet Union in 1928 to participate in Congresses of the Profintern and the Comintern, and in 1928-1929 served as a Comintern delegate in Outer Mongolia, allegedly collecting data on Japanese intrigue in the region.

William and Marguerite Dunne had one son, William Jr., who was killed in 1925 at the age of seven by a speeding car. It was possibly because of this event that Dunne began to drink heavily.

Dunne was added to the Politburo in 1929, but with Earl Browder's rise to Party leadership in the early 1930's, Dunne's party influence weakened. In 1934, Dunne returned to Butte, after he was dismissed from his national leadership position. For the next six years, he had a somewhat insignificant party role. He did occasional reporting for the Daily Worker and New Masses, and did organizational and publicity work for the Party throughout the Pacific Northwest region. Beginning in this period, Dunne focused much of his activity on writing. Many of his writings remained unpublished though he completed several political pamphlets and a major study of the African-American press for a film company. Since Browder's rise to leadership, and especially with the onset of the Popular Front in 1935, Dunne was extremely dissatisfied with the direction of the Party, maintaining that its' positions were too moderate and revisionist. Dunne often had many complaints about the course of the American Party, asserting that it had abdicated its role as a vanguard party. However, he frequently affirmed the positions of the Soviet Union and the Comintern, for example, his hearty endorsement of the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact. By the late 1930's, Dunne's alcoholism became out of control; in the late 1930's he caused much internal Party strife when he told comrades that Browder was planning to liquidate the Party.

With the outbreak of World War II, Dunne worked in war related industries and shipyards. From 1944 until the beginning of 1946, he found work as a navy cook in the Aleutian Islands. Upon Dunne's return to the United States, the Communist Party expelled him for "ultra-leftism" and alcoholism. Dunne, along with other expelled communists Max Bedacht, Vern Smith, and Samuel Darcy, unsuccessfully appealed this decision to the Cominform. Dunne maintained contact with other expelled communist leaders and attempted to form another independent communist party in the late 1940's. In 1951, Dunne helped found the James Connolly association, an Irish Republican organization. William Dunne died in 1953.

List of Dunne's Publications:

Permanent Counter-Revolution: The Role of the Trotzkyites in the Minneapolis Strike (1934). The Supreme Court's Challenge to Labor: The NIRA Decision--A Signal for Intensified Attacks on the Workers (1935). Why Hearst Lies About Communism: Three Open Letters to William Randolph Hearst (1935). The Struggle Against Opportunism in the Labor Movement--For a Socialist United States (1947). Our Heritage From 1776: A Working Class View of the First American Revolution (n.d.). With Bertram D. Wolfe.

From the guide to the William Francis Dunne Papers, 1914-1951, (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf William Francis Dunne Papers, 1914-1951 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Jefferson School of Social Science Records and Indexes, Bulk, 1944-1955, 1931-1958, (Bulk 1944-1955) Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
creatorOf William Francis Dunne Papers, 1914-1951 Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Communist Party of the United States of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Darcy, Samuel, 1905- person
associatedWith Foster, William Z., 1881-1961 person
associatedWith Gold, Michael, 1893-1967 person
associatedWith Jefferson School of Social Science (New York, N.Y.). corporateBody
associatedWith Keeney, Philip O. (Philip Olin), 1891-1962 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Butte (Mont.)
Butte (Mont.)
Subject
Labor movement--United States
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1887

Death 1953

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