Breitman, George

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George Breitman was an American Trotskyist who was a long-time member of the Socialist Workers Party, a movement historian and journalist, and editor of the 14-volume Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1929-1940, and of Malcolm X Speaks. He was born in a working-class neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey, in 1916. Unemployed in the Depression years after graduating from high school, he eventually found work in the Civilian Conservation Corps, and later the Works Progress Administration. By 1935, he had joined the Trotskyist movement as a member of the Spartacus Youth League, and not long after as a member of the Workers Party of the United States. He also became a leader in the New Jersey Workers Alliance, an organization of the unemployed. Breitman was a founding member of the Socialist Workers Party in 1938. In 1941 he assumed editorship of the party's weekly paper, The Militant. Drafted and sent to France in 1943, he was able to establish contact with a number of European Trotskyists and to help in the rebuilding of the war-battered Fourth International. After his return to the United States, he was again editor of The Militant in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

From the mid-1950s to the late 1960s, Breitman worked as a proofreader and was a member of the International Typographical Union. In this period he was also the leader of the Detroit branch of the SWP, and he initiated the Friday Night Socialist Forum (later called the Militant Forum), a weekly series that attracted a broad range of activists from the labor, left, student and African-American movements. Through this period, Breitman used several pseudonyms, including Albert Parker, Philip Blake, Anthony Massini, John F. Petrone, and Chester Hofla. Returning to New York in the late 1960s, Breitman assumed responsibility for the SWP's Pathfinder Press and was best-known for editing the 14-volume Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1929-1940 (1969-1979), for his work on various collections of the writings of James P. Cannon, and for his pioneering work on Malcolm X, including his Malcolm X Speaks (1965). In the course of this work Breitman corresponded with leading scholars and added to his already substantial collection of Trotskyist documentation. In the late 1970s Breitman opposed the growing trend among the SWP leadership toward what he viewed as a politics focused on the Castroist leadership of the Cuban Communist Party. Among the hundreds expelled from the SWP in the early 1980s, he played a leading role (despite an accumulation of serious illnesses) in establishing the Fourth Internationalist Tendency, which sought to unify U.S. supporters of the Fourth International. Breitman died of a heart attack in 1986.

From the description of Papers, 1928-1986 (bulk 1945-1980). (New York University). WorldCat record id: 477072080

George Breitman (1916-1986) was born in a working-class neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey in 1916. After graduating from high school, Breitman found work in the Civilian Conservation Corps and later in the Works Progress Administration. By 1935, he had joined the Trotskyist movement as a member of the Spartacus Youth League and then as a member of the Workers Party. He also became a leading activist and officer in the New Jersey Workers Alliance, an organization of the unemployed.

Breitman was a founding member of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in 1938. In 1941 he assumed editorship of the SWP's weekly paper, The Militant . Drafted and sent to France in 1943, he was able to establish contact with a number of European Trotskyists and to help in the rebuilding of the war-battered Fourth International. After his return to the United States, he was again editor of The Militant in the late 1940s and early 1950s. From the mid-1950s to the late 1960s, Breitman worked as a proofreader and was a member of the International Typographical Union. In this period he was also the leader of the Detroit branch of the SWP. With his wife Dorothea, and Frank and Sarah Lovell, he initiated the Friday Night Socialist Forum (later called the Militant Forum), a weekly series that attracted a broad range of activists from the labor, left, student and African-American movements. Through this period, Breitman used several pseudonyms, including Albert Parker, Philip Blake, Anthony Massini, John F. Petrone, and Chester Hofla. Returning to New York in the late 1960s, Breitman assumed responsibility for the SWP's Pathfinder Press and was best-known for editing the 14-volume Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1929-1940 (1969-1979), for his work on various collections of the writings of James P. Cannon, and for his pioneering work on Malcolm X, including his Malcolm X Speaks (1965). In the course of these activities Breitman corresponded with leading scholars and added to his already substantial collection of Trotskyist documentation.

In the late 1970s Breitman opposed the growing trend among the SWP leadership toward what he viewed as a politics focused on the Castroist leadership of the Cuban Communist Party. Among the hundreds expelled from the SWP in the early 1980s, he played a leading role (despite an accumulation of serious illnesses) in establishing the Fourth Internationalist Tendency, which sought to unify U.S. supporters of the Fourth International. Breitman died of a heart attack in 1986.

From the guide to the George Breitman Papers, 1919-1986, (Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive)

George Breitman (1916-1986) was born in a working-class neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey in 1916. After graduating from high school, Breitman found work in the Civilian Conservation Corps, and later in the Works Progress Administration. By 1935, he had joined the Trotskyist movement as a member of the Spartacus Youth League, and then as a member of the Workers Party. He also became a leading activist and officer in the New Jersey Workers Alliance, an organization of the unemployed.

Breitman was a founding member of the Socialist Workers Party in 1938. In 1941 he assumed editorship of the SWP's weekly paper, The Militant . Drafted and sent to France in 1943, he was able to establish contact with a number of European Trotskyists and to help in the rebuilding of the war-battered Fourth International. After his return to the United States, he was again editor of The Militant in the late 1940s and early 1950s. From the mid-1950s to the late 1960s, Breitman worked as a proofreader and was a member of the International Typographical Union. In this period he was also the leader of the Detroit branch of the SWP. With his wife Dorothea, and Frank and Sarah Lovell, he initiated the Friday Night Socialist Forum (later called the Militant Forum), a weekly series that attracted a broad range of activists from the labor, left, student and African-American movements. Through this period, Breitman used several pseudonyms, including Albert Parker, Philip Blake, Anthony Massini, John F. Petrone, and Chester Hofla. Returning to New York in the late 1960s, Breitman assumed responsibility for the SWP's Pathfinder Press and was best-known for editing the 14-volume Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1929-1940 (1969-1979), for his work on various collections of the writings of James P. Cannon, and for his pioneering work on Malcolm X, including his Malcolm X Speaks (1965). In the course of these activities Breitman corresponded with leading scholars and added to his already substantial collection of Trotskyist documentation.

In the late 1970s Breitman opposed the growing trend among the SWP leadership toward what he viewed as a politics focused on the Castroist leadership of the Cuban Communist Party. Among the hundreds expelled from the SWP in the early 1980s, he played a leading role (despite an accumulation of serious illnesses) in establishing the Fourth Internationalist Tendency, which sought to unify U.S. supporters of the Fourth International. Breitman died of a heart attack in 1986.

From the guide to the George Breitman Papers, 1928-1986, (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Allen, Robert I. [Black nationalism and Black power pamphlets]. Princeton University Library
referencedIn Socialist Workers Party Printed Ephemera Collection, 1932-1999 Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
referencedIn Oral History of the American Left. Radical Histories. Oral histories, 1970-1980. Churchill County Museum
creatorOf Breitman, George. Papers, 1928-1986 (bulk 1945-1980). Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Cochran, Bert, 1913-1984. Papers, 1935-[ca. 1978] (bulk 1935-1955). Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Myra Tanner Weiss Papers, Bulk, 1952-1963, 1933-1997 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn George Breitman Papers 1928-1986. New York University, Tamiment Library
referencedIn Kerry, Tom. Tom and Karolyn Kerry papers, 1933-1983. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
creatorOf George Breitman Papers, 1928-1986 Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
creatorOf George Breitman Papers, 1919-1986 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Oral History of the American Left: Radical Histories, 1920-1980 Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Barnes, Betsy person
associatedWith Barnes, Betsy person
associatedWith Barnes, Betsy. person
associatedWith Broue, Pierre person
associatedWith Broue, Pierre person
associatedWith Broué, Pierre. person
associatedWith Cannon, James Patrick, 1890-1974. person
associatedWith Cleaver, Eldridge, 1935-1998. person
associatedWith Cochran, Bert, 1913-1984. person
associatedWith Dobbs, Farrell person
associatedWith Dobbs, Farrell. person
associatedWith Fourth International. corporateBody
associatedWith Fourth Internationalist Tendency (Group) corporateBody
associatedWith Glotzer, Albert, 1908-1999. person
associatedWith Guérin, Daniel, 1904- person
associatedWith Hansen, Joseph person
associatedWith Hansen, Joseph. person
associatedWith Healy, G. person
associatedWith Healy, G. person
associatedWith Kerry, Tom. person
associatedWith Kutcher, James person
associatedWith Kutcher, James person
associatedWith Kutcher, James. person
associatedWith Lippmann, Walter, 1889-1974 person
associatedWith Lippman, Walter. person
associatedWith Lovell, Frank. person
associatedWith Merit Publishers. corporateBody
associatedWith Merit Publishers. corporateBody
associatedWith Merit Publishers. corporateBody
associatedWith Pathfinder Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Redgrave, Vanessa, 1937- person
associatedWith Shaw, Ed person
associatedWith Shaw, Ed. person
associatedWith Socialist Party (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Socialist Workers Party. corporateBody
associatedWith Tamiment Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Trotsky, Leon, 1879-1940. person
associatedWith Weiss, Murry person
associatedWith Weiss, Murry person
associatedWith Weiss, Murry. person
associatedWith Weiss, Myra Tanner person
associatedWith Williams, Robert person
associatedWith Williams, Robert. person
associatedWith Workers Party, 1940-1949 corporateBody
associatedWith Workers Party (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Worthy, William. person
associatedWith Worthy, William, 1921- person
associatedWith X, Malcolm, 1925-1965. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Subject
Socialism
Civil rights and socialism--United States
Communism
Trotskyism--United States
Socialism--United States
African American communists
Civil rights and socialism
Communism--United States
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1916-02-28

Death 1986-04-19

Americans

English

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