Update 14-14: Sunday, April 6, 2014.

"Report on The Liberator to the Editorial Committee and CEC of the unified Communist Party of America," by Alfred Wagenknecht [circa June 1921]  Short description of the negotiation process leading to the 1921 takeover of Max Eastman's financially-strapped monthly, The Liberator, by the Communist Party of America. Previous negotiations had taken place between the United Communist Party and The Liberator seeking to have the magazine turned over to the party. Some, however, sought for the publication to maintain an independent existence as an "artistic-poetic magazine similar to The Masses." Wagenknecht indicates that Eastman vaguely favored the latter course but was "at present in an 'I-don’t-care' state of mind, due mainly to the fact that he is tired of his position on the magazine and is busy producing a book." In addition, the editorial board of the magazine was in disarray due to Eastman's lack of interest in the managerial task. "Under these circumstances this may be the opportune time to take over" the magazine, Wagenknecht indicates. He seeks establishment of a formal committee by the CEC to conduct negotiations to this effect.

"The Socialist Party Convention," by James Oneal  [events of June 25-29, 1921]  Perennial Socialist Party National Executive Committee member James Oneal offers a relatively mixed response to the decisions the recently completed annual Socialist Party National Convention for readers of the New York Call. Oneal lists a number of decisions not to act, including the turning back of a provision for ideologically-based expulsions, agreement not to seek unconditional affiliation with the Third International and a similar decision not to pursue affiliation with the 2-1/2 International in Vienna, and the tabling of resolutions relating to sabotage, direct action, and mass action. The convention did move on matters of fundraising, production of propaganda leaflets, and expanding outreach to women. A proposal to "call a congress of various organizations to unite in one organization" -- the essential idea of the Conference for Progressive Political Action -- was rejected. The party's language federation system, targeted for elimination by some in the party, was instead retained. Oneal criticizes the efforts of "hostile elements" inside and outside the party to join with outside radical forces to undermine official SPA amnesty and defense efforts, seeking "revolutionary action" rather than "petit bourgeois" fundraising and political pressure tactics. "In this 21st anniversary year it remains for the Socialists of the nation, those who were not deceived by the imperialist powers of darkness; those who were never lured by the specious pleas of apostates; those who were never swerved by the emotional hysteria and morbid expectations within our own ranks, to register the will to rebuild the Socialist movement," Oneal declares.

"Circular Letter to Division Superintendents of the Bureau of Investigation from Special Assistant to the Attorney General Warren G. Grimes in the name of Chief of the BoI Lewis J. Baley, June 30, 1921."  The defects of the underground model of organization for the Communist Party of America in terms of constructing a sustainable, growing organization are well know. This internal document of the Bureau of Investigation is interesting as a demonstration that this organizational cost had a benefit -- the organization's constantly-changing pseudonyms befuddled the Department of Justice sleuths in their efforts to determine real life identities. "There is considerable confusion as to the identity of 'Charles E. Scott,'" Grimes acknowledges in this memo to BoI Division Superintendents. The pseudonym had been identified as that of Nicholas Hourwich, L.E. Katterfeld, and Alfred Wagenknecht, Grimes continues -- however, recent descriptions of Scott "do not tally with the descriptions on file of any of these three men. In addition, the pseudonym of Executive Secretary "Paul Holt" had been attached to four different real life identities -- three of them wrong. A plea is made for "every possible effort is to be made by the offices in your division to straighten out the matter."

"Legion Mob Kidnaps Kate O’Hare in Idaho: Driven for Hours Through Desert by Band of 20, Socialist Lecturer is Released, Penniless, in Nevada." (NY Call) [event of July 1, 1921]  On the night of July 1, 1921, recently released Federal prisoner Kate Richards O'Hare was kidnapped from her room in Twin Falls, Idaho, by a mob of about 20 right wing nationalists, driven by automobile for hours, and dumped without funds over the Nevada state line. While the first of this report gives telegraphic details of the incident, including the facts that 10 arrests of American Legion kidnappers followed, the great bulk of the piece recalls O'Hare's arrest and imprisonment for 13 months under the so-called Espionage Act during World War I for an anti-war speech delivered in North Dakota. O'Hare promised to return to Twin Falls to fulfill her speaking engagement rather than to be bowed by the actions of the anti-socialist mob, according to this report.

"Extract from the Justice Department Memorandum Brief 'The Origin, Growth, and Activities of the United Communist Party of America,'" by Warren W. Grimes [July 13, 1921]  This is an 8,000 word extract of one of the earliest internal Justice Department histories of the underground American Communist movement, prepared by Warren W. Grimes, special assistant to the Attorney General. Grimes dates the history of the Left Wing to the 1st Russian All-Colonial Convention, held in New York City at the beginning of February 1918. Also worthy of mention in Grimes' telling was the formulation of the Communist Propaganda League on Nov. 7, 1918, and the launch of The Revolutionary Age in Boston two days later. The formal establishment of the organized Left Wing Section is dated to February 1919, with the total membership strength of 8 left wing language federations of the Socialist Party pegged at 25,000 -- a figure far lower (and probably more accurate) than the officially-claimed numbers. The CLP is differentiated by Grimes from the rival old CPA in that its "controlling elements appear to have been English-speaking." As for the CLP: "The history of the party is the story of internal discord and administrative strife," Grimes succinctly states. Moving to the United Communist Party, Grimes gives the organization's membership at the time of formation at "6,725 in good standing" and provides a complete and accurate list of the territories encompassed in the organization's 11 districts. A somewhat imperfect list of pseudonyms of officers is also given. Of particular interest in the report is a long list of pamphlets, including those issued in non-English languages, which the fledgling American Communist movement "assisted in the distribution of, or approved." With respect to finances, Grimes indicates that the early CLP was "managed on a more businesslike basis" than the rival old CPA. Sources of revenue and expenditure are detailed. The April 29, 1921 raid on what was actually UCP headquarters at 170 Bleeker Street, NYC, is mentioned and some of the documents seized in that raid detailed. Organizational strife continued between the UCP and the old CPA, Grimes notes, in which "both parties freely indulged in 'padding' membership and falsifying records, particularly when reports were made to Moscow or conferences were held to endeavor to effect unity." He adds that "the Russian Federation of the Communist Party was the particular offender and therefore the object of open attack." The May 15, 1921 Communist unity convention -- infiltrated by a BoI agent -- is noted and the Overlook Mountain House lodge near Kingston, NY definitively identified as the location of the gathering.


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