Russian Agitation Bureau of the Socialist Party

The Socialist Party's first Russian political section was the Russian Agitation Bureau, based at 180 Washington Street in Chicago. In 1911 the group sold a pair of postcards, "Finland and the Two-Headed Eagle" and "Bloody Sunday, Jan. 22, 1905, Petersburg," with the proceeds deidacated to rasing funds for propaganda targeted at Russians living in the United States.

[fn. The Socialist (Columbus, OH), vol. 1, no. 6 (Jan. 28, 1911), pg. 3.]

Early Russian-Language Radical Press

The Socialist newspaper Novyi Mir (New World), published in New York, predated the admission of the Russian Socialist Federation into the Socialist Party.

In 1918, Novyi Mir was run by an editorial staff of three -- Gregory Weinstein, Nicholas Hourwich, and a certain Blankstein. Weinstein and Blankstein were at odds with Hourwich and attempted to have him removed, a matter which occupied the proceedings of the 4th Convention. Hourwich was reduced to half-time collaboration, his place filed by a Comrade Niemanov. The situation was resolved when Ludwig Martens opened a Soviet Bureau and Weinstein and Blankstein departed to work at that there. Comrades Griliches and Zapolsky were pressed into editorial service, the latter of whom was soon to resign for reasons of health.


Federation of Russian Branches / Russian Federation of the Socialist Party of America

The Russian Federation of the Socialist Party was admitted in May 1915. According to the SPA's official tally of dues for the year, it had 113 members during its first year of existence.

[fn. "Membership Report by States," The American Socialist, Jan. 22, 1916, pg. 3.]


First United Russian Convention of America --- New York, NY --- Feb. 1-4, 1918

A special convention of the Russian Socialist Federation met from Feb. 1-4, 1918 in New York City. A preliminary meeting was held Jan. 31 at the Russian Social Club, located at 33 Second Ave., New York City. Delegates from all over the country, representing the 40 branches of the federation were anticipated. The convention formally kicked off with an evening session on Feb. 1 at Beethoven Hall, 210 East 5th Street. More than 200 delegates were in attendance. The first official act of the convention was to adopt a resolution to be telegraphed to President Wilson on behalf of Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman, and other Russian-American radicals held in jail on charges of obstructing the draft. It was demanded that these individuals be allowed to immediately released and allowed to return to Russia.

A program prepared by the editors of Novyi Mir was expected to be adopted with little opposition.

Presaging a controversy over the Russian Soviet Government Bureau, according to a March 15, 1918 NYC police report, the gathering voted to approve a resolution "that all representatives of the Russian Government to the US should be chosen from the Russian workers in the US and they shall fulfill the demands of the workers only and be independent of any influence of the US or any other government and the capitalist class and no other representatives shall be recognized."

After the evening session, a farewell public meeting was held for Berkman and Goldman at Forward Hall, 175 East Broadway. Emma Goldman told the gathering, "I hope you are as enthusiastic when we get back as you are now. Well, I am actually going to jail, but I assure you that to go to prison for an idea is a joy to a revolutionist. And I suppose I'll be there for the next 2 years, unless Russia decides otherwise."

[fn. "Convention of Russian Socialists of US Begins," NY Call, Jan. 31, 1918, pg. 2; "Russians Hold Conference, NY Call, Feb. 2, 1918, pg. 3. Unsigned report on letterhead of Police Dept., City of New York, March 16, 1918, NARA collection M-1085, reel 919.]


The 5 member Executive Committee of the United Russian Convention included revolutionary socialist luminaries Alexander Stoklitsky, Gregory Weinstein, and Nicholas Hourwich, in addition to N. Kizel and A. Schnabel. The first plenary meeting of this Executive Committee passed a resolution on the Russian situation and sent it to President Wilson, expressing its "deep indignation against the prospective attack on revolutionary Russia with the consent of the allies" and denouncing Japanese actions in Siberia.

4. Extraordinary 4th Convention of Russian Federation of SPA --- New York, NY --- Sept. 28-Oct. 1, 1918.

The 4th Convention of the Russian Federation of the Socialist Party was convened on Sept. 28, 1918. A total of 34 delegates from 38 divisions in 11 states were in attendance. Probably due to the fact that the organization was under Department of Justice surveillance, conditions of secrecy were maintained for the gathering. The convention seems to have met in various apartments and rooms around the city, changing it location daily to help avoid detection. At the time of this gathering, Secretary V. Rich of Detroit claimed a membership of approximately 2,500 in 51 branches.


According to an internal report of the Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau was unable to either locate penetrate the meeting but it was able to obtain a set of minutes of the gathering shortly after in concluded, quite possibly from an informer on the staff of Novyi Mir. The BoI also obtained a complete copy of the minutes of the 4th Convention.

The 4th Convention nominated candidates for Secretary in addition to a Central Executive Committee of 14 to serve as a governing body for the organization. These names were voted upon by referendum vote, with the election closing on Jan. 15, 1919. This new body met for the first time on Feb. 9, 1919, and consisted of the following:

Secretary: Oscar Tyverovsky; Members: Ashkenuzi, Babich, Bogopolsky, Dudarik, Dudinsky, Efimchik, Grilikhes, Gurin, Iakobchuk, Lipo, Litvinovich, Mislig, Radzivanovich, and Vaitsekhovsky.


Alexander Stoklitsky was elected by the 4th Convention to serve as the RSF's first (and last) paid Translator-Secretary in Socialist Party headquarters in Chicago.


The 4th Convention set the table for the Left Wing split of the Socialist Party, adopting a resolution which read, in part:

"Considering it inevitable that sooner or later a schism, signs of which are appearing, will arise in the American Socialist Party as it has already happened in other countries between the revolutionary and non-revolutionary factions, the Russian Socialist Federation deems it its duty to revolutionize, as much as possible, its ranks in the spirit of Bolshevik principles and union of its Left Wing in anticipation of the inevitable schism."


The 4th Convention also adopted a resolution calling for a conference of the various "Russian Federations" of the Socialist Party (i.e. Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, South Slavic, Yiddish) which would "effect unity of action of all Russian Federations and organizations by one united center."


[fn. Bertha Hale White, "The Enemy Within," The Socialist World, March 1923, pg. 6.; R.W. Finch, "Report on the 4th Convention of the Russian Socialist Federation"; Convention minutes; "Summary Results of Voting for Candidates to Membership in the Executive Committee and for Secretary of the Russian Socialist Federation, BoI Investigative Files, NARA M-1085, reel 931.]


The Central Executive Committee of the Russian Federation met very frequently during the first half of 1919, holding 27 regular business meetings and 15 special meetings from its establishment until the time of the 5th Convention in mid-August 1919, an average of about 2 sessions per week.

Novyi Mir served as the Russian language daily newspaper of the Russian Federation of the Socialist Party of America. President of the Russian Socialist Publishing Co., which formally owned the publication, was Alexander Stoklitsky, Treasurer was M. Mislig, and Secretary was Nicholas Hourwich [Gurvich]. Novyi Mir (which had its editorial office at 113 E 10th St., New York) also published books and pamphlet literature, including the following (Jan. 1919 list):

Arthur Arnu: Mertvetsi Kommuny.
A. Golubkov: Utopicheskii i nauchnyi sotsializm. [Utopian and Scientific Socialism.]
M. Gorkii: Iarmarka v Goltve.
M. Gorkii: V stepi.
Lev Kamenev: Imperializm i balkanskaia respublika. [Imperialism and the Balkan Republic.]
A. Kollontai: Rabotnitsa-mat'. [Woman worker and Mother.]
N. Lenin: Gosudarstvo i revoliutsiia. [State and Revolution.]
N. Lenin: Imperializm, kak etap noveishago kaptializma. [Imperialism, the Latest Stage of Capitalism.]
N. Lenin: Ocherednyi zadachi Sovetskoi vlasti. [The Next Tasks of Soviet Power.]
N. Lenin: Pis'ma o taktike. [Letters on Tactics.]
N. Lenin: Uroki revoliutsiia. [Lessons of the Revolution.]
N. Lenin: Zadachi proletariata v nashei revoliutsii. [The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution.]
Wilhelm Liebknecht: Pauki i mukhi.
Jack London: Zabastoval. [Sebastapol.]
Marx-Engels: Kommunisticheskii manifest. [The Communist Manifesto.]
Kh. Rakovsky: International i voina. [The International and the War.]
Serafimovich: On prishėl.
A. Tolstroi. Arkhin.

Narodnyi tolkovyi slovar'. [a dictionary of socio-political terms from Russia.]


Second United Russian Convention of America --- New York, NY --- Jan. 6 to 9, 1919

The second All-Russian convention of Socialists in the United States was held from January 6 to 9, 1919 at the Manhattan Lyceum, located at 64 E 4th Street in New York City. According to pre-convention reports in the Socialist daily, the New York Call, the organization back of the All-Russian convention was known as the "New York Soviet of Deputies of Russian Workers," which had been issuing its own weekly newspaper called Rabochii i Krest'ianin ("Worker and Peasant") for the last 28 weeks of 1918. Each and every one of these 1918 issues had been declared unmailable by the U.S. Post Office, it was indicated.

Source: "Russian Soviet Colonies in U.S. to Meet in N.Y.," New York Call, v. 12, no. 4 (Jan. 4, 1919), pg. 6

Rabochii i Krest'ianin was edited by A. Brailovsky and ran from June 26, 1919 until July 31, 1919. According to Hoerder (ed.) The Immigrant Labor Press, the exact name of the publication's issuing authority was the Sovet Rabochikh Deputatov goroda Niu-Iorka i okresnotei -- the Soviet of Workers' Deputies of the City of New York and Area.

Source: Vladimir F. Wertsman in Dirk Hoerder (ed.),  The Immigrant Labor Press in North America, 1840s-1970s: An Annotated Bibliography: Volume 2, Migrants from Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1987; Vol. 2, pg. 125.

Despite being banned from the mails, Rabochii i Krest'ianin was delivered in bulk and door to door by a network of private couriers. A total distribution of 5,000 copies per issue was claimed in January 1919. The organization also claimed to have launched 100 new branches in the United States and Canada during 1918. Headquarters of the organization was located at 133 E 15th Street.

Source: "Russian Soviet Colonies in U.S. to Meet in N.Y.," New York Call, v. 12, no. 4 (Jan. 4, 1919), pg. 6

5. 5th Regular Convention of the Federation of Russian Branches of the Communist Party --- Detroit --- Aug. 20 - 28, 1919.

The Federation of Russian Branches had its 5th Regular Convention in Detroit from August 20-28, 1919. The convention was attended by 142 delegates, representing 106 branches in 16 states. The gathering was opened at 2 pm on Aug. 20 by the group's Secretary, Oscar Tyverovsky, who noted the Russian Federation was "surrounded on all sides by enemies" as "the reaction wider and wider opens its black jaws." Nevertheless, powerful growth had been experience by the federation in the previous year, Tyverovsky noted, and the task ahead was to give more concrete form and to strengthen the Russian Federation .

As of August 20, 1919, Sec. Tyverovsky told the 5th Convention of the Russian Federation that the group consisted of about 10,000, of whom 9,000 were said to be regular members of the organization, with the rest "family" or "unemployed" members. This all-too-round total claimed was belied by the figures for dues stamp sales also provided by Tyverovsky -- numbers which worked out to an average dues stamp total of 7082 for the five preceding months of 1919, of which an average of 5919 were regular paid members, with the balance "family" members or "unemployed."

In 1919 the Federation of Russian Branches consisted of five geographic districts, Including among them Chicago, Boston, and Detroit. Each of these districts had its own District Executive Committee.

A set of bylaws of the Russian Federation were approved by the 5th Convention in Detroit.


The new Central Executive Committee elected by the 5th Convention (to serve 1919-20) included the following:

Secretary: Oscar Tyverovsky; Members: Aneekovich (Chicago); Ashkenuzi (New York); Berezovsky (New York); Biegun (New York); Dudarik (New York); Galey (New York); Golos (California); Gurin (New York); Mislig (New York); Pochodnia (New York); Radziavanovich (Detroit); Zhuk (Erie, PA); Teshchanovich (Detroit); Zavadsky (Nunteecock).

Alexander Stoklitsky was unanimously re-elected as Translator-Secretary of the Federation of Russian Branches, with George Ashkenuzi elected the designated replacement should Stoklitsky resign or otherwise be incapable of serving.

Nicholas Hourwich was elected responsible editor of Novyi Mir; the other two members of the editorial board were to be chosen by the Central Executive Committee from the ranks of its members.


In addition to its New York daily organ, Novyi Mir (New World), the Russian Federation began to publish a weekly summary for mailing to other cities. The Federation also published an extensive number of books and pamphlets during 1917-19, including the following:

Lessons of the Revolution.
Popular Glossary
6 titles by N.I. Bukharin
Kamenev: Imperialism and the Balkan Republic.
The Communist Manifesto.
The Constitution of Soviet Russia.
The Problems of the Proletariat.
What Do the Bolsheviki Want?
Biography of Lenin.
The First of May.
The Law of Socialization of Land.
The Consecutive Problems of the Soviet Authority.
Christianity and Socialism.
Concerning the History of the October Revolution.
Steklov: Who Are the Communists?
Zinoviev: Plekhanov: In Lieu of a Speech at the Grave.
Arsky: The Paths of Our Revolution.
Forthcoming titles in late 1919 included:
A poem by Demian Bednyi
Engels: The Principles of Communism.
Lenin: Articles on the Agrarian Question.

Government repression hit the Federation hard: 266 members were said to have been arrested on political cases prior to the Aug. 1919 5th Convention, with a total bail of $97,000.

[fn: Records of the Fifth Regular Convention of the Federation Russian Branches Communist Party of America, held in the City of Detroit, August 20 to 28th, 1919. (NY: CEC, Federation of Russian Branches CPA, 1919), passim. This apparently a contemporary Department of Justice translation of a Russian language original. Document in Herbert Romerstein collection; duplicate in Tim Davenport collection.]
4. 6th Convention (?) --- New York --- June 26, 1920

The convention was attended by 26 delegates, including members of the Central Executive Committee of the CPA. Topics of discussion are said to have included mass action, industrialism, and future activity of the federation. It was believed by the Bureau of Investigation -- who tended to get such things wrong -- that the Executive Secretary of the Russian Federation of the CPA was George Ashkenuzi.

[fn. Jacob Spolansky, report of Aug. 11, 1920 based on informatin from "Confidential Informant 115," NARA M-1085, reel 931, file 313846.]
Federation of Russian Branches of the Communist Labor Party

The Communist Labor Party had a Russian Language Federation from its origin in 1919. Abraham Jakira of NY served as the first Secretary of that organization. As of November 1919, headquarters were maintained at 1634 Madison Avenue, New York City.

Jakira called a conference of the Federation of Russian Branches for Jan. 17-19, 1920. It is not known whether this event was held, however, due to the severe repression which swept down on the Communist movement on January 2, 1920 and thereafter.

[fn: C.J. Scully, "Re: A. Jakira," DoJ/BoI Investigative Files, NARA M-1085, reel 939, case file 202600-1775-1; Jakira to Vargomotzky, NARA M-1085, reel 931, file 313846.]


In late 1921, during the 5 months between formation of the unified CPA and the split of the Central Caucus faction, the Communist Party's Russian Federation had an average monthly paid membership of 1,174, making it the largest Language group in the party.

[fn: Comintern Archive: f. 515, op. 1, d. 75, l. 12.]

The Federation of Russian Branches of the CLP produced a newspaper called Pravda. Editor is believed to have been Gregory Weinstein.


Russian organization of the United Communist Party
1. "Russian Conference" --- (city?) --- Aug. XX-XX, 1920

A Russian Conference was held by the Russian groups of the United Communist Party shortly after the amalgamation of the CLP with the Ruthenberg-Belsky faction of the CPA, both of which had significant Russian contingents. The convention recommended to the CEC of the UCP that the Official Organ be issued twice a month and that a monthly theoretical magazine be established. Abram Jakira ["Dubner"] was named Organizer for the UCP Russian Federation. A National Propaganda Committee was also elected, but no editor was named. The CEC voted to order that this group be disbanded immediately, however, as it was in contradiction to a decision made at the founding convention of the UCP -- probably to assure the subordination of language groups to the center. Expulsion was threatened for groups refusing to recognize this decision. The CEC approved the election of Jakira as national organizer for the Russian section of the party and hie was given the authority "to organize an editorial committee to assist him in issuing the Russian Official Organ."

[fn. "UCP Bulletin #1," Aug. 14, 1920, copy in RGASPI, f. 515, op. 1, d. 28, l. 5]


The Russian Language was used by 136 of the UCP's 673 primary party units ("groups") in December of 1920, according to the party's own records. This represented 20% of the total, exceeded only by the number of South Slavic (Croatian & Slovenian) language groups. The UCP published an underground Official Organ in Russian, moving the site of publication to New York City in the fall of 1920.



Russian organization of the unified Communist Party of America

The unified CPA initiated a new legal Russian language newspaper called Muskrat, published in New York, in July of 1921.


XX - Russian Federation language conference -- [city?] -- [August?] 1921

The language conference of the Russian Federation, held late in the summer of 1921, was a pivotal affair. There seem to have been 31 potential regular delegates in attendance, in addition to a representative of the Central Executive Committee (presumably J. Wilenkin), a representative of the Communist International (presumably Karlis Janson ["Scott"]), and 3 fraternal delegates. One delegate from Bridgeport, CT was disallowed by Wilenkin on the grounds that Bridgeport had exceeded the 2 delegates to which its membership entitled it and elected 3; 6 delegates from the New York District were under challenge. This pushed the convention into effective control of a faction of former UCP members loyal to the CEC majority. The affected faction of former members of the old CPA immediately and noisily protested, refusing to submit their credentials and endeavoring to disrupt the meeting -- the first session of which was abruptly terminated. Negotiations continued the first night, with the former members of the old CPA refusing to accept the authority of Wilenkin. The next day George Ashkenuzi refused to present the report of the Russian Federation to the gathering and the former members of the old CPA continued their refusal to submit credentials. Instead, a bill for $600 was presented to Wilenkin to cover expenses incurred by the members of the old CPA faction in attending the session. As these delegates had not formally participated in the gathering, payment of the bill was refused, resulting in personal threats and a mass walk-out.

The Central Executive Committee met and characterized this action as a gross breach of discipline by a vote of 7-2, with 1 member voting "present," and the 19 leading members of the Russian Federation involved were immediately suspended. The CEC issued a statement detailing the background of its actions. Shortly thereafter a protest resolution was adopted by Russian Federationists loyal to those affected, calling for immediate restoration of the 19 suspended members to full membership status, pending a full investigation of the incident.

The stage was set for the split of the Central Caucus faction.


XY - First Congress [s"ezd] of the Russian Federation of the Communist Party of America -- [city?] -- December 1922 [?]

The 1st Congress was attended by 23 delegates, representing 1254 members of the 1314 total members of the Russian Federation. D1 [Boston] was represented by 5 delegates, representing 217 members; D2 [New York] was represented by 9 delegates, representing 517 members; D4 [Cleveland] by 1 delegate, representing 50 members; D5 [Chicago] by 5 delegates, representing 254 members; D6 [Detroit] by 2 delegates, representing 126 delegates. D8 [San Francisco] and D11 [Pittsburgh], with 60 members, were not represented. The Congress was also attended by representatives of the CEC of the Party, the Bureau of the Russian Federation, two representatives of the Trade Union Educational League, and one from the Bureau of the Ukrainian Federation of the CPA.

The gathering was addressed by the Secretary of the Russian Section of the Workers Party of America, who noted that this section had only about 900 members -- fewer even than the duespayers in the underground party!

The 1st Congress reunified the branches which had defected to the Central Caucus faction's Communist Party of America with the regular organization. The decision was made to initiate a legal Communist daily newspaper in the Russian language by February 1923, and money began to be collected for that purpose. An assessment was levied upon each district of $5 for every member to be put towards the fund for this publication as well as a 6 month supplementary assessment of 25 cents per member per month for the press.

The two representatives of TUEL addressed that gathering.

Secretary of the Federation "P. Ovod" submitted a report to the CEC summarizing the achievements of the congress.

[fn. "Edinyi S"ezd Russkoi Federatsii Kommunisticheskoi Partii Ameriki," Kommunist, v. 2, no. 22, pp. 2-4. Copy this complete 28 page issue in Comintern Archive, f. 515, op. 1, d. 140.,ll. 31-43. A complete stenographic protocol of this Congress appears in the same issue.]
Russian Language Section of the Workers Party of America

A new 9 member Bureau of the Russian Federation of the WPA was approved by the Administrative Council of the WPA on Dec. 5, 1922. This group consisted of the following: George Ashkenuzi, K. Radzivanovich, Chramoff, Berstein, Golos, Ossin, Perepelkin, Rouchlis, Visotsky.

[fn: Comintern Archive: f. 515, op. 1, d. 148, l. 47.]

Another new Bureau seems to have been elected at a convention held in December 1922. Approved by the Jan. 3, 1923, session of the CEC was the following 5 member Bureau: George Ashkenuzi, Ossin, Perepelin, Radzianovich, and Visotsky.

[fn: Comintern Archive: f. 515, op. 1, d. 148, l. 176.]
2. 2nd (?) Convention --- Chicago --- Jan. 12-13, 1924.

The Russian Federation of the Workers Party of America met over two days and was attended by representatives of 69 branches of the party, representing a federation with a claimed membership of 1,131. The meeting was controversial and was addressed by a Jan. 12 letter from WPA Executive Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg criticizing anti-Semitic agitation that was said to be developing among some members of the federation and noting the CEC's decision to intervene as to the editorial line of Novyi Mir in 1923, to make the paper more responsive to American political matters and less obsessed with the Russian situation and the affairs of the Russian colony in the United States as opposed to broader party matters. "For the Russian section to adopt the narrow nationalistic viewpoint expressed by a group of comrades who proposed that the Novyi Mir should become a purely Russian paper, is to repudiate the fundamental principles of the Communist International," Ruthenberg warned.

The Convention went on record in favor of organizing special women's branches of the party and adopted an educational program.

A new 5 member Bureau was elected for the Russian Federation consisting of :

George Ashkenuzi, Chicago.
Cosuschik, Boston.
Deviatkin, Chicago.
Striz, Detroit.
M.B. Svetlov [Svietlow], Chicago.
[fn: Abram Jakira, "Russians Hold Annual Convention," Daily Worker [Chicago], Jan. 17, 1924, pg. 4]
3. Special Convention --- New York --- Feb. XX-XX, 1925

A special convention of the Russian section of the Workers (Communist) Party of America was authorized by the CEC and held in order to "settle important problems directly connected with the life of Novyi Mir, daily organ of the Russian section." A report was made to the gathering on behalf of the CEC by Alexander Bittleman (printed in full in the Daily Worker of Feb. 20, 1925, pg. 4), a report which was accepted by a vote of 11 to 2. The Russian Bureau had been opposed to the calling of the convention, instead seeking to close the New York daily paper and to establish instead a new weekly in Chicago. This decision had been made by the bureau late in 1924 and was reaffilmed at the meeting of the bureau of Dec. 13, 1924. Deviatkin was sent from Chicago to New York to expedite the closing of the paper and Deviatkin and Striz were authorized by the bureau to prepare a declaration announcing the closure of the venerable publication.

The Central Executive Committee of the WPA immediately took a "strong and uncompromising" position against this action, according to Bittelman. A Dec. 24, 1924 meeting of the Political Committee was held, to which were invited Borisoff and Striz as representatives of the bureau of the Russian section. The pair argued strongly in favor of a Chicago-based weekly in lieu of the New York daily, but the Political Committee instead passed motions by Bittelman to maintain Novyi Mir as a daily, albeit with a reorganized editorial board, and that a series of conferences in support of the publication and a fundraising drive be launched. At its Dec. 30, 1924 meeting, the Political Committee appointed Bourgin, Moissaye Olgin, and Brailovsky as responsible editors of the publication.


MARCH 1917

"A Revolutionist's Career," by Leon Trotsky [March 1917] Article written in the spring of 1917 and published in Feb. 1918 by the Socialist Party weekly St. Louis Labor providing details of Leon Trotsky's life in his own words for a breathless public. The 38-year old Soviet leader draws a striking contrast between his politicized upbringing in Jewish Russia with the typical situation in the United States: "Here in America schoolboys seem to spend most of their time in sports, baseball and football. In Russia, the boys -- and girls, too, for that matter -- use their leisure for reading books like Buckle's History of Civilization, Marx's Capital, Kautsky's The Social Revolution, and our own great classics that throb with the passion of revolt. Our pastime is chiefly attending underground Socialist meetings and spreading the propaganda among workingmen in the city and peasants in the country." Trotsky does not hedge about his political affiliation during the pre-war period: "I was a Mensheviki of the extreme left, or a near-Bolsheviki." Trotsky describes his situation in America, where he arrived in Dec. 1916: "Here in New York I lived with my wife and two children in three rooms in a Bronx tenement, wrote for the Novyi Mir, the Russian Socialist daily, and spoke at Socialist meetings. I do not expect my stay here to be very long, however, for a revolution is bound to break out in Russia in a short time, and as soon as that happens I shall hasten to my home country and help in the work of Russia's liberation."


MARCH 1918

"Special Socialist National Convention Proposed by Local St. Louis, Mo." [March 14, 1918] On March 4, 1918, Local St. Louis, SPA, passed a resolution calling on the National Executive Committee to "call a special national convention of the party, to be held not later than the second week in June of this year, time and place to be fixed by the NEC." This letter of March 14 to the NEC announced this decision and asserts that "the Russian situation and other most vital questions affecting the present and future policy and attitude of our national and international movement" demands "our close and conscientious consideration, which can only be given by the representatives of our Socialist Party from all parts of the country in national convention assembled." The letter was distributed to the Socialist press and a call made for the various State Secretaries of the SPA to take up the call for a special convention of the party in their own states.


"Minutes of the 4th Convention of the Russian Socialist Federation: New York City -- Sept. 28-Oct. 2, 1918." On September 28, 1918, 34 delegates representing 38 divisions of the Russian Socialist Federation in 11 states, met in New York. Owing to ongoing federal government surveillance a a desire to conduct its councils frankly, without being heard or influenced by the Socialist Party administration (the party with which it was affiliated), the meeting was held in conditions of secrecy. Delegates first sent to the office of the federation's organ, Novyi Mir, to get the actual convention address at the last minute -- a private apartment. Location of the convention changed each day thereafter, a precaution which successfully kept the gathering from being penetrated by federal agents posing as newspaper reporters. This lengthy report includes reports on the status of each of 31 local divisions of the Russian Socialist Federation. According to the report of the federation's Secretary, V. Rich of Detroit, the Russian Socialist Federation had 51 divisions and some 2,500 members at the time of this gathering. The 4th Convention elected Alexander Stoklitsky as Translator-Secretary of the RSF -- the representative of the federation to maintain an office at Socialist Party headquarters in Chicago and to serve as a conduit between the SPA and the RSF. Elected as the new Secretary of the Federation itself was Oscar Tyverovsky of New York. The party's official organ, Novyi Mir, was in a state of crisis, owing to Wilson administration authorities not only taking away not only its right to send out issues at a subsidized Second Class rate, but also taking away its "privilege" to receive First Class Mail. Income from subscriptions was effectively cut off. Plans for reorganization of the paper were set aside by the convention for the incoming Executive Committee. The 4th Convention of the Russian Federation girded its loins for a forthcoming factional struggle in the Socialist Party, adopting a resolution on parliamentarism and the SPA which read in part: "Considering it inevitable that sooner or later a schism, signs of which are appearing, will arise in the American Socialist Party as it has already happened in other countries between the revolutionary and non-revolutionary factions, the Russian Socialist Federation deems it its duty to revolutionize, as much as possible, its ranks in the spirit of Bolshevik principles and union of its Left Wing in anticipation of the inevitable schism." Another resolution called for the convocation of a conference of the various "Russian Federations" (i.e. Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, South Slavic, Yiddish) of the Socialist Party "to effect unity of action of all Russian Federations and organizations by one united center."


"Report on the 4th Convention of the Russian Socialist Federation: New York City - Sept. 28-Oct. 2, 1918," by R.W. Finch The Justice Department's Bureau of Investigation, a secret intelligence-gathering apparatus, maintained close surveillance over the Russian Socialist Federation as well as all other liberal and radical political organizations. Acting on a tip from an informant, probably an individual in the office of the newspaper Novyi Mir, New York BoI Agent R.W. Finch learned of the forthcoming 4th Convention of the RSF and attempted to locate the gathering and to gain admission. A copy of the convention call for the gathering and an agenda (reproduced in Finch's report here) had been previously obtained by an operative of the Treasury Department's Secret Service. "We made every effort to get one of our undercover men into the meeting but without success for the reason that only duly accredited delegates with proper credentials were admitted," Finch notes to headquarters. Finch details the cat-and-mouse game he played during the first day of the convention attempting to locate the site of the gathering -- a private apartment identified only after the meeting for the day had adjourned. "We ascertained that the convention, although lasting 5 days, was not held at the same place 2 days in succession. Each day the delegates would call at at least 3 addresses before they would be taken to the address for the day at which the convention was to be held. Rather than take any further chances of uncovering our men, we made arrangements to secure the minutes of this meeting when the convention was over, and let the matter rest at that," Finch reports. He included with his report a copy of the meeting minutes obtained from his informant. "We believe that the minutes prove conclusively a contention we have long maintained, i.e., that the Russians in the US intend to organize for the purpose of allying themselves with those parties who are opposed to the present American form of government. From day to day we hear a great deal about the fact that they are planning to campaign upon the termination of hostilities in Europe for the purpose of bringing about some change in the governmental situation in the United States. We have heard the names of the Non-Partisan League, the IWW, followers of the People's Council, etc., etc., all lining up their forces for this action," Finch states.

Unspecified Month

"Membership Series by Language Federation for the Socialist Party of America: Dues Stamps Sold by Month -- January 1917 to March 1919." [compiled with footnotes by Tim Davenport] This document compiles and tallies complete dues information for 10 of the Socialist Party's 15 foreign language Federations as well as making use of incomplete statistics for the 5 others, drawing inferences from known statistics to fill in the blanks. It shows that far and away the largest Socialist Party Federation in the period was the Finnish, with a 1918 average membership in excess of 10,000; followed by the German (6150), Lithuanian (3,800), Jewish (nearly 3,800), and South Slavic (estimated at 2,300 in 1918 despite the disruption of having withdrawn from the party briefly in October over the question of the war). The figures show that in the 1st Quarter of 1919, the 15 language federations combined sold approximately 19,000 more dues stamps each month than they averaged during the previous year. This gain was not limited to the 7 federations summarily suspended by the National Executive Committee in May 1919, however, with the unsuspended Finnish Federation (+2,275), Jewish Federation (+2,450), German Federation (+1,800), Scandinavian Federation (+600), and Czech Federation (+450) accounting for nearly 40% of the total increase in the membership of the language groups in the period. The data shows a single gross dues anomaly among the suspended federations (March 1919 -- Ukrainian Federation) and potentially suspicious rates of growth in the 1st Quarter of 1919 in 2 others (Russian and Lithuanian). Dividing the sums of the Federation membership totals in the table into the known official paid memberships of the Socialist Party as a whole (1917 - 80,379; 1918 - 82,344; 1919-QI - 104,882) provides the information that an estimated 44.2% of SPA duespayers were members of foreign language federations in 1917, 45.8% in 1918, and 54.1% in the 1st Quarter of 1919.



"Summary Results of Voting for Candidates to Membership in the Executive Committee and for Secretary of the Russian Socialist Federation." [Jan. 15, 1919] Extract of an interesting (albeit highly esoteric) document seized by the Bureau of Investigation during the Palmer Raids of Jan. 1920 -- the tally sheet for the Russian Socialist Federation's election which closed Jan. 15, 1919. Candidates were nominated by the 4th Convention of the RSF (Sept. 28-Oct. 2, 1918) and the EC was elected by referendum vote of the rank and file. The race to replace Detroit resident V. Rich as Secretary of the RSF was not close, with Oscar Tyverovsky netting 627 votes to a combined 624 for his two opponents. The two top vote-getters in the contest for the 14 CEC slots were individuals whose names have not thus far been remembered by history -- Babich and Bogopolsky; Communist Party of America founder, New York DO, and Central Caucus chief George Ashkenuzi finished a respectable 3rd on the 24 name list. Two big names are missing: Russian Socialist Federation Translator-Secretary Alexander Stoklitsky was elected by the 4th Convention itself, as was Nicholas Hourwich (Nikolai Gurvich), elected editor of the Federation's organ, Novyi Mir. [Note finally that ASHKENUZI is the correct Library of Congress transliteration of that particular surname, as opposed to the 6 or so various other ways that the name has been spelled in the literature; ditto TYVEROVSKY, using terminal -Y instead of terminal -II.]



"Declaration to the Members of the Socialist Party of America of the Communist Propaganda League: With comments by Alexander Stoklitsky, Feb. 6, 1919." While the nascent Left Wing of the Socialist Party of America in the years 1915 and 1916 was grouped around an organization called the Socialist Propaganda League, the Left-Right conflict was submerged under a panoply of greater issues during the years of American participation in the European war. On Nov. 7, 1918, with the war coming to a merciful close, the Left Wing's struggle against the Regular wing of the Socialist Party erupted anew, starting with the formation of a group based in Chicago called the Communist Propaganda League (CPL). According to this statement of the CPL, the organization was launched by bringing together members of the "Bolshevist Federation of the American Socialist Party" (i.e., the Russian Federation and the various Federations comprised of nationalities of the former Russian empire) as well as "several important active members of the local Socialist movement who thoroughly agree to the program and principles of the Russian Bolsheviks." The group is said to have been formed to discuss the current situation facing the Socialist Party and "to determine the methods and means of directing our American Socialist Party to the truly revolutionary way." According to the program of the CPL (included here), the Socialist Party "all in all does not take into consideration to a sufficient degree the importance of mass demonstrations of the proletariat, which are the only means of leading us to the revolution," but instead lent its support to the "pure parliamentary system." A key element of the CPL program declared that "Socialistic propaganda must be exclusively the revolutionary class struggle of the proletariat" and demanded an end to "the use of small bourgeois reforms as a basis for the activities of the Socialist Party." A professional, paid National Executive Committee at the head of the party, close party control over all officers and other officials, and a centralized party press and lecture bureau were also significant demands of the Communist Propaganda League. Nominal Secretary of the CPL was Isaac Ferguson, although it appears that mail was actually sent to the office of Alexander Stoklitsky, Translator-Secretary of the Russian Socialist Federation, at party headquarters in Chicago.


APRIL 1919

"The Russian Workingmen's Association, sometimes called the Union of Russian Workers (What It Is and How It Operates)," by Edgar B. Speer [April 8, 1919] This internal document of the Department's of Justice's Bureau of Investigation (BoI -- forerunner of the modern FBI), prepared in the Pittsburgh office, analyzes the nature and composition of the Union of Russian Workers, an anarchist political organization of Russian emigres in the United States. The URW dominated the Convention of Russian Colonies held in New York in January 1919, with its leader, Peter Bianki, declaring on the floor of the gathering that "the Union of Russian Workers deny any form of power and Government because where Government begins, Revolution ends and where there is Revolution there is no place for Government." Speer's report dates the origin of the organized Russian radical movement back to 1907 (i.e., the aftermath of the 1905 revolution), and the formation of an anarchist newspaper, Golos Truda (The Voice of Labor). Conventions were held of the emerging organized anarchists behind this publication in 1912 and 1914, with the Detroit convention of July 1914 particularly influential in establishing the formal Union of Russian Workers. The preamble and statutes of the organization are included here, with Speer's estimate of organizational strength at the time of writing in the 10,000 to 15,000 range. After defining various ideological terms for his readers, Speer declares that "the Russian Workingmen's Association as it exists today is divided between the advocates of Anarchist-Syndicalism and Anarchist-Communism."

JUNE 1919

"Scuttling the Ship: A Statement of the Seven Suspended Language Federations, June 2, 1919." This is the joint protest statement of the 7 affected Language Federations of the SPA (Russian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Polish, Hungarian, South Slavic, and Latvian) in response to the May 27 action of the party's National Executive Committee to unilaterally suspend the entire memberships of these organizations. The "autocratic 7" members of the National Executive Committee who approved this action on "over 30,000 dues payers" are rebuked for failing to provide notification, time for preparation, or a trial. In addition, the NEC bloc of 7 suspended the party elections and expelled the Michigan organization of nearly 6,000 without trial, locked up the party headquarters in the hands of a private holding company outside of party control, and arbitrarily threw the Translator-Secretaries of the affected federations out of party headquarters without allowing time for them to locate new quarters. "In short, this group of seven National Committeemen, drunk with power they assumed, feeling aggrieved because these federations dared to criticize the National Executive Committee, made themselves guilty of an act which will discredit them forever in the International Socialist movement," the joint statement charged.

JULY 1919

"Circular Letter to All Members of the Russian Socialist Federation from Alexander Stoklitsky, Translator-Secretary, in Chicago." [circa July 15, 1919] Translator-Secretary Alexander Stoklitsky of the Russian Socialist Federation details plans for the forthcoming establishment of the Communist Party of America at a convention to be held September 1 in Chicago. "Our local sections must immediately begin get to work. Immediately summon representatives of the other Bolshevik Federations standing upon our position. Those sharing our position are the Lithuanian, Latvian, Ukrainian, Polish, and South Slavic Federations. Organize at once Communist Locals or Conferences in your communities." Stoklitsky notes the basis of representation for the foundation convention: "1 delegate, plus 1 delegate for each 500 organized members in the state. For instance, if Michigan has 6,750 organized members, it is entitled to 15 delegates: 1 delegate for the state, 13 delegates each representing a quota of 500 members, and 1 delegate for the major fraction of 500 members." Delegates to the CPA convention were also required to provide $50 towards the organization's finances, which was to be used to cover the traveling expenses of out-of-town delegations.



"The Conference of Russian Branches of the American Socialist Party in Chicago: Organization, Representation, and Activities," by Jacob Spolansky [events of March 24 to Aug. 9, 1919] This Bureau of Investigation intelligence report by Special Agent Jacob Spolansky reviews the history of the awkwardly named creation of Alexander Stoklitsky, the "Conference of the Russian Branches of the American Socialist Party in Chicago who share the Program of the Communist Party" The Chicago Conference of Russian Branches was dominated by the Russian language branches, which contributed 36 of the 49 delegates, joined by 9 Latvian, 3 Ukrainian, and 1 Lithuanian delegate. The Chicago Conference of Russian Branches elected delegates to the Chicago Communist Propaganda League, which Spolansky states will join with various English comrades and "pave their way for a Communist Party of America." A constitution for the Chicago Conference of Russian Branches was adopted at a meeting held April 16, 1919. Elected Secretary of the organization was the Russian Federationist Berezhovsky. The meeting of May 21 elected 4 delegates to the June National Conference of the Left Wing (Alexander Stoklitsky, Joseph Stilson, Dr. Kopnagel, and William Bross Lloyd). Spolansky states that at the June 5 meeting "various committees to cover various propaganda lines were elected and instructions were given to those committees to pave the way for a Communist Party in America." "The following several meetings were organization meetings of the now existing Communist Party of America," writes Spolansky in this report, several weeks before the "founding convention" of the CPA on September 1 [emphasis mine, --T.D.]. Spolansky provides a list of 24 Russian branches from around the country "who have adopted the program of the Communist Party."


"The Martens Affair: Report of CEC Representative Gurin to the 5th Regular Convention of the Federation of Russian Branches, Communist Party of America: Detroit, MI -- Aug. 22, 1919." The published historiographical literature indicates there was bad blood between the Russian Socialist Federation headed by Translator-Secretary Alexander Stoklitsky and Secretary Oscar Tyverovsky and the Soviet Russian Government Bureau in New York headed by Ludwig Martens. Little background has been provided, a crude grasp to expropriate Soviet funds has been intimated. This report by Russian Federation CEC member Gurin to the 5th Convention of the RF presents the full tale of the battle between the Russian Federation and the Martens Bureau for the first time. Rather than a grab for cash, the antagonism between Martens and the RF is depicted as the by-product of a struggle to submit the one-man managed RSGB to workers' control, the members of the RF seen as expatriate but fully vested members of the Russian working class abroad. Free of any external supervision and inspection, Martens had made a series of "errors," Gurin states. Particularly galling was the fact that for every staff position at the RSGB, "Martens has appointed either a Right Wing Socialist or an impartial person. You will find there an anti-Bolshevist Nuorteva, Lomonosov, and Mensheviki -- old man [Isaac] Hourwich [father of Novyi Mir editor Nicholas, incidentally], who sheds tears at the thought of the dispersal of the Constituent Assembly, and the well known [Morris] Hillquit." Gurin continues by noting "We are not against the inviting of bourgeois experts to these jobs. But at the very moment when any blind man could see that any day there might be a break in the Socialist Party, filling vacancies in the local Soviet mission by Right Wing Socialists would mean that the sympathy of the Soviet Bureau was with the Right Wing Socialists in their struggle with the Left. Just think! The representatives of Revolutionary Socialism in the US supports the Right Socialists in their struggle with the Revolutionary Socialists!" After a stream of orators spoke on the question, almost universally expressing condemnation of Martens for failing to submit to workers' control of the activities of his bureau, Martens had been given the last word in the debate, not subject to ordinary time limit. "Comrade Martens in his reply continued to state that he could not fulfill the demands of control over his activity... His opinion was that he as a representative of Soviet Russia had a right to present any demands to the Federation and the Federation must execute them." Martens asked the RF to renounce its demands for supervisory control over the activities of the RSGB. In the reply to debate, reporting CEC member Gurin unleashed a withering barrage at Martens: Martens had thrown representatives of the RF out of his office, had threatened to have his opponents blacklisted in Soviet Russia, had broken his promises, and had refused to submit to the reasonable authority of the Russian revolutionary socialist movement in America. A resolution was moved declaring that "all the activities of Comrade Martens as a local representative of the Russian worker-peasant government, as well as the activity of the Bureau and its clerks, must be under the complete control of the local Bolshevik (Communist) organizations." This resolution was approved in a massive landslide by the RF, 127 in favor, 8 opposed, and 15 abstaining.


Bylaws of the Federation of Russian Branches of the Communist Party of America [convention of August 20-28, 1919]. This is the complete text of the constitution approved by the Federation in August 1919 at its 5th Convention in Detroit. This document sheds light upon the organizational structure of the Russian Federation, one of the most important institutions in the Communist Party of America.


"The Communist Party of America," by Nicholas I. Hourwich [Gurevich], Aug. 26, 1919. This is the report delivered to the Federation of Russian Branches in August 1919 at its 5th Convention in Detroit. The son of a long-time Socialist Labor Party member, Isaac Hourwich, Nicholas Hourwich was formerly on the 3 member Editorial Board of the Russian Federation's newspaper, Novyi Mir, and was named responsible Editor by the 5th Convention. He was active in the Left Wing Movement and a founder and leading figure in the Communist Party of America from 1919.



"Circular to All Branches of the Russian Federation of the Communist Party of America from Oscar Tyverovsky, Secretary." [circa Sept. 15, 1919] In this communique from the first days after the split of the Socialist Party of America into 3 competing organizations, Secretary of the Russian Federation Oscar Tyverovsky offers the Communist Party of America's perspective of the dispute. Tyverovsky is harshly critical of the Communist Labor Party element for not joining with the Communist Party of America after the outcome of the Socialist Party convention became clear on its first day, Aug. 30, 1919. These delegates disregarded the fact that the CPA organizing committee had agreed to accept those delegates who would be willing to submit to the requirements governing the delegates of the Communist Convention, i.e., to pass the Mandate Commission." Instead, they formed their own dual communist political organization, the CLP -- a group which Tyverovsky characterizes as "a party of leaders without [the masses]." Tyverovsky notes that these "so-called communists" had admitted to their organization branches of the Russian Federation which recently been expelled by the Russian Federation "because of their Menshevik tactics and disorganizing activities." Instead of making known the real differences in the orientation of these two wings of the Russian Federation, Tyverovsky states that the CLP was instead exaggerating an artificial issue, the question of control over the Russian Soviet Government Bureau of Ludwig Martens (which the CLP supported and worked with and the CPA sought to subordinate to its own party control). The CLP also made use of their "backbiting, lying paper, Pravda" to slander the Russian Federation, Tyverovsky charges, adding that "we must stand fast at our post, not allowing the evil-doers to disrupt our ranks."


"In Re: Communist Meeting at West Side Auditorium, Chicago," Reports by Peter P. Mindak and Jacob Spolansky [Sept. 21, 1919] Two Bureau of Investigation reports on the mass meeting held in Chicago in the afternoon of September 21, 1919, by the Communist Party of America. According to Special Agent Mindak, about 800 or 900 persons were in attendance, "most of whom appeared to be Russians," to hear speeches by Harry Wicks and C.E. Ruthenberg (in English), J. Kaminski (in Polish), and Alexander Stoklitsky (in Russian). Mindak singles out Wicks for special mention: "This speaker assailed the President in most violent terms, and his entire speech, it can be safely said, was the most revolutionary and fiery talk that employee has yet heard. He called all the police and other peace officers as being all thugs cutthroats, and pimps. He could not find words powerful enough to portray his contempt and animosity. He advocated the organization of the workers in the various shops, to prepare themselves for the time, which he stated was at hand, when the workers will take the plants in their own hands as they did in Russia." Ruthenberg is said to have delivered "more of the old time Socialistic anti-Capitalistic talk and was tame in comparison with the talk of Wicks." Mindak states that Stoklitsky was the most effective speaker, resoundingly greeted by the assembly. The Russian-speaking Spolansky adds a note on the content of Stoklitsky's speech, noting that he "worded his speech to the coming strike" on Sept. 22. As is his wont, Spolansky luridly adds that Stoklitsky "stated that the steel strike, which is going to start on September 22nd [1919] will become a general revolution, and that the Communist Party, whose aim is to bring about this revolution in this country should make every possible effort to explain to the steel strikers that proclaiming getting more wages for shorter hours is not the thing to fight for. He stated that they must fight for the establishment of communism through the proletarian dictatorship."



"Russian Soviet Colonies in U.S. to Meet in N.Y.: Second Annual Convention of All-Russians to be held January 6 to 9." (NY Call) [Jan. 4, 1919]  News account detailing the forthcoming 2nd All-Russian Colonial Conference in New York City. Formally conducted under the auspices of the New York Soviet of Deputies of Russian Workers, the gathering brought together members of the emigre Russian-language speaking Socialist and Anarchist movements. The article notes the existence of a weekly newspaper by the New York Soviet, with a claimed circulation of 5,000 copies, and states that more than 100 branches of the organization had been established across the United States and Canada during the previous year. Headquarters were located at 133 E 15th Street, the article indicates. Charges made by Philadelphia police attempting to connect the radical Russians there with recent bomb incidents were explicitly denied by a spokesman for the group.

"Mounted Police Trample Men, Women, and Children in Assault on Russian Parade: Many Wounded By Cops' Clubs; 2 Children Are Reported Dead... 8 Paraders Arrested: Nightsticks, Poles, Stirrups, Straps Used in Attack -- Men Dragged from Hallways and Beaten." (NY Call) [event of Oct. 8, 1919] A forgotten incident of anti-radical police brutality recalled: On October 8, 1919, an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 Russian-Americans gathered in New York City to conduct a peaceful protest march in protest of the undeclared act of war against the Soviet Russian Republic represented by the blockade of the nation. A squad of mounted policemen, swinging clubs ferociously, rode into the crowd, followed by more than 100 foot policemen and plainclothes detectives, headed by Chief Inspector John Daly and Detective Sergeant James J. Gegan of the NYC "Bomb Squad." "Cries for help arose, abut there was no help. The very men sworn to uphold the law and protect life were violating the one and seeking to destroy the other. Men threw themselves in front of women and were beaten down; women tried to shield their children and were trampled on; the children fled, screaming, among the flying hooves and rhythmically pounding clubs, seeking in vain for an escape," this eyewitness journalist account from the New York Call indicates. Protesters were trapped in alleyways by mounted policemen and beaten mercilessly without provocation. The police arrested 8 in conjunction with the "riot" which resulted from the police attack.


"Police Batter Down Paraders With Clubs: Brutality of Mounted Cops Exceeds That of Men in Trenches, Says Woman Writer, Eyewitness of Charge on Men, Women, and Children," by Louise Bryant [event of Oct. 8, 1919] Prominent Left Wing journalist Louise Bryant (wife of CLP founder and fellow journalist John Reed) was a witness to the brutal attack by New York City police on the Oct. 8 anti-blockade protest. She calls the action by the police against some 2,000 to 2,500 unarmed and peaceful protesters "the most disgraceful scene of my life," more callous and brutal than anything she had seen in war or revolution. Bryant recalls "The mounted police galloped along the sidewalks. There was nowhere for that big crowd to hide. Many ran down the steps of the [Hotel] Brevoort leading to the cafe, others ran up the front steps leading to the lobby, some hid behind the little iron fence, but there was not room enough for all. From everywhere policemen on foot came running, striking out with their heavy clubs right and left, and plainclothesmen appeared. The latter armed themselves quickly with stout poles from the fallen banners. And they also began beating the people." She recounts the brutal technique used by the purported guardians of order: "They would pull a man from behind the iron fence or from the edge of the sidewalk and begin to club him. He would try to protect himself, but would soon find it no use. A whole mob of plainclothesmen and police would attack him; then he would run, and as he ran he would receive blow after blow." In a memorable word picture, Bryant recounts pulling a Russian woman to safety: "She was absolutely beside herself and kept saying in Russian: 'Like Cossacks! They ran over us like Cossacks!' We dragged her behind the iron fence. A fat woman leaned down from the balcony and looked at us with a cold smile on her face. She held in her hand the biggest gold-mesh bag I ever saw. 'She isn't hurt,' she said, 'she's only bluffing...' Then she glanced up the street and watched with interest another poor Russian being beaten. I never saw such a cruel expression, not even at a bull fight." Bryant then was then confronted by a NYC policeman: "Then a detective came up to me and told me to go home. He said, with his crafty animal eyes close to mine, 'I'd like to put you where you belong.' And a middle-aged gentleman with a cane and his chin quivering from excitement came up and asked me if I was born in America. He wanted to arrest me, but the policeman shook his head. 'No, she's an American,' the policeman explained. That was not the full explanation. I had on good clothes." Bryant characterizes the October 8 violence as "a riot started by the police and kept up by the police."


"The Demonstration of October 8 and What It Teaches Us," by Nicholas I. Hourwich [event of Oct. 8, 1919] Leader of the Russian Federation of the Communist Party of America Nick Hourwich offers his perspective on the ill-fated Oct. 8, 1919 parade in New York of 2,500 to 3,000 Russian immigrants who gathered to attempt to bring an end to the blockade of Soviet Russia. The peaceful gathering had been ridden down by mounted policemen and the unarmed and passive demonstrators had been systematically beaten by foot officers and from horseback. Hourwich states that the "illusion of non-partisanship" of the demonstrators had been "badly shattered" by the brutal actions of the New York police. The actions of the servants of the state had proven that anyone "who goes out to fight for the lifting of the blockade from Soviet Russia must inevitably be drawn into the conflict against the entire existing economic and social-political system -- against capitalism and the capitalist state." The demonstrators, who are compared to the supplicants marching behind the banners of Father Gapon in Tsarist Russia in 1905, sorely lacked the leadership that the Communist Party could have provided, Hourwich asserts. Hourwich notes that Communist leadership would have understood the potential for state violence and carefully weighed its strength and prospects, not hesitating to delay action if conditions were not promising. Cancellation of an ill-prepared action was "better than a disorderly procession of several thousand people, lacking any elements of heroism, scattering aimlessly in the face of several scores or even hundreds of police," Hourwich declares.


"Six Victims of Cops' Brutality Get Six Months in Workhouse: 'Why Don't They Go Back to Where They Came From?' Magistrate Sweetser Asks..." (NY Call) [event of Oct. 11, 1919] In the aftermath of the October 8, 1919, orgy of unprovoked and unmet police brutality in New York City at the "Hands Off Russia" march of some 2,500 Russian-Americans, justice was swiftly meted out -- not against the outrageous excesses of Detective Sergeant James J. Gegan and his associates in beating and crushing the unarmed protesters, but rather against 7 innocent demonstrators arrested in the police's dragnet. Sentences of 6 months in the county workhouse were pronounced upon 6 of the demonstrators by ultra-nationalist magistrate Howard P. Sweetser. "These foreigners assail the institutions of the country and especially the constitution, but when they get pinched they hide behind it and ask for protection," Sweetser belligerently declared at the sentencing. ""The constitution is for Americans, not for foreign Russians," Sweetser asserted. The 6 were tried en mass, 4 arrested for carrying literature and banners to the Washington Square site of the demonstration (without ever making it to the scene, apparently); 2 were IWW activists carrying leaflets and the Wobbly paper New Solidarity. A 7th defendant, an American citizen, escaped with a $10 fine when it was admitted in court that the defendant was "courteous and submitted to being taken into custody," belying charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Evidence as to the real nature of the police-riot was given in the course of the trial by a major in the Army's chemical warfare section and the personal secretary to the 3rd Assistant Secretary of the War Department, the latter of whom implicated Detective Sergeant James J. Gegan as one of the most brutal figures in the vicious suppression of the demonstration.


"Will Go Over Enright's Head; Major Swears to Cops' Acts... Evidence Piles Up: Object of Fight is to Get Mayor on Record as Opposed to Government by Police Clubs." (NY Call) [Oct. 13, 1919] Defeated in court by a blindly partisan conservative magistrate, attorney Charles Recht prepared to take the matter of police brutality in the Oct. 8 "Hands Off Russia" demonstration over the head of unsympathetic Police Commissioner Richard Enright to the mayor of New York. As part of this effort sworn affidavits were taken from various witnesses of police misconduct during the affair. This news report from the New York Call reproduces the text of one such affidavit concerning police brutality, the testimony of Maj. Richard C. Tolman of the Ordinance Dept. of the US Army, who was eating lunch at a Washington Square tearoom at the time of the police-riot. Tolman states that "the crowd seemed to me unusually orderly and very patient" until the arrival of foot policemen, who roughly jostled the crowd, led to the procession starting up Fifth Avenue in a "disorderly fashion." "Suddenly about 12 or 15 mounted police rode down from Washington Square into the head of the column, beating the crowd on the head unmercifully with their nightsticks," Tolman states. "The crowd tried to disperse, but the foot policemen and mounted policemen were so placed as to make this extremely difficult. The plainclothesmen and foot policemen stationed themselves on the sidewalk and the horsemen drove the crowd into them. The foot policemen beat people in the crowd over the head and, in particular, Sergeant Gegan took a long staff from one of the banners carried by the paraders and beat the men up unmercifully." Tolman attests that he "saw no case of retaliation by members of the crowd upon the police, for in every case they were running away as rapidly as possible."


"Dr. Ackerman Also Swears to Cops' Brutality at Russ Parade: Secretary to Third Assistant Secretary of War Makes Affidavit to Be Handed Hylan... Head of 'Bomb Squad' Was Most Active Among Uniformed Assailants is Charge." (NY Call) [Oct. 14, 1919] Text of an affidavit by Dr. Phyllis Ackerman, personal secretary to a prominent War Department official, gathered by attorney Charles Recht as part of his effort to prevent future incidents of police violence against individuals attempting to assert their constitutional right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of their grievances. Ackerman declares in her sworn testimony that "Members of the crowd themselves insisted in keeping the roadway clear for traffic. There was perfect order, good nature, no jostling, no noise, no protests of any kind at the long delay." The crowd remained peaceful despite 4 or 5 officers throwing themselves "with all their force against the crowd," Ackerman states. "Suddenly there was a clatter of hooves and about a dozen mounted policemen crashed down the avenue from the direction of Washington Square and galloped at full speed into the crowd, swinging long clubs. They drove them against the iron fence and into the areaways of the houses, beating violently on all sides of them."The mounted police meanwhile rode up and down the sidewalk to catch chance passers and when these refugees attempted to come out, as the police had commanded them, the police, both mounted and men on foot, stood on either side of the sidewalk and beat them. Conspicuous among these police was the heavy-set, gray-haired man whom I have since had identified as Sergeant Gegan. He had picked up a long pole, which had broken off one of the banners, and was beating so violently at everyone who came past that he was gasping, red in the face, and perspiring. At every opportunity he rained brutal blows on every man or woman who came within reach." Ackerman notes that "It was conspicuous that anyone in working clothes, or who seemed to be a member of the working class, was beaten, shoved, told to move on, and followed up; whereas I, who deliberately pushed my way in with all my might among 3 policemen, was deliberately left alone, the policemen stepping aside. A tenement woman spoke of the policemen as brutes. Five of them pursued her with swinging clubs, but failed to hit her. I stood in front of 6 policemen and said the same thing with greater force, but they merely looked abashed and did not know what to say. The point I wish to emphasize is that the only disorder there was provoked by the police themselves, by deliberate brutality of the most violent and unwarranted kind."



"IWW and Russian People's House Raided: Men are Clubbed Without Mercy; 52 Held for Exile: Officials Shroud Brutal Plots in Mystery -- One Talks of 'Plot' for 'Revolution' Today -- Caminetti Issued Warrants -- Many of the Victims Released." [events of Nov. 7, 1919] On November 7, 1919, federal and local authorities in New York City held a celebration of the 2nd Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution of their own, launching coordinated raids against the local headquarters of the Industrial Workers of the World and the "Russian People's House" of the anarchist Union of Russian Workers. This news account from the New York Call details the raid on the Russian People's House (the 4th of a series of raids on that institution) -- another article, not included here, told of the violent raid on IWW headquarters. The action on the Russian People's House, directed by William J. Flynn of the US Secret Service, is called "one of the most brutal raids ever witnessed." Backed with warrants by Commissioner of Immigration A.A. Caminetti, authorities rushed the building, systematically beating the occupants with clubs and blackjacks. Nearly 100 prisoners, many bleeding profusely, were taken away to headquarters, and 52 eventually held for deportation. Mob violence was incited by a policeman, who spotted two Call reporters and shouted from the stoop of the building to the crowd, ""If there's a soldier among you, get after them!" One victim, former soldier Jacob Uden, who was at the Russian People's House for classes, testified as to the behavior of the agents of so-called "law and order": "Some detectives came in, and they pushed us up against the end of the room. I asked one why he was pushing me, and he lifted up his leg and kicked me in the stomach. Then another one hit me in the head with a club. Others were hit. Everybody was hit. There was blood. I saw it, and when they pushed us together close, like in the subway, I got some on my face."


APRIL 1920

"Open Letter to All Russian Branches of the Communist Party of America in Rabochaia Bor'ba." [April 18, 1920] This valuable document makes known to historians for the first time the name of the Russian language organ of the Chicago CPA, Rabochaia Bor'ba , although no copies of the publication are known to have survived. The Chicago District Committee, dominated by members of the Russian Federation, was the chief bulwark of the dissident Ruthenberg faction in the party split of April-May 1920 -- which resulted in the formation of the United Communist Party at a joint unity convention held at Bridgman, Michigan. This document gives first voice to the perspective of the Chicago Russian Federationists. They depict the Russian Federation as an organization in crisis, with government repression removing "the best active and loyal comrades" on the one hand, while on the other "the dirty politics of our leaders from the Central Executive Committee of the Russian Federation" engaged in systematic expulsions of "those who dare to criticize their doings." In the face of the repression, the leadership of the Russian Federation had lost its nerve, it is argued, disappearing into underground oblivion after looting the till of the organization. "It is time to lead ourselves away from the bunch of politicians, among whom are included common adventurers who have nothing in common with the workers' movement, but who are utilizing this movement in their personal interests," the unknown writer in Rabochaia Bor'ba declares. The position of the Chicago District Executive Committee is endorsed anew, urging CPA members to "Refuse any moral and material help to the bunch who call themselves the Central Executive Committee of the Russian Federation and all the business of the region until we decide upon future steps to go over directly under the management of the Communist Party."


MAY 1920

"Statement to All Members of the Communist Party of America from the Chicago DEC." [May 14, 1920] This extensive statement was made by the dissident Chicago District Executive Committee to the membership of the Communist Party. A bitter barrage is levied against the governing Central Executive Committee of the national organization, which is characterized as having incompetently presided over "8 months of quietness and inactivity": "Since the time when the Communist Party was organized, not a single paragraph of our program was developed. Not one paragraph of the program was ever used as a basis for action, [nor was it] even discussed by the Central Executive Committee. Not one of the most important tactical questions of the Communist movement in America was solved or discussed. The Communist Party was put in a state of coma because the central organ never showed any initiative or capability to develop party questions and build up an organization. The rank and file did not have the opportunity to learn the party questions and express their opinions." The CEC majority had dodged every issue of import, the Chicago DEC argues: "This majority has the nerve to state that Communist principles are safe when they are in their hands, but it is evident that their understanding of these principles is an empty play with phrases. Nothing has been done. Even the question that primarily occupied the thoughts of our members, the question of the relation of our party to the IWW, was completely ignored by the Central Executive Committee." The CPA is characterized in most unflattering terms: "The Communist Party, stating the matter accurately, is only such in name. We were never a party, but rather a free federation of federations... These work independently from the party and from each other. Their printed matter has been mainly nationalistic, bearing a distant relation to the Communist Party." A newly centralized organization is held as the only possible solution.


"The Chicago "Picnic": Bureau of Investigation Report on the Mass Meeting Held at National Grove, Riverside, IL (near Chicago)," by August H. Loula [May 16, 1920] One missing component from the narrative on the history of the 1920 split of the CPA has been a view of the reaction of the rank and file to the machinations of the two competing leaderships. This excerpt of a report by Bureau of Investigation Special Agent August Loula brings the membership to the fore for the first time. On May 16, 1920, the dissident Chicago organization of the underground CPA held a "picnic" at a park in the Chicago area -- actually a general membership meeting attended by some 500 Chicago members of the CPA held to discuss the volatile party situation. The gathering heard presentations by representatives of the CEC Majority and the dissident Ruthenberg-Ferguson-Belsky group, the latter denouncing the "shameful conduct of the Executive Committee since the January raids." Despite a claim made by the Majority representative that "under the circumstances the members of [the CEC] could not act otherwise because the life of the party was at stake and in order to save it they were obliged to place themselves in hiding," the gathering issued a resolution supportive of the dissident majority group.


"United Communist Party -- "Groups" According to Language: As of December 1920." This is based upon an internal document of the United Communist Party captured by the Department of Justice's Bureau of Investigation in the April 1921 raid on UCP National Headquarters in New York. The UCP prided itself on having largely eliminated the federation-based form of organization which typified its rival, the Communist Party of America. Groups (Primary Party Units of between 5 and 10 members) were nevertheless based around language as well as geography and statistics tabulated by the organization. This snapshot from the midpoint of the UCP's one year of existence surprisingly shows more South Slavic (Croatian and Slovenian) language groups than any other (144), followed by the Russian (136), English (121), German (61), Latvian (49), Yiddish (37), Lithuanian (34), and Finnish (31) language groups.


MARCH 1921

"Debate on the Press and the Society for Medical Aid to Soviet Russia at the 3rd Russian All-Colonial Congress: New York City," by Bureau of Investigation Undercover Agent "P-132" [March 8, 1921] The Russian All-Colonial Congresses were ostensibly non-partisan biannual gatherings of the "Russian colony in the United States and Canada" sponsored by the anarchist Union of Russian Workers. This material is an extract from the report of the 3rd Russian All-Colonial Congress was provided by "P-132," a Russian-speaking undercover Special Agent of the Bureau of Investigation (a full BoI employee who wrote his own reports, as opposed to a paid informer who funneled information to a reporting Special Agent). Topics of debate here are the ideological line to be pursued by the new official organ of the All-Colonial and the financial controversy over the Detroit branch of the Medical Aid to Soviet Russia organization. With regard to the press, the All-Colonial (Union of Russian Workers) had launched a paper called Amerikanskaia Izvestiia [American News] to replace the suppressed anarchist weeklies Rabochii i Krest'ianin and Khleb i Volia. Calls were made by anarchist delegates to the 3rd Congress for the publication to adopt an explicitly anarchist line. Delegate Mikhailov declares" "Comrades, you all know that we are Anarchists. Why should we cover up our beliefs and teachings by organizing schools and various educational societies? And that applies to Amerikanskaia Izvestiia. Once for all we ought to say clearly that it is an Anarchist newspaper and establish definitely its true character and purpose." This perspective is opposed by Delegate Sivko, who states: "You are an Anarchist; well, I am a Communist, and if you demand the Anarchist policy I demand the Communist, and I will never consent that Anarchist propaganda be taught through Amerikanskaia Izvestiia." Despite their control of the convention, the multi-tendency orientation of the newspaper was maintained by the final resolution of the 3rd All-Colonial Congress. That same evening a "special meeting or session" was held to deal with the alleged improprieties of the Medical Aid to Soviet Russia organization. At this "special session," the same "Communist" delegate Sivko (probably a communist-anarchist as opposed to a CPA member) detailed the fraudulent practices which he uncovered in the Detroit organization of the Medical Aid for Soviet Russia organization. Rovin, Saks, Mendelsohn, and Boris Roustam-Bek are accused of having pocketed organizational funds, nearly $2,000 being unaccounted for by a snap audit. A parallel (anarchist) Medical Aid to Soviet Russia organization had been launched. Adding color is the comment by "P-132" that "during [Sivko's] speech several members of the Communist Party were trying to break up the meeting, but they were beaten up by members of the Union of Russian Workers, especially by Kiselev, who threw them down the stairs."


MAY 1921

"CPA Condensed Cash Statement, Feb. to May 1921, Including Federations, But Not Including Payments to and from the National Office and the Federations: Presented to the Joint Unity Convention, Woodstock, NY - May 15, 1921." This is a very esoteric budget document, but specialists in the history of the early American Communist movement will probably immediately recognize its import. For me, at least, this document has led to a fundamental rethinking about the nature of the old CPA, for it shows that the organization truly was a "federation of federations." Five of the old CPA's 6 Language Federations possessed assets at least twice the size of the National Office of the organization. The same 5 possessed printing plant in excess of the National Office. Three of them retained substantial real estate holdings. Three of them spent more money than the National Office on literature production, and a fourth spent approximately the same amount as the National Office. These were clearly fully functioning political organizations in their own right, not tiny social groups of members speaking a common language. It is little wonder that the "Federation Issue" stood so large on the landscape as the primary issue impeding merger efforts between the UCP and the old CPA for so long and fueling the Central Caucus split that erupted in late November of 1921.



"Statement of the CEC on the Suspension of the 19 Russian Members." [circa Sept. 20, 1921] A shot in the factional war which was to erupt in a party split in the fall of 1921 was fired by the majority of the CPA when its representative to the Russian language conference apparently became embroiled in a machine politics-type move involving a challenge of the credentials of the elected New York delegation and simultaneous packing of the Credentials Committee of the gathering -- thereby putting the minority (which supported the ex-UCP majority of the CEC) in a position of control of the gathering and ensuring the election of a Russian Bureau favorable to that majority. This heavy-handed action prompted the walkout of the (ex-CPA) faction being victimized by this maneuver. In response, the CEC majority suspended the 19 regular and fraternal delegates who walked out of the Russian language conference en masse. This document was issued by the CEC majority (and subsequently leaked to the Department of Justice's Bureau of Investigation) as an explanation of the situation which had developed. Bridgeport, Connecticut had elected 3 delegates when it was entitled to 2, the document states and the representative of the CEC (presumably Russian Federationist and CEC majority member J. Wilenkin) had arbitrarily disallowed one of these delegates, while 6 New York delegates were under challenge, thereby reducing the (ex-CPA) faction to 12 of 24 regularly elected delegates (and tipping control of the gathering to the ex-UCP faction). Thereupon, the (ex-CPA) minority refused further participation in the gathering. "Continuous and deliberate efforts" to disrupt the gathering were first made by the offended faction, forcing a hasty termination of the first session. The authority of the CEC's representative (Wilenkin) was repudiated. "During the night they informed the delegate from the CI [Janson] that they would not recognize the authority of the CEC unless they were given at least half of the delegation from [New York]," the statement indicates, a demand met with a demand that the authority of the CEC's representative must first be given by the alienated faction. This was refused. The next day George Ashkenuzi refused to give the Federation's financial and organizational report and a bill was presented to Wilenkin for $600 to cover the expenses incurred by the ex-CPA faction in attending the conference. This was refused by Wilenkin on the grounds that the ex-CPA faction had not participated in the convention and therefore could not have their expenses reimbursed. Threats were apparently made against Wilenkin's person, the CEC majority was condemned, and the alienated faction walked out. Thereafter, the CEC of the CPA voted 7-2 (1 member voting "present") to suspend the 19 individuals involved pending fuller investigation by the CEC. "The lies and misrepresentations circulated by some of these comrades regarding their behavior at the conference only adds to their already shameful and uncommunistic conduct," the statement of the CEC declares.


"Resolution on the Suspension of the 19 Delegates to the Russian Language Conference." [Adopted circa Sept. 25, 1921.] This resolution issued by Russian Federation elements formerly members of the old CPA protests the heavy-handed action to manipulate the outcome of the 1921 Russian language conference by the CEC majority. The resolution declares that the conference had been denied the right "to constitute itself according to generally accepted procedure" and "to decide for itself upon contesting and contested delegates" and that "regularly elected delegates and all others who did not recognize these arbitrary and disruptionary rulings" had been excluded from participation. As a result, the resolution continues, the 19 affected regular, contested, and fraternal delegates had protested the arbitrary and illegal actions of the representative of the CEC majority in the only manner in which they were able. The resolution calls for the CEC to reconsider its suspensions of these 19 members of the Russian Federation and to restore these 19 individuals to full party membership pending the conduct of a full investigation.



"Report of the Secretary of the Russian Federation to the Secretary of the Party," by "P. Ovod" [December 1922] Brief report of unified CPA's Russian Federation detailing the results of the "First Congress" of the Federation, an underground event held in December 1922. The Congress was attended by 23 delegates, concentrated in the New York and Boston Districts, and represented a claimed membership of 1314. The biggest decision of lasting importance was to move towards the establishment of a legal Communist daily paper in the Russian language, to begin publication by Feb. 15, 1923. To this end, the districts were assessed a special tax of $5 per member, payable by Feb. 1, 1923, with an additional special assessment of 25 cents per member by month. To raise money to cover this new cost, the branches of the Russian Federation were advised to hold fundraising "entertainments." The congress was also addressed by two members of the Trade Union Educational League, who sought to increase participation of Russian-language Communists in that organization. One additional figure bears mentioning: one year after the formation of the Workers Party of America, the Russian Section of that organization had a declared dues paying membership of 1,000 -- that is, smaller than the size of the underground CPA! Includes a district by district breakdown of the membership of the CPA's Russian Federation.


"Membership Series by Language Federation for the Workers Party of America. 'Dues Actually Paid' -- (March to June) vs. (July to Oct.) 1922 and 8 Month Average." Tim Davenport, ed. [from report of Dec. 24, 1922] This document summarizes federation-by-federation membership data presented to the 2nd National Convention of the Workers Party of America, based upon dues statistics generated through the month of October 1922. The statistics show that nearly half of the WPA in its first year were members of the organization's Finnish Federation. English was the 2nd largest of the 14 language sections (1 out of 8 WPA members hailing from English language locals), while the Yiddish language locals included 1 member out of 10.


Unspecified Month

"Membership Series by Language Federation for the Workers Party of America. 'Dues Actually Paid' -- January to December 1923." Official 1923 data set of the Workers Party of America, compiled from a document in the Comintern Archive. This series shows a great numerical dominance of the WPA by its Finnish Federation, accounting for a massive 42.8% of the average monthly paid membership of the organization (6,583 of 15,395). The total of the English language branches is the 2nd strongest amongst the federations (7.6%) followed by the South Slavic (7.5%), Jewish [Yiddish language] (6.9%), and Lithuanian (6.0%) Federations. In all, there were statistics kept for 18 different language groups of the WPA in 1923, including the English and the barely organized Armenian sections.


"Initiation Stamps Sold by Federation for the Workers Party of America. January to December 1923." Official 1923 data set of the Workers Party of America, compiled from a document in the Comintern Archive. This series once again (repeating the previous published 1924 series) shows a schizophrenic pattern of stamp sales among language groups . Some federations clearly did not collect the initiation fees called for in the WPA constitution at all (Jewish, German, Latvian) while at the same time the quantities sold via the English branches are ridiculously high. Over 53% of the initiation stamps sold for the entire WPA were credited to the English branches -- nearly three times as many initiations than there were average duespayers in those English branches! Even assuming a significantly higher than average "membership churn" rate for English branches, there is clearly some other unexplained phenomenon at play in these English branch initiation stamp sale figures...


MARCH 1923

"The Enemy Within," by Bertha Hale White [March 1923] This article by Socialist Party Assistant Executive Secretary Bertha Hale White makes an explicit charge against Alexander Stoklitsky, Translator-Secretary of the Russian Socialist Federation of the Socialist Party in 1919, accusing him of being "a secret employee of a detective bureau" who worked to disrupt and disorganize the Socialist Party in conjunction with Louis Fraina, who is himself characterized as "an undercover man for the Department of Justice." White offers not a whit of concrete evidence in support of her spy-mania. Instead she recounts the disputed party of election of 1919, in which 30,000 printed ballots are said to have vanished and a Left Wing rebellion is said to have been run from Stoklitsky's office at SP headquarters in Chicago. White melodramatically declares: "The knowledge of Stoklitsky's treachery came with peculiar bitterness. While his rude and boorish manner made it impossible to associate with him without irritation, he had enjoyed the unqualified confidence of the National Office and no suspicion of him had stayed his hand while he scattered the seeds of dissension and hatred. All the tyranny and persecution of the war could not shatter the Socialist Party. Stoklitsky, agent provocateur, had more efficient methods. In less than a year after he come into the National Office he had accomplished the task assigned him by the enemies of the Socialist Party. In the midst of fratricidal strife the Communist and Communist Labor Parties were organized and the Socialist Party cleft to its foundations. Stoklitsky, glorious leader of the 'Left,' was the final authority in all the newest modes and fashions of the 'revolution' and for a little while no one could aspire to recognition or distinction in those circles who failed of his approval. Then came the red raids. Stoklitsky, arrested and indicted with countless others, slipped casually through the police net and disappeared. His mission was fulfilled for the Socialist Party was disrupted and the 'red menace' had thoroughly hoaxed the American public."

MAY 1923

"Problems of the Party (IV): Be American!" by John Pepper [May 26, 1923] In the 4th installment of his "Problems of the Party" series, party leader John Pepper analyzes the continued division of the Workers Party of America into a multiplicity of Language Federations, noting that not only the spoken language varies from group to group, "but often the ideology." He notes that "Our Russian comrades have a different historical tradition from the Italians, the Germans from the Poles. The workers belonging to various nationalities are still very deeply rooted in the social and political conditions of their old countries." Main issues of concern differed from group to group, as did their practical activity: "Our Italian comrades arrange a collection for the persecuted Communists of Italy, our German comrades send relief for the hungry children of German Communists. Our Hungarian comrades put forth great efforts to collect money for political prisoners suffering in Horthy's prisons. Our Polish comrades have made a collection for the support of the Communist election campaign in Poland. Our Ukrainian comrades collect money for the support of the Ukrainian publishing activities in Europe. Our Russian comrades are of course with heart and soul interested in relief of Soviet Russia. Our Jewish comrades collect money for needy Jewish workers in the Ukraine." Very often non-citizens and alienated from American political life, the Federations tended to retreat into their own "Ghettos," Pepper states. Political education and political activity had to be directed towards bringing the foreign-born majority of the WPA membership into the real American political struggle. To this end, Pepper puts forward the slogan "Be American!" -- a slogan which he says "means to struggle against the whole capitalist class of America; it means the hardest struggle against 100 percent nationalism of the jingoes. Be American means for the militant Communist to present the claim for the workers' rule of America."



Unspecified Month

"Membership Series by Language Federation for the Workers Party of America. 'Dues Actually Paid' -- January to December 1924." Official 1924 data set of the Workers Party of America, compiled from a document in the Comintern Archive. This shows a continued numerical dominance of the Workers Party of America by its Finnish-language federation, averaging a paid membership of 7100 (41% of the entire organization) for the year 1924. Impressive growth is shown by the Yiddish-language ("Jewish") federation, which moved to the third largest language group in the WPA in 1924. The English branches comprised the second largest language group in the WPA, but still remained just 11% of the overall organization. The South Slavic federation (predominately Slovenian and Croatian) was the 4th largest language group in the WPA, topping the Russian, Lithuanian, and Ukrainian federations.


"Initiation Stamps Sold by Federation for the Workers Party of America. January to December 1924." Official 1924 data set of the Workers Party of America, compiled from a document in the Comintern Archive. An extremely interesting monthly series in which two unexplained anomalies are apparent: (1) The failure of at least 8 of the WPA's 18 language sections to make more than a token effort to collect the $1 initiation fee and obvious similar behavior (to lesser degree) among branches of other language groups; (2) A preposterously large sale of 5,264 initiation stamps to "English" branches, which averaged a paid membership of just 1909 over the course of the year. Either there was a revolving door in the English branches that was entirely dissimilar to the situation in any other language group of the WPA; or there was some sort of effort to collect initiation fees among "English" workers without organizational follow up; or there was some sort of strange accounting practice used by the WPA in which miscellaneous sales of initiation stamps were lumped into the "English" category (or some combination of these explanations). A perplexing question in raised, with further archival research clearly necessary.


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