Communist Party of America Founded

Established in 1919 after a split from the Socialist Party of America after the Russian Revolution, the Communist Party of America (referred to as CPUSA from this point forward) was founded. The CPUSA was founded originally from the people and general ideologies of the Socialist Party of America (referred to as SPUSA from this point forward), an organization built around a lengthy Left Wing Manifesto written by Louis C. Fraina. The Left Wing Manifesto is actually two separate documents combined by the name, each with the purpose of fighting the faction war happening inside of the SPUSA. Throughout the emergence of the SPUSA came unrest and disorganization, causing such a deep divide that several members completely disconnected from the organization, creating the CPUSA in May 1919, now just a few months over 100 years ago. The split from the SPUSA was also due to the Russian Revolution, a period of political and social revolt that began in 1917.

 As the CPUSA grew, they established close ties with the American labor movement, which focused around providing better and safer work environments, as well as creating close ties with Communist parties worldwide. Through these connections, the CPUSA became known for opposing racism and segregation, helping the organization gain prominence in the labor movement from the 1920s to the 1940s. This knowledge of the CPUSA opposing racism and segregation became more prominent when the CPUSA sponsored the defense of the Scottsboro Boys, a group of 9 black teenagers who were falsely accused of raping two white women on a train in 1931. With the help of the CPUSA, the case was eventually repealed, allowing 13 year old Eugene Williams a new trial. 

As time went on and the Great Depression continued, the CPUSA grew more and more in their membership as the country and its citizens, regardless of social status, were required as a whole to learn the importance of survival and endurance through economic hardships. Marxism at the time of the Great Depression allowed Americans to see the true flaws in capitalism, while also providing a vision of another way of life. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “the communist parties in the United States and in western Europe gave intellectuals—as well as teachers, lawyers, architects, and other middle-class professionals—a feeling that they were no longer solitary individuals suffering from the failures of capitalism but belonged instead to a vibrant community of like-minded souls, in that they were participants in an international movement larger than themselves and that they were literally making history.”

This growth and glory time period for the CPUSA was not long lived, as McCarthyism rose into popularity and the second Red Scare began. No one wanted to be seen as a traitor during the rise of McCarthyism when anyone could make accusations of treason without anything to back up the claim. Suddenly, Communism was being attacked by all angles, the President, Senators, and the Government in general. Orders were put in place for precautions against hiring anyone who aligned themselves with Communism, causing a State Department official to be convicted of perjury in a case of espionage, and a publicized list of alleged Communist Party members working within the government to catch enough attention that it created the phrase “McCarthyism”. 

As McCarthyism rose and Communism declined, many members ended up imprisoned or simply just disappeared. Those who were imprisoned were often eventually given overturned sentences as the law eventually found the charges to be illegal, but the damage to the CPUSA was already done. By 1957, near the end of McCarthyism, membership in the CPUSA was less than 10,000 members, 1,500 of which were FBI informants, proving the dedication the US Government had to fighting and ending Communists relationship to the US. The party tried hard to fight this decline in membership and recover their members by opposing the Vietnam War, but it came off poorly and the left didn’t connect with harsh anti-American military ideas. Instead, what was left of the CPUSA was seen as outdated and silenced, as their call for “peaceful coexistence” failed to be heard by the left-wing Americans. Finally, after a few decades of failure to succeed in membership growth and support, the CPUSA became separated from the Soviet Union itself in 1989. Funding was cut off, and members couldn’t agree on founding issues that the party needed to agree on to stay alive. Just like that, the CPUSA was wiped from America, and nationalistic pride took over the country. 

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