The Communist Party, USA (CP-USA) was formed in 1919, in part by journalist John Reed. It was inspired by the Russian Revolution of 1917 and as the result of a "letter from Nikolai Bukharin, head of the Communist International in Soviet Russia, to American radicals urging them to form an American Communist Party." On November 24, 1919, the party applied for admission into the Communist International stating that "The Communist Party realizes the immensity of its task; it realizes that the final struggle of the Communist proletariat will be waged in the United States, our conquest of power alone assuring the world Soviet Republic. Realizing all this, the Communist Party prepares for the struggle. Long Live the Communist International! Long live the World Revolution."

By the end of the 1920's, the party was closely allied with the Soviet Government, receiving subsidies from them. In 1928, then President of the CP-USA James P. Cannon was expelled from the party for disagreements with other party members. He later went on to form the Socialist Worker's Party in 1938.

During the 1920's-1940's, the party shipped many of its documents to Moscow for safekeeping because of the increasing anti-communist feelings in America.

Throughout this period, however, the party remained active in organizing around the ideals of communism and socialism. In 1934 the party made attempts to organize sharecroppers in the agricultural south. They also began publication of The Daily Worker in 1924, later renamed to the People's Weekly World. They are also well known for their attempts to organize African Americans throughout their history.

In 1934 under the leadership of Earl Browder, the party pledged its support for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but by 1948 12 party leaders were tried under the Smith Act for "'conspiracy' to advocate the overthrow of the government by 'force and violence'."

In the late 1950's, many disillusioned party members left the party due to ideological problems within the party. After this, Gus Hall took control of the party and led it until his death in 2000. During the 1960's and 1970's the party participated in the civil rights movements. They supported the AFL-CIO, and have typically endorsed the Democratic nominee for President. This dismayed many youths at the time who felt the party was not far enough to the left.

Many party members were disappointed by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and ensuing end of the cold war. Today, the party continues to organize and support on behalf of workers and other groups. They operate a website at

(c) 2002 Martin Kretzmann


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