Communist front

From Academic Kids

Communist front was a term used by the House Committee on Un-American Activities or the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, especially during the 1950s, to label Comintern organizations found to be under the effective control of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA), with special emphasis on those groups most active during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In 1955, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee published a list of what it described as the 82 most active and typical sponsors of Communist fronts in the United States; some of those named had literally dozens of affiliations with groups that had either been cited as Communist fronts or had been labelled "subversive" by either the subcommittee or the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

Perhaps the best-known - and most successful - alleged Communist front in the United States was the Progressive Party which nominated Henry A. Wallace in the 1948 Presidential election. The party was on the ballot in 45 states, though under various names. In California it was the Independent Progressive Party. In New York State it was the American Labor Party, founded a number of years earlier, which repeatedly elected Vito Marcantonio and, in a by-election in the Bronx in February, 1948, Leo Isacson, to the U.S. Congress. Isacson was defeated by a coalition candidate in November, 1948. Marcantonio was re-elected then, the only Progressive candidate to win office, but was defeated in 1950.

Wallace himself was neither a Communist nor a fellow traveller, and whether his Progressive Party was a Communist front or Communist-dominated remains in dispute. Karl M. Schmidt, in Henry Wallace: Quixotic Crusade 1948, argues that the question cannot be answered, because until the outbreak of the Korean War, in which Wallace supported the American side while most remaining Progresive leaders did not, the viewpoints of the true Wallace-supporters and the Communists coincided. Curtis D. Macdougall, in his three-volume work, Gideon's Army, argues in meticulous detail that not only most Progressives but also most of the Progressive leaders were not Communists. Both authors were active in the party in '48, Macdougall as its candidate for the U. S. Senate in Illinois, and their scholarly diligence cannot be gainsaid, however one judges their conclusions.

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