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Earl Browder - Newspaper articles

This material was taken from the Vertical File microfilm reel MF 251. It consists of newspaper articles that have been collected regarding Earl Browder. The articles have been reproduced as closely to the original as possible, no corrections have been made. Not all the photographs have been reproduced. The microfilm is available through interlibrary loan.

Politics Got Browder in Bad On Jobs

Wichita Friends of Communist Leader
Recall Life Here
Once Tried Banking

Earl W. Browder, native Wichitan who was nominated to the presidency of the United States Sunday on the Communist ticket, had a leaning toward Socialist politics in his early youth, Wichita friends recalled today.

Earl had a grade school education and before he attended business college worked as a cash boy for the Wallenstein & Cohen Dry Goods company. He was a mannerly boy, hard working, and a favorite with the store's employees. Other members of the Browder family were also in the employ of this company for a number of years, former friends here recalled today.

After attending business college Earl secured a position as a bookkeeper for the Potts Drug company. He was efficient and was the average young man in a business office. He had a fair personality, his associates recall, but his political ideas which then began to take shape, gave him a different slant on life and after a time he left the drug company in search for something better.

He secured a position in the bookkeeping department of the bank headed by the late L.S. Naftzger and John Moore. Earl was then dividing his time between his job and the activities in the Socialist party until at length his political ambitions became too much for his employers and he lost his job, so it was said by a former neighbor.

Earl married Gladys Grove, daughter of a prominent early-day broomcorn family here and shortly after they moved to Kansas City. Two sons were born and one boy was named "Jay" as a namesake for a friend of Earl's in the Potts company. Mr. and Mrs. Browder have since separated,it is understood.

Earl received his first teachings in Socialism from his father, William Browder, it was said. Browder was a school teacher and for several years taught a country school south of the city. Conveyances were scarce in those days and Browder walked to his school each morning and trudged home late every afternoon with his lunch pail and text books under his arm.

Browder's leisure time was spent in reading literature of the Socialist party and this influence succeeded in turning not only Earl but two other children of the family into Socialist leaders.

William Browder is now associated with a Communistic news paper in Chicago and Marguerite Browder accompanied her brother Earl on a two years' tripe to Russia to study Communism in 1929. It is understood she is also a leader in the Communistic party in a eastern city.

During the early days when the Browder family lived at 628 South Fern and other Wichita addresses, they were known as a highly respectable family. Their financial condition was about the same as the majority of families living in that neighborhood at that time. There were seven children. All were reared in the home but circumstances forced them into the business world with less education than the majority of young people are equipped with in later years.

The oldest daughter was Bessie, who is now dead; Minnie, who is now married and residing in Kansas City; Nina, who is Mrs. Bert Turner of Phoenix, Ariz.; and Marguerite. Waldo, Earl and William were the boys.

The home on South Fern in which Earl Browder was born in 1891, is still standing and with minor changes is the same as it was when occupied by the Browder family. It was owned at that time by the late J. Binford and is now the property of Miss Myra Binford.

Wichita Eagle, June 30, 1936

Browder Shies from Friendly Reception Here
Communist Presidential Nominee
Distrusts Those Who Would
Treat Him as an American Citizen.

Does Not Expect Success

Over Station WIBW Says
Americans Economically Ready for
Socialism but Not Politically

by Clif Stratton

Earl Browder, another Kansas nominee for president of the United States, was a Topeka visitor yesterday. Browder, native of Wichita, Communist candidate for president, broadcast over WIBW last night.

This Browder is an interesting person. He has a keen sense of social injustice, tho probably he would claim it is a sense of social justice. In school at Wichita he was always insisting upon the rights of students who were discriminated against by their teachers. He led fights for student rights expression. He was the vocal friend of all underdogs in school--and is such now in a much larger field.

So far as this election goes, Browder talks more like a New Deal orator, than a dyed in the wool Communist--if dyed in the wool is the proper adjective.

Has No High Hopes

Very frankly, Mr. Browder does not expect to win this election.

"The United States," he says, "is economically ready for Socialism, but it is not politically ready for Socialism. The division which is coming later is not yet clear to many Americans. But the trend is such that it is only a matter of time until we have honest division in the United States."

What will that division be?

"It will be an alignment of groups into two divisions," said Browder. "On the one hand will be the conservative group, including the Liberty League forces that now are predominant in the Republican leadership; on the other all the more liberal forces, from La Follette Progressives on thru to Socialists and Communists. With the liberals will be labor, and, I hope, the farm groups.

"But we have not yet reached that clear division in American politics. That is why I say in my speeches that the immediate choice is not between Fascism and Socialism.

Lines Not Drawn.

"That choice will be made in the future, after the lines are more clearly drawn. Today the choice is more like this: Shall all the progressive forces in the country join hands together to keep the Fascist-minded men of Wall Street out of power, protect our democratic rights and improve our living standards, or shall we surrender to Landon, Hearst and the Liberty League?"

It seems, Earl Browder and Harold Ickes, secretary of interior, are cousins under the skin. Both see Hearst over Topeka. Browder sees the "Fascist-minded men of Wall Street" digging their own graves.

"They denounce as socialism or even Communism ever measure or person slightly tinged with progressivism," he explained.

"That is why they even denounce President Roosevelt and the New Deal as Socialistic, Communistic and "made in Moscow," and similar nonsense. There isn't an ounce of Socialism in the Roosevelt administration. Roosevelt stands for capitalism but he tries to remedy this capitalism of some of its worst abuses, hoping thereby to give it longer life. He tries to follow a middle course. He thereby wavers between the pressure from the reactionaries and the pressure from the progressives. For the past year he retreated slowly before the reactionaries, and gave them many of their demands; but in the election platform and his acceptance speech he struck a progressive note.

"That is why the reactionaries are so enraged at Roosevelt and fight him so bitterly, because he blows both hot and cold, and tries to make concessions to both sides. But this same indecision furnishes the answer to those who ask all progressives to unite around Roosevelt as the sole means to defeat reaction. The progressive side needs bold and decisive leadership which will not retreat and make compromises with the Wall Street gang."

Distrusts Lemke.

It seems that personally Roosevelt and Landon look pretty much alike to Browder, Communist--but as a Communist leader he prefers Roosevelt to Landon's supporters. And among these he includes Rep. William Lemke and his Union party.

"The self-styled Union party, sired by Father Coughlin and putting forth the candidacy of Lemke," said Browder, "is not that new party for which the people are looking. It is a creature of a conspiracy between Hearst, the radio priest, and the Liberty League, designed to help elect Landon. Lemke's economic platform all revolves about currency inflation, which would make the workers' and farmers' dollar worth even less than the present 60 cents, and finally wipe it out altogether, enriching only the monopolists and speculators. Lemke is only a stooge for Landon, and repeats Landon's main platform."

And, finally, Browder is just a little bit suspicious of what is going on.

"It doesn't feel right," he said. "In a number of places this year I find myself, a Communist, greeted as a respectable American by political leaders. Then I find that the Democrats expect me to lambast Landon and help Roosevelt, while the Republicans seem to believe what I say about Roosevelt will help Landon. It doesn't exactly worry me, but it does make me suspicious."

Topeka Capital, September 1936

A Browder Jolt
Jury Convicts Communist Leader
After Deliberating Only
Forty-five Minutes.

Sentenced to Four Years

Red Party Secretary is Found
Guilty On Two Counts of
Passport Fraud.

The Terms of Two Years Each
Are Made Consecutive
Fine of $2,000

In Prison Once Before

Defendant Was Sent to Leavenworth
For Refusing to Register
For War Draft.

(By the Associated Press.)

New York, Jan. 22.--Earl Russell Browder, Kansas born Communist leader, was convicted of passport fraud in federal court today and was sentenced to four years in prison and fined $2,000.

The jury of eleven men and a young woman deliberated only forty-five minutes after hearing Browder himself plead for his freedom for more than an hour.

The sentence was pronounced immediately after the jury was polled and a defense motion for delay was denied. It specified that 2-year sentences on each of two counts must be served consecutively. The maximum prison sentence would have been ten years.
Candidate for Congress.

Browder,a perennial candidate for political office, was the Communist candidate for President in 1936 and now is a candidate for the seat in Congress vacated by the recent death of Representative Sirovich of New York, Democrat.

Browder presented a defenseless case after acknowledging at the outset that he had traveled incognito to and from conferences with Soviet leaders in Moscow.

He was accused specifically of borrowing the names of three other men and affixing them to passport visas.

This was done, his attorney explained, because as a widely-known agent of the Soviet Union Browder's travels through Europe would be beset by danger if his true identity became known.
Still Can Vote for Him.

The Communist leader anticipated his conviction in an authorized statement last week in which the Communist party said he might receive the votes of his followers while languishing in prison, as did the late Eugene V. Debs, Socialist leader, who ran for President from an Atlanta prison cell.

Browder served a sentence in Leavenworth federal prison after refusing to register for the World war army draft on the ground that he was a conscientious objector.

At the sentencing today, Browder, whose official position is that of general secretary of the Communist party, United States of America, stood mute before the bench, his hands clasped behind his back.

His bail of $7,000 was continued until Wednesday when he must appear for approval of a new bond which would allow him continued freedom pending appeal.

He left the courtroom replying "no comment" when asked whether he had anything to say.
Minimum of Three Years.

When the jury filed in to give its verdict--guilty on both counts of the indictment--he sat rocking stolidly in his swivel chair and gazing vacantly at the jurors' box.

John T. Cahill, United States attorney, asked a sentence of five years and the $5,000 maximum fine.

"It does seem to me," he told the court, "that in addition to the passport charge, the accompanying offenses of perjury and tampering with this country's vital statistics should be taken into consideration."

The 4-year sentence could be reduced to three for good behavior.

Pleading his own case, Browder pictured himself as the victim of a federal campaign against "civil rights."

The case went to the jury after a charge from Judge Alfred Coxe that "matters of public policy or interest" were not to be considered. This was a reference to the defendant's ideology.

In the momentary quiet that followed the verdict, Judge Coxe turned in his chair and told the jury:

"I am not in the habit of thanking juries, but I must say that the verdict was the only possible one that could have been returned."

The Kansas City Times, January 23, 1940

Browder to Trial In Contempt Case

Washington.--(UP)--Earl Browder, one-time leader of the American Communist Party, went on trial Thursday for contempt of Congress.

He is charged with refusing to answer questions last April 27 before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee investigating the Communists-in-Government charges leveled by Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy, (R., Wis.)

Browder, taking over his own defense in U.S. District Court, pictured himself as a "co-operative witness" who refused to answer only questions he considered "improper."

In an opening statement to the jury, he admitted he declined to answer 16 questions put to him by Sen. Bourke B. Hickenloper, (R. Iowa). These questions are the basis of the contempt indictment. Browder said he also declined answers to another 10, but did respond readily to 66 queries put by Hickenloper.

Most of the questions in the indictment dealt with a New York meeting in 1945 between Browder and Tung Pi Wu, a Chinese Communist then a member of the Chinese delegation to the conference that established the United Nations.

Hickenloper wanted to know if others present included John Service, State Department envoy; Owen Lattimore, Far Eastern expert, and Philip Jaffe, editor of the now defunct Amerasia Magazine. Browder would not reply.

U.S. Prosecutor William Hitz told the jury that Browder refused to answer "without cause."

The Topeka Capital. March 9, 1951

Earl Browder Wins Acquittal On Contempt

Washington, March 14 (AP)--Federal Judge F. Dickinson Letts Wednesday acquitted Earl Browder of a contempt of Congress charge.

Browder is the former No.1 Communist in this country. He was accused of refusing to answer questions at a Senate foreign relations subcommittee hearing on communism-in-government.

Judge Letts held that the committee failed to direct Browder to answer questions over his objections and explanations.

The judge's ruling ended Browder's trial and he walked out of the courtroom a free man. Thus, he had escaped going to jail for a fourth time.

Topeka Journal, March 14, 1951

Earl Browder Tells at Last of His 'Purge' By Stalin Fifteen Years Ago

The breaking of a 15 year silence by Earl Browder, former leader of the American Communist party, in an article written for the March number of Harper's magazine comprises and interesting disclosure of how Browder and his party were "purged" by Stalin in 1945.

The purging followed Browder's adoption of the principle of a stable peace at the close of World War II based on the Tehran pact signed by Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill--Stalin "with tongue in cheek." The pact, in Browder;s view, implied the doctrine of co-existence and, in principle, a repudiation of the cold war which "Stalin adopted to take the place of the hot war then coming to a close."

Browder, now 68, a native of Wichita with three sons teaching mathematics in American universities relates how his "apostasy" was disclosed and his purge announced in the famous "Duclos letter," allegedly penned by Jacques Duclos in a French Communist journal in 1945, but actually Kremlin-dictated. This letter, widely circulated, denounced Browder for interpreting the Tehran pact as a "political platform for class peace in the United States--and sowing dangerous opportunistic illusions."

An "American" Trend

He declares that the American Communist party "need not have died such a shameful death as William Z. Foster (ultra-left sectarian who succeeded him), under the inspiration of Stalin and the cold war, inflicted upon it." He states that he had personally led an Americanization trend in the party based on Jeffersonian principles and representing a denial of Marxist dogmas.

"The Duclos letter," Browder writes, "halted and reversed the process of Americanization. The party quickly turned anti-American. Foster published a 'new history' of America, which was highly praised in Moscow, translated in many languages and made a handbook of anti-American propaganda all over the world.

"This extraordinary book interpreted the history of America from its discovery to the present, as an orgy of 'bloody banditry' and imperialism, enriching itself by 'drinking the rich red blood' of other peoples. Foster even joined in the Thorez declaration (by Maurice Thorez, French Communist leader: that if the Soviet armies found it necessary to occupy all Western Europe the working people would greet them as liberators; the only thing missing was a direct welcome to Soviet armies in America itself.

Red Following Melts

"It was this that killed the Communist party. Its former mass following melted away. Its membership shrank to a hard core of fanatics....The American Communists had thrived as champions of domestic reforms....But when the Communists abandoned reforms and championed a Soviet Union openly contemptuous of America while predicting its quick collapse, the same party lost all its hard-won influence. It became merely a bad word in the American language."

Americans should realize, Browder believes, that "the only solid representatives of Stalin among the American Communists were a little band of 'old timers,' occupying strategic posts in the party apparatus. For them communism was a religion, Stalin was Mohammed and Moscow was Mecca.

"They had played a minor role for 15 years, during which they supported my 'revisionist' leadership for two reasons: first, because the party as a whole was content with it, as it made the party 'prosperous' for the first time in history; second, because so long as Moscow did not speak out against me, I was presumed to be Stalin's deputy in America in the hierarch of authority.

"I knew I could not maintain that leadership in open struggle against Moscow influence. Only two Communist leaders in history ever succeeded in doing this--Tito and Mao Tse-tung....I confined my resistance to the Duclos Letter to declaring publicly that it was a disastrous mistake which I would never approve. But I made no efforts to organize my supporters to hold on to the apparatus. Consequently I was soon expelled and my followers, who did not change coats overnight, quietly left or were expelled from the party.
Opposes Cold War Line.

"I have opposed the Communist cold war line ever since, both by public utterance and by private help to trade unionists breaking free from the Communist influence. I abandoned the party apparatus to Stalin's adherents in order to prevent them from capturing the party's former mass influence almost a decade I have not considered myself a Communist, nor even a Marxist in the dogmatic sense."

Browder goes on to relate the circumstances of an unfortunate visit to Moscow in 1946, his professed object to urge abandonment of the cold war. His first contact there was with an old friend, A. Lozovsky, at the government information bureau, not foreseeing that, within a few years, Stalin would have Lozovsky shot as part of the "Jewish conspiracy." Through Lozovsky, a conference with Molotov was arranged for Browder.

The latter missed his first appointment as the result of a birthday party given him by his over-enthusiastic host and, in consequence, eventually made the contact with the handicap of a bad hangover. At any rate, Molotov turned a deaf ear to all of Browder' arguments against the cold war and in support of coexistence, although his manner was deceptively courteous. The visit did Browder no good, although Molotov tendered him the post of American representative of Soviet publishing houses, which he accepted.

A Personal "Revolution"

Browder concludes his article:
" By the 1950s, my break with the Russians had led me into a basic re-examination of Marxist theory, and I followed in Marx's footsteps with the declaration: 'I am not a Marxist.' My personal revolution in thinking is, of course, of importance only as an example of how the shattering years of the cold war have broken up the old patterns of thought--behind the iron curtain as profoundly as in the West, although there it is revealed mainly in the lightning flashes of mass discontent and revolts.

"What remains constant for me, during the last 15 years, has been the conviction that the cold war was a calamity for the entire world, and that it can be justified by no consideration of theory, nor by any supposed national interest. I can only hope that Khrushchev's new line of talk portends a new line of action to which America can respond in kind. Such hopes are, however, tempered by years of disillusioning memories, which remind us all that it takes two sides to make a peace."

Kansas City Star, March 15, 1960

Earl Browder,
Red Leader,
Dies at Age 82

Princeton, N.J. (AP)--Earl Russell Browder, Communist Party candidate for president in 1936 and 1940, is dead at age 82.

Browder, who was general secretary of the Communist Party in the United States from 1930 to 1945, died in his sleep Wednesday at his home here.

The Communist Party became the Communist Political Association in 1944. In 1946 Browder was expelled from the association as a "revisionist" for supporting President Roosevelt's policies.

He served prison terms from 1917 through 1920 and in 1941 and 1942 for opposing American war policy.

From 1926 to 1929 he served as director of the Pan-Pacific Trade Union Secretariat in Shanghai, helping to organize the Communist drive in China. He was a member of the executive committee of the Communist International Movement from 1935 to 1940.

Browder, who was born in Wichita, Kan., leaves sons Felix of Chicago, William of Princeton and Andrew of Providence, R.I.

A memorial service is scheduled Saturday at the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs at Princeton. The funeral will be private.

Lawrence Daily Journal World, June 28, 1973

Entry: Browder, Earl - Newspaper articles

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: August 2002

Date Modified: June 2011

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.