Archive for October 8, 2008

October 8, 1910

October 8, 2008

Long-time American Communist Party leader, Gus Hall was born Arvo Gus Halberg on October 8, 1910, in the Mesabi Iron Range of Minnesota. His parents were Finnish immigrants who were involved in WWI and would later be charter members of the Communist Party in 1919. His father, Matt Halberg, recruited him into the Young Communist League (YCL) when he was 17. Working for the YCL, young Arvo traveled to mining towns in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. In 1931, he spent two years at the Lenin Institute in Moscow, learning the political ideology of Joseph Stalin and other Soviet leaders of that period. In the 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters strike (led by Trotskyist Farrell Dobbs), Hall was one of the young activists involved. During this period, he became blacklisted and could not find a job, forcing him to change his name to Gus Hall.
He volunteered for the US Navy during World War II and was elected to the Communist Party’s National Committee while in the Pacific in 1944. He became a close aide to Eugene Dennis and was consequently elected to the National Executive Board in 1946.
He ran for President in 1968 with Charlene Mitchell, but received only 1,075 votes. Hall ran again four more times. The highest number of votes he received was when he was paired with Jarvis Tyner in 1976. In the ’76 election, he received 58,992 votes. During his Presidential campaigns, Hall made familiar the slogan “People Before Profits.” He took part in the last CP Presidential campaign in 1984 (gaining 36,386 votes). In 1988, he steered the CP into full support for the Democratic Party when he suspected left-Democrat Jesse Jackson would win the Presidential primaries.
In 1991, he led the anti-Gorbachev, pro-CPSU establishment in the Communist Party — parting ways with former allies (such as Angela Davis and Charlene Mitchell). Hall continued to lead the Party until the end of his life, maintaining the popular front with the Democrats against the right — even as Democrat Bill Clinton pushed Free Trade and Wellfare reform. He passed away on October 13, 2000, and was replaced as General Secretary by his lieutenant, Sam Webb. Hall’s wife and family received condolences from as far away as the Communist Party of Vietnam

Thanks to Mr. Gunderson’s 6th grade class at Virginia-Roosevelt Elementary School for the research on October’s Day in History.

Thanks also to Minnesota’s Learn and Serve America Service Learning Program for their help.