Eugene Dennis

Last updated
Eugene Dennis
Dennis in 1948 mugshot
Chairman of the National Committee of the Communist Party USA
In office
1957 31 January 1961
Preceded by William Z. Foster
Succeeded by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
General Secretary of the National Committee of the Communist Party USA
In office
Preceded by Earl Browder
Succeeded by Gus Hall
Personal details
Francis Xavier Waldron

(1905-08-10)August 10, 1905
Seattle, Washington, United States
DiedJanuary 31, 1961(1961-01-31) (aged 55)
Mount Sinai Hospital
Manhattan, New York, United States
Political party Communist Party USA
Spouse(s)Peggy Dennis (née Regina Karasick)
ChildrenEugene Jr.
Residence New York
Occupation Lumberjack, teamster, electrician, politician

Francis Xavier Waldron (August 10, 1905 – January 31, 1961), best known by the pseudonym Eugene Dennis and Tim Ryan, [1] was an American communist politician and union organizer, best remembered as the long-time leader of the Communist Party USA and as named party in Dennis v. United States , a famous McCarthy Era Supreme Court case.

A pseudonym or alias is a name that a person or group assumes for a particular purpose, which can differ from their first or true name (orthonym).

A trade union, also called a labour union or labor union (US), is an association of workers in a particular trade, industry, or company created for the purpose of securing improvement in pay, benefits, working conditions or social and political status through collective bargaining and working conditions through the increased bargaining power wielded by creation of a monopoly of the workers. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with employers. The most common purpose of these associations or unions is "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment". This may include the negotiation of wages, work rules, complaint procedures, rules governing hiring, firing and promotion of workers, benefits, workplace safety and policies.

Communist Party USA American political party

The Communist Party USA, officially the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), is a communist party in the United States established in 1919 after a split in the Socialist Party of America.



Early years

Francis Xavier Waldron was born on August 10, 1905 in Seattle, Washington. He worked in various jobs and was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, for which he was active in California as a union organizer.

Industrial Workers of the World International labor union

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), members of which are commonly termed "Wobblies", is an international labor union that was founded in 1905 in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. The union combines general unionism with industrial unionism, as it is a general union whose members are further organized within the industry of their employment. The philosophy and tactics of the IWW are described as "revolutionary industrial unionism", with ties to both socialist and anarchist labor movements.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second and fifth most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

Political career

Waldron joined the Workers (Communist) Party in 1926. [2]

In 1929, Waldron fled to the Soviet Union to avoid criminal charges for his political activities under the California Criminal Syndicalism Act.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 30 December 1922 to 26 December 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

The California Criminal Syndicalism Act was a law of California in 1919 under Governor William Stephens criminalizing syndicalism. It was repealed in 1991.

Waldron returned to the United States in 1935 and assumed the pseudonym Eugene Dennis. Dennis became General Secretary of the party after the expulsion of Earl Browder and was a staunch supporter of the Moscow line.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Earl Browder American political activist

Earl Russell Browder was an American political activist and leader of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA). Browder is best remembered as the General Secretary of the CPUSA during the 1930s and first half of the 1940s.

On July 20, 1948, Dennis and eleven other party leaders, including Party Chairman William Z. Foster were arrested and charged under the Alien Registration Act. [3] Foster was not prosecuted due to ill health.

William Z. Foster American politician

William Z. Foster was a radical American labor organizer and Marxist politician, whose career included serving as General Secretary of the Communist Party USA from 1945 to 1957. He was previously a member of the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World, leading the drive to organize the packinghouse industry during World War I and the steel strike of 1919.

As Dennis and his co-accused had never openly called for the violent overthrow of the United States government, the prosecution depended on passages from the works of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin that advocated revolutionary violence and on the testimony of former members of the party who claimed Dennis and others had privately advocated the use of violence.

After a nine month-long trial and the imprisonment of the defense lawyers for contempt of court, Dennis and his co-defendants were found guilty and sentenced to five years imprisonment. They appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled 6–2 against the defendants on June 4, 1951 in Dennis v. United States , 341 U.S. 494 (1951). The Court later scaled back its Dennis opinion in Yates v. United States and rendered the broad conspiracy provisions of the Smith Act unenforceable. [4] Eugene Dennis was imprisoned in the years 1951-1955, according to the verdict in his case. [5]

Dennis remained General Secretary until 1959, when he succeeded Foster as party chairman and held that position until his death in 1961.

Espionage connections

Though never charged with any act of espionage, Dennis was identified in the Venona project as being a source for Soviet intelligence during World War II. In the transcripts, Dennis is referenced as a contact for a group of concealed Communists in the Office of Strategic Services and the Office of War Information.

Dennis is referenced in the following Venona transcripts:


Dennis died of cancer on January 31, 1961.

He was buried at the Waldheim Cemetery [6] (now Forest Home Cemetery) in Forest Park, Illinois.



  1. The Cold War: Cold War espionage and spying.
  2. Joseph R. Starobin, American Communism in Crisis, 1943-1957. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972; p. 13.
  3. Video: Berlin Siege. Gen. Clay Returns To Report On Red Crisis, 1948/07/22 (1948). Universal Newsreel. 1948. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
  4. "Yates v. United States - Significance, Advocating Government Overthrow, Further Readings".
  5. "Ошибка 404. Нет такой страницы".
  6. "Browse by City: Forest Park". Retrieved May 5, 2008.

Further reading

Party political offices
Preceded by
Earl Browder
General Secretary of the CPUSA
Succeeded by
Gus Hall

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