Hard Times in Illinois, 1930–1940
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
DOCUMENT 31TELEGRAM PROTESTING THE OMISSION OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY FROM THE NOVEMBER BALLOT
October 1, 1934
Chicago had been the birthplace of the American Communist Party in 1919 but its numbers there had dwindled during the twenties and as a consequence New York City was its stronghold at the time of the depression. In the fall of 1931 Chicago had approximately 2,000 registered American Communist Party members. Most members had been born abroad in Russia, Lithuania, Hungary, and Poland. Although their numbers were not large Chicago Communists were able to attract goodly sized crowds when they marched to protest rent evictions, inadequate public relief, and unfair treatment afforded by social service agencies. When the election was held for the U.S. presidency in 1932, statewide Illinois cast some 12,000 votes for William Z. Foster, the American Communist Party candidate.
There is no record of Governor Horner's response to this telegram. This is one of numerous communications he received in this regard. The state's elections commission had ruled that the Communist Party was ineligible because most of the signatures on its nominating petition had been forged.
Points to Consider
What were Dr. Ward and Annie Gray asking Governor Horner to do?
Why was a congress "against war and fascism" held in Chicago at the end of September 1934?
How might the Illinois State Election Commission have eliminated the Communist Party from the November 1934 ballot?
Should the Communist Party have been allowed on the November 1934 ballot?