Bronx, New York , United States
|| December 22, 1891
|Died||July 19, 1965
May 29, 2005 03:09pm
|Info||Benjamin Gitlow was born in Elizabethport, N.J. on December 22, 1891 to Russian immigrants. His father, Lewis Albert Gitlow, emigrated to the United States in 1888, while his mother, Kate, followed a year later. |
In 1909, Gitlow joined the Socialist Party. He organized and served as the first president of Retail Clerks Union of New York in 1913. As a Party candidate from the Bronx, Gitlow was elected to New York State Assembly in 1917. A year later, he joined the Left Wing Faction of Socialist Party. In 1919, Gitlow became manager of Revolutionary Age. That same year, the Left Wing faction was expelled from Socialist Party and Gitlow, John Reed, and James Larkin established the Communist Labor Party. In November, 1919, Gitlow and Larkin were arrested and charged with violating the New York State Criminal Anarchy Act and sentenced to 5 to 10 years in prison. He ran as the Communist Party candidate for mayor of New York City in 1921. Released from prison in 1922, Gitlow then ran for Vice President of the United States on the Communist Party in 1924 and 1928. Although the United States Supreme Court upheld Gitlow's conviction in 1925, New York Governor Al Smith subsequently pardoned him. He visited Soviet Russia for the first time in 1927 and returned in 1928 and 1929. He again ran for Vice President of the United States in 1928. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin expelled him from the Party in 1929. This provided the impetus for Gitlow, along with Jay Lovestone, Bertram Wolfe, and others, to organize Communist Party, USA (Majority Group). Gitlow again found himself being expelled, in 1933, by the Community Party, USA. Over the next two years, he was a founding member and principal leader of three successive small organizations: Workers Communist League, Labor Party Association, and Organization Committee for a Revolutionary Workers Party. After rejoining the Socialist Party in 1934, he resigned shortly thereafter.
His first public rejection of Communist Party came in 1939 with testimony before U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities. The following year he published I Confess: The Truth About American Communism. During the 1940s and 1950s, Gitlow proved popular as writer and lecturer on anti-Communist topics. In 1948, he published his second book, The Whole of Their Lives: Communism in America: A Personal History and Intimate Portrayal of Its Leaders.
Gitlow married Badana Zeitlin in 1924. He died on July, 19, 1965 in Crompond, N.Y.