Foster, William Zebulon

Foster, William Zebulon,

1881–1961, American Communist leader, b. Taunton, Mass. An itinerant worker in many different occupations, he was first affiliated with the Socialist party, next with the Industrial Workers of the World, and then with the American Federation of Labor. In his early years as a laborer he was profoundly influenced by Marxism. His activities among steelworkers were climaxed by his leadership of the famous steel strike of 1919. With the organization of the American Communist partyCommunist party,
in the United States, political party that espoused the Marxist-Leninist principles of communism. Origins

The first Communist parties in the United States were founded in 1919 by dissident factions of the Socialist party.
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 in 1920, he became a prominent leader and was its presidential candidate in 1924, 1928, and 1932. In 1930 he was displaced as party head by Earl BrowderBrowder, Earl Russell,
1891–1973, American Communist, b. Wichita, Kans. He became converted to socialism as a boy, and after imprisonment (1917–18, 1919–20) for opposing the draft he joined the Communist party.
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, but on Browder's fall he became (1945) national chairman. He held this position until 1957. In 1948, Foster was charged with advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government, but because of ill health he did not go on trial (1949) with 11 other top Communists. Many of his personal experiences are recounted in From Bryan to Stalin (1937) and Pages from a Worker's Life (1939, repr. 1970). His other writings include Toward Soviet America (1932) and History of the Three Internationals (1955).