Dennis in 1948 mugshot
|Chairman of the National Committee of the Communist Party USA|
1957 - 31 January 1961
|William Z. Foster|
|Elizabeth Gurley Flynn|
|General Secretary of the National Committee of the Communist Party USA|
Francis Xavier Waldron
August 10, 1905
Seattle, Washington, United States
|Died||January 31, 1961 (aged 55)|
Mount Sinai Hospital
Manhattan, New York, United States
|Political party||Communist Party USA|
|Spouse(s)||Peggy Dennis (née Regina Karasick)|
|Occupation||Lumberjack, teamster, electrician, politician|
Francis Xavier Waldron (August 10, 1905 - January 31, 1961), best known by the pseudonym Eugene Dennis and Tim Ryan, 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.
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.
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.
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. Foster was not prosecuted due to ill health.
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. Eugene Dennis was imprisoned in the years 1951-1955, according to the verdict in his case.
Dennis remained General Secretary until 1959, when he succeeded Foster as party chairman and held that position until his death in 1961.
Though never charged with any act of espionage, Dennis was identified in the Venona project as being a source for Soviet intelligence in the United States 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.