Labor Defender

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Labor Defender
N 98 9 180 Group photo of Gastonia Mill workers imprisoned for striking (8618237151).jpg
Labor Defender (September 1929): workers imprisoned for Loray Mill strike
PublisherInternational Labor Defense
Paid circulation5,500
Unpaid circulation16,500 (bundle sales)
Total circulation
FounderInternational Labor Defense
FoundedJanuary 1926
First issueJanuary 1926
Final issue
December 1937
Volume 13, No. 11
CountryUnited States of America
Based inNew York City

Labor Defender (1926–1937) was a magazine published by the International Labor Defense (ILD), itself a legal advocacy organization established in 1925 as the American section of the Comintern's International Red Aid network and thus as support to the Communist Party (which in 1926 was legally the Workers Party of America).[1]


In January 1926, the ILD began publishing Labor Defender, as a monthly, profusely illustrated magazine with a low cover price of 10 cents. Magazine circulation boomed. It rose from some 1,500 paid subscriptions and 8,500 copies in bulk bundle sales in 1927 to some 5,500 paid subscriptions with a bundle sale of 16,500 by mid-1928. This mid-1928 circulation figure was said by Assistant Secretary Marty Abern to be "greater than the combined circulation of The Daily Worker, Labor Unity, and The Communist combined."[2]


Cover featuring Eugene V. Debs of rival Socialist Party of America (December 1926)

Labor Defender depicted a black-and-white world of heroic trade unionists and dastardly factory owners, of oppressed African Americans struggling for freedom against the Ku Klux Klan and the use of state terror to stifle and divide and destroy all opposition.[3] Writers included both non-party voices such as novelist Upton Sinclair, former Wobbly poet Ralph Chaplin, and Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs, as well as prominent Communists such as trade union leader William Z. Foster, cartoonist Robert Minor, and Benjamin Gitlow, a former political prisoner in New York.[3]

The magazine made a constant plea for additional funds for jailed labor activists across the country. A regular column called "Voices from Prison" highlighted the plight of those behind bars and reinforced the message that good work was being done on the behalf of the so-called "class war prisoners" of America.[4]


The magazine's masthead included:[1]


January–August 1926

September–December 1926



January–November 1928

December 1928


January–April 1929

May–June 1929

July–August 1929

September–December 1929


January–February 1930

March–June 1930

July–December 1930



January–September 1932

October–December 1932



January 1934

February–December 1934


January–June 1935

July–December 1935


January–March 1936

April–May 1936

June–December 1936


Pamphlet series[edit]

The magazine also published occasional pamphlets:[1]

  • Under Arrest! Worker’s Self-Defense in the Courts (1928)
  • Smash the Frame up Against the Anthracite Miners—Free Boniat, Mendola and Moleski by B. F. Gebert (1928)
  • Sedition to Protest and Organize Against War Hunger Unemployment by J. L. Engdahl (1930)
  • The Story of the Imperial Valley by Frank Spector (introduction by John Dos Pasos) (1931)
  • Tampa’s Reign of Terror by Anita Brenner and S. S. Windthrop (1933)
  • Night Riders in Gallup by Louis Colman (1935)
  • You Cannot Kill the Working-Class by Angelo Herndon (1936)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Labor Defender: Journal of the International Labor Defense". International Labor Defense. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  2. ^ Abern, Martin (1992). "International Labor Defense Activities (1 January - 1 July 1928)". James P. Cannon and the Early Years of American Communism. New York: Prometheus Research Library. p. 537.
  3. ^ a b Milton Cantor, "Labor Defender: Chicago and New York, 1926-1937; Equal Justice: New York, 1937-1942," in Joseph R. Conlin (ed.), The American Radical Press, 1880-1960: Volume 1. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1974; pg. 250.
  4. ^ Cantor, "Labor Defender...Equal Justice," pg. 253.

External sources[edit]