Gus Hall

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Gus Hall (born Arvo Kustaa Halberg) (October 8, 1910 – October 13, 2000) was a leader of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and its four-time U.S. presidential candidate. As a labor leader, Hall was closely associated with the so-called "Little Steel" Strike of 1937, an effort to unionize the nation's smaller, regional steel manufacturers. During the Second Red Scare, Hall was indicted under the Smith Act and was sentenced to eight years in prison. After his release, Hall led the CPUSA for over 40 years, often taking an orthodox Marxist-Leninist stance.


Background and early political activism

Hall was born Arvo Kustaa Halberg to Matt (Matti) and Susan (Susanna) Halberg in Cherry, a rural community on Northern Minnesota's Mesabi Iron Range in 1910.[2] Hall's parents were Finnish immigrants from the Lapua region, and were politically radical: they were involved in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and were early members of the CPUSA in 1919.[3] The Mesabi Range was one of the most important immigration settlements for Finns, who were often active in labor militancy and political activism.[4][5] Hall's home language was Finnish, and he conversed with his nine siblings in that language for the rest of his life.[2] He, however, did not know the political terminology in Finnish and used mostly English when meeting with visiting Finnish Communists.[2]

Hall grew up in a Communist home and was involved early on in politics.[4] According to Hall, after his father was banned from working in the mines for joining an IWW strike, the family grew up in near starvation in a log cabin built by Halberg.[6] At 15, to support the impoverished ten-child family, Hall left school and went to work in the North Woods lumber camps, mines and railroads.[2] In 1927 he was recruited to the CPUSA by his father.[7] Hall became an organizer for the Young Communist League (YCL) in the upper Midwest.[4] In 1931, an apprenticeship in the YCL qualified Hall to travel to the Soviet Union to study for two years at the International Lenin School in Moscow, where he learned sabotage and guerrilla tactics.[3][6]

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