Marcantonio, Vito

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Marcantonio, Vito

Vito Marcantonio (vē´tō märkăntō´nēō), 1902–54, American politician, b. New York City. After the age of 18 he was active in community affairs in the Harlem section of New York City. He became a political protégé of Fiorello H. LaGuardia and later managed his political campaigns. Marcantonio served (1930–31) as assistant U.S. district attorney, and in 1934 he ran successfully for Congress on the Republican and Fusion tickets. He was defeated for reelection in 1936. In 1938 he was read out of the Republican party. Nonetheless he won the nomination of that party and of the American Labor party and was reelected to Congress. Thereafter he was repeatedly reelected, several times receiving the Democratic nomination as well as those of the other two parties. In 1948, after a New York state law was passed prohibiting a candidate from entering the primary of a party without its consent, Marcantonio ran only on the ballot of the American Labor party—of which he was (1947–53) state chairman and through which he gave staunch support to the Progressive party's presidential candidate, Henry A. Wallace in 1948. Marcantonio backed much of the New Deal legislation in Congress but aligned himself with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's foreign policy only after June, 1941, when Germany invaded the USSR. A supporter of close relations between the United States and the USSR, Marcantonio was frequently criticized for allegedly changing his position in accordance with the Communist party line. He was defeated for reelection in 1950 by a coalition candidate.

See biography by S. J. LaGumina (1969).

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