Pete: The Story of Peter V. Cacchione, New York's First Communist Councilman

By Simon W. Gerson | Go to book overview

term. Thus many trade unionists and such writers as Norman Mailer and I.F. Stone who were not in ideological agreement with me, nevertheless supported my fight.

Most important, the Kings County Committe of the American Labor Party, with the strong support of ALP State Chairman Vito Marcantonio, broke precedent and named me, an avowed Communist, its councilmanic candidate. This action was taken notwithstanding the fact that I would be running on the same ticket with its presidential candidate, Henry Wallace, a fact of which the red-baiters made considerable capital. (While no documentary evidence is available, this writer learned on good authority that Wallace, when apprised of the situation, offered no objections.)

It was a hard fought campaign, staffed largely by the same dedicated workers who had been at Pete's side down the years and it had the added dimension of the broadened base afforded by the ALP designation. People worked their hearts out and the mere figures hardly begin to tell the story: more than 125 meetings, 22 radio broadcasts, scores of brief appearances at churches, homes and street corners, along with the distribution of hundreds of thousands of pieces of campaign literature. It was a campaign in the Pete Cacchione tradition.

Running countywide on two lines, the Communist and ALP, without benefit of PR, I received about 150,000 votes, nearly 18,000 on the Communist line and about 132,000 on the ALP line. As anticipated, machine Democrat Jack Kranis won. It was a big vote, that 150,000. No doubt that the total reflected the fact that I was running on the same ticket with Henry Wallace. Nonetheless, there is clear indication that it was a conscious vote. It had the element of protest against the cold warriors who trampled on democratic rights. But most of all, it was an unmistakable tribute to Pete from the working people of Brooklyn and a sign positive that Pete's work would be carried on. Perhaps Mike Gold said it best in the last sentences of his unpublished manuscript:

Pete never won his war because he was a fighter in the great unfinished war of humanity against oppression. He never doubted ultimate victory and surely victory is more certain now that the people's army has a bright new banner to raise besides Sacco, Vanzetti, Debs, Mooney and other working-class heroes who made a little history.

-203-

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Pete: The Story of Peter V. Cacchione, New York's First Communist Councilman
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 2
  • Pete Made a Little History 5
  • Contents 7
  • 1 - The Argument 17
  • 2 - Boyhood in Sayre, Pa. 21
  • 3 - To New York -- via Las Vegas 24
  • 4 - Pete Gets Involved 26
  • 5 - Pete Leads a Bonus March Contingent 30
  • 6 - Brooklyn Captures Pete 34
  • 7 - Tammany Handles Relief 36
  • 8 - Seabury and Chile Acuna 39
  • 9 - Tin Boxes and Red Herrings 43
  • 10 - Class Struggle and Goo-Goos 47
  • 11 - The Fiorello Phenomenon 50
  • 12 - The Labor Party is Born 56
  • 13 - Pete and PR 61
  • 14 - Pete's First Try 67
  • 15 - The '37 Mayoralty Campaign 73
  • 16 - Election Day, 1937 79
  • 17 - The '37 Count 82
  • 18 - Towards the '39 Campaign 86
  • 19 - Marcantonio: A Man to Study 90
  • 20 - War Clouds and a Write-in Vote 99
  • 21 - From Phoney War to Anti-Fascist War 103
  • 22 - Victory in '41 112
  • 23 - Why Pete Won: Reflections 113
  • 24 - The Eagle Screams 116
  • 25 - Pete's First Council Session 120
  • 26 - Fighting Fascism and Anti-Semitism 124
  • 27 - Battling Baseball's Jim Crow 129
  • 28 - On Pete's Style of Work 132
  • 29 - Prophetic Resolutions 136
  • 30 - Defender of Italian-Americans 139
  • 31 - Widening Support 142
  • 32 - Manhattan Names Ben Davis 148
  • 33 - Tackling The Eagle and O'Dwyer 151
  • 34 - Pete Tops the List 153
  • 35 - Brooklyn to the Rescue 156
  • 36 - The Team of Two 161
  • 37 - Pete Wins a Third Term 163
  • 38 - Cold War Years 166
  • 39 - Stuyvesant Town: A Close Question 169
  • 40 the Going Gets Rougher 173
  • 41 - The Cardinal and the Council 177
  • 42 - The Year of the Long Knives 182
  • 43 - PR: Cold War Casualty 187
  • 44 - A Day of Civic Mourning 192
  • 45 - The Succession Fight 196
  • 46 - Running for Pete's Seat 203
  • 47 - An Afterword 204
  • Index 211
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