The first Communist parties in the United States were founded in 1919 by dissident factions of the Socialist party. The larger, which called itself the Communist party of America, consisted of many of the former foreign language federations of the Socialist party, in particular the Russian Federation, and the former Michigan Socialist party. The other, named the Communist Labor party, was led by Benjamin Gitlow and John Reed. The parties immediately became subject to raids by agents of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and local authorities. These raids resulted in a sharp drop in party membership and, in Jan., 1920, forced the Communists to go underground.
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