January 3, 1920: West Duluthian arrested for being a Communist

On this day in Duluth in 1920, federal officials arrested West Duluth resident Carl Haglund on charges that he was an active Communist. Haglund had emigrated from Sweden in 1912 and first took out papers to file for citizenship in 1916, but he never completed the process. Haglund told officials he was not only a Communist, but that he was the secretary of the Communist Labor Party’s executive committee in Minnesota. Halgund was one of thirty registered Communists arrested in Minnesota that day, and all faced deportation. The Duluth News Tribune reported that more arrests were imminent, and indeed on January 6 six “alleged radicals”—Victor Aho, John Darkkanen, John Saari, Arvid Lechtenen, John Korbi, and Charles Hassu—were all arrested in Gilbert, Minnesota, north of Duluth. Meanwhile, Haglund’s supporters failed to come up with a $10,000 bond to secure his release. One of those calling to raise money for Haglund was Mina Carney, the wife of Jack Carney, publisher of Duluth’s Socialist newspaper, The Truth. According to historian Minnesota Historian Carl Ross, “Carney was a Cambridge-educated Irishman [and] friend of the [Socialist] Irish playwright Sean O’Casey. [Carney] led local socialists, largely Swedish workers, into the left wing of the Socialist party and then into the Communist Labor party of Minnesota which he founded in 1919.” Carney, also a member of the national Communist Labor Party’s executive council, was not in Duluth during the raids. Haglund was held until May, when the Assistant Secretary of Labor announced that membership in the Communist party did not constitute an offense. By then Carney and 58 others were facing federal and state charges in Illinois with “connection with his alleged activities in the Communist Labor party.” By March Carney had been convicted by a federal jury of espionage for publishing an editorial titled “Hands Off Soviet Russia” in 1919.  The appeal must have been successful, because before the year was out Carney and his wife Mina had left Duluth to edit another radical communist newspaper, the Daily Bulletin, in Butte, Montana. The Truth published from 1917 to 1923.

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