Max Shachtman correspondence with Leon Trotsky
Scope and Contents
Series III: Letters from Trotsky and Series IV: Other Correspondence and Papers provide a wider perspective on the same fractional combat. Most of the letters from Trotsky in Series III are addressed to the collective of Trotskyite leaders in the US and deal with events of movement-wide significance. The final letter, addressed to the Executive Committee of the Fourth International and dated just six months before his assassination, is a call for party unity in the face of deepening schism. Series IV comprises related correspondence among leading members of the American Trotskyite movement, such as Shachtman, Cannon, and Joseph Hansen.
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Box 2: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
1 Linear Feet (2 boxes)
Along with James P. Cannon and Martin Abern, Max Shachtman split from the Communist Party in late 1928 to found the Communist League of America (Left Opposition), a pro-Trotsky group opposed to the dominant, Stalinist orientation of the Third International. Shachtman, Cannon and Abern immediately founded the newspaper The Militant. After Trotsky's expulsion from the USSR in January 1929, this core group of American Trotskyites entered into direct correspondence with him in an attempt to coordinate the international struggle against Stalinism, which they understood as a bourgeois-nationalist distortion of the internationalist communism of Lenin.
The American Trotskyite movement gained momentum throughout the 1930s through participation in labor disputes and the increasingly unattractive behavior of Stalin. Trotsky's move to Mexico in 1936, after spending 1933-1936 in France and Oslo, Norway, was a powerful stimulus for his American followers. In 1933, they founded the journal The New International. In the late 1930s it engaged in a short-lived merger with the Socialist Party, an experience that left it with the new name of Socialist Workers Party. It was allied with the Trotskyite Fourth International, convened at Paris in 1938. By 1940, Shachtman, along with James Burnham, had soured on the USSR to such a degree that they left the Socialist Workers Party in order to move towards non-Marxist socialism. It was at this point that Trotskyism was struck with the murder of its leader, Leon Trotsky, in his Mexican exile, on August 20 1940.
- Cannon, James Patrick, 1890-1974
- Communist League of America (Opposition)
- Communist Party of America
- Glotzer, Albert, 1908-1999
- Hansen, Joseph
- New international; a monthly organ of revolutionary Marxism
- Nin, Andrés, 1892-1937
- Shachtman, Max, 1903-1972
- Socialism -- United States -- Societies, etc.
- Trotsky, Leon, 1879-1940
- Workers Party of the United States
- Guide to the Max Shachtman Correspondence with Leon Trotsky
- Under Revision
- by Robert Bird and Nicole Bouche
- July 1997
- Description rules
- Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
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