Albert Goldman Papers, 1940-1959


Albert Goldman was born in Russia and came to the United States at the age of six, where he became a prominent labor attorney, first for the International Labor Defense, and later as a member of the Socialist Workers Party and the Workers Party. He attended grade school and Madill High School in Chicago. After his graduation from the University of Cincinnati in 1918, he attended Hebrew Union College, and in 1925 graduated from Northwestern University Law School.

Goldman had become acquainted with radicals and their doctrines, particularly the IWW's, while working in the Dakota wheat fields in 1919. He once wrote that early in his law practice he learned to like communists because they retained him very often as their counsel. After a trip to Russia in 1931, he became disenchanted with Russian communism and in 1933 was expelled from the Communist party as an anti-Stalinist. He served as Trotsky's personal attorney when the latter was admitted to Mexico, and acted as his counsel during the hearings of the Dewey Commission in 1936.

Goldman became attorney for the Minneapolis Teamsters in the strike of 1934, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters later charged that the CIO local was dominated by a Trotskyite group. Under the Smith Act, twenty-nine Socialist Workers Party members and members of the Truckdrivers Local 544-CIO were indicted in 1941 for conspiring to advocate the overthrow of the U.S. government by force. Goldman, who served as the group's counsel, was one of the eighteen sent to prison. The case was in the appeal courts for more than two years, but on January 1, 1911, Goldman began serving his sixteen-month sentence.

After release from prison in 1945 he could not resume the practice of law, since he had been disbarred in 1943. With the help of his brother-in-law he established a car rental business, and set about trying to become reinstated at the bar. He had by then broken with the Cannonite Trotskyists and had joined the Workers Party as a Shachtman Trotskyist. By 1950 he was being described as a “right-wing” Socialist. In 1947, supported by the Workers Party, he was defeated in a campaign for mayor of Chicago on the Socialist ticket; and in 1948 he supported Norman Thomas for president.

In 1952, testifying at an Atomic Energy Commission security clearance hearing for his sister-in-law, Betty June Jacobsen, Goldman reviewed his ideological struggle with the Communist Party and later the Socialist Workers Party and the Workers Party, and stated his relation to Trotsky. It was not until 1956 that the state of Illinois restored his right to practice law.