US cartoonist and radical activist. A distant relative of Sam Houston, Minor was born in San Antonio, Texas. An editorial cartoonist for the St Louis Post-Dispatch (1904), he joined the Socialist Party (1907) but was drawn to anarchism. After visiting France (1912), he became a cartoonist for the New York World (1913), but was fired after doing a cartoon for the radical Mother Earth. He was hired by the socialist New York Call (1915) and then joined John Reed and Boardman Robinson, covering the Eastern Front in Europe. He visited Mexico to cover the Pancho Villa episode (1916) and went to Moscow (1918), where he became disillusioned with Leninism, if not Lenin, whom he met. Visiting France, he was almost executed by the US military there on charges of undermining military morale. Speaking and writing on the Russian Revolution (1920), he joined the new Communist Party and soon became a member of its hierarchy. He attended the Communist International as a delegate (1922–24), edited the Daily Worker (1928–30), and championed the cause of American blacks and the unemployed. He was arrested for illegal assembly after a labour demonstration in New York's Union Square, and was sentenced to three years in prison (1930); he served about six months. He ran unsuccessfully as the communist candidate for governor of New York (1932) and the next year for the mayor of New York City. An unsuccessful candidate for one of New York's US Senate seats (1936), he went to Spain as both a war correspondent for the Daily Worker and as the American Party's commissar in the International Brigades. Returning home (1937), he became acting general secretary of America's Communist Party (1940); he promoted US involvement in World War II and worked with the Roosevelt administration to change US policy toward Chinese communists. Repudiating many of his earlier beliefs after the war, he lost credibility in the party, but assisted in defence of its leaders who had been arrested under the Smith Act of 1940 and were jailed (1951).
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