Ramsey County History – Fall 2022: William Mahoney

Ramsey County History – Fall 2022: William Mahoney
Jim McCartney

Volume 57, Number 3: Fall 2022

Farmer-Labor Founder William Mahoney and his Battle with Communists
Author: Jim McCartney

Writer Jim McCartney and William Mahoney, St. Paul mayor (1932-1934), have something in common—a house on Dayton Avenue. The McCartneys have lived there for thirty years. Mahoney owned the home from 1919 to 1947. Knowing some history about the former mayor, McCartney started researching. Mahoney was a pressman, trade unionist, labor leader, editor, and politician. “However, his role as ‘political entrepreneur’ would have the greatest impact.” Mahoney helped found Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor Party (1918-1944)—forerunner to today’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party—with hopes of taking it national as a permanent third party. In 1924, he hosted a Farmer-Labor convention in St. Paul, intending to nominate Wisconsin’s Robert La Follette for president. La Follette was interested—until he wasn’t. Why? Mahoney’s guest list included members of the Communist Party. La Follette backed away and ran independently. In the end, the convention imploded, with the Communists taking the reins. Mahoney “crossed swords” with some of the world’s most influential leaders, including Bolshevik hero Leon Trotsky and William Z. Foster, who became the Communist presidential nominee that year. To learn more about this fascinating story, see “Farmer-Labor Founder William Mahoney and his Battle with Communists.”

PDF of J. McCartney article