John Gates

Most Popular

Birth Sign

John ‘Johnny’ Gates was an American Communist journalist and ardent supporter of Marxism. He is most known for leading the Communist Party of the United States’ liberalization push in the late 1950s. He was born into a poor Polish-Jewish family and experienced poverty as a child, which may have caused him to believe in Marxist theory and see it as the only solution to all of America’s financial and social issues. It had such an impact on him that he dropped out of school in the middle of his studies to join the YCL as a Party Organizer in the steel industry, in order to face the realities of life rather than just sitting in the luxury of his classroom devising new ideas to improve the situation. During the Spanish Civil War, he joined the International Brigades, an organization attempting to support the Popular Front, and spent a few years in Spain and France. When he returned, he was named chairman of the Young Communist League in New York State and editor of the Communist Party’s journal, “the Daily Worker.”

Early Years and Childhood

Solomon Regenstriet was born in New York to Polish-Jewish parents who owned a candy store and an ice cream parlor. His father had to become a waiter after the Wall Street Crash.

In 1930, Gates enrolled in City College of New York, where he was profoundly affected by Karl Marx’s ideas. As a result, he became a member of the Young Communist League and took part in the Scotsboro Boys’ freedom struggle.

Career of John Gates

Gates moved to Ohio in 1932, giving up his Regents Scholarship at City College to become a Party Organizer for the Young Communist League. He worked for the National Youth Administration, the Works Progress Administration, and other government agencies.

In 1935, during a strike in New Castle, Pennsylvania, Gates was sentenced to 30 days in prison for distributing flyers. He was not given the opportunity to enter a plea; instead, the mayor of the town presided as judge and sentenced him to prison.

In 1937, Gates traveled to France and Spain to join the International Brigades, a group aiming to support the Popular Front during the Spanish Civil War.

Following his return to the United States in 1938, Gates was named President of the Young Communist League in New York State. He was also the secretary of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade’s Friends of the President.
Gates was sentenced to five years in jail in 1949 after being found guilty under the Smith Act as one of the 12 “Kingpin Commies.”

He was charged with ‘Marxist-Leninist ideas of overthrowing and destroying the government…by force and violence,’ according to the indictment.

Gates became the editor of the Communist Party’s newspaper ‘the Daily Worker’ in 1955 after finishing his sentence in prison. His position as editor got him into a lot of controversy with the Party members.

The distribution of ‘The Daily Worker’ was hampered by disillusionment with communism among workers and intellectuals, and the Party decided to stop publishing it as a daily in 1957. Gates was no longer employed.

He left the Communist Party in 1958, claiming that it was no longer successful in delivering democracy, peace, and socialism to the country. He immediately began writing ‘The Story of an American Communist,’ his book.

He began working with the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) as a senior research assistant after finishing his book, a position he held until his death.

The appointment of Major Works Gates as editor of the Communist Party’s publication ‘the Daily Worker’ is regarded as the most significant achievement of his life, as it was during this time that his faith in Communism was reawakened.

Life and Legacy of an Individual

Gates died in 1992 in Miami Beach, Florida, after 47 years of marriage to Lillian Schwartz.

Gates publicly stated that he was ashamed of becoming a communist in response to Nikita Khrushchev’s activities.

While serving in the International Brigades in Spain, Gates was a harsh disciplinarian who had no tolerance for criticism.

“The Soviet Union was a socialist island amid a sea of hostile capitalism,” Gates wrote in the Young Communist Review, adding that “it would be acceptable if Joseph Stalin forged a military pact with Adolf Hitler.”

Estimated Net Worth

The estimated net worth of John Gates is unknown.