This article was last modified on December 20, 2012.


Kaukauna Socialist Party of the 1930s

A letter from Roland Beyer, secretary of the Socialist Party — Kaukauna Local, was printed in the Post-Crescent on Tuesday, July 19, 1932. The socialists had been denied a permit the previous Friday and Beyer wanted to clear up what happened after this. “[Former Assemblyman and Milwaukee Alderman] Carl Minkley and [Young People’s Socialist League Chairman] Eugene McStroul went to the Appleton Police station about 7:30pm Saturday, and again asked Chief of Police [George T.] Prim for permission to hold the meeting. Mr. Minkley asked if they might hold the meeting some other place, but was also refused.” Minkley informed the chief that he tried his best, but he would continue on with the meeting anyway, citing his free speech and free assembly rights, and told Prim he would take the matter to the courts if arrested. The chief showed Minkley a city ordinance saying the chief must approve all meetings, and Minkley informed him that he believed the ordinance unconstitutional and was going to make a test case of it. Chief Prim backed down and allowed them to use Soldiers Square. Roughly 100 people showed up, and 11 of those signed up to join the Socialist Party. “We hope that the meeting has definitely established the inviolability of the right of freedom of speech and assemblage in Appleton. It illustrates that the attitude of the authorities was only a bluff, designed to discourage us from speaking, but when we threatened to make a legal test case of it, the bluff collapsed.”

Note: Prim was a retired lieutenant of the Chicago Police Department, and Appleton’s first police chief.

Thursday, September 8, 1932: a meeting was held at the Moose Hall on 2nd Street. George VanHoof discussed the failure of the other parties to fix the current crisis. Roland Beyer spoke on the topic “Socialism — The Way Out”.

Saturday, October 8, 1932: the socialists held a meeting at VandenHeuvel’s Hall in Little Chute, with the purpose of introducing Arnold Zander of Two Rivers, a candidate for secretary of state. Zander spoke on “How to Repeal Unemployment”. Roland Beyer spoke on “The Fundamentals of Socialism” and George VanHoof discussed “The Failure of the Old Parties”.

Sunday, October 9, 1932: Beyer and VanHoof spoke at Freedom High School.

Thursday, October 13, 1932 at 8:15pm: the meeting discussed plans to debate both Republicans and Democrats. George VanHoof spoke out against the Smoot-Hawley-Grundy tariff bill and said that the president signed it even though 1000 economists had petitioned against it. He also spoke against the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which “doled out” millions of dollars to bankers, railroads and industries. Roland Beyer, a Lawrence University student, spoke about the Democratic candidate for president (FDR).

roughly October 27, 1932: Beyer spoke at Lawrence University on behalf of presidential candidate Norman Thomas. Two other students spoke on behalf of Roosevelt and Hoover. A straw poll was taken after (results unknown).

Saturday, November 5, 1932: the Trades and Labor Hall held a Socialist meeting. Beyer and VanHoof spoke, as did Orville Belling of Appleton.

Thursday, November 10, 1932: the Socialist Party sponsored speaker Shigeto Tsuru, a Japanese student attending Lawrence University. At the Moose Hall, Tsuru discussed the status of the working class and farmers in Japan and his hometown of Nagoya. He also talked about how the Japanese invasion of Manchuria had affected the workers.

Thursday, December 8, 1932 at 8:00pm: a Socialist meeting was held in the Moose Hall.

August 1934: after graduating Lawrence with honors, Beyer went on to attend the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, Massachusetts. He earned a masters degree.

September 1936: after briefly being a teacher in Norwich, New York, Beyer was hired on as an instructor in social studies and debate at Geneva High School in New York.

by August 1937, VanHoof had become the vice president of the Union Party’s 8th Congressional District organization. (Why he left the Socialists is unclear.) He spoke at a Labor Day rally in Pierce Park in September 1937, alongside Congressman William Lemke of North Dakota and Mayor John Goodland, Jr. Lemke had run for president in 1936.

March 1938: VanHoof was a member of the state board of directors for the Union Party (along with Arthur Hoolihan and William Vanevenhoven). For all intents and purposes, the party was already dead, having only been nationally viable in 1936 (when it was both created and destroyed). The party was denounced by the Socialists and was more radical than the Roosevelt administration.

August-September 1938: Beyer was the secretary for the Outagamie County Farmer Labor and Progressive Federation.

September 1938: Nick Ebben was named chairman of the Union Party

November 1938: Arthur Hoolihan (Union Party) ran for assembly.

February 1939: Ruth Saunderson became engaged to Beyer.

July 1939: Ruth Saunderson married Beyer.

July 29, 1939: Roland K. Beyer was appointed vice consul in Toronto, Ontario by the State Department.

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