The Politics of The Finns

There were two main groups of political Finns, the Socialists and the Communists. There were also the temperance movement Finns, who were not explicitly political, but culturally leaned more towards the right, and their goals was to try and keep the Finns away from alcohol during a time period where many other Americans were trying to do the same thing. What is interesting is that historically many immigrants were the most vocal about their support against the temperance movement, and yet the Finnish Temperance Hall is one of the few surviving Finnish buildings in Newport today.  This site will first discuss about the Socialist Finns.

The Socialist Finns were by far the most popular political group among Finnish immigrants in Newport, and they are estimated to have reached up to 200, which would make them anywhere between one-fifth, to one-third of the overall community. “After the Finns were exposed to Socialism, they became rabid supporters of various left-wing causes and, consequently, they gained a reputation for causing turmoil in the labor market.[1] At the time that Finns were at their height, leftist politics were gaining traction due to workers being oppressed across the globe. Surprisingly enough, despite apparent bitter debates and layoffs in other parts of the country, this did not affect employment in Newport. But back home, Finland would find itself involved in the brutal Russian Civil War that pitted socialists versus communists and, “almost every Finnish family in Newport had been directly affected by this war (The Russian Civil War). Fathers, brothers, uncles, and, in some cases, Newport Finns themselves had been a part of this bitter struggle.”[2] There was no Civil War that broke out between Newport Finns, but there were battles fought in the newspapers and speeches given in the Finnish Hall that debated the Russian Civil War. Now this website will turn its attention to some photographs, including some photos of the Finnish and Temperance Hall.

Previous Page: The Mills

Next Page: Photographs

[1] Turpeinen, 44.

[2] Turpeinen, 46.