Name:  William Francis Dunn/Dunne

Age/DoB:  30

County of Conviction: Lewis & Clark

Judicial District:  1st

Case No.: 1465

Date of Conviction:  Feb. 24, 1919

Sentence: $5,000 fine




Allegations: Aug. 16, 1918 editorial published in Butte Daily Bulletin declared that the Montana Council of Defense, which it described as "dominated by the same slimy political gang, whose actions are a stench in the nostrils of decent people" and as "the willing, cringing tools of the autocratic forces of the state," had "no legal status or authority."


Case Details:  Dunn was arrested on Sept. 13, 1918, on the same day that his newspaper was raided by Butte police and Army soldiers. Held on trumped-up concealed-weapons charges, Dunn was spirited to Helena in the middle of the night and charged with sedition, along with R. Bruce Smith. Convicted after jury trial. Conviction reversed per curiam 57 Mont 591 190 Pac. 121 (1920) #4411, based on State v. Smith 57 Mont 563 190 Pac. 107 (1920), on grounds of judicial bias and insufficiency of evidence. Court also stated that trial in Lewis & Clark County, based on single subscription to Bulletin by Helena Independent editor Will Campbell, was a subterfuge to deprive Smith and Dunn of their state constitutional guarantee of a speedy public trial by an impartial jury of the county or district in which the offense is alleged to have been committed.


Personal Information: Born 1887 in Kansas City. Had three brothers. Father was murdered in an unexplained union skirmish. Attended College of St. Thomas in St. Paul. After Panic of 1907 dropped out to become electrician. Middleweight boxer. Active in electricians union in Vancouver before moving to Butte. Led wildcat strike in Butte after Speculator mine disaster in June 1917. In 1918, became vice-president of Montana Federation of Labor, editor of Butte Bulletin and was elected to Montana House of Representatives. Editor of Butte Bulletin until 1921. When he left to become labor editor of the Communist Worker in Chicago. Active in the Communist Party in the 1920s and 1930s, including posts on the Politburo, but was expelled in 1946. Ran twice for governor of New York on the Communist platform. Returned to Butte in 1934. Worked as a Navy cook in Aleutian Islands during WWII. Married, with one son, William Jr., who was killed by a speeding car in 1925. Died in 1953.


The Montana Sedition Project