1945 August 25

John Birch Dies; Right-Wing Society Named in His Honor


John Birch died on this day in China, while serving as a U.S. military intelligence officer. He is regarded by some conservatives as the first American to die in the Cold War. As a result, the John Birch Society was founded in his honor on December 9, 1958. The organization became one of the leading anti-Communist groups in the U.S. during the 1950s and 1960s.

The John Birch Society was so hated by liberals, who the organization repeatedly attacked for being “soft” on Communism, that in 1961 a movement arose for a legislative investigation of the organization in California. On March 27, 1961, the ACLU wrote to California Governor Pat Brown objecting to the investigation of any group simply because of its unpopular political views. The Society continues today, but has not had much influence since the mid-1960s.

Read: J. Allen Broyles, The John Birch Society: Anatomy of a Protest (1964)

Watch a documentary on John Birch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLWXpu-bTjE

Learn more about the Cold War: Ellen Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (1998)

Learn more about the ACLU in the Cold War and other Times of National Crisis: https://www.aclu.org/aclu-history-rooting-out-subversives-paranoia-and-patriotism-mccarthy-era

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