1959 March 31

John Birch Society Head Denies Calling President Eisenhower a “Card-Carrying Communist”


Robert Welch, head of the John Birch Society, denied on this day that he ever called former President Dwight Eisenhower a “card-carrying Communist.” In the late 1950s and 1960s the John Birch Society was arguably the most prominent and extreme anti-Communist group in the country. Its style mimicked that of Senator Joe McCarthy, with reckless and unfounded accusations of communist beliefs or membership in the Communist Party, even attacking some of the most prominent figures in American life.

Mr. Welch made the accusation in a privately printed book written several years earlier, which recently became public. In that book Welch wrote “my firm belief that Dwight Eisenhower is a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy is based on an accumulation of detailed evidence so extensive” [that it puts the accusation] “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The John Birch Society was founded on December 9, 1958. It was named for John Birch, killed in China while working for U. S. military intelligence on August 25, 1945. Hard-line anti-communists believe that he was the first American to die in the Cold War.

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)



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